Meeting Mickey, Tiana, Cinderella, and their friends feels like a V.I.P. experience for children and adults alike at Walt Disney World.
Now, Disney is taking the “V.I.P.” nature of these meet and greets to the next level at Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
We’ve all been missing those magical meet and greets with our favorite characters at Disney Parks across the globe, and as the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida continues to celebrate its 50th anniversary and reopen experiences after the pandemic, Disney Guests have been able to get those coveted selfies once again.
Back at the end of 2021, both Princess Fairytale Hall and Town Square Theater reopened at Magic Kingdom as Disney Princesses and Mickey Mouse returned for meet and greets, albeit modified with social distancing in place.
Guests can meet Mickey, Cinderella, Tiana, and other characters from behind a rope. Indoor locations also require a mask to be worn, and selfies must be taken – Cast Members cannot take photos on your device.
These new meet and greets are now called “sightings”, and from January 26, will be part of Disney’s Lightning Lane service.
On October 19, 2021, Disney Genie officially launched at Walt Disney World on the My Disney Experience app, along with Disney Genie+ and Lightning Lane access. These are the new paid iterations of what was previously the free FastPass service loved by Guests.
According to the Walt Disney World website, seeing Mickey at Town Square Theatre, Princesses at Princess Fairytale Hall in Magic Kingdom, as well as the Olaf Celebrity Spot at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, will now be included in the paid Lightning Lane service as part of Disney Genie+.
This may disappoint Disney Guests who have until now enjoyed a single standby line for these experiences that have normally seen low wait times.
Disney Genie has left Disney fans divided. Both FastPass/FastPass+ at Walt Disney World Resort and FASTPASS/MaxPass at Disneyland Resort are now officially retired, and instead, Disney Genie+ (with Lightning Lanes, the new FastPass queues) has taken their place — a paid service.
Disney Genie+ charges Disney World Guests $15 per person per day to utilize the Lighting Lane — the old FastPass+ queue. The new system has baffled Disney Guests, with complaints including how Disney has replaced an originally free service, changed a well-established brand (FastPass), and caused confusion among Disney World and Disneyland visitors.
Many Guests are now worried that Disney is inflating wait times for financial gain, with posted wait times recently at Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom all being substantially higher than the actual wait time experienced.
With crowds increasing, it looks like Disney is adding more Disney Genie+ options to the list ready for increased Park attendance this summer.
So next time you want to meet Mickey in his 50th anniversary EARidescent outfit, you will have the option of either the standby lane or the new Lightning Lane.