Disney FastPass changes: Lightning Lane, Genie+ are the new way to skip lines at parks

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Disney Genie (Credit: Disney)

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (NEXSTAR) — Disney revealed on Wednesday the replacement for its iconic FastPass program at its domestic theme parks and disclosed details about Disney Genie, a free personalized itinerary tool that will help guests spend less time waiting in line.

Disney said the iconic FastPass and MaxPass programs at Walt Disney World and Disneyland Resort will be retired and replaced with “Lightning Lane” later this year.

Guests will be able to purchase the newly announced Disney Genie+ for a flat fee to gain access to shortened wait times using a new Lightning Lane on most attractions, including Haunted Mansion and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.

The new service will cost $15 per ticket per day at Walt Disney World and $20 per ticket per day at Disneyland Resort. Guests will be able to choose one attraction at a time and select the next available arrival window for the Lightning Lane entrance. An example arrival window would be 10:00-11:00 a.m. at a specific attraction.

Genie+ also includes exclusive “AR filters” at Walt Disney World and Photopass downloads at Disneyland Resort.

While Genie+ will give guests access to the expedited Lightning Lane and a reduced wait for most attractions, it won’t include every attraction. Other “highly demanded” attractions, including Seven Dwarfs Mine Train at Walt Disney World and Radiator Springs Racers at Disneyland, will be available exclusively as “individual attraction selections.” Those attractions will be separate Lightning Lane purchases per person per ride, Disney said Wednesday.

A full list of Genie+ attractions and Lightning Lane attractions will be released later this year. Individual attraction selection pricing will be released later this year, Disney said.

Genie+ is similar to MaxPass, a service previously offered at Disneyland Resort where guests could book FastPass times on mobile devices. Using the previous system at Disneyland, guests could obtain paper FastPass at each attraction. MaxPass, which launched in 2017, introduced the ability for guests to reserve FastPass times without obtaining a paper ticket and offered convenience of scheduling attractions in the Disneyland app.

According to Disney, all attractions will continue to offer a traditional standby queue or, in some instances, a virtual queue.

Lightning Lane purchases in the Disney app will be made per person per attraction and are not included in the Genie+ flat-fee purchase. Selecting attractions will happen on the day of your visit instead of weeks in advance as with the previous FastPass+ system at Walt Disney World.

Both Lightning Lane and Genie+ will launch in the fall.

Disney Genie, also revealed on Wednesday, is a free tool available to guests at Walt Disney World and Disneyland Resort that will help guests build a plan by optimizing their day based on projected wait times and available attractions.

“Disney Genie listens to the preferences that guests share with us to help design their best day and deliver an experience that’s made just for them,” Josh D’Amaro, Chairman, Disney Parks, Experiences and Product, said in a statement “Pairing incredible technology with more than 60 years of expertise about how our guests visit the parks, Disney Genie will personalize their Disney day, allowing guests to spend less time planning and waiting and more time doing the things they love.”

Guests can select their favorite attractions or characters, and Genie will “map out an entire day” while updating “your plan, so you can go with the flow as the day changes,” Disney said in a news release. The tool will launch in the fall.

“It’s going to allow Disney to move people to other attractions in the park,” said Dennis Speigel, president of Ohio-based International Theme Park Services. “It will alert people if there is a low wait at Splash Mountain… and Genie helps Disney understand the flow of guests.”

Speaking about the business impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, Speigel said Disney and other theme park operators used the time to evaluate business practices for the future.

“It gave Disney, Sea World, Universal…. it gave them the opportunity to eliminate programs and add programs,” Speigel said. “It accelerated the touchless and contactless part of the business, which increased per-capita spending in all of the theme parks.”

At Walt Disney World and Disneyland, all previous versions of FastPass have included a free option. With the exception of private VIP tours, this marks the first time Disney has offered a paid alternative to the traditional standby queues at its domestic parks.

First introduced in 1999 at Walt Disney World, FastPass began as paper tickets that had a return window for attractions. Disney World added FastPass+ and the ability to select attractions and return windows through My Disney Experience in 2013. Paper FASTPASS at Walt Disney World ended in 2014. In 2017, MaxPass was launched at Disneyland.

When the parks closed in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, both FastPass+ and MaxPass were suspended.

Earlier this month, a paid FastPass program was officially launched at Disneyland Paris on Aug. 5 under the Disney Premier Access brand. For $9-$17 per attraction, guests skip the traditional standby line by using this service.

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