RIP FASTPASS. We hardly knew ye MaxPass. Everything you knew about cutting the lines to ride attractions at Disneyland (and for that matter, Walt Disney World too!) has been hit with some big changes. It’s time to learn something new for your next Disneyland vacation.
Disney just unveiled the successor to the FASTPASS system – Disney Genie. Launched on December 8, 2021 at the Disneyland Resort (and October 19, 2021 in Walt Disney World), this next-gen service uses technology and queue data to improve your Disney day and minimize waits. Disney Genie related upgrades called Disney Genie+ and individual Lightning Lane promise even more ways to ride more efficiently – but at a cost.
While we cover both Disney coasts on this site, this article focuses on Disneyland specifically. Thankfully, a lot of Disneyland regulars are familiar with the Disneyland MaxPass system already, which should help in understanding some of these new offerings.
(If you are Walt Disney World bound, be sure to scroll down to Question 15 below which will get you started if you want to know about Walt Disney World differences. And also check out my newly released tips for maximizing Disney Genie+ at Walt Disney World for all the tricks!)
So just what is Disney Genie at Disneyland? And more importantly, what about its upsells Disney Genie+ and individual Lightning Lane? I have now tested all of these services in both parks at Disneyland on two days of their first week, even successfully riding all 19 of 19 attractions that offer Genie+ in a single day! While operations will of course evolve, we now know so much more about these systems and how they can improve your Disneyland day. Here’s what you need to know before taking a Disneyland trip with Genie+ and Lightning Lane.
Last updated: December 16, 2021
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Disney Genie, Disney Genie+ & Lightning Lane Basics
(Already know the basics? Be sure to check out these 11 advanced tips & tricks for maximizing Disney Genie+!)
Before we get into the FAQs about all things Disney Genie, we’ll start with the most basic of basics. All the new terms are just straight up confusing. The essential framework is as follows, with three new offerings to help you be more efficient on your Disneyland day:
- Disney Genie
- Disney Genie+*
- Individual Attraction Selection* (a.k.a. Individual Lightning Lane Entrance Selections)
(*You’ll also hear the term Lightning Lane, which is a feature of both 2 & 3.)
1. Disney Genie
Disney Genie is the name of a new free service built into the Disneyland app. Disney describes it as follows:
Disney Genie service will maximize your park time, so you can have more fun. It includes a personalized itinerary feature that will quickly and seamlessly map out an entire day. From specific attractions, foodie experiences and entertainment, to general interests like Disney princesses, villains, Pixar, Star Wars, thrill rides and more – just tell Disney Genie what you want to do and it will do the planning for you.
It’s crucial to note that Disney Genie won’t give you any way to cut ride lines like the free FASTPASS of old. Its function is to guide guests only through the normal standby lines for rides, advising when those waits are lower and giving guests an efficient touring plan.
The regular Disney Genie (without the +) isn’t yet that powerful of a tool to truly minimize wait times. I didn’t test it out as much on this first trip because I already had some clues from Walt Disney World about its limits. It usually doesn’t return an itinerary that has all of the attractions you want to ride on it, and it doesn’t tell you estimates for how many minutes your wait will really be in line for each ride. It might be helpful to someone who has never been to Disneyland before to get oriented, but anyone with some familiarity with the parks won’t need it in its current form. Disney is continuing to refine the algorithms behind it, so I plan to keep checking back though.
2. Disney Genie+
Disney Genie+ is similar to many theme park cut-the-line services. It is the successor to Disneyland’s FASTPASS and MaxPass digital queuing system. Unlike Disney Genie and the previous paper FASTPASS, however, Disney Genie+ isn’t free. It costs $20 per person per day.
With Genie+, guests book same-day reservations for their desired attractions on a smartphone. These reservations are 1 hour long windows to return to the ride. Disney says guests can make these reservations one at a time, but that is not entirely accurate – more on that below. When each time window opens, guests return to a ride and access it through an express queue with reduced waits.
