LAKE BUENA VISTA, FL — Disney's four theme parks in Florida are all going through a big change. The Walt Disney Company is rolling out a big red carpet for it's 50th anniversary celebration coming up in October. But one of the biggest changes coming to the resort is how the company will handle how people wait for attractions.
For years, Walt Disney World's go-to system for expedited lines at their rides and attractions has been their FastPass system. You would book a FastPass for a ride at a particular time window, and return to the ride, where a cast member would help you through a line that moves much faster than the standard line. Obviously, that system benefits seasons where there are more visitors, like the summer. For example, the day this article was written, the wait for 'Avatar: Ride of Passage' is 45 minutes, only 30 minutes after Disney's Animal Kingdom opened.
With wait times often over an hour, guests visiting the parks look for a way to cut down on those waits so they can spend more time taking advantage of the rest of the resort. But the system that many guests have come to be familiar with, is going away. Disney has announced a new system that serves the same purpose called "Lightning Lanes".
It ties in with the new Genie system being added to the My Disney Experience application. For an additional fee of $15, you can use the Genie feature to schedule out your dining, rides, and show times throughout the day. The system can update you on any changes, adjust your plans depending on where you are in the park at the time, and even forecast future wait times. Part of that booking process involves expedited trips through line to make sure the other people using the Genie system can make
Here's how that booking works, guests can book Lightning Lane access to one ride at a time for as many rides as they want to. So you hold one reservation for one ride, and when you use it, you can immediately book your next Lightning Lane reservation for another ride. You can book an unlimited amount for most of the rides through all 4 theme parks, varying from classics like The Haunted Mansion to Millennium Falcon: Smuggler's Run.
That is essentially the same system that guests got familiar with while using the FastPass system. But Disney is adding another change with Lightning Lanes, and it involves how the company treats it's top tier rides.
To book rides that are high in demand, guests will have to pay an additional fee to the Genie system to book Lightning Lane access for rides like Rise of the Resistance and Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. That effectively allows someone to guarantee a ride on one of the most sought after rides at Walt Disney World.
Pricing for those top tier bookings has not been announced yet, but Disney's parks blog says that the price for those bookings will vary by ride and day.
Ultimately, it's going to come down to when you go, how many people are in your party, and what your budget is if you want to utilize this new system. No official date has been set for an official debut for this system, but it is expected to debut around the time the Walt Disney World 50th anniversary kicks off.