A Quick Guide to Lightning Lane
Disney just ended the FastPass program after 22 years of high-quality service. Now, the company wants you to pay for something that was previously free.
You must wonder what is going on, which is totally understandable. Here’s what Lightning Lane is and why it might not be as bad as you fear.
MaxPass by a New Name
This discussion comes in two forms, as Disney got a bit lazy with the naming conventions.
From now on, when you hear the term Lightning Lane, you should mentally substitute the words ‘FastPass line’ instead.
In most instances, that’s what we’re discussing. You see, Disney Genie comes with a paid option called Disney Genie+.
When you purchase this upsell, you’ll receive the equivalent of FastPasses during your park visit.
Those of you familiar with MaxPass already know the deal here, as that’s what Disney Genie+ is, only with a different name.
Disneyland guests will even pay the same price for Disney Genie+ that they had in 2020 for MaxPass. It’s $20 per person per day.
At Walt Disney World, the price will be $15 per person per day, at least initially.
Disney executives suggested that the lower price is because it’s new here. So, they had to price it less. Yes, that probably hints at a price increase in a year or so.
Anyway, for $15 per person per day, you’ll gain access to the paid features of Disney Genie+. This is a modernized version of the prior digital FastPass system.
However, you’ll find Disney Genie+ a bit better. I say this because estimates suggest that less than half of Disneyland guests used MaxPass during visits.
Presuming the pattern holds at Walt Disney World, you’ll only face half the competition for Disney Genie+ digital reservations that you had for FastPasses.
So, you should get more of what we used to call FastPasses during each park visit due to less competition. Of course, the catch is that you’re paying for it.
Let’s say that you’re traveling in a group of four and staying for five nights. Unfortunately, you’re now paying $300 for services that used to be free, which isn’t ideal.
About Lightning Lane
Lightning Lane comes in two forms, which only adds to the confusion. When you enter the shorter line queue, formerly known as FastPass, you’re walking in the Lightning Lane.
However, Disney also introduced a different form of paid Lightning Lane called…Lightning Lane.
This system is how future E-ticket attractions will pay for themselves. It’s also similar to the system that Disney just introduced at Disneyland Paris.
When you want to skip the line on one of Disney’s most popular attractions, you have the option…for an additional fee.
Disney didn’t announce pricing yet, but the costs range from $9 to $18 per rider at Disneyland Paris.
For that money, you could guarantee yourself a ride on Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, Radiator Springs Racers, or Seven Dwarfs Mine Train.
Park officials have already confirmed these three attractions as Lighting Lane participants. However, there’s also another downside to that information.
Lightning Lane exists separately from Disney Genie+. Disney indicates that 40+ attractions will be available on Disney Genie+.
However, a small group of E-ticket attractions is only available via Lightning Lane, the added pay tier.
So, let’s say that you buy Disney Genie+ for $15. You’ll get to ride most of the attractions at Magic Kingdom by entering the shorter line queue.
Importantly, you will not be able to get in that Lightning Lane for Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. Instead, you must purchase a Lightning Lane pass for a set cost.
Yes, you’ll pay $9-$18 just for that one ride, which would be a ridiculous thing to do for a seven-year-old attraction like Seven Dwarfs Mine Train (in my opinion.)
With Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, it borders on smart business to guarantee yourself a ride on those dates when you cannot get a Boarding Group.
More about the New Pay-Per-Ride System
Disney has previously indicated that Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure will utilize a Boarding Group system as well.
Let’s say that you’re visiting in October and have your heart set on the ride. Wouldn’t you toss in another $9-$18 to guarantee you experience it this trip?
Disney is banking on the fact that you will.
Let’s be honest that this could get quite expensive, though. You may schedule up to two Lightning Lane reservations per day.
Using the previous scenario of four people staying five nights, Disney Genie+ and max Lightning Lane daily usage would add up to as much as $660 more for your trip.
For that price, you would do everything that you want during your Disney trip, though.
Also, I should point out that tickets for four to one Disney After Hours event cost about $600 now anyway. So, it’s a similar experience stretched out over several days.
One final note: DVC members will receive one additional benefit, as will all other guests staying at official Disney resorts.
We’ll get to reserve our first Disney Genie+ and/or Lightning Lane reservations at 7 a.m. on the morning of the park visit.
Everyone else must wait until they enter the park, providing another advantage to the membership program.
You’ll get the drop on everyone else, virtually assuring you get to ride what you want at the start of the day!
I realize that opinions on the new system range from disappointed to white-hot fury.
However, I’ll be honest. I was braced for worse. I take a lot of positives from Disney’s announcement.
Fewer people will use the Lightning Lane/FastPass line now. And I can control my fate on E-ticket attractions rather than hoping for the best with Boarding Groups.