Since reopening in July 2020, Disney has undergone various changes in an effort to enhance the guest experience. Most visitors, however, have been eagerly awaiting the return of one of the most important benefits for park visitors, the Disney Fast Pass system. Well at Disney, wishes do come true! Last month Disney unveiled their new and enhanced Fast Pass system called Disney Genie +.
The first important thing to mention is that the name "FastPass Reservation" has been replaced by what are now called "Lightning Lane" reservations. Everything is accessed and controlled by your My Disney Experience account and you will see Lightning Lane options identified with the letters "LL". This service is available for $15 per person per day and allows you to make Lightning Lane reservations at more than 40 attractions and entertainment across all 4 theme parks. These reservations can only be made one at a time throughout the day up until park closing starting at 7am on the morning of your visit. Many of your favorite attractions are included in the Disney + service like Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, “it’s a small world”, Splash Mountain, Test Track, Soarin', Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run, Slinky Dog Dash, Kilimanjaro Safaris and the Na’vi River Journey.
All of these Lightning Lane reservations can only be accessed through the newly enhanced My Disney Experience app. Below is an example of what you will find when searching the app for eligible times and attractions:
While almost all of the attractions in the parks have Lightning Lanes, not all of them are part of Disney Genie +. There are 2 attractions in every park that are only eligible for Lightning Lane reservations via what are known as "Individual Lightning Lane Selections". Guests may purchase and select an arrival window one at a time for up to 2 of these attractions per day.
These attractions include:
Seven Dwarfs Mine Train Space Mountain
Epcot Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure Frozen Ever After
Hollywood Studios Rise of the Resistance Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway
Animal Kingdom Flight of Passage Expedition Everest
Each ride will cost a different amount, typically between $7 and $15 per person, per ride. But this cost can and likely will change throughout the year. Over the last 2 weeks, we have seen Expedition Everest with a cost of $7 per person, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train at $10-$12 per person, Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure between $9-$11 per person, and Rise of the Resistance at $15 per person. This option will be available for all Guests—with or without Disney Genie+ service. Here are some real-time examples of what you will find:
The rules for park hopping have changed and guests cannot hop to another park before 2pm. As a result, the system won’t let you buy a pay-per-ride selection for a different park with a return time before 2PM. All guests can buy their first pay-per-ride selection on the day of their park visit when the park opens. But, if you’re staying at a Disney World Resort hotel, the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Hotels, or Shades of Green, you can actually book your pay-per-ride selection starting at 7AM. Most parks have been opening at 9AM each morning, so that’s a potential 2 hour head start when you stay on property.
There have been mixed reactions to these services but I think there are big advantages to the new system. Most importantly, the Disney Genie + service puts everyone on an equal playing field. The old Disney Fast Pass system allowed guests that were staying at Disney resorts to book Fast Passes 60 days in advance. The issue that we had with that system was that your first park day was someone else's second, third, fourth or fifth park day. By the time your Fast Pass window opened up, other guests had already had the opportunity to grab reservations for the most popular attractions before you. If you wanted to go to the parks for just one or two days, you were most likely shut out of having any chance to get a Fast Pass for Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Flight of Passage, Test Track, etc. There were either no times available or only really late options after 8pm or 9pm. And remember that you were not able to grab additional fast passes until you used your last one so if you reserved that 8pm slot then you were shut out of getting any other Fast Passes that day. Under this new system, however, guests can only start reserving Fast Passes at 7am the morning of your park visit. It no longer matters when you bought tickets or booked a hotel, everyone has an equal opportunity to grab a return time for their favorite attractions. Also, by separating the most popular attractions into a pay-per-ride tier you are actually able to secure 3 reservations at 7am if you stay on Disney property: your first Genie + reservation and 2 pay-per ride attraction reservations. Plus if you are visiting Epcot that day then you can also secure a Boarding Group for Remy's Ratatouille Adventure at that time as well. And our Disney Concierge service will add even more value to your trip! With more attractions scheduled to open over the next 18 months including Tron Lightcycle Run in Magic Kingdom and Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind in Epcot, these new features will continue to evolve as Disney continues to bring more magic to all of their parks.