If it’s been a couple of years since your last Disneyland vacation, it’s time to learn something new. Everything you knew about cutting the lines to ride attractions at Disneyland in Anaheim, California (and for that matter, Walt Disney World too!) changed with the release of the Disney Genie+ system and it’s related service, Lightning Lane.
Disney unveiled a suite of successors to FASTPASS and MaxPass on December 8, 2021 for the Disneyland Resort. A free next-gen service called Disney Genie (no plus) purportedly uses technology and queue data to improve and optimize your Disney day. But the related upgrades Disney Genie+ and individual Lightning Lane are what everyone talks about. Those offer the real ways to ride more efficiently. Of course, that convenience comes at a cost.
While we cover both Disney coasts on this site, this article focuses on Disneyland specifically. Thankfully, a lot of Disneyland regulars were familiar with the Disneyland MaxPass system for several years already, which definitely helps in understanding Disneyland’s Genie+ and Lightning Lane 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 all these advanced tips for maximizing Disney Genie+ at Walt Disney World for all the tricks to use in Florida!)
So just what is Disney Genie at Disneyland? And more importantly, what about its upsells Disney Genie+ and individual Lightning Lane? I have used and tested all of these services in both parks at Disneyland on multiple trips at every time of year – both with and without my kids. One my first trip, I even was successful in riding all of the (then 19) attractions that offered Genie+ in a single day!
Here’s what you need to know before taking a Disneyland trip with Genie+ and Lightning Lane, fully updated and fact-checked for late 2023 with all the little changes and tweaks you may have missed.
(Trips With Tykes uses affiliate links which means I may earn a small commission if you purchase through links in this post. See our full disclosure policy linked in the menu at the bottom of this site.)
Disney Genie, Disney Genie+ & Disneyland 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. The terms are just straight up confusing. The essential framework is as follows, with three offerings to help you be more efficient on your Disneyland day:
- Disney Genie
- Disney Genie+*
- Individual Lightning Lane* (formerly known as Individual Attraction Selection, a.k.a. paid Lightning Lane)
(*You’ll also hear the term Lightning Lane generally, which is a feature of both 2 & 3.)
1. Disney Genie
Disney Genie is the name of a 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 doesn’t give you any way to cut ride lines like the free FASTPASS of old. Its function is to guide guests through the normal standby lines for rides, advising when those waits are lower.
The regular Disney Genie (without the +) has turned out to be a pretty disappointing tool when it comes to actually minimizing wait times. 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. For now, my advice is to skip regular (a.k.a. vanilla) Genie entirely.
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 $30(+) 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 park 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. Now that MagicBand+ has finally come to Disneyland (as of October 26, 2022) you can even use a MagicBand+ if you have one!
Disney Genie+ includes Photopass at Disneyland, giving you access to all your digital photo downloads as part of the $30+ per person price. Since the cost of one day Photopass is already about the same, this offering is a nice bonus.
3. Individual Lightning Lane Entrance Selections
Here’s where it gets confusing. While guests using 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. The price is variable, but 2023 pricing has ranged from $15-$26 per person per attraction. Guests are limited to purchasing access to 2 of these attractions per day (and as of late 2023, only two attractions are in this category). As you might guess, these Individual Lightning Lanes are some of the most popular headliners in each park (more on that below).
Disney experimented with a number of different not-yet-catchy names for these attractions and no official name has really stuck. So expect to see references to “Individual Attraction Selection” (IAS), Individual Lightning Lane (ILL), or sometimes just paid or a la carte Lightning Lane depending on what source you’re reading.
Frequently Asked Questions about Disney Genie+ and Disneyland Lightning Lane
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.
As of October 11, 2023, the cost for Disney Genie+ at Disneyland is $30 per person per day when pre-purchased with theme park tickets for the length of ticket. When purchased same day, the price is variable, starting at $30 per day. Genie+ has already been as high as $35 per person per day.
The cost of each individual Lightning Lane attraction varies, but Disneyland is now charging up to $26 per attraction and may well go higher in the coming days.
Pricing for a la carte attractions is dynamic. Prices tend to be higher for some rides on weekends vs. weekdays vs. holidays. In general, when crowds are high, expect prices to be high as well. Disney has never officially published a pricing chart.