This express queue at Disneyland is now known as the Lightning Lane. The Lightning Lane is simply the new name for what we all knew as the FASTPASS line.
To use Genie+, link your ticket in the official Disneyland app (which you’ll need to do anyway these days in order to make required Disneyland reservations) and manage it all from your phone. You can even manage all the tickets for everyone in your family with just one phone. When it’s time to ride, scan your park ticket or bar code in the Disneyland app at the Lightning Lane entrance. And when MagicBand+ finally debuts at Disneyland in 2022, you can even use a MagicBand!
Disney Genie+ includes Photopass at Disneyland, giving you access to all your digital photo downloads as part of the $20 per person price. Since the cost of one day Photopass is already $19.99, this offering is a nice bonus.
3. Individual Lightning Lane Entrance Selections
Here’s where it gets confusing. While guests who use Genie+ to ride attractions will enter through the Lightning Lane, there are also Lightning Lanes for a few attractions that are not available as part of Disney Genie+. Buying Disney Genie+ won’t get you access to them.
To access the Lightning Lane for these few attractions, you need to pay a separate per person fee for each ride – debuting at $7-20 per person per attraction. Guests are limited to purchasing access to 2 of these attractions per day. As you might guess, these Individual Attraction Selections are some of the most popular headliners in each park (more on that below).
Disney has been experimenting with a number of different not-yet-catchy names for these attractions. So expect to see references to “Individual Attraction Selection” (IAS), Individual Lightning Lane Entrance Selections (ILL), or sometimes just paid Lightning Lane depending on what source you’re reading.
Frequently Asked Questions about Disney Genie+ and Lightning Lane at Disneyland
I bet you have questions galore about Disney Genie, Disney Genie+ & individual Lightning Lane at Disneyland. Let’s dive in.
1. How much do Disney Genie+ and Lightning Lane Offerings Cost at Disneyland?
Disneyland’s regular Disney Genie system is free. But Disney Genie+ and the attractions offering Lightning Lane for a separate a la carte price are not.
The cost for Disney Genie+ at Disneyland is $20 per person per day.
The cost of each individual attraction varies, but Disneyland launched this offering with a price range of $7-20 per attraction.
Pricing for a la carte attractions is dynamic. As of right now, prices are higher for some rides on weekends vs. weekdays, but more differences could emerge since Disney hasn’t officially published a pricing chart.
2. What rides are offered on Disney Genie+? What about with paid individual Lightning Lane?
Disneyland launched with 19 attractions between the 2 parks on Genie+ for the single $20 daily fee. Those include:
Disneyland Park Attractions Available on Genie+ (12)
- Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
- Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters
- Haunted Mansion
- Indiana Jones
- it’s a small world
- Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run
- Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin
- Space Mountain
- Splash Mountain
- Star Tours
Disney California Adventure Park Attractions Available on Genie+ (7)
- Goofy’s Sky School
- Grizzly River Run
- Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT!
- Monsters Inc.
- Toy Story Midway Mania
Generally speaking, you’ll notice that rides that used to have FASTPASS lanes are the ones that are now offered with Genie+, with the exception of the couple of attractions in each park that are reserved for separate a la carte Lightning Lane sale. Most of these Genie+ attractions are the more popular thrill rides with height minimums, but a few family-friendly rides are on the system too.
There are just 3 attractions total (1 in Disneyland and 2 in DCA) available for individual Lightning Lane a la carte purchase.
Individual Attraction Selection Lightning Lane Rides (3)
- Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance (DL) – $20 per person per ride
- Radiator Springs Racers (DCA) – $7 per person per ride Monday-Thursday; $12 per person per ride Friday-Sunday and other medium demand periods, $18 per person on peak holidays
- WEB SLINGERS: A Spider-Man Adventure (DCA) – $7 per person per ride Monday-Thursday; $12 per person per ride Friday-Sunday and other medium demand periods, $18 per person on peak holidays
3. When and how can I purchase Disney Genie+?
If you want to have Genie+ for your entire trip, you can purchase it in advance. When purchasing new tickets (either directly from Disney or from authorized third parties), tickets with a Genie+ add-on are available. Our discount ticket partners at Get Away Today already have tickets that include Genie+ on their site.
