Before I share this with you, I want you to know that Unofficial Guide and TouringPlans.com have been essential in all of our visits to Disney World. They’ve made our trips miraculously wonderful every time! We’ve ridden like fools, had a marvelous time, and enjoyed every single second of our visit(s) over the past 20 years of trips to Disney World.
One of my favorite moments was when we were done with the vast majority of our rides at Magic Kingdom, some of which we’d ridden several times, and I heard a woman say, “Pirates is only an hour and a half wait! Let’s do this one!” My kids were climbing the treehouse and I was on my way to do Carousel of Progress, basically done with all the best rides but still going strong until after fireworks!
So I’m incredibly sad to send the following report.
We just had our first-ever visit to Disneyland - a one-day, smash-and-grab-type visit, so we included everything: Park Hopper, Genie+ and two pay-per-ride Lightning Lanes - $572 for two tickets (including two $$$ Lightning Lane rides) on a very cold and rainy Tuesday in California. We thought the crowds would be lower due to date/weather, but that was not the case.
We arrived at the parking structure at 7:07 a.m. and made our way to rope drop - more than a mile away! - in time to squish into the crowds at Disney’s California Adventure. (We were aiming for Guardians of the Galaxy first, but accidentally got squished into the Web Slinger ride line, since we had no idea where we were going. Cast members were yelling “Strollers to the right!” so we thought we should stay to the left… Oops.)
On my phone, I bought Rise of the Resistance Lightning Lanes as soon as we got into the park, and we were (much later) thrilled to use it when the wait was posted at 130 minutes and all the $$$ LLs were sold out. Rise of the Resistance might have been the highlight of our day. What a ride!
But no matter what we did, we had serious and constant trouble with the Genie+ Lightning Lane.
All of the LLs were 8 a.m., so we grabbed one for Soarin’ - although we figured we would be on our first two rides - Guardians and Radiator Springs (single-rider) - for at least an hour. We expected to ride Guardians a couple of times, like we always did with Tower of Terror - but no chance for that at Disneyland! Crowds were insane at 8:30 a.m. After a 26-minute wait, we would have needed to wait another hour if we’d wanted to ride Guardians again.
Having that CLOSED window when you can only get ONE Lightning Lane for each ride is like having a blinking red light and a screaming siren in the brain all day long. Every Lightning Lane is like GOLD and if you miss your window, if you lose that ONE pass, you’re screwed, that’s it. You lose your one chance to ride that ride, because the standbys are obscene.
Does Disney even realize what they have done to us? Do they not understand how imperative it is to allow us to re-ride those rides we so love withOUT a three-hour wait?
Worst of all - with that red light blinking - Disney doesn’t even offer the Genie+ options they advertise on “My Tip Board.” So you are REALLY stuck - all day long.
So after our first ride, we had to cancel our Soarin’ LL. We chose a 10:35 LL for Guardians - but when we clicked “10:35” we got 11:55! An automatic 11:55-12:55 window. It didn’t matter that we also had a Radiator Springs $$$ Lightning Lane for 12:05 AND a Rise of the Resistance $$$ LL at 1:00. Genie+ didn’t care! It gave me THREE Lightning Lanes in two different parks all within a one-hour-long window!
But wait: there’s MORE: Radiator Springs broke during our three-rides-hour, so we spent twenty minutes getting a refund for our $$$ LL, knowing we had to be in the other park in half an hour and we weren’t sure if we’d get back to California Adventure.
So we had two hours to kill by either riding things we didn’t care about (standby) or trying single-rider lines.
We basically spent the rest of the day and well into the evening waiting … and waiting… for our two-obligatory-hour shifts to end so we could get another Lightning Lane pass. It was not even 9 a.m. when we got that “10:30-changed-to-noon” LL, so we had to wait two more hours just to find out where we might be going in the afternoon.
During our wait, we rode Radiator Springs using Single Rider. This worked like a charm. While in that line, I wondered why Disneyland would randomly DROP all those single-rider lines for other rides: Indiana Jones, Space Mountain…. Why would anyone destroy a single-rider line, if there’s one already set up? This crushed our spirits in ways no one can imagine. We’d been planning our trip for a month before we found out so many single-rider lines were gone.