2. What rides are offered on Disney Genie+? What about with paid individual Lightning Lane?
Disneyland now has 21 attractions between the 2 parks on Genie+ for the single daily fee, with one more to come likely later this year. 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
- Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway (*new as of October 11, 2023)
- Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run
- Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin
- Space Mountain
- Star Tours
Disney California Adventure Park Attractions Available on Genie+ (9)
- Goofy’s Sky School
- Grizzly River Run
- Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT!
- Monsters Inc.
- Toy Story Midway Mania
- WEB SLINGERS: A Spider-Man Adventure
- The Little Mermaid – Ariel’s Undersea Adventure (*new as of November 15, 2023)
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.
Individual Attraction Selection Lightning Lane Rides (3)
There are now just 2 attractions total (1 in Disneyland and 1 in DCA) available for individual Lightning Lane a la carte purchase. Those rides and their 2023 prices are:
- Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance (DL) – $20-26 per person per ride
- Radiator Springs Racers (DCA) – $15-21 per person per ride
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 at Disneyland. (Note that advance Genie+ purchase is no longer available at Walt Disney World so don’t get the resorts’ differing rules confused.)
When purchasing new Disneyland tickets – either directly from Disney or from authorized third parties – tickets with a Genie+ add-on are available. Our highly recommended discount ticket partners at Get Away Today 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 have been doing the same for tickets that include Genie+ thus far.
Now that daily Genie+ pricing can be variable, pre-purchasing is the only way to lock in a $30 price guarantee. Additionally, now that Genie+ can occasionally sell out (more on that later), pre-purchasing is a smart way to guarantee that you will be able to use Genie+ even on days when you don’t arrive early to the parks.
If you want to purchase Disney Genie+ for only some days of your Disneyland trip, however, you can only purchase day-by-day on your smartphone in the Disneyland app. Sales start only once you have scanned into a park for the day. The option used to be a bit hidden and hard to find but now if you go to the Tip Board, there’s a handy banner across the top to click. Or if you select a time to book a Lightning Lane and haven’t purchased Genie+ yet, the app will prompt you to purchase.
4. 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. At Disney World, everyone can start Genie+ bookings from any location at 7:00 am daily.
If you have early entry privileges because you are staying at an on-property Disneyland hotel, Genie+ bookings are available as soon as you enter the park. Note that the return times offered, however, won’t start until the regular park opening time.
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 modify or cancel if for some reason you can’t. The system does have a grace period of at least 5 minutes early and 15 minutes late, so that gives you a little more flexibility.
5. When and how can I purchase rides with paid individual Lightning Lane?
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. Once 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.
6. 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 (and, as of fall 2022, modify) 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, cancel or modify away.
I highly recommend modifying if at all possible rather than canceling. Why? When you modify a Lightning Lane booking, it does not reset the clock for when you are eligible for your next booking. So you can get and keep more Lightning Lane reservations by modifying rather than cancelling and rebooking. The addition of modifying is a powerful tool that gives guests more flexibility in their plans and also allows them to snag additional or better Genie+ return times that are sometimes released in the middle of the day.
If your Lightning Lane return window has passed, however, you will find you can no longer modify the booking. But you can still cancel it. And you should do that. Because the system will treat an uncanceled but unused booking as used for that attraction (this is because Genie+ only allows guests to ride each attraction once per day). But now in 2023, as long as you cancel the unused booking, it doesn’t count against you and you will be able to rebook that same attraction.
7. 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 2 hours 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 2 hours later than the time at which you are booking, you will be eligible to book a new return time with Genie+ 2 hours 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+.
- You book a Space Mountain return window for 1:45 pm-2:45 pm. You scan into the ride right at 1:45pm. You can book your next Genie+ attraction at 1:45 pm.
- You book a Space Mountain return window for 1:45 pm-2:45 pm. 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.
- You book a Space Mountain return window for 1:45 pm-2:45 pm. 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).
- You book a Space Mountain return window for 4:00 pm-5:00 pm. You can book your next Genie+ attraction 2 hours 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. Check out my advanced Genie+ tips and strategies guide for all of those details!
Finally note as well that you can book a Genie+ Lightning Lane at the same time you are purchasing a paid individual 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.
