The big talk in Fall 2021 Disney news has been the unveiling of the new Genie and Genie Plus (Genie+) Services in the Disney World app. The attention has especially been focused on Genie+ and the new Lightning Lanes, which have essentially replaced what were once Fastpasses. Only now you have to pay extra for them. Which is making a lot of people…not so happy.

Here we’re going to break down everything you need to know about Genie+ if you are planning a Disney World vacation, plus I’ll share my experience with the system and a few tricks we learned and issues we had on our last Disney trip.

Note that Genie+ is also being released for Disneyland in California. The system will work much the same way, although the price is difference ($20 per day per ticket at Disneyland vs. $15 per day per ticket at Disney World). But for this post, we’re going to be focusing exclusively on using Genie Plus at Walt Disney World in Florida.

What is Genie Plus?

Genie+ is basically the new Fastpass+ system. This means you can book windows to return to rides and go through a special line with a minimal wait. But it is now an additional charge to your ticket to do so.

How is Genie Plus different from Genie?

Disney Genie is a free planning service where you can plug in your interests for the day and it will give you itinerary recommendations based on wait time predictions. You can also make dining reservations through Disney Genie.

This is a separate service from Genie+. Everyone has access to Disney Genie, while Genie+ is just available for those who pay for the service.

How is Genie+ different from Fastpass+?

There are a LOT of differences between Genie+ and the old Fastpass system.

First of all, Genie+ costs $15 per ticket per day in order to book Lightning Lanes (aka Fastpass lines). This is different, because Fastpasses used to be free.

Genie+ also only lets you book Lightning Lanes on the same day you are going to the park. (With the old Fastpass system, you would book 60-30 days out from your visit.)

There are also two rides per park that are a separate charge in order to access the Lightning Lanes. This is completely different from how Fastpasses for popular rides were handled.

If I purchase Genie+, does that mean I can get on all the rides?

One important things to know: purchasing Genie+ does not automatically give you access to Lightning Lanes. You still have to book Lightning Lane times after you purchase Genie+.

Genie+ also does not give you access to the Individual Lightning Lanes (i.e. the two premium rides per park). These are a separate charge.

On our last trip, I saw several families who were confused, thinking they could enter the Lightning Lanes whenever they wanted because they had purchased Genie+. This is NOT the case. You still have to book return times for the rides. And depending on the park you are in and the crowd level, it still may mean there are rides you will end up skipping.

What is a Lightning Lane?

A Lightning Lane allows you to go in a separate line from the general standby line to access rides with minimal waits. So, they are like the old Fastpass lines.

I did notice on our most recent trip, though, that the Lightning Lane wait times tended to be shorter on average than what we had experienced with Fastpass previously. To me, this probably means that Lightning Lane availability is more limited than Fastpass availability was.

What rides offer Lightning Lane?

Here are the rides and shows in each park that offer Lightning Lanes:

Magic Kingdom

  • Barnstormer
  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
  • Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin
  • Dumbo
  • Haunted Mansion
  • It’s a Small World
  • Jungle Cruise
  • Mad Tea Party
  • Magic Carpets of Aladdin
  • Mickey’s PhilharMagic
  • Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor
  • Peter Pan’s Flight
  • Pirates of the Caribbean
  • Splash Mountain
  • The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
  • Tomorrowland Speedway
  • Under the Sea – Journey of the Little Mermaid

Epcot

  • Disney and Pixar Short Film Festival
  • Journey into Imagination with Figment
  • Living with the Land
  • Mission: SPACE
  • Soarin’
  • Spaceship Earth
  • Test Track
  • The Seas with Nemo & Friends
  • Turtle Talk with Crush

Hollywood Studios

  • Alien Swirling Saucers
  • Beauty and the Beast Live on Stage
  • Disney Junior Play & Dance
  • For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration
  • Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular
  • Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run
  • Muppet*Vision 3D
  • Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster
  • Slinky Dog Dash
  • Star Tours
  • The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror
  • Toy Story Mania

Animal Kingdom

  • Celebration of the Festival of the Lion King
  • Dinosaur
  • Feathered Friends in Flight
  • It’s Tough to Be a Bug
  • Kali River Rapids
  • Kilimanjaro Safaris
  • Na’vi River Journey
  • The Animation Experience at Conservation Station

What is an Individual Lightning Lane?

An Individual Lightning Lane works the same way as regular Lightning Lane except they are a separate charge. This can range anywhere from $7 to $15 per ride. It depends on the ride and the current demand.

There are two rides per park that offer Individual Lightning Lanes.

Note that you DO NOT have to purchase Genie+ in order to purchase Individual Lightning Lanes. They are a completely separate thing.

Also note that Disney resort guests can purchase Individual Lightning Lanes beginning at 7 a.m., while non-resort guests can purchase them beginning at park open.

What rides do you have to purchase an Individual Lightning Lane for?

Two rides at each park require an Individual Lightning Lane purchase if you want to skip the standby line.

Magic Kingdom

  • Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
  • Space Mountain

Epcot

  • Frozen Ever After
  • Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure

Hollywood Studios

  • Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway
  • Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance

Animal Kingdom

  • Avatar Flight of Passage
  • Expedition Everest

How do I purchase Genie+?

You can purchase Genie+ either when you purchase your park tickets or in the app for whatever days you plan to use it. I found it pretty easy to just get on the app and purchase it a little before 7 a.m. (the time you can book your first Lightning Lane).

