Disney has introduced a paid ‘FastPass’ replacement — here’s what ‘Lightning Lanes’ cost

Oct 27, 2021

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There’s officially a new way to skip the regular lines at Disney. Genie, Genie+ and Lightning Lanes are now open at Walt Disney World.

Disney’s free FastPass program is now part of the Disney history books and in its place is a new mix of paid and complimentary services.

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From what it costs to how it works, here’s what you need to know about Disney’s new way to skip the lines.

$15 (£10)  to skip lines with Genie+

Disney Genie+ costs $15 (£10) per day at Disney World. It provides access to what used to be referred to as FastPass lines and will apply to more than 40 attractions at Walt Disney World. And while this is functionally a lot like what a paid FastPass would have been, the actual term FastPass has been replaced with “Lightning Lane.”

(Image courtesy of Disney)

While we don’t have a launch date for this service at Disneyland quite yet, Genie+ will cost $20 (£14) per person per day when it launches in California and will apply to more than 15 rides. The Disneyland price is on par with what MaxPass cost prior to the 2020 park closure, and this service actually functions much like MaxPass worked at Disneyland.

Examples of attractions that will be available for Lightning Lane via Genie+ include Haunted Mansion, Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.

At Disneyland, Genie+ will also include unlimited PhotoPass downloads, and at Disney World, it will include some augmented reality lenses. We tried some of them out when we visited Disney World in October for the kickoff of the 50th-anniversary celebration, and the lenses are pretty fun.

(Photo by Summer Hull/The Points Guy)

Similar to how MaxPass operated at Disneyland, you can select another Lightning Lane attraction and return time (if available) as soon as you use the one you had selected. If the one you selected is for a popular attraction that doesn’t have return availability until much later in the day, Disney states you can select a new one after two hours even if you haven’t yet used the one that only had availability much later in the day.

For those that like to park-hop, you will be able to use it across multiple theme parks in one day.

(Photo courtesy of Disney)

A la carte Lightning Lane access starts around $7 (£5) each

For the highest-demand attractions, you’ll have to pay a separate amount to access those Lightning Lanes. You can do that with or without the purchase of Genie+.

According to Disney, these a la carte attractions include:

  • Magic Kingdom: Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
  • Magic Kingdom: Space Mountain
  • Epcot: Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure.
  • Epcot: Frozen Ever After
  • Disney’s Hollywood Studios: Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance
  • Disney’s Hollywood Studios: Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway
  • Animal Kingdom: Avatar Flight of Passage
  • Animal Kingdom: Expedition Everest
(Photo by Summer Hull/The Points Guy)

The pricing will vary from day to day, but the examples we were given are roughly what we expected based on the pricing that was used at Disneyland Paris. In the examples provided, pricing ranges from around $7 (£5) to $15 (£10) per ride per person. And for day one of Lightning Lane today, prices were indeed in that realm with Rise of the Resistance coming in on the high-end and Everest on the low-end.

This a la carte option is only available for two different attractions each day — though you can split them between parks, doing one in Magic Kingdom and one in Hollywood Studios as an example, assuming you have park-hopper tickets.

(Photo by Summer Hull/The Points Guy)

New free Genie service will help optimize your day

There’s also a long-awaited free service coming soon to all Disney World and Disneyland guests: Disney Genie.

The new Disney Genie service will be available within the My Disney Experience and Disneyland apps. Its goal is to help Disney guests maximize their day by displaying estimated future wait times for attractions, making suggestions on their day’s specific itinerary based on their plans and stated preferences and centralizing their dining reservations, virtual queues and “lightning” access plans.

(Photo courtesy of Disneyland Resort)

These won’t be static recommendations but will update in real-time based on wait times, their changing goals, ride availability and more.

Disney Genie will leverage decades of Disney data and technology to help guests plan their best Disney day and reduce the time spent in lines.

Related: Guide to visiting Disney World 

Old-fashioned lines are still available

With all of this talk of Genie, Genie+ and individually available paid Lightning Lane access add-ons, you may start to wonder if you can still just decide to buy a regular ticket and get in line to ride something.

Don’t worry — you can still hop in a traditional queue at Disney parks. (Photo by Summer Hull/The Points Guy)

Thankfully, the answer is yes — standby lines are still available. The obvious difference is that those lanes will now probably move a bit slower than they used to because you’ll have to alternate with people using Lightning Lane access. But since this is a paid service, compared to the old free FastPass, the impact on the standby queue may be less than in the past.

Beyond the old-fashioned physical lines, virtual queues continue to be available at no extra cost for the new attractions. At Disney World, a virtual queue is being used for the new Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure.

When can you buy Genie+ and request Lightning Lane access?

Disney has said that date-based ticket guests will be able to purchase Genie+ in advance of their visit, but a la carte Lightning Lane attractions won’t be available until the day of the visit.

At Disney World, Genie+ users can select a return time for their first desired and included attraction of the day beginning at 7 a.m. on the day of your trip. At Disneyland, you’ll have to wait until you’re physically in the park to select a return time for your first ride. That’s true regardless of where you are staying for your vacation.

However, there is a little extra perk for those who are staying in Disney World resorts.

If desired, Disney resort guests can make their first individually purchased Lightning Lane attraction selection beginning at 7 a.m. (such as for Seven Dwarfs Mine Train). Non-resort guests can’t do this until the park officially opens — which may be an hour or two later depending on the day and selected park.

Disney’s Yacht Club. (Photo by Summer Hull/The Points Guy)

Disney has not ruled out the possibility that annual pass holders will one day be able to purchase a Genie+ add-on for their pass, but that is not available currently and may or may not happen down the road.

Bottom line

Genie+ and Lightning Lane are officially a thing now at Walt Disney World. Early reports online are that the waits for the Lightning Lanes for popular rides are much shorter than the standby queues, though may still include a few minutes of waiting as the old FastPass lines did.

When recently speaking about all these new options and planning features, Disney says that the “one size fits all approach doesn’t make sense” for its guests anymore.

Thankfully, the fee of $15 (£10) per person per day for Genie+ likely doesn’t add a huge amount to the total overall cost of a trip to Disney World. It’s certainly a much more affordable option than several thousand dollars per day for a Disney VIP tour, which was the only real way to bypass the increasingly long standby lines earlier this year.

For a family of four that is spending three days in the Walt Disney World parks and wants these perks, Genie+ will add $180 (£130) to the trip cost. Purchasing two a la carte Lightning Lanes per day for top-tier rides would add approximately $265 (£191) to their trip, based on an average of the examples given. That $445 (£322) is a lot of money and could be a deal-breaker for some.

But for others, it’s a lot more affordable than some other skip-the-line options. Time (and a TPG test coming soon) will tell how much time using Lightning Lane really saves.

Walt Disney himself once said, “We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things.” And this time, that means the end of the FastPass era and the beginning of a more a la carte approach to a day spent at Disney theme parks.

Additional reporting by Madison Blancaflor. 

Featured photo by Summer Hull/The Points Guy. 

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