Lightning Lane

by Mitchell Swailes

For my first STEM with M segment I decided to share with you the subject that is dearest to my heart – Walt Disney World and the latest logistical must-know-how, the Lighting Lane.

This past January, I was able to escape the cold reality of Montreal and make my way to The Most Magical Place on Earth, Walt Disney World. There I learnt about, and used, the new paid Lightning Lane service, which replaced FastPass. Lightning Lane (LL) allows you to “skip” attraction wait times by booking reservations. There are two ways to book LLs; most attractions can be booked using the new Genie+ service ($15/day/guest). The catch is that the most popular attractions are not included in Genie+ and must be purchased separately à la carte, ranging from $8 to $20/guest.

Since this was a new, and very confusing, service, being the Disney connoisseur that I am, I studied the best scenarios to book LLs for a month prior to my trip, and I had a great time on my trip. I was educated and prepared.

Unfortunately, for my friend, Lucas, who went to Disney a month after my trip, the adventure was far less enjoyable. The moment I found out he was going to Disney World, I jumped on a call and tried to explain to him the many factors, rules, and tips to booking Lightning Lanes.

“You need to wake up at 7am and book your first Lightning Lane… Once the park opens, you need to purchase the Lightning Lane to the new Star Wars attraction separately.” 

Our conversation was short, I did most of the talking, at the end of our call he told me:

“Mitch, don’t worry about it. I know what I’m doing.” 

He, in fact, did not know what he was doing. Lucas purchased Genie+ for his entire 4 day trip at Walt Disney World. On his day at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, with only Genie+, he was unable to make a Lightning Lane reservation to the newest Disney attraction, Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, which requires a separate à la carte LL. By the time he tried to purchase the reservations, they were already sold out. In comparison, I waited approximately 3 minutes for this in-demand attraction. Lucas, who didn’t have a LL reservation, waited 4 hours.

Our time is valuable and is the one thing we cannot get back. Disney has recognized this and is now charging for services that will save you time, which was not the case before. What could Lucas have done differently? Listened to me? That definitely would have helped, but more importantly, he could have planned better. Walt Disney World has changed immensely and continues to change. Whether it’s a change for good is another discussion, but proper planning has become an essential part of getting the most of a Disney vacation. With that being said, if anyone would like Disney consulting, please don’t hesitate to send me an email, I’ll be happy to help! 😉


  • Not all attractions are included in Genie+
  • The most popular attractions must be purchased à la carte
  • Lightning Lanes sell out quick
  • Learn the best ways to book LLs so you don’t have to wait 4 hours!


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