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Does More Lightning Lane Availability Ever Get Released?


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A frequently asked question by guests planning to visit the Walt Disney World Resort, often after taking a look at the Lightning Lane capacity/sell out data, is if any additional Lightning Lane slots for both Genie+ and Individual Lightning Lane are released throughout the day? 

Lets first take a step back to explain what a Lightning Lane "sellout" is. The Lightning Lane, which can be accessed for many attractions through Disney Genie+, and limited attractions through Individual Lightning Lanes, provides a shorter wait time for the attraction booked (for a fee). Each Lightning Lane eligible attraction has a limited number of "slots" or "reservations" that can be booked by Disney World guests on a daily basis through the My Disney Experience app via the Tip Board. The slot denotes a given time period at which the guests can enter the Lightning Lane for an expedited wait for the attraction. Starting when the first Lightning Lane can be booked at 7:00 AM, the allotments of each of these "slots" or "reservations" begin to deplete. For many attractions, just a small amount of the availability is filled at 7:00 AM. However, for some of the more popular attractions, such as Slinky Dog Dash at Disney's Hollywood Studios and Remy's Ratatouille Adventure at EPCOT, a large percentage of the availability is filled within minutes (or even seconds) of 7:00 AM. When all availability for attraction has been filled, it has "sold out" or reached capacity, and the option to reserve a "slot" will disappear from My Disney Experience (i.e. indicates that guests can no longer book a time for the attraction).

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What time the sell out occurs varies by the day per attraction, but it can be very quick for the biggest attractions at Walt Disney World during busy periods. We track these times each day on this page (example shown above for EPCOT). Often, it is at or around the park opening plus 2 hours mark, which typically aligns with 11:00 AM or before (dependent on the park you are at). So, you've paid for the Genie+ service, but now cannot get a Lightning Lane for the attractions you want? Or you are an off-site guest and the Individual Lightning Lane you wanted sold out before you were eligible to purchase it? What can you do now?

There are a couple options: one based on randomness and one based on past occurrences. The latter is your better bet, but back to that in a moment. First, it is possible, that a Lightning Lane slot will randomly open up for the attraction that you want. This happens when other guests modify or cancel their plans, leading to a brief moment of availability. This is not in any way predictable, and requires constantly refreshing the Tip Board in My Disney Experience. This method is often called playing the Disney slot machine. More often than not, you won't get what you want, but may strike the jackpot every once in awhile.

Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind is a good example of this behavior. Below is the availability heat map for Cosmic Rewind for a 30 day period. Colors, ranging from green to red to denote the best available return time, indicate that the Individual Lightning Lane was available at a given time of day for the attraction. Gray indicates that it is "sold out" or at capacity. After the continuous color bar ends, within the gray, you can see random spots of color, indicating that Lightning Lane availability briefly appeared. An example is circled in blue in the image below. However, it is evident that there is no apparent pattern to the availability on a day-to-day basis.

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So is there any predictable release of additional Lightning Lane slots for "sold out" or at capacity attractions? If we take a look at the Lightning Lane availability map instead for Remy's Ratatouille Adventure, there are some noticeable differences compared to Cosmic Rewind previously. As highlighted in the blue circles, there are vertical lines of availability at about the same time of the day for most days within the 30 day span shown. Those are releases of new Lightning Lane availability! Often, the return time is pretty close to the current time too.

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Over a 60 day period, the same times are even more pronounced, as shown below. The releases appear to occur just before 2:00 PM, 4:00 PM and 5:00 PM. So there are regular releases during a light period across Disney World, but does the same trend hold up over a busy period? Lets take a look at the data!

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Plotted below is the Lightning Lane data for Remy's Ratatouille Adventure over the 2023/2024 Christmas/New Years holiday period. Between Christmas and New Year's Day is typically the busiest week of the year at Walt Disney World. However, a majority of days still have the same additional releases, especially the two later in the afternoon! What other attractions exhibit this "popup" availability behavior at Disney World?

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There is a consistent group of five Disney World attractions that exhibit this re-release behavior:

  1. Remy's Ratatouille Adventure
  2. Test Track
  3. Frozen Ever After
  4. Avatar Flight of Passage
  5. Slinky Dog Dash (this one is more rare during busy periods)

At Thrill Data, we automatically check for which attractions exhibit this "popup" behavior and track them conveniently on this page: Popup Lightning Lane Availability. An example from Remy is shown in the figure below:

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The best strategy is to refresh your Tip Board within My Disney Experience for a few minutes around the times listed on the Popup Availability page. Many users have had success with it! But, be aware that availability is not always released every single day. If the attraction has had issues operating that day, it is less likely that a drop will occur. Why these attractions? Disney would have to answer that, but a common theme is an early "sellout" time and parks with fewer attractions. The Magic Kingdom is absent from this list currently because the number of attractions at the park spreads out Lightning Lane use, leading to "sellout" times later in the day.

If you are wondering if the same phenomenon occurs at Disneyland Resort, it does, but it is less common due to overall better Lightning Lane availability at the resort. Disneyland popup availability can be viewed here.

Questions? Comments? Success stories? Post them in the comments!

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Mpg

Posted (edited)

Would it be possible to use the data to test if the DAS program changes have opened up more lightning lanes?

I read allegations from cast members that seven out of ten LLs were DAS on Slinky Dog Dash. 

Eliminating most of the DAS usage should result in a reduction in wait lines, unless the former DAS people have been replaced with more LL’s.  

Thank you!

Edited by Mpg
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8 hours ago, Mpg said:

Would it be possible to use the data to test if the DAS program changes have opened up more lightning lanes?

I read allegations from cast members that seven out of ten LLs were DAS on Slinky Dog Dash. 

Eliminating most of the DAS usage should result in a reduction in wait lines, unless the former DAS people have been replaced with more LL’s.  

Thank you!

It might show up as a correlation in the data over time. Right now, need more data points.

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