Pre-purchasing tickets with Genie+ included makes the most sense if you plan to focus on rides (especially a lot of the thrill rides) and are going on busier days when it helps with long lines the most. My family always purchased tickets with MaxPass included and will be doing the same for tickets that include Genie+ going forward.
If you want to purchase Disney Genie+ for only some days of your Disneyland trip, however, you can purchase day-by-day on your smartphone in the Disneyland app. Sales start only once you have scanned into a park for the day. I found the option a bit hidden and hard to find – look for the purple banner to purchase for now. Or if you select a time to book a Lightning Lane and haven’t purchased Genie+ yet, the app will prompt you to purchase.
If you purchased park tickets for a trip before Genie+ was announced (which is the vast majority of guests who will be visiting in the coming few months), there is currently no length-of-stay option that you can now add to your ticket. Instead, you just need to purchase daily in the app once you have scanned into a park.
4. Will Virtual Queues Still Be Available?
If you visited the parks in 2020 and earlier in 2021, you probably have some familiarity with virtual queues.
While early information released about Disney Genie+ suggested that virtual queues would remain at Disneyland, these virtual queues have gone away entirely in the last several weeks! Now, both Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance and WEB SLINGERS: A Spider-Man Adventure have retired their virtual queue system as we have known it. Instead, these rides have regular standby lines like all other attractions, in addition to paid individual Lightning Lane.
I think it’s fairly safe to assume these queues are gone for good. Technically, the Disney fine print indicates that a virtual queue could return to either or both of these attractions as needed. If a virtual queue does ever return, it won’t be of the kind we have known with set drop times at 7:00am and noon. Instead, it will be made available to guests who have scanned into the park where the attraction is located for the day and used only when standby queues are just too long to be manageable. This is much how the hybrid virtual queue worked for Indiana Jones earlier in 2021 when the parks reopened.
5. When and how can I book rides with Disney Genie+?
Once you’ve purchased Disney Genie+, when can you start using it to book ride return times?
At Disneyland, you can start booking Genie+ attractions as soon as you have scanned your ticket to enter a park for the morning (if you haven’t pre-purchased Genie+ for the length of your ticket you’ll have to purchase it first). This is similar to how MaxPass operated but different than the Genie+ rules at Walt Disney World where everyone can start Genie+ bookings from any location at 7:00 am daily.
Note that once you have entered any park for the day, you can then book Disney Genie+ return times from any location for the rest of the day. So if you take a mid-day break to back at your hotel, you can keep booking from there. The app will let you know when you are eligible to book your next attraction.
It’s important to note that Genie+ offers you a 1 hour window for the next available time to ride the attraction. You can’t select a time. It’s possible that the time offered may overlap with a dining reservation you have (or an individual Lightning Lane a la carte purchase). As a guest, you need to watch and make sure that you can actually return in the window given before you book or be prepared to cancel if for some reason you can’t. The system does have a grace period of 5 minutes early and 15 minutes late, so that gives you a little more flexibility.
6. When and how can I purchase rides with individual Lightning Lane entrance selection?
If you wish to purchase a la carte attractions offering Lightning Lane, that process at Disneyland is same day only too. You purchase and book at the same time, unlike Genie+ which can be purchased before your trip as a new ticket add-on. Individual Lightning Lane sales at Disneyland only open up once you’ve scanned your ticket and entered a park for the morning (again, this is different than at Walt Disney World).
Just like with Genie+, guests are only offered the next available return time window to ride (and this wasn’t what many of us were expecting, so take note!). Again, this is different than at Walt Disney World where guests who purchase these individual Lightning Lane selections can pick their preferred time to ride.
7. Can I modify or cancel Lightning Lane reservations I’ve made?
For rides that you have booked using Individual Lightning Lane selection, you cannot modify, cancel, or get a refund on a Lightning Lane reservation. All sales on those three rides are final. So purchase carefully given the expense of these attractions.
