Factors to Consider When Deciding Whether to Purchase Individual Lighting Lane Rides

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Walt Disney World’s new Genie, Genie+, and Individual Lightning Lane system has been in place now for about a week. The most common questions I’ve heard about this tectonic shift in Disney trip planning are variations of “Is it Worth It?”

Is this the line access you’re looking for?

The answer to this question will likely be different depending on which component of the G/G+/ILL program you’re considering. Today I’m looking at the Individual Lightning Lane (ILL) feature. As a refresher, Individual Lightning Lane purchases are available to any guest, regardless of whether they stay on site or whether they purchase the Genie+ product. There are two ILL attractions at each WDW theme park. If you want faster access to these two attractions (as opposed to waiting in a standby line), you’ll have to buy ILL access. Pricing for this varies daily depending on park attendance levels. At this point we’re seeing prices in the $7-15 range, per person, per attraction. For example, if a family of four wants fast access to Rise of the Resistance at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, they could decide to pay $60 (plus tax), to hop on the ride with no wait.

Back to the original question: Is this worth it? Well, it might be or it might not be, depending on your situation. Here are some things to consider to help you decide.

  • Are you a high income individual/family? If you have a high enough income, then you may have a “money is no object” attitude about vacations. Go ahead and buy all the ILLs, Mr. Moneybags.
  • Are you willing to get up early in the morning? Now more than ever, arriving at the parks prior to rope drop could be the key to your success in the parks. If you’re there early, before substantial lines start to form, you might not have a significant enough wait to justify the ILL expense.
  • Are you staying at a Disney World hotel? A corollary of the previous point – Guests staying at the Disney hotels now have a half hour jump on park entry over non-Disney-hotel guests every day. If you’re staying off-site, getting first dibs on free access to an attraction is now all but impossible.
  • Will you be using a touring plan? As Becky Gandillon points out in her excellent analysis of our in-park testing of these new WDW products, our testers using a touring plan had a similar experience to our tester who bought all the line access products – with significantly less cash outlay.
  • What else could you do with the money in the parks? Will avoiding all ILL expense allow you to stay in a better hotel, or eat at better restaurants, or buy more souvenirs? Does this matter to you?
  • What else could you do with the money at home? Is there some expense at home that should take priority over ILL purchases?
  • How long is your trip? If you’re at WDW for just a day or two, then the ILL reduction in wait time could have an outsized impact on your enjoyment of your trip. If you’re visiting for two or three weeks, then spending a bit more time waiting in lines could be less of a detriment.
  • How large is your party? Spending $15 for one person to hop onto Rise of the Resistance may be an easy decision, but if your travel party is 10 people, then your group is spending an extra $150 for fast access. That’s a mental hurdle that could be challenging for some.
  • How patient are you? Some folks might not mind a wait. Do you have a good audiobook to pass the time, for example, then you might enjoy the journey as much as the destination.
  • How patient are the other members of your party? You might be able to distract yourself during a lengthy wait, but will your five year old be able to do so?
  • Is this a special trip? If this is your honeymoon, big birthday, or other special occasion, then you might want to have an extra special trip. Eliminate those lines!
  • How often are you going to use the feature? Are you using the ILL feature just once during your entire trip or are you using it on two attractions every day for multiple day? The expense could be very different.
  • What are the crowd levels like at the parks? On a low-crowd day, the lines might be short enough that faster access is not necessary.
  • Does anyone in your party have medical issues? If member(s) of your party qualify for DAS access, you may be able to wait for a ride elsewhere in the park. You won’t be skipping the line, but you might be able to do so in a more comfortable environment.
  • Have you experienced the attraction before? If you’ve been on Space Mountain a hundred times, then it may be less important to you to spend the money for another zip through the universe. But if Rise of the Resistance is new to you, then it may make sense to spend the money for a guaranteed ride.
  • How often do you visit Walt Disney World? If this is a once-in-a-lifetime trip, ILL could help ensure that you get to all the headliners you’ve heard about. If you visit Walt Disney World at least every year, then paying extra money to ride a headliner might not be something you need to do during every trip.
  • What else would you be doing with your time? The purchase of an ILL will save you some time. Will that time used to making sure you don’t miss your flight home – then buy it. Will it be used to sit in your hotel room a little longer – then buying it might be less important.
  • Will this expense make you lose self-respect? Some expenditures are a bridge too far for some people. Not spending money to jump the line on a theme park ride could be the hill you choose to die on.

What are your thoughts on the “Is it Worth It” calculus? What factors will influence your decision to purchase Individual Lightning Lane access? Let us know in the comments.

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Erin Foster

Erin Foster is an original member of the Walt Disney World Moms Panel (now PlanDisney), a regular contributor to TouringPlans.com, and co-author of The Unofficial Guide to Disney Cruise Line. She's been to WDW, DL, DL Paris, Hong Kong Disneyland, Aulani, DVC Vero Beach, and DVC Hilton Head. She's a Platinum DCL cruiser and veteran of 10 Adventures by Disney trips. Erin lives near New York City, where she can often be found indulging in her other obsession - Broadway theater.

6 thoughts on “Factors to Consider When Deciding Whether to Purchase Individual Lighting Lane Rides

  • October 26, 2021 at 3:47 pm
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    Thanks for asking the most important question, are you a high income individual. Every article I see is “Is it worth it”. 95% of that answer is how much is $100 or whatever amount is to you. It’s like saying is VIP worth it. If $7k doesn’t mean anything to you then of course. Is renting out the park worth it? If you have Jeff Bezos money I am sure that it is as well.

    Reply
    • October 26, 2021 at 7:31 pm
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      So true! The new pay to play ILL and Genie+ clearly has winners and losers. Locals in low-wage jobs frequently visiting the parks will hate this while high income out of towners only down once a year or so may like it.

      Reply
  • October 26, 2021 at 5:57 pm
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    Time is money; money buys time?

    Reply
    • October 28, 2021 at 8:54 am
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      Reminds me of the movie: In Time, where you can literally trade time of your life for things. Sadly, time is one resource we cannot renew and we don’t know how much we have.

      Reply
  • October 27, 2021 at 7:42 am
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    I’m one of those people with limited time. 2 days in the parks with epcot extended hours one night and Very Merriest party the next. Club level at all and the need to sleep late means about 4 hours at hs- with ogas cantina reservation and AK. So planning on a purchase of ROR and genie+ with attenuation stacking both days. I don’t strictly need it at AK but it will allow the ease of walking on and we are only paying for 2. I think we will be able to do all the rides we want at Hs even with limited time. I would love to see a video walking through the actual screen selections for both individual ll and genie+, do
    Ya’ll have one?

    Reply
    • October 27, 2021 at 11:33 am
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      @Terry A video is a great idea; thanks for the suggestion. Our team is on it!

      Reply

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