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Monday, May 20, 2024

OPINION: Oversold ‘Lightning Lane’ Makes Stand-By More Appealing

This week at Walt Disney World, I was shocked to see some massive lines for paid Lightning Lanes. Yet, I found nothing comparable in the regular standby lines at the few attractions I rode. As a standby-only guest who has never used Lightning Lane based on principle alone, I took to social media to celebrate my victories against the ‘increase per-guest revenue’ machine.

Toy Story “Lightning Lane” Mania

The day I was at Hollywood Studios, Slinky Dog Dash was down for the day. Many guests who paid extra to “skip-the-line” were forced to use their already-paid-for perk elsewhere. Thus began the Toy Story “Lightning Lane” Mania.

Outside the entrance to the attraction was a cast member holding a sign indicating the start of the Lightning Lane line. No such sign existed for standby, as its line wasn’t outside at all. The listed standby wait of 85 minutes pushed guests towards paying extra to wait in a physically longer line.

Lightning Lane defenders reacted to my post, contesting that this Lightning Lane line was “just to tap in.” This defense is plainly debunked by the video itself, where you can see the post-entry Lightning Lane line is backed up all the way to the tap point area. The Lightning Lane line extended outside to the attraction’s marquee all night.

One has to wonder to what extent Disney is using the posted waits to push guests towards paying to “skip-the-line.”

Soarin’ Past the Lightning Lane

Over at EPCOT this week, I found myself in the exact same situation. The line for Lightning Lane extended outside the entrance to the attraction. Even with Disney’s ridiculous ratios favoring the loading of Lightning Lane guests, the wait had to be nearing an hour. PEOPLE PAID FOR THIS!

Meanwhile, no such monstrous line existed for standby. Not until the final hallway before entering the theater tunnels did the standby line begin. The standby wait was listed at 70 minutes, before being revised down to 50 minutes. I only spent 25 minutes in the standby line before we all merged together and entered the theater hallways.

Ironically, technical difficulties with our theater extended the wait time to a total of 50 minutes. My theater also had Lightning Lane guests and VIP Tours, which had to wait the same as I did for the 20 minutes of technical errors to be cleared.

Put succinctly, even with the wild ratios favoring the loading of LL guests, I beat most of that line in the video without paying Disney an extra dime.

Am I saying you should never pay for Lightning Lane? If you are a very frequent visitor, yes. You shouldn’t use it, you greed enabler!

If you’re on a once-in-a-lifetime vacation, I say go for it. The Lightning Lane line moves faster, but just know that the juice is hardly worth the squeeze on a lot of rides these days.

Here’s to hoping ex-CEO Bob Chapek’s extortion racket comes to an end soon. Unfortunately, genies are hard to put back in the bottle.

Brayden produces quality Disney news commentary videos at Mickey Views. He is also working on feature-quality documentary films at "Address Unknown."



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