Genie+ itself also isn’t refundable but you can absolutely cancel Lightning Lane ride return windows you have booked with Genie+. So if a return time no longer works for your schedule or you simply decide you want to ride something else more than what you have booked, cancel away.
In fact, you really should cancel any Genie+ booking you have made before the return window expires if you cannot use it. Why? Because the system will treat an uncanceled but unused booking as used for that attraction, meaning you can’t book the same ride that you missed again later. This is because Genie+ only allows guests to ride each attraction once per day (more on that later).
Finally, although you can cancel Genie+ bookings, one thing you can’t do is modify a Genie+ bookings all in one step. You might be used to doing this with dining reservations, but there’s no equivalent for rides right now. Instead, if you see a better Genie+ return time suddenly pop up (which can happen as other guests cancel), you have to cancel your current booking and then go in to rebook the new time. As you might imagine, the better time may well be long gone at that point. Do this only if you can truly afford to lose the booking you already have.
8. Am I really limited to booking one Lightning Lane at a time with Genie+?
Disney sometimes uses language to describe Genie+ ride bookings as made one at a time. This isn’t entirely accurate.
Instead, the system works much more like MaxPass did, with both a minimum and a maximum time when guests are eligible to book their next attraction. The parameters and basic rules are as follows:
- As soon as you scan into the Lightning Lane of a ride you have booked with Genie+, you are immediately eligible to book a new return time with Genie+ (if it has been less than 120 mins since you booked your last attraction).
- If you don’t scan into the Lightning Lane of a ride you have booked with Genie+, you are eligible to book a new return time with Genie+ at the end of your 1 hour time window
- If the return time window you are given for a ride starts more than 120 minutes later than the time at which you are booking, you will be eligible to book a new return time with Genie+ 120 minutes later.
How does this play out in a real world example? Assume it’s 1:00 pm in Disneyland park and you are about to book a return window for Space Mountain with Genie+.
- If the app shows you a return window for Space Mountain of 1:45 pm-2:45 pm and you scan into the ride right at 1:45pm, you can book your next Genie+ attraction at 1:45 pm.
- If the app shows you a return window for Space Mountain of 1:45 pm-2:45 pm and you scan into the ride a bit later in the window (say at 2:15 pm), you can book your next Genie+ attraction at 2:15 pm.
- If the app shows you a return window for Space Mountain of 1:45 pm-2:45 pm and you DON’T scan into the ride during that window at all, you can book your next Genie+ attraction at 2:45 pm (when your window expires).
- If the app shows you a >120 minutes later return window for Space Mountain like 4:00 pm-5:00 pm, you can book your next Genie+ attraction 120 minutes after the current time of 1:00 pm — so at 3:00 pm in this example.
As you might guess, these rules offer some potential for making the system work to your advantage – such as returning to rides right away in the return window to open up your eligibility for the next ride more quickly. There are also more advanced strategies like were available with MaxPass to reduce your overall day’s wait time – such as spending the morning using shorter standby lines to ride while stacking Genie+ return times up for later in the afternoon to use when standby lines are longer. Look for my advanced Genie+ tips and strategies guide coming soon with all of those details!
Finally note as well that you can book a Genie+ Lightning Lane at the same time you are purchasing an individual attraction selection Lightning Lane. Those two systems are entirely separate and do not limit each other in any way. The same goes for Disney’s Disability Access Service (DAS). You can have a DAS booking and/or Genie+ or individual attraction selection bookings at the same time.
9. Is there a limit to the number of Lightning Lane return times I can get?
Individual attraction selection Lightning Lane has a clear a defined upper limit. Guests can only purchase 2 of those attractions total per day, even if they park hop and even though there are 3 total across the parks.
For Genie+, the answer is a little more nuanced. There’s no hard and set limit, but there is a ceiling to keep in mind with Genie+. Unlike with MaxPass where you could repeat the same ride multiple times in a single day, guests are only able to ride each attraction using Genie+ once daily. Practically speaking, that means guests could max out at the total number of attractions available.
