In Fall 2021, Disney unveiled the new Genie and Genie Plus (Genie+) system. This system replaced once were once known as Fastpasses. Now, we have Lightning Lanes you can book with Genie Plus, which allows you to access a shorter line for certain rides.
Here we’re going to break down everything you need to know about Genie+ if you are planning a Disney World vacation.
Note that Genie+ is also in Disneyland in California. The system works much the same way, although the price is difference slightly higher. But for this post, we’re going to be focusing exclusively on using Genie Plus at Walt Disney World in Florida.
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What is Genie+, Genie, and Lightning Lanes?
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.
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.
These are the lines you will access with Genie Plus which will give you faster access to rides. Having Genie Plus will give you the ability to book these.
Individual Lightning Lanes
An Individual Lightning Lane works the same way as regular Lightning Lane except they are a separate charge. This can range anywhere from $10 to $29 per ride. It depends on the ride and the current demand.
There is one ride per park that offers Individual Lightning Lanes.
(Note that when this system was first implemented, there were two Individual Lightning Lanes per park. This has now been reduced to one.)
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.
You do not have to buy these Individual Lightning Lanes. Standby lines are still available (unless the ride is using a Virtual Queue System). However these Individual Lightning Lanes are for the MOST popular ride in each park, so you will have the longest lines here.
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 OR more per ticket per day in order to book Lightning Lanes (aka Fastpass lines). This is different, because Fastpasses used to be free. This switch to date-based pricing is also different from when Genie+ first debuted and it was $15 every day. Now it can vary based on demand, even up to $35 per ticket per day during the most crowded days.
In summer 2023, Disney also introduced variable pricing by park. This means that Magic Kingdom Genie+ is going to be more expensive than Animal Kingdom Genie+, because Magic Kingdom is more in demand.
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 is also one ride per park that is 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 one premium ride per park). These are a separate charge.
On Fall 2021 Disney 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.
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What rides offer Lightning Lane?
Here are the rides and shows in each park that offer Lightning Lanes:
- Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
- Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin
- Disney Festival of Fantasy Parade
- Enchanted Tales with Belle
- Haunted Mansion
- It’s a Small World
- Jungle Cruise
- Mad Tea Party
- Meet Cinderella and a Visiting Princess (often Elena) at Princess Fairytale Hall
- Meet Tiana and a Visiting Princess (often Rapunzel) at Princess Fairytale Hall
- Meet Mickey at Town Square Theater
- Magic Carpets of Aladdin
- Mickey’s PhilharMagic
- Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor
- Peter Pan’s Flight
- Pirates of the Caribbean
- Space Mountain
- Splash Mountain
- The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
- Tomorrowland Speedway
- Under the Sea – Journey of the Little Mermaid
- Disney and Pixar Short Film Festival
- Frozen Ever After
- Journey into Imagination with Figment
- Living with the Land
- Mission: SPACE
- Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure
- Soarin’ Around the World
- Spaceship Earth
- Test Track
- The Seas with Nemo & Friends
- Turtle Talk with Crush
- 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
- Meet Olaf at Celebrity Spotlight
- Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway
- 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
- Celebration of the Festival of the Lion King
- Expedition Everest
- Feathered Friends in Flight
- Finding Nemo: The Big Blue…and Beyond!
- It’s Tough to Be a Bug!
- Kali River Rapids
- Kilimanjaro Safaris
- Meet Favorite Disney Pals at Adventurers Outpost
- Na’vi River Journey
- The Animation Experience at Conservation Station
What rides have Individual Lightning Lanes?
One ride at each park requires an Individual Lightning Lane purchase if you want to skip the standby line. However, note that Magic Kingdom currently has two because of the popularity of the new TRON roller coaster.
- Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
- TRON Lightcycle/Run (also available as a Virtual Queue, no standby line available)
- Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind (also available as a Virtual Queue, no standby line available)
- Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance
- Avatar Flight of Passage
How do I purchase Genie+?
You can purchase Genie+ in the app on the days you plan to use it. If you are using it, you will want to purchase it before 7:00 a.m. so you are ready to book your first Lightning Lane at 7:00 as soon as they open up.
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.
- After that you will be able to book after you scan into a Lightning Lane ride or two hours after you booked your previous 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.
Can I modify a Lightning Lane reservation?
While it used to be that you would have to cancel a Lightning Lane reservation and rebook it if you wanted to change it (running the risk of ending up with nothing), now you can modify you Lightning Lanes!
You can change your Lightning Lane to either a different time or a different attraction (however it must be within the same park).
To modify your Lightning Lane reservation, go to Disney Genie where you see “My Plans.” Click the three dots in the top right corner of your Lightning Lane, and you will be given the option to modify it.
How does Genie Plus work with Park Hopping?