8. Is there a limit to the number of Lightning Lane return times I can get?
Paid individual Lightning Lane has a clear defined upper limit. Guests can only purchase 2 of those attractions total per day, even in times when there were more than 2 of these rides across both parks (which could happen again in the future).
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 21 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 the attractions they are interested in riding.
9. Can I ride an attraction more than once in a single day with Genie+ or individual Lightning Lane?
Not with Genie+. Guests can only make one booking per day with Genie+ to cut the line for an attraction. Of course, you are free to ride that same attraction through the regular standby line or via single rider (when offered) 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 standby line 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!
10. How does Genie+ and paid Lightning Lane work with park hopping?
In 2023, Disneyland now permits guests to park hop starting at 11:00am or later. As you might imagine, this time limitation affects the Genie+ and paid Lightning Lane systems. Disney wouldn’t want guests to book rides in the other park that they couldn’t actually yet access before the park hopping start time.
At launch, Disneyland initially allowed guests to make Genie+ and paid Lightning Lane bookings for the park they planned to hop to at any time after entering the other park for the morning. The system simply used to adjust the return time window to account for the park hopping limitation. Pretty ingenious.
As of late August 2022, Disneyland changed the system. Now, if you want to book a Lightning Lane for an attraction in the park to which you plan to hop, you must wait until the return times being offered to everyone are for 11:00am or later. The app just returns a not eligible error before that time. This is true for both bookings with Genie+ or paid Lightning Lane purchases. As you might imagine, this means more time refreshing your phone to watch for the return time to push out just far enough but not too far.
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. Sometimes this conversion takes time in Disney’s systems. So don’t get impatient and cancel the booking before the IT sorts it all out!
This pass can be used at a number of other rides in the park or for the ride you had booked when it 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 in the park (except paid Lightning Lane rides), as Toy Story is a sought-after attraction with long waits.
If a less popular ride like Monsters Inc. breaks down, however, you’ll find the Multiple Experiences pass issued will be blacked out on several of the better Genie+ attractions. Disney doesn’t publish these blackouts and they do change on occasion, so read what you are offered carefully when you get one.
What about if you have a return time booked with a la carte Lightning Lane and the ride goes down? Your time window will be extended automatically until the end of the day so you can return to the ride later when it is operational again.
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 guest relations cast members have been able to give guests refunds when asked in extenuating circumstances. And the system refunds automatically if the ride doesn’t return to operation for the day.
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. Disneyland doesn’t have a perfect way of handling this scenario. Sometimes it sends cast members to help guests exiting the queue, scanning each guest’s app to add the allotment back (or sometimes sending riders to the green guest services umbrellas). As you can imagine, this can take a fair amount of time.
12. Will Disney Genie+ or Lightning Lane individual attractions sell out?
It is now possible – but not that common – for Genie+ can sell out. So far, this has happened only on a very few highest crowd days. So if you are going on a random Tuesday in May, you don’t need to stress it. If you are going during the week between Christmas and New Year’s, you might be wise to pre-purchase Genie+ with the length of your ticket. At the very least, plan to arrive early and purchase as soon as you scan into the parks (on the days Genie+ has sold out, it hasn’t sold out instantaneously at park opening time).
Rides that have Lightning Lanes offered on Genie+ can and will of course also run out of available return times at some point in each day. Very popular rides can run out of times before the lunch hour on super busy days. Other rides might remain available nearly up to park closing on a less busy day.
Guests who use Genie+ 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 now operated for nearly two years, we have quite a bit of data now. The most popular Genie+ attractions in each park are:
- Indiana Jones
- Space Mountain
- Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run
Disney California Adventure
- Guardians of the Galaxy
- Toy Story Mania
- WEB SLINGERS
Seasonal ride overlays are also very popular and often run out first when offered. Haunted Mansion Holiday should be your top pick, especially at the start of Halloween Time in September when first unveiled for the year. it’s a small world Holiday is also quite popular, especially for guests aiming to snag a post-sunset hour to ride.
Guardians of the Galaxy during Halloween Time is extra tricky to get, as it closes daily for a few hours to switch to the Monsters After Dark overlay (and of course closes very early to regular guests on Oogie Boogie Bash party days). But the overlay technically counts as a separate attraction on Genie+ so savvy guests can double dip on this ride in a single day if they play their cards right!