With up to 19 attractions on Genie+ between the two parks at Disneyland, most regular guests won’t be able to max out the system. Just to see if it could be done though, I actually tried it on my first Genie+ testing day, December 10, 2021. I was successful on a day with moderately lower crowds (but not rock bottom low) with a ton of time to spare – in fact, I also did 6 non-Genie+ rides, 1 paid Lightning Lane, watched the fireworks and parade, had a table service dinner, and left the parks 2 hours before close too (want to see how that day played out? – check it out on my Instagram Stories highlight).
Of course, few people will be attempting this feat. But for guests without a park hopper ticket in just one park for the day, it seems very possible to do all the Genie+ rides before a day’s end – especially in Disney California Adventure which has fewer rides on the system. And for guests who don’t like every ride on the system (especially those who maybe who have younger kids that aren’t ready for every thrill ride), they may well max out of the attractions they are interested in riding.
10. Can I ride an attraction more than once in a single day with Genie+ or individual attraction selection Lightning Lane?
Not with Genie+. Guests can only make one booking per day with Genie+ to cut the line on an attraction. Of course, you are free to ride that same attraction through the regular standby line as many times as you like. If there’s a popular Genie+ attraction your family wants to ride multiple times, consider rope dropping it for shorter wait times in the morning and then doing it again during a busier time of day with your Genie+ allotment.
You also will not be able to ride the rides for sale with individual Lightning Lane more than once per day. While you get up to two of these selections daily, they have to be for separate rides. So no purchasing Rise of the Resistance twice!
11. What happens if an attraction I have a Lightning Lane reservation for goes down or breaks before I can ride?
If you have a Lightning Lane return window booked with Genie+ and the ride breaks down, the system will give you a bonus automatically. The booking will turn into a “Multiple Experiences” pass that can be used at a number of other rides in the park (or the ride you had booked returns to service). These passes are good in either park if you have a park hopper ticket, unlike at Walt Disney World where they are issued for just a single park.
Depending on what ride you had originally booked, this Multiple Experiences pass may be limited. The “better” the ride, the fewer the blackouts. For example, I experienced Toy Story Midway Mania breaking down during my Genie+ booking window. I received a pass good for every attraction on Genie+ (but not paid Lightning Lane rides), as Toy Story is a sought-after attraction with long waits. My friend Becca of This Crazy Adventure Called Life experienced a Big Thunder Mountain breakdown and found the Multiple Experiences pass she was issued was blacked out on several of the better Genie+ attractions. Disney doesn’t publish these blackouts so stay tuned as guests slowly report on how each works!
What about if you have a return time booked with a la carte Lightning Lane and the ride goes down? Mark this one as developing. Based upon what we know at Walt Disney World, your time window will be extended automatically until the end of the day so you can return to the ride later when it is back up.
But sometimes you can’t make that later return time or the ride stays down for the rest of the day. Technically, the fine print says individual attraction selection Lightning Lane bookings are non-refundable, but at Walt Disney World, guest relations cast members have been able to give guests gift cards as refunds and the system refunds automatically if the ride doesn’t return to operation for the day. Again, time will tell, as none of these attractions have had major day-ending breakdowns yet.
One other scenario to watch for: sometimes you may have already scanned into an attraction and “redeemed” your Lightning Lane, only to have the ride break down before you board. Right now, Disneyland doesn’t have a great way of handling this scenario, sending riders to the green guest services umbrellas to be get a pass to return. As you can imagine, this can take a lot of time. I’m hopeful Disneyland will streamline this process soon so if you find such a scenario happen to you, ask cast members what to do to expedite (always with kindness and understanding, of course)!
12. Will Disney Genie+ or Lightning Lane individual attractions sell out?
Disney has said that Genie+ itself will not sell out, so no worries in that regard.
