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Disney World Has Already Made A Big Change To Disney Genie And Lightning Lanes

It’s only been three days since Disney Genie was released at Walt Disney World, and we’ve already seen a significant change in how part of the system, designed to make planning your day easier, is functioning. It’s a change that is going to be good news for those people staying in Walt Disney World resort hotels, but it’s a bit of bad news for everybody else. Access to the Individual Lightning Lane attractions that can be purchased through Disney Genie are apparently no longer being held for non-resort guests.

It’s fairly common for Disney World to add some additional perks to those staying in its own resort hotels. Early or late access to certain parks is a common thing you can get if you stay on property versus off. But with the launch of Disney Genie, resort guests got a new benefit, early access to the reservation systems for Disney Genie+ and Individual Lightning Lanes. While the general public would need to wait until the parks opened, around 8 or 9 am, to make their first reservations, resort guests could start making reservations as early as 7. 

However, for the first two days of Disney Genie, something interesting was happening. Resort guests would make reservations for Individual Lightning Lane attractions, usually filling up all the earliest times, meaning that only late in the day options were available for others. But then, at 9am, when the parks opened,  a bunch of earlier reservation slots would become available again

It seemed that Disney World was holding a batch of reservation times back from the resort guests, so that they didn’t hog all the early time slots. However, today, according to Blog Mickey, that didn’t happen. It seems that all early reservations for Rise of Resistance, still the most popular attraction in all of Walt Disney World, were taken by resort guests, so anybody else looking to book a slot had to pick from later in the evening times only.

On the one hand, this is good news for resort guests. The last two days there were almost certainly some who booked an Individual Lightning Lane time for Rise of the Resistance later in the day than they wanted to because it’s what was available early, only to see they could have booked something earlier if they had waited.  Once an ILL is booked, the time cannot be changed. If you booked a Walt Disney World resort hotel specifically because of the available perks, it kind of sucks if you can’t actually get them.

At the same time, it was nice to see Disney World not locking out the guests that weren’t staying in the resorts. Giving them a shot at some decent ILL times was nice to see. If you ever stayed off property during the days of FastPass+ and never had a chance to get a FastPass for Flight of Passage or Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, then you know the feeling. 

The problem is that it’s really hard to balance these two groups of people. It makes sense that Disney World would want to offer perks in order to entice people to stay on property, but the resort certainly wants every guest to feel like they’re getting their money’s worth. But how exactly do you make everybody feel special and also make resort guests feel more special?

We’ll have to wait and see how things go from here. Perhaps this is the new normal, or perhaps Disney World will try things this way for a while and try to find a way to balance things out. Disney Genie is clearly going to be something that goes through changes over time as the resort finds ways to improve it. I certainly believe Disney wants to make a Disney World vacation perfect for every single guest. But how to do that is the challenge. 

Dirk Libbey

CinemaBlend’s resident theme park junkie and amateur Disney historian. Armchair Imagineer. Epcot Stan. Future Club 33 Member.