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Disney’s “Money Grab” Blamed for Long Wait Times During Lower Crowds

lightning lane ruined Disney
Credit: Disney

Walt Disney World in Florida has continued to see lower crowds coming out of the summer season. Almost everyone covering the theme parks has detailed record low attendance over the past few months. However, wait times remain steady regardless of this troubling trend. Some guests have had enough and blame what they consider “Disney’s money grab” for these heinous wait times.

disney genie struggles

Credit: Disney

Disney World Wait Times

Wait times at Disney World have long been a heated discussion among park visitors. They are often extensive and can be frustrating for guests who want to maximize their time enjoying attractions. Normally, the sheer volume of guests, especially during peak seasons, extends waits for popular attractions. Unpredictable factors like ride breakdowns and weather compound these waits. However, queues have been relatively stable regardless of decreasing crowds lately.

Disney has taken several steps to alleviate wait times. They introduced the FastPass+ system (now Genie+) for ride reservations, virtual queue systems for select attractions, and extended park hours to spread out crowds. Investment in new attractions and making queues more interactive have also helped a bit.

Disney’s Genie+ replaced the park’s FastPass+ offering as a paid visitor service. It allows guests at Disney World to reserve access to select attractions, shows, and experiences in advance. They can then go into a special Lightning Lane when arriving to skip the standby queue. It’s designed to help visitors save time and reduce wait times by allowing them to make reservations for popular attractions through the Disney Genie+ app, thus arguably enhancing their overall park experience. However, some guests aren’t buying it.

Disney Genie

All Images Credit Disney

Lightning Lane Ruined Disney

A Disney World guest recently vented their frustrations over the increased wait times amid lower crowds at the park in the r/WaltDisneyWorld subreddit. As a seasoned park-goer with over 20 visits spanning more than 15 years, they were initially thrilled by lighter crowds compared to previous visits.  They were pleased to be able to move freely through popular areas like “it’s a small world” and Peter Pan’s Flight without the usual shoulder-to-shoulder congestion. Yet, it became evident that wait times for attractions remained stubbornly high, if not longer than before.

genie looks concerned and disney genie+ logo

Disney Genie+ and Lightning Lane / Images Credit: Disney

The guest’s frustration peaked during their visit to EPCOT, where they joined the standby line for Test Track, which displayed a 50-minute wait time. However, their patience was tested as they observed the line moving significantly slower than anticipated. According to the guest, the culprit was Disney’s “money grab.” Genie+ Lightning Lanes funnel too many people through compared to standby, creating major discrepancies for listed wait times.

They realized that Lightning Lane users were overwhelmingly being prioritized over standby guests, disrupting the traditional flow of queue progression. This led to a significant delay, which many guests have noticed recently. This visitor didn’t feel they should have to pay extra to get what should be a basic experience for everyone.

I just got back from Disney World and our first day in the Magic Kingdom we said the crowds seemed light. We have been to Disney World over 20 times over the past 15+ years and have experienced it all. But this was the lowest I’ve seen crowds in a very long time, we could walk past Small World and Peter Pan and not be shoulder to shoulder with others, it was awesome. But the lines seemed to be the same wait times as previous visits and for some rides they seemed longer.

I realized what was the likely culprit of this when we got in line a few days later at Epcot for Test Track. The posted wait time said 50 minutes when we got into line and stayed that way for probably 15 minutes after. Things moved fast at first but by the time we got to the room with the car and the kids designed projected on to it, it has already been 50 minutes. Then by the time we got into the design studio we had been in line for 90 minutes, it ended up lining up to the point where I had to attempt to enter the virtual queue for Guardians while on the ride, this obviously wasn’t our plan. We planned on riding TT and having more than enough time to sit down inside and attempt the virtual queue.

So by the time I was able to see the big room before the design studio I noticed that the cast members were taking 1 family from the stand by line and filling the rest of the room with Lightning Lane guests. Literally they would tell the first family in line to go stand on the first colored circle and everyone else had to wait until the next time.

Lightning Lane is the worst thing to happen to Disney World in my experience. I refuse to buy it and look at it as such a money grab. I don’t want to have to deal with it either.

I watched a YouTube video of a guy who was in a park overseas (edited, got flagged for a post not about Disney World) and he said they don’t have anything like that other than 2 rides you can pay to skip the line. He said that lines move much faster and are very true to their wait times with no variation to account for. I know it’s never going to happen since so many people buy Genie+, but they should consider just eliminating it all together and go to only Stand by, or atleast pay per ride to skip the line. I feel like a lot less people would be willing to pay $20 for a single ride.

Lightning Lane has ruined Disney World
byu/J-Hawg inWaltDisneyWorld

However, other commentators responded by bringing the reality of the situation to light. This problem was also prevalent with the regular FastPass+ system. The only difference now is that it’s a paid service, which is way more noticeable and frustrating for standby users. Furthermore, the issue will likely cause more and more people to buy into the Lightning Lane system in order to alleviate their grievances.

That’s how it was with FastPass, too. Yes, the line would move MUCH faster without FastPass or Lightning Lanes. Unfortunately, they’re not going away. And also unfortunately, the slower the stand-by line moves, the more people will be inclined to buy Lightning Lane. However, with all of the frustration with that and people feeling like they’re being nickeled and dimed, Disney probably needs to sell fewer LL to keep guest satisfaction up.

byu/J-Hawg from discussion

The guest’s account is a sentiment many others share with the Genie+ Lightning Lane system. They see it as a detrimental development in the Disney World experience, one that potentially diminishes the value of the traditional standby line and can disrupt the flow of attractions, leading longer to wait times and overall dissatisfaction with the park visit. Furthermore, Disney has also transitioned to a flexible cost system in which Genie+ fees rise or fall based on the park. Some people stress that global Disney parks limit paid access to skip lines, suggesting this could lead to smoother and more enjoyable visits for all guests.

About Michael Stoyanoff

Michael is a Disney fan with an entertainment background and passion for writing. Living in Orlando, he has been around the theme parks for over a decade. In his free time he enjoys running, playing video games, and traveling the world. He also loves hanging out with his dog, Mr. Pippers the Pug.

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