Rides that have Lightning Lanes offered on Genie+ can and will of course run out of available return times at some point in each day. Back when MaxPass was offered at Disneyland, the most popular rides could run out of times before the lunch hour on busy days. Other rides might remain available nearly up to park closing on a less busy day.
Guests who use Genie+ will need to know what the most in-demand rides are and watch when the return times are getting close to running out so as not to miss a chance to book a time! As the system has only been open for a few days, it’s hard to tell what those attractions will be long term. Early signs, however, indicate that the most popular Genie+ attractions are:
- Guardians of the Galaxy (DCA)
- Indiana Jones (Disneyland)
- Haunted Mansion Holiday (Disneyland) – may be less popular once seasonal overlay is removed
- it’s a small world Holiday (Disneyland) – may be less popular once seasonal overlay is removed
- Space Mountain (Disneyland)
- Toy Story Mania (DCA)
As for individual attraction selection Lightning Lane, sell outs are certainly possible but likely not instantaneously or for every ride. These are still premium offerings that cost extra. There will be many guests who simply can’t afford the upcharges or who simply don’t find them valuable enough to pay for them – and certainly not every day.
So far, Radiator Springs Racers and WEB SLINGERS have not been selling out until fairly close to park closing. Rise of the Resistance has sold out by early to mid-afternoon. It could well sell out earlier in the mornings when holiday crowds arrive. Of course, until we have more data points on what demand will be, it’s just too soon to know for sure. But check this guide for periodic updates!
The website Thrill Data has a useful colored chart called Lightning Lane Availability Map that shows just when the return times run out for each and every Genie+ and paid Lightning Lane in both parks. I highly recommend checking this out a few days before your trip so you know what is popular during the time of year you visit.
13. Do I have to use Disney Genie or Disney Genie+?
No. If this all seems like just too much, I feel you. You don’t have to use any of this. You can still go from standby line to standby line like we all used to do in the theme parks of old. Strategies like rope dropping or squeezing in one last ride a minute before park closing will still work.
You can also also choose to purchase just one of these offerings or mix and match as you wish. For example, you can purchase a single Lightning Lane a la carte ride without purchasing Genie+. Or vice versa!
If you don’t want to pay for any extras, you can also just use Disney Genie to at least provide some casual structure and guidance to your day. It isn’t great as is, but just skip or swap the things that don’t interest you or that obviously don’t make sense. If you already are used to checking wait times in the Disneyland app, the basics of regular Genie aren’t that much harder to navigate.
14. Can I add Disney Genie+ to my Magic Key (annual pass)?
Disneyland began selling annual passes again at the end of summer 2021, now called Magic Keys. MaxPass used to be included in the cost of the most expensive top level annual passes, and an annual add-on was available for the lower cost passes. No longer with Genie+.
The only way for Magic Keyholders to use Genie+ is to purchase day by day. Perhaps an add on cost for the year might be considered at a later date, but for now Keyholders need to factor $20 daily costs into their budget calculations if they wish to use this service.
15. How are Disney Genie(+) and Lightning Lane different at Walt Disney World than at Disneyland?
Although the Disney Genie offerings at Walt Disney World and Disneyland work in the same general way, there are some crucial differences to keep in mind if you are a guest who visits both coasts. I fully expect that these systems may diverge even more over time.
The current differences are:
- Disney Genie+ Cost
- Disneyland: Genie+ is $20 per person
- Disney World: Genie+ is $15 per person (plus tax)
- Individual Lightning Lane Cost
- Disneyland: $7-$20 per person per ride
- Disney World: $7-$15 per person per ride (plus tax)
- Number of Genie+ Rides Available
- Disneyland: 19 attractions on Genie+ between 2 parks (all rides)
- Disney World: 46 attractions on Genie+ among 4 parks (mixture of rides and shows)
- Number of Individual Lightning Lane Rides Available
- Disneyland: 3 attractions between 2 parks
- Disney World: 8 attractions among 4 parks
- Disney Genie+ Ride Booking Start Time
- Disneyland: guests may only start booking rides with Genie+ after they have scanned into a park for the day
- Disney World: guests may start booking rides with Genie+ at 7:00am from any location.
