Everything You Need to Know About Lightening Lanes at Disney World

The Genie is out of the bottle, and out of Disney World! That’s right, beginning July 24th 2024 Genie+ will be replaced with Lightening Lanes. This new iteration of Disney World’s skip the line service will offer Disney Resort guests a big advantage, just one more reason to consider staying on property.

A Brief History of Disney‘s Skip the Line Service

As Rafiki warned us all, “the past can hurt. But the way I see it, you can either run from it or learn from it.” So, we’ll suffer through a little bit for some Dis-tory – I promise, it’ll be brief.

Fastpass

The original Fastpass system was introduced at Disney World in 1999. The novel new process allowed guests to request a physical Fastpass, out side of an attraction, which let them return at a later time when they could immediately board the attraction.

It was a ground breaking idea that many theme parks implemented as a paid service, shortly after. The system wasn’t perfect, as it required running back and forth between attractions all day to secure the Fastpass and then return back. Guests weren’t able to see the return windows currently being printed before requesting theirs and return windows couldn’t be adjusted.

How far we’ve come, right?

Fastpass+

But Disney World is extremely popular and Disney sought to make some big improvements, if only to give guests a bigger incentive for staying at an official Disney World resort. In 2013 the new Fastpass+ system was introduced, which made use of the phones that seem to have become part of our being.

The Fastpass+ system had 2 major changes. First off, we went digital! The eldest sibling no longer had to run around from ride to ride, securing those sweet sweet Fastpass tickets for the whole family. Instead, we could book everything through the Disney World app.

But the biggest upset was the implementation of advanced booking. Guests staying on property at a Disney World resort could pre-book up to 3 attractions 60 days in advance, while non-resort guests were only able to book 30 days in advance. A huge benefit for those staying in a Disney World hotel, as some of the most popular rides could fill up within a few minutes. (Looking at you Peter Pan’s Flight)

This is also when things started to get more complicated though. Attractions in each park were separated into 2 tiers. The most popular attractions, Splash Mountain, Kilimanjaro Safaris, Frozen Ever After, were placed in Tier 1 with all others in Tier 2. The problem was that guests could only choose up to one attraction from Tier 1 and up to two attractions from Tier 2.

Genie+ and Individual Lightening Lanes

And then 2020 came and everything closed. With so much uncertainty it was unclear when the parks would re-open and what it would even look like. And when it finally happened, things looked a lot different. Reservations required, limited capacity and no more Fastpass or Fastpass+.

It wasn’t long though until Disney unveiled their newest, and most confusing, skip the line service: Genie+.

Genie+ is the first paid skip the line service offered at Disney World, largely modeled after Disneyland’s MaxPass. With variable pricing, guests can pay between $15 and $30 (approximately) per person, per day, to enjoy nearly all the benefits that were previously free under Fastpass+. Return windows were renamed to Lightening Lanes, and could only be booked on the day of your visit.

Additionally, within each Disney World park there could be up to 2 rides not included in Genie+. Lightening Lanes reservations can be purchased for these individually, with a similar price range and a max of two per person per day. So. Much. Fun.

NEW Lightening Lane Passes

Which brings us to today, the latest skip the line system – Lightening Lane Passes. There are (2) different types of Passes; Individual and Multi-pass.

Lightening Lane Multipass

For the most part, the Lightening Lane Multipass is pretty similar to Genie+ with a few additions from Fastpass+. Lightening Lane Multipass is a paid service that allows you to book return windows, digitally, for your favorite rides and attractions at Disney World.

The primary skip service rule, known as the 2 hour rule, is still applicable. Once guests have received a Lightening Lane Multipass Reservation they must wait 2 hours or until that return time to book their next reservation, which ever comes first.

Advanced Booking Lightening Lane Multipass Reservations

The biggest change is the return of pre-booking for both on and off property hotel guests, within the United States and Canada. If you reside outside of these countries, I’m very sorry but, this will not be applicable.

Beginning 30 days before your arrival date, guests can begin purchasing Lightening Lane Multipass and advanced booking experiences. You’ll be able to book for your entire trip, up to (14) days, all at once.

Everyone else can pre-purchase and reserve return windows just (3) days in advance). In both instances Lightening Lanes reservations must be within one park.

Additionally, guests will not be able to make another selection until after their first Lightening Lane has been used. At this time you’ll be able to make a selection from a different park, if you have a park hopper or annual pass.

However, attraction tier groups have returned.