Single rider lines are the saving grace that Disneyland needs to make ride-riders happy! It worked beautifully on Radiator Springs. We used it for Incredicoaster twice in a row! And we later got on Smugglers Run with no wait at all! We were literally the only people in the single-rider line. Then, while we were stuck in a downpour during our single-rider wait for Matterhorn Bobsleds, we only waited half an hour while the standby wait was at 75 minutes.
While we were waiting for our next Lightning Lane, we did Mickey’s Philharmagic. No line, ever. How can they only get this right for ONE ride?
But Lightning Lane? That was a total mess.
There is simply no way to factor in the “mess” for Touring Plans - which explains why it hasn’t been yet done that - because Genie+ doesn’t even know what it’s doing. After our late lunch (table service at Cafe Orleans, which was disappointing for other reasons), we ended up in Lightning Lane lines that were as long - if not LONGER - than Standby lines.
Space Mountain is a prime example. We secured our “4:15” Lightning Lane - and got 6:25 p.m. instead. When we finally got to Space Mountain hours later - on our fourth back-and-forth between parks - we stood in the rain for 70 minutes! How is that “Lightning” fast? We could see that there was an agonizing Standby line as well, and no one was particularly happy to be waiting in the rain.
Also apparently no one goes home during the rain/cold, even though it is amazingly miserable when it happens in California.
I wanted to grab LL for Buzz Lightyear, which Genie+ claimed were available immediately - but I could see that the Lightning Lane wait was at least as long as Standby. In fact, all the Lightning Lanes were as long, if not longer, than Standby by the time evening hit.
After getting up at dawn, and after years of closing down WDW, we gave up entirely on Disneyland. Our final (9:00 p.m.) Lightning Lane for Indiana Jones wasn’t worth it, so we went dejectedly back to our hotel.
Then, even before our 9:00 window hit, I got a notification on my Disneyland App that said my Lightning Lane pass was a multi-pass now (woo-hoo) because Indiana Jones was indefinitely CLOSED. But because all the Lightning Lanes were gone for the thrill rides, my choice was to use that woo-hoo multi-pass on Monsters, Inc. or Goofy’s Sky School (which was actually closed due to rain).
We were very, very glad we were no longer at the park when this happened, and thrilled to have left before waiting two hours to find out we could have never ridden Indiana Jones anyway.
At the end of the day, we would say the $20 we spent on Genie+ was “worth it” - but we were only able to secure LL passes for Guardians of the Galaxy and Monsters, Inc. during our five hours at California Adventure. At Disneyland, we paid $40 to do Rise of the Resistance, and our Genie+ rides were limited to Haunted Mansion and Space Mountain. We can’t count the broken Indiana Jones, or the broken Radiator Springs Racers, for which we received a $12 refund.
So we got a whopping four rides at $5 per person for each Genie+ Lightning Lane ride (in addition to the exorbitant prices just to walk inside the park, and $60 each to park-hop).
And I feel for the people who got NO Lightning Lanes. We did standby for Soarin’ which was dreadful: they let in a hundred Lightning Laners, then 20 people from Standby. We watched them do it again and again: LL patrons would pour in, then they’d take a handful of those of us who were stuck in Standby.
And here’s the list of rides we WANTED to ride, but couldn’t ride at all because the waits were unbearable:
Luigi’s Rollickin’ Roadsters
Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree
Winnie the Pooh ("10 minutes” on Genie+ was actually 45 and we had a lunch reservation)
Pirates of the Caribbean
Storybook Canal Boats
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
It’s a Small World (and)
Alice in Wonderland.
So we rode five rides in Disneyland and six in Disney’s California Adventure, and we were there for 13 hours. We took exactly two breaks: a 45-minute lunch and a 15-minute milk break in Star Wars land.
That comes out to … 70 minutes and $49.80 per ride.
I am now rethinking whether or not it was "worth it” to go to Disneyland at all, with their faulty and ridiculous new system.
And if Disney doesn’t do something to remedy the situation, I am not sure I will ever return to Walt Disney World, either. The happiest place on Earth - and my favorite place ever - has now fallen into a black hole and I can’t see any way it will ever get out, unless Disney fixes the problem it created by forcing us to pay so much more for so, so, so much less.
Readers: please beware. Touring Plans are useless with this newly created disaster. Steer clear and use your $ to do something else.