- Individual Lightning Lane Ride Booking Start Time
- Disneyland: guests may start booking individual attractions with Lightning Lane after they have scanned into a park for the day
- Disney World: guests staying on property and at select partner hotels may start booking individual attractions with Lightning Lane rides at 7:00am from any location (off-property guests must wait until park opening time)
- Individual Lightning Lane Time Selection
- Disneyland: guests are only able to purchase next available return time
- Disney World: guests may pre-select and book a time window of their choosing, subject to availability
- Photo Offerings
- Disneyland: Genie+ includes Photopass
- Disney World: Genie+ at Disney World does not include Photopass but does have augmented reality photo lenses.
There are a number of other non-Genie+ differences between the resorts that affect how Genie+ and individual attraction Lightning Lane return times operate in practice and thus overall guest strategy. For example, Disneyland and Disney World have different times for park hopping (1:00 pm at Disneyland vs. 2:00 pm at Walt Disney World). Disneyland parks tend to have longer park hours than the parks in Florida, meaning that many more guests who can use the Lightning Lane in a single day on a given ride in California.
For even more information about Disney Genie at Walt Disney World, check out my tips and tricks for maximizing Disney Genie+ at Walt Disney World. And be sure to listen to the Disney Deciphered podcast episode I recorded with Joe Cheung below. And if you didn’t know I co-hosted a Disney podcast, please consider subscribing!
16. Can I used Disney Genie+ and Lightning Lane with Rider Switch?
Yes! Disneyland’s Rider Switch is a system that allows parents to trade off caring for little kids too small for (or too scared to) ride certain rides while having to wait in line only once. One parent/adult stays behind with a baby or toddler while the others in the party ride. When that first group of riders is done, they hand off the little one and the other adult gets to ride. For attractions with Lightning Lanes (both those on Genie+ or individual paid ones), the second group always gets to use the Lightning Lane so they don’t have to wait again.
Rider switch is an awesome perk for adventurous big siblings because they get to double up and ride again with adult #2 if they so desire. The second group of riders can be up to three people, meaning two additional people can ride a second time while accompanying the second parent/adult.
Exactly how this works when the first group of riders uses the Lightning Lane is still a little unclear. I talked to multiple cast members at 3 attractions, and they indicated that only the first group of riders needs to have purchased Genie+ or paid Lightning Lane to access the Lightning Lane for the attraction. The second group gets it automatically by virtue of how Rider Switch works. Of course, sometimes cast members have different understandings of more obscure rules like this, so stay tuned (and please report on your experience if you are combining Genie+ or paid Lightning Lane with Rider Switch). Note that this is also different than how most cast members at Walt Disney World are implementing Rider Switch.
17. Is Disney Genie+ (or Paid Lightning Lane) Worth It?
Last but certainly not least is the question I’ve heard the most: “are these paid upgrades worth it?”
Disney Genie+ Worth It?: For my family and I and the way we choose to do Disneyland the answer is a resounding yes for Disney Genie+ at least. Spending $20 to cut the line of up to 19 rides – saving hours in the day – is a value to me.
When determining whether these offerings are right for you, it’s essential to remember that not everyone tours the parks the same way! We tend to take short trips where we really want to squeeze in a lot of rides to maximize our time off. I was a huge proponent of MaxPass before the park closures, and Genie+ is a fairly close replacement for that (albeit with a few additional limits). So it works for me!
If you are the type of Disneyland guest who wants to enjoy the entertainment, taste the food, and take Disneyland at a more leisurely pace, Genie+ may not be for you.
Additionally, if you have a large family or on a very strict budget, every little extra adds up. Genie+ may simply be out of reach. In this case, I’d consider whether you can make room in your budget to purchase Disney Genie+ on one day of your trip (if you don’t have park hoppers, make this day a Disneyland day as Genie+ offers more rides in Disneyland than in DCA). Make that the day you focus on getting in a lot of rides and getting your money’s worth. Then use other strategies and ride the attractions that don’t offer Disney Genie+ on other days of your trip. There’s no reason you can’t have a different touring strategy each day!
