Four-hour waits come to some of Walt Disney World's most popular rides during the busiest week of the year

Dec 29, 2022 in "Epcot International Festival of the Holidays"

2022 EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays overview
Posted: Thursday December 29, 2022 10:47am ET by WDWMAGIC Staff

It is officially the busiest week of the year at Walt Disney World, and guests are finding very long lines at the most popular attractions.

Most e-ticket rides have wait times above two hours, with headliners like Avatar Flight of Passage at Disney's Animal Kingdom reaching more than four hours.

Standby waits at Slinky Dog Dash, Tower of Terror, Star Wars Rise of the Resistance, and Remy's Ratatouille Adventure are consistently around three hours.

Even high-capacity people-eater attractions like Spaceship Earth, Haunted Mansion, and Pirates of the Caribbean are seeing extended wait times above an hour.

These long waits come despite Disney using its park pass reservation system, which was said to have been introduced to provide guests with a better experience and less overcrowding.

Many Disney fans believe the reason for the park pass reservation system is to allow Disney to balance guest numbers across the parks and, most importantly, to manage labor resources, streamlining efficiency and costs.

With the parks operating at maximum capacity, guests are also being impacted by Disney's Genie+ service. With Lightning Lane allocation heavily outnumbering standby allocation, guests in standby lines face frustratingly long waits as the queue moves at a snail's pace. Disney Genie+, the ride reservation system, is currently sold at $29 per guest, per day. Guests purchasing Genie+ can expect to secure, on average, two to three Lightning Lane reservations in a day, leaving even Genie+ buyers no other option but to join long standby lines.

Long waits are certainly nothing new during busy times, and previous year's have seen even longer waits at headliner rides. But with Disney Executives frequently lauding park pass reservations and Genie+ as being guest focussed benefits, the conditions in the theme parks this week are a reminder that visiting Disney World during peak periods isn't for everyone, and expectations should be set accordingly.

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JD80Jan 09, 2023

Every one that I talked to that used G+ actually had a good experience with it. These people ranged from first time WDW vacationers to WDW veterans. General complaints I've heard about it are things like the cost, the UI sucked, waking up at 7AM - the usual things. But the functionality and the result of it? They thought it worked. So this tells me that many people put up a lot of crap to skip lines and at the end of the day saving time outweighed all the other nonsense. Disney does a good job setting expectations that you're going to pay a stupid amount of money to have fun.

DisneyDebRobJan 09, 2023

I had to laugh at the phone comment you made. I do agree. There is a commercial playing here in Pennsylvania, not sure if it’s playing elsewhere. It’s not a Disney commercial but more of a Florida/Orlando commercial where they show Disney, Uni.. I think SeaWorld and maybe another park or two. One spot in the ad shows people walking through the park with the announcer saying..” it’s a place to put the phones away”. Obviously they haven’t been to Disney lately. I think I had over a hundred people walk into or very close into me a few weeks back. Would love to go back to the no phone days.

LittleBufordJan 09, 2023

This Londoner would love to know where these shows can be found!

wutisgoodJan 08, 2023

Y'all need to vacation to other places that aren't trying to punish you or steal from from you. You might be shocked at some European park prices and quality. Go to puy du fou in france for better than Disney entertainment, London for cheap shows, Europa park for variety and on site hotels. Port Aventura, Phantasialand, Eftelling, are the best but also just scratching the surface on how many quality parks there are.

Disstevefan1Jan 06, 2023

I think Genie+ "fails" to provide a good guest experience on all days but is worse on busy days. I agree, Genie+ is a success to the company as it MAKES MONEY. As for the guest experience, that is low on the priority list for the company and is seen as nothing to do with MAKING MONEY.

MrPromeyJan 06, 2023

Me neither which is the basis for my entire statement. If someone can report it selling out, I'll happily eat my words on this one since it would indicate them actually trying to do something right by their guests.

AylaJan 06, 2023

I know DLR has had Genie+ sell out, has WDW? I don't recall it ever being reported it was no longer available for purchase.

MrPromeyJan 06, 2023

Depends on what your idea of failure is. If you think it's failing to make Disney more money, you're absolutely wrong. If you think it's failing to serve any guests in the park, I don't believe that was their intent and it shows in the implementation. Here's the thing: They charge more for it on busy days. Why? If it was because on these days, they limit availability (sales) of it to ensure that people can still use it to the fullest and so that it has less of a negative impact on already bad lines, then there would be some guest facing logic to it. Them increasing the price to make up for fewer sales would be... sort of understandable. Instead, they're charging everyone more to get into the parks on the days when it will be least possible for people to do everything they want to as well as charging more for G+ despite it being less versatile due to them apparently not limiting more people from using it on these days. All around, they're just increasing the price to provide a worse experience for everyone on days they are busy, save, I guess maybe for those who are using the VIP tour which I'm sure is at its highest price point on those days, too. Why, again? Oh right - because they can. That's what I call Pure Disney Magic™, if by magic, we're talking about the ability to make money disappear out of customers wallets and reappear in their accounts without lifting a finger.

Disstevefan1Jan 05, 2023

In my opinion what explains that is; now that you have to pay for it, there is an implied value there so folks are buying it and since they paid for it they are much less likely to skip their LL. In the old FastPass days, if for whatever reason it wasn’t convenient to make your FastPass return time you would just skip it, you had nothing to loose.

TraumaJan 05, 2023

Yeah I had to plan a lot less for my trip. I still think the system is terrible. Did you take any time to talk to the average guest who is not a hardcore fan? They don’t really understand how g+ even works and for them it was more stressful because they weren’t getting on many rides. It’s fine if you study it and know exactly what to do but the average guest doesn’t do that. I was at Universal yesterday and express pass is extremely easy. I also didn’t have to stare into my phone the whole time. Everyone says Disney had better theming than Universal but the only theming I saw this trip was the refresh button for g+.

TraumaJan 05, 2023

Dollywood is much more affordable than Disney though. I think for some people knowing how much something is costing them adds to the stress of wanting to squeeze the most out of it.

mktJan 05, 2023

Magic Kingdom was obnoxiously full. We bit the bullet and paid for Genie+. It made the day slightly more tolerable.

SirwalterraleighJan 05, 2023

I see zero “extra planning” required now in practice. On the surface…yes. It’s phone face. But two things mucked the old way up. Fastpass+ was not Getting moved. They prebooked everything…which means it was a logjam long before you showed up. I don’t know how that was “spontaneous”? And reservations are 100x easier now…because the god awful dining plan is gone. That is straight up truth. Just rolled in the house a little while ago…and from 12/27-1/3…I could get whatever I want…almost whenever I wanted Same at the end of June and in 2021… Not hard to figure out why. Neither is perfect…but I’d argue nothing about the previous version was better except for allowing lazy leading to low expectations

RSD Part DeuxJan 04, 2023

BTMR was down to two trains today. LL was backed up to the Briar Patch although it moved quickly. We were lined up and off in 21 minutes. I feel bad for those other folks though.