Magic Kingdom Attraction Tiers

Tier One

  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
  • Jungle Cruise
  • Peter Pan’s Flight
  • Space Mountain
  • Tiana’s Bayou Adventure

Tier Two

  • The Barnstormer
  • Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin
  • Dumbo the Flying Elephant
  • Haunted Mansion
  • ‘it’s a small world’
  • Mad Tea Party
  • The Magic Carpets of Aladdin
  • The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
  • Mickey’s PhilharMagic
  • Monster’s Inc. Laugh Floor
  • Pirates of the Caribbean
  • Tomorrowland Speedway
  • Under the Sea ~ Journey of the Little Mermaid

Epcot Attraction Tiers

Tier One

Tier Two

  • Disney and Pixar Short Film Festival
  • Journey Into Imagination with Figment
  • Living with the Land
  • Mission: SPACE
  • The Seas with Nemo & Friends
  • Spaceship Earth
  • Turtle Talk with Crush

Hollywood Studios Attraction Tiers

Tier One

  • Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway
  • Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run
  • Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith
  • Slinky Dog Dash

Tier Two

  • Alien Swirling Saucers
  • Beauty and the Beast Live on Stage
  • Disney Junior Play & Dance!
  • For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration
  • Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular
  • Muppet*Vision 3D
  • Star Tours – The Adventures Continue
  • The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror
  • Toy Story Mania!

Animal Kingdom Attraction Tiers

Currently, there are no attraction tiers at Animal Kingdom for Lightening Lane Multipass. But, here’s a list of all the attractions included with this service.

  • DINOSAUR
  • Expedition Everest – Legend of the Forbidden Mountain
  • Feathered Friends in Flight
  • Festival of the Lion King
  • Finding Nemo: The Big Blue…and Beyond!
  • It’s Tough to Be a Bug
  • Kali River Rapids
  • Kilimanjaro Safari’s
  • Na’vi River Journey

Lightening Lane Single Pass

The most popular rides, up to 2 in each park, will not be available through the Lightening Lane Mulitpass. Instead, guests will be able to pre-purchase up to (2) Lightening Lane Single Pass reservations (previously known as Individual Lightening Lanes).

Magic Kingdom

Epcot

Hollywood Studios

  • Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance

Animal Kingdom

  • Avatar Flight of Passage

New Lightening Lane Stragies

This brand new announcement from Disney World changes everything. While it’ll be nice to sleep in past 6:30 am on a vacation, there’s pro’s and con’s to this new system.

With so many changes, we’re working at the speed of light to design new park guides, strategy recommendations, and tips to help you make the most of your Disney Vacation. We’d love for you to subscribe to our newsletter so we can stay in touch. In the meantime, here’s the highlights.

Book It and Buy It

We predict a high level of guest buy in with these changes, and it’s understandable. Being able to pick and secure your favorite attractions before purchasing a Multipass is amazing. It’s a guarantee that you and your family will get to do at least those 3 rides, and not have to race around to do it.

But that means that Lightening Lane Reservations will go fast. In the days of Fastpass+ it was nearly impossible to book a second Tier 1 attraction on the day of your visit.

Stay on Property

Disney World is amazing, for so many different reasons. But my favorite thing about Disney World is the immense and varied accommodations. There are more than 20 Disney World hotels, some with prices under $100 per night at times. We’ve talked before about the many, many, reasons to stay on property but being able to pre-book Lightening Lane 30 days in advance is a game changer.

Save Must-Do’s for the End of Your Trip

Not only can on property guests book Lightening Lane Reservations 30 days before arrival, they can book for their entire stay – up to 14 days. If you are lucky enough to book a 2-week trip, that means you can pre-book 44 days in advance.

It also means I want you to adopt me, but that’s a different article.

Chances of securing the most popular reservations will be higher at the end of your trip, so try and plan them for those days.

Yes, We Have to Pre-Purchase the Single Passes Too

The one thing I dislike about this new system is pre-purchasing Lightening Lane Single Pass. As I mentioned, the Fastpass+ system was extremely popular and the most in-demand attractions would quickly book up. Now, Disney has taken the most in-demand attractions and added an individual price tag.

While we don’t think pre-purchase of the Single Pass will be quote as popular, I also wouldn’t take the chance for rides without a standby entrance. For rides like Cosmic Rewind and Tron Lightcycle / Run there are only (2) options: virtual queue or Lightening Lane Single Pass.

There’s a fair chance that Single Passes will sell out on busy days. At that point, if you’re not able to secure a virtual queue spot you won’t get to ride. If these 2 attractions are must-do’s for your Disney World vacation, plan on purchasing them ahead of time.

Non-Refundable

It is extremely important to note that neither the Multipass or Single Passes are refundable. If your trip get canceled or rescheduled, you will not get a refund for these purchases and will need to re-purchase if you are visiting on different days.

What do you think of these latest changes to Disney World’s Skip the Line Service? Will you be pre-booking Lightening Lane Reservations?

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