If you’re paying for access to Lightning Lanes either through Genie+ or Individual Lightning Lane reservations, you might expect that you waltz right up, scan in, and meander your way through a totally empty line all of the way up to a ride vehicle. But that is rarely the case. In fact, there are a lot of other humans booking and using the same reservations as you. Disney tries to vary return times to spread crowds out throughout the day, but a variety of factors can back up those Lightning Lanes. Today I’m going to share the attractions with the highest average Lightning Lane waits so that you can plan and prepare accordingly for your next vacation!
Explain the Math
All of our faithful Lines App users (Apple Store, Play Store) time their waits during their Walt Disney World (and Disneyland and Universal Orlando) vacations. That includes standby waits, but also single rider and virtual queue and lightning lane waits.
Those lightning lane waits are what we’re going to focus on today. We have several thousand of them already recorded so far in 2023. And those cover all attractions at all parks across all times of day and crowd levels. The only exception is that we don’t have very many lightning lane timed waits for character meet and greets, so those are still a little bit of an unknown. For everything else, we have lots of data about time savings and how long those waits are.
For each attraction, I pulled all timed lightning lane waits in 2023. I filtered out any obvious errors, and then came up with an average wait time. For each of the attractions below, we had at least 75 timed lightning lane waits this year – and some had several hundred.
Attractions with Highest Lightning Lane Waits
1. Test Track – 22 minute average Lightning Lane wait
EPCOT is a tricky place to make good use out of Genie+, and part of the difficulty is just how spread out all of the attractions are. Especially ones that will save you a good amount of time. Now we can long-ish lightning lane waits to the list of things you’ll need to consider before using Genie+ at EPCOT. At Test Track, even if you use the Lightning Lane, you can still expect a 22 minute wait before you’re in your ride vehicle. That means if you’ve got a 6 pm dinner reservation around World Showcase Lagoon, you absolutely should not show up to Test Track later than 5:30 pm, even if you’re using Genie+. You’ll still save time compared to standby, but you’re not going to be breezing straight to your car.
2. Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind – 20 minute average Lightning Lane wait
EPCOT continuing its reign over difficulty, but this time with its Individual Lightning Lane selection. Purchasing ILL access for Cosmic Rewind will not save you much time compared to the Virtual Queue. Part of this is because virtual queue waits aren’t terrible. But the other part is that Lightning Lane waits are still decently long. You have the pre-show to thank for that. What you’re paying for here is the convenience of avoiding the Virtual Queue booking process and having a set return time, not any huge time savings.
3. Flight of Passage – 17 minute average Lightning Lane wait
“Okay, um, first we need to find a compatible match of your genetic material with the genetic material of one of the avatar bodies that we already have. Once we do that, you’ll be able to link to that avatar, and, uh, fly.” Way too many of us have spent way too long listening to the Avatar pre-show and waving our arms around a bit. Getting decontaminated. Getting matched. You know, all of those super important things. And you don’t get to bypass those important things by purchasing Individual Lightning Lane access, so you can still expect about a 17 minute wait for Flight of Passage even when you pay your way around the standby line. But 17 minutes is a lot better than 117 minutes!
4. Soarin’ – 16 minute average Lightning Lane wait
One of my favorite parts of Soarin’ is Flight Attendant Kronk telling me what to expect (actually, somewhat surprised they haven’t infused that IP into the experience …). But that also means you have to wait at least through that video – one full show cycle – before you can get on your glider. Even if no other line exists. Probably some other line will still exist, so that means you can expect about a 16 minute wait from the time you redeem your Genie+ reservation and when you sit and buckle and prepare to soar.
5. TRON Lightcycle/Run – 16 minute average Lightning Lane wait
Another theme emerges! Just like the other virtual queue attraction at Walt Disney World (Cosmic Rewind), you can still expect a decent wait for TRON even if you buy your way around the virtual queue process. This Individual Lightning Lane is actually a better value, because wait times in the virtual queue are much longer than those at Cosmic Rewind, and Lightning Lane waits are lower. That means better overall time savings. And while Cosmic Rewind (secretly) allows you to return to the attraction any time after your boarding group is called, TRON enforces your hour-long window. So unless you want to roll the dice on your return time, a Lightning Lane purchase with a guaranteed time could be the smart decision.
6. Rock’n’Roller Coaster – 16 minute average Lightning Lane wait
Our first entry from Hollywood Studios! Which is somewhat surprising given how many people opt to purchase Genie+ at Hollywood Studios – demand for reservations is really high. But Rock’n’Roller Coaster gets the title of longest average Lightning Lane wait for Studios attraction. Once again, it has a pre-show that you’re forced to participate in, and that slows things down. But it has also been highly unreliable since its refurbishment earlier this year, and downtime backs up already-booked return times, resulting in lots of people flooding the Lightning Lane when the ride eventually reopens.
7. Rise of the Resistance – 15 minute average Lightning Lane wait
The explanation for a wait at Rise of the Resistance could be almost a copy/paste from above. There are pre-shows. Many of them. Enough of them that I suspect Lightning Lane folks aren’t timing them in their wait. And it also breaks down all of the time. When it reopens, everyone that had purchased return times all rush to the attraction. So it takes a while to get all of those purchasers through the line.
8. Adventurers Outpost – 15 minute average Lightning Lane wait
Wrapping things back up at Animal Kingdom. Adventurers Outpost always catches everyone off-guard on Genie+ lists. On an average day, it sells out 5th out of any Genie+ attraction at any park. That’s mostly thanks to limited supply and the few options available at Animal Kingdom for folks buying that single-park Genie+ option. But it also backs up regularly, which means you could still be waiting a quarter of an hour to see Mickey and Minnie.
What Does This Mean For You?
- Don’t assume a Genie+ or Individual Lightning Lane reservation means no wait. Plan ahead for at least some time in line.
- If an attraction has lengthy pre-shows, chances are you’ll still go through those as part of your Lightning Lane wait.
- If an attraction has a virtual queue, your wait will still be a little higher than what you might expect. But lower than the virtual queue physical line!