But I do know some people have had errors trying to purchase it the same day in the app, so if you are worried about this you may want to purchase it ahead of time. (I actually did get an error one day, so we just got on my husband’s phone to purchase it and it worked fine.)

How do I use Genie Plus in the Disney app?

When you go into the My Disney Experience app, you should see “Disney Genie Service” at the very top. I think it’s easiest to click “View My Day” and then go to the “Tip Board” to see what rides are available to book.

You can book your first Lightning Lane with Genie+ beginning at 7:00 a.m. After that you can book your next Lightning Lane EITHER when you scan into your first ride (at the second touch point) OR two hours after the park opens (or, after that, two hours after your booked your last Lightning Lane.)

If you book an evening Lightning Lane early in the day, you can book another one two hours later, which means that you CAN hold more than one Lightning Lane reservation at a time.

What do I do if I get an error?

Screenshot screenshot screenshot. Then go to a cast member and explain what happened. There’s no guarantee that they can fix things for you, but cast members do their best to help you solve your problems.

Genie+ gave us A LOT of errors on our most recent visit, and I found it very frustrating. Eventually we were able to get through to the rides we wanted (although with the errors they ended up being later times), so we didn’t get cast member assistance. But definitely visit a guest services kiosk if you are having issues.

What happens if I purchase Genie+ but can’t get a Lightning Lane?

Having Genie+ does not guarantee that you will be able to get access to Lightning Lanes. Some of the rides go extremely quickly in the morning. If you purchase Genie+ and end up not being able to use it for any rides, guest services will likely give you a refund.

Do I need Genie+ for every park?

This completely depends on what you want to do and when you visit Disney World. But generally I would say no, you do not need Genie+ for every park.

Epcot and Animal Kingdom are relatively easy to do without Genie+ (although you may want to grab that Individual Lightning Lane for Flight of Passage if that’s a priority to you.)

It can be useful at Hollywood Studios, especially if you want to do all the rides. But it’s also reasonable to skip it at Hollywood Studios and splurge from the Individual Lightning Lanes instead.

Genie+ is most needed at Magic Kingdom, as this park is the most popular and has the most rides. If you only get Genie+ on one day, get it on your Magic Kingdom day.

What is a good Genie Plus strategy?

Your Lightening Lane Strategy will totally depend on what park you are at and what rides you want to do. Generally though, if you know you are going to want to ride a really popular ride with Lightning Lane (like Peter Pan at Magic Kingdom or Slinky Dog Dash at Hollywood Studios), book that one first thing in the morning for the earliest time you can.

Some of the Lightning Lanes for these rides will disappear FAST. So if you book later in the day, you run the risk of missing out.

I would also recommend buying any Individual Lightning Lanes you want as soon as you can in the morning (remember it’s 7 a.m. for resort guests, park open for everyone else).

When you arrive at the park, get in the standby line for a big ride if you were early enough to be toward the front of the crowd (or if you just really have to do that ride). If you are far back though, I’d go for mid-tier rides (like Winnie the Pooh at Magic Kingdom or Toy Story Mania at Hollywood Studios).

Once you are able to start using your Lightning Lanes, scan in, book another ride ASAP, and then ride lines with shorter waits while you wait to be able to scan in for your next Lightning Lane.

Also a pro tip: if you have a Lightning Lane later in the day that means you’re going to be booking your next one two hours later (rather than once you scan into the ride), so set a timer on your phone so you don’t loose track of time!

Our Experience with Genie Plus

In full transparency, on our 2021 trip, we found Genie+ frustrating to use. Granted, we were there during a holiday week so it was very crowded and Lightning Lanes disappeared FAST.

But beyond that, there were several things I didn’t like about the experience:

  • The app gave us A LOT of errors.
  • From when you click on a time for a ride to when it actually takes you to the screen to confirm the Lightning Lane, the time can change on you. And during a crowded week, this could fluctuate by more than an hour or two.
  • You can’t choose your time. At one point we were leaving the park mid-day and I wanted to be able to go ahead and book a Lightning Lane for when we returned to the park. But you don’t have the option to choose a later time. The app will just automatically give you the soonest time. This worked out fine, because I just waited until later to book it, but it was frustrating to me.
  • The app can book you with overlapping plans. We got an Individual Lightning Lane for Flight of Passage and a regular Lightning Lane for Na’vi River Journey and it gave us the exact same hour return window for both rides. It worked out fine, but it meant we didn’t have a lot of flexibility surrounding that hour and it created a tiny bit of stress (especially because we were also doing rider switch for Flight of Passage).

That being said, there are some pros to this new system. If you are park hopping, Genie+ does make it easier to do bigger rides in the afternoon. On our trip we park hopped to Animal Kingdom in the afternoon, and without Genie+ we never would have been able to do Flight of Passage and Na’vi River Journey because the lines would have been just way too long for our patience.

This system also makes it easier to make spontaneous park plans, but since I’m not really a spontaneous person I don’t really see this as a positive.

Overall though, remember that this is a new system. It will take awhile for everyone to figure out how to use it and what the benefits are and for cast members to learn how to help vacationers with the app.

If you choose to purchase Genie+ on your vacation, you’ll definitely find it useful. But also remember to be patient, because it’s not without it’s issues.