Paid Lightning Lane Worth It?: For paid Lightning Lane, whether it’s worth it is a much closer call. I can see paying for a ride or two with paid Lightning Lane on some special occasions, but since we visit Disneyland often, that’s not essential. There are other ways to reduce your wait for at least one or two of these attractions and save money. For example, I rope dropped WEB SLINGERS on my most recent visit and had a shorter wait than Lightning Lane did the rest of the day!
For once in a lifetime (or once every few years visitors), I do think the paid Lightning Lane rides offer value. Infrequent visitors often have one chance to experience a new and popular attraction. Paying to skip a line of an hour or more on a busy day can be well worth it. This is especially true for Rise of the Resistance even though it is the highest priced option right now. Lightning Lane entry for the attraction really is an express almost VIP-like experience, so you are getting something extra for the extra cost.
Additional Tips for Using Disney Genie+ and Lightning Lane at Disneyland
By now you should have a pretty solid understanding of Disney Genie+ and Lightning Lane at Disneyland. But as you can see, these systems are complicated. And they work differently on different crowd days and in different seasons.
As I mentioned earlier, I successfully and pretty easily maxed out Disney Genie+ on my first try, riding all 19 attractions on it in a single day (plus more). There are even more strategies and tips that I picked up from that crazy experiment! I didn’t want to overwhelm you with those here in in this intro guide. But if you are also a ride junkie who wants to understand how really to maximize your Disneyland day, hop next to this companion piece with all the advanced Disneyland Genie+ tips for even more hacks to get on even more attractions! And in the meantime, I’ll leave you with a few more essential and accessible tips for using Disney Genie+.
- Pack a phone charger. Having to use the Disneyland app that much more for Genie or Genie+ will really drain your smartphone battery. An external portable charger is a must. Disneyland offers one brand of charger, Fuel Rods, in small vending machines around the park. Cost is $30 and you can also swap at the kiosks. I use Fuel Rods but I also pair them with the Anker PowerCore 1000. It has more charging power (about 3+ full iPhone charges) for long Disneyland days and may be better for families with multiple devices.
- Plan for service dead spots. WiFi and cell data are notoriously unreliable in some places in both parks. That can be really frustrating if you find yourself eligible to book your next Genie+ attraction and the app won’t connect! Before you enter any ride buildings, be sure to make your next Genie+ selection before you lose service.
- Know About DAS Changes. Disability Access Service at Disneyland (DAS) recently received some updates at Disneyland. Guests can now pre-register for it before a trip and then book DAS return times on their smartphones. Guests who are eligible for DAS may not need Genie+ because DAS provides some of the same convenience and functionality now. But if you so desire you can use them in combination (although both together may be more than you need).
- Watch for the return of World of Color and Fantasmic! Evening shows like World of Color and Fantasmic! aren’t back yet, but it’s possible those could be added to Genie+ when they do return (they were added to MaxPass). Stay tuned, as both are coming back in spring 2022!
- Got only little kids? Consider skipping Genie+ at DCA. If you do not have park hopper tickets and are planning a DCA day with young kids, consider your family’s Genie+ purchase carefully. Five of the 7 attractions in DCA on Genie+ have height minimums and are thrill rides that your little ones may not want to ride or even be able to. Purchasing Genie+ for your whole family on a DCA only day would surely be a waste of money. Instead, consider using tools like rope drop, single rider, or rider switch to maximize your family’s day. Or purchase Genie+ only for a single adult or older siblings in your party.
- Set cell phone alarm reminders. Once you book a Genie+ reservation window, set an alarm on your phone for the time you are eligible to book the next one so you don’t forget. Often, that time will be as soon as you tap into the next attraction (so do it right away!). But if you are booking Genie+ windows that are more than 120 minutes out, having this reminder is invaluable not to lose precious minutes of eligibility.
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