As for paid Lightning Lane, sell outs are certainly possible but certainly not instantaneously or for every ride. These are still premium offerings that cost extra. There are 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.
Historically, Radiator Springs Racers does not sell out until fairly close to park closing. Rise of the Resistance can sell out as early as the morning on super high crowd days. More recently it has had plenty of availability well into the afternoon and even evening on low and medium crowd days. Check out my complete guide to riding Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance Without the Wait for the latest trends.
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, using single rider lines, 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 and the Disneyland app 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+.
Now, the only way for Magic Keyholders to use Genie+ is to purchase day by day. In August 2022, Disneyland at least announced a 20% discount on Genie+ purchases for all Keyholders, so factor that daily cost into your budget calculations if you have a Key and wish to use the service. Of course ,Magic Keyholders can only purchase same day so this discount is often canceled out somewhat by the realities of variable pricing.
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. These systems have diverged even more over time.
The current differences are:
- Disney Genie+ Purchase Options
- Disneyland: Can purchase tickets that include Genie+ included for length of ticket or can purchase a la carte daily (once scan into any park)
- Disney World: Can only purchase a la carte daily starting at midnight the night before
- Disney Genie+ Parks Available
- Disneyland: Guests can only purchase Genie+ for both parks.
- Disney World: Guests can now purchase Genie+ for one park only or for all 4 parks.
- Disney Genie+ Cost
- Disneyland: Genie+ minimum price is $30 (no tax). Prices in late 2023 have ranged from $30-35.
- Disney World: Genie+ minimum price for all parks option is $15 (plus tax). Prices in late 2023 have ranged from $20-35. Prices for Epcot or Animal Kingdom only Genie+ tend to be less.
- Individual Lightning Lane Cost
- Disneyland: $15-$26 per person per ride
- Disney World: $10-$25 per person per ride (plus tax)
- Number of Genie+ Rides Available
- Disneyland: 20 attractions on Genie+ between 2 parks (all rides)
- Disney World: 60 attractions on Genie+ among 4 parks (mixture of rides, shows, and character greets)
- Number of Individual Lightning Lane Rides Available
- Disneyland: 2 attractions between 2 parks
- Disney World: 5 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 (subject to park hopping rule limitations)
- Disney World: guests may start booking rides with Genie+ at 7:00am from any location (subject to park hopping rule limitations)
- 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 (subject to park hopping rule limitations)
- 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
- Photo Offerings
- Disneyland: Genie+ includes Photopass
- Disney World: Genie+ at Disney World does not include all Photopass images, but includes on-ride photos as of March 20, 2023. Also includes augmented reality photo lenses.
There are a number of other non-Genie+ differences between the resorts. These differences can 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 (11:00 am at Disneyland vs. 2:00 pm at Walt Disney World, until January 9, 2024 when park hopping time restrictions go away entirely for Walt Disney World only). 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 these tips and tricks for maximizing Disney Genie+ at Walt Disney World and be sure to subscribe to my Disney World podcast, Disney Deciphered.
16. Can I use 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 two people, meaning one additional person 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 can be tricky. In. thepast, cast members required 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. But increasingly, cast members are requiring that everyone who will ride must have a booking with Genie+ or paid Lightning Lane, like has always been the case at Walt Disney World. So if you don’t want to risk being turned away, it’s safer to book a Lightning Lane for everyone who will ride.
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?”
Is 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 $30 to cut the line of up to 20 rides – saving hours in the day – is a worthy cost to me. But I have to say the creeping price increases have hurt!!!.
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. If you have young kids who won’t be tall enough or brave enough for at least some of the thrill rides, Genie+ may not be for you either.
Additionally, if you have a large family or on a very strict budget, 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!
Is 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 both of these attractions and save money – like arriving early for rope drop or using the Single Rider Line (on Radiator Springs Racers only).
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.
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 the 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 supposedly 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 ride more! 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 (tip: buy Fuel rods on Amazon in advance to save) but I also pair them with the Anker PowerCore 1000. It has more charging power (about 3+ full iPhone charges) for long Disneyland days. It 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) has had some big updates within the past year or so 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).
- 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 9 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 adults 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 2 hours out, having this reminder is invaluable not to lose precious minutes of eligibility.
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