Disney’s Genie+ is set up to automatically account for park hopping. If you have a Park Hopper ticket and plan to hope to another park after 2:00 p.m. (when it is allowed), you can make Lightning Lane reservations for that other park as long as they are available after 2:00.
If you try to make a reservation and the return time hasn’t yet reached 2:00, it will not let you make that reservation. You’ll have to keep trying until enough other people book the attraction that the return time gets pushed past 2:00.
Note that because of change in 2023 of variable pricing by park, you will need to make sure you purchase the Multiple Parks Genie+.
What else is included with Genie Plus?
In addition to the ability to book Lightning Lanes, Genie+ also has some other benefits.
Genie+ now also includes same-day attraction photos. These are the Photo Pass photos that are taken on rides.
Genie+ also has a feature called Audio Tales, which give you behind the scenes looks and interesting tidbits about the attractions.
How do I purchase an Individual Lightning Lane?
Disney resort guests also book Individual Lightning Lanes beginning at 7:00 a.m. Other guests can book Individual Lightning Lanes at park opening.
You CAN book and hold Genie+ Lightning Lanes and Individual Lightning Lanes at the same time. However note that from the system doesn’t account for each of them when scheduling you, so you might have overlapping times. If you have an issue, speak to guest services.
What about Virtual Queues?
When new rides first open, Disney has been using a Virtual Queue system. This is free to use and is available to every park guest that day. But quantities are limited, and so they are booked immediately upon release.
If a ride is using a Virtual Queue, they are also usually offering Individual Lightning Lanes but ARE NOT offering a standby line.
Currently, Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind in Epcot and TRON Lightcycle/Run in Magic Kingdom are offering virtual queues. You can join it in the app at 7:00 a.m. from anywhere (as long as you have an Epcot or Magic Kingdom reservation) or at 1:00 p.m. after entering Epcot.
The best way to book a Virtual Queue is to be on the app before the time they drop, get your party all set up, and keep hitting refresh and hope that you get it. (There’s some great strategy about Virtual Queue’s here.)
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 Fall 2021 trip, 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.
Also note that it is a pretty regular occurrence to click the button to book a Lightning Lane at a certain time and then have the app actually give you a time that is later that what you saw. Honestly, I think this is very irritating and a flaw in the system. But know that this is common going in, and you’ll have a more realistic expectation of how your day will go.
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. Although if you do get it every day, it will certainly make your trip a lot more efficient and probably less stressful.
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 at Animal Kingdom and Guardians of the Galaxy at Epcot if those are priorities 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 for the Individual Lightning Lane instead, especially if you are going in with a solid rope drop strategy and don’t mind waiting in some longer lines. Lines may annoying, but with a full day at the park you can probably still hit everything.
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 Genie+ 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); you’ll be able to get more don’t in the morning that way, and can just know there will be a ride with a longer wait for you at some point in the day if you can’t get a Lightning Lane for it.
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.
Pro tip: if you have a Lightning Lane for 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!
Tips & Tricks for Using Genie Plus
Let’s be honest here. Genie+ is a somewhat complicated system that can feel difficult to understand. Especially when you factor in the fact that you are on vacation and it can be an added stress.
Here are a few tips to help with that:
- Book your most in-demand ride/highest priority ride first. Yes, you can wait until later, but if there is ONE ride you really want to get to, make sure to prioritize it early in the day.
- Try using an outside booking service. One our recent trip, we used Standby Skipper and LOVED it. This is a third party service that adds you to their friends and family list. Then you let their app know what rides you want and vaguely when, and they book the rides for you. It truly felt like magic. Late in the day we put rides in that were sold out and the service found us Lightning Lanes without us having to constantly refresh Genie+ to check for availability.
- Bring a battery backup charger. Using Genie+ will drain your battery, plus you’ll also need to be on your phone for things like using mobile order at restaurants and taking photos. So make sure you are ready with a backup charger.
- There is a grace period. If you are a little early or a couple of minutes late, you can usually still get into your Lightning Lane.
- Don’t forget about single rider lines! If your party is okay with being split up, several rides have single ride lines. These include Test Track, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, and Smugglers Run. This is usually give you a much short line without having to use a Lightning Lane reservation.
Our Experience with Genie Plus
In full transparency, on our 2021 trip, we found Genie Plus 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.
- 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 its issues.
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.
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 its issues.
We recently used Genie+ for all four park days in June 2023, and here’s what I found.
- I still got errors and times still changed on me when I booked things myself, but it generally felt less stressful than our first time using Genie+.
- Standby Skipper was an absolute game-changer. It resolved so many of my issues with Genie Plus: feeling like I was on my phone all the time, getting frustrated when things sold out, etc. As long as Disney World keeps this same Genie+ system, I will always be using Standby Skipper alongside it.
More Disney Planning Resources
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