Visiting Walt Disney World has evolved greatly over the past few years, but one of the biggest changes Disney made was the sunsetting of the old Fastpass+ system. In its place we now have Disney Genie and Disney Genie+. Disney Genie essentially serves as a new update to My Disney Experience and is available to all guests. Disney Genie+ functions as Disney’s Fastpass replacement to cut ride lines and is a paid service. When Disney first announced Genie+ we had a lot of questions, most notably will guests be paying more for an inferior product?
Disney Genie+ has now has been live at Walt Disney World for the better part of a year, launching not long after the kickoff of Disney World’s 50th anniversary. The new system definitely presents some real challenges and can be very frustrating: but with some prep work you can still get some serious value out of your investment in Genie+ if you know how to maximize the system. How do you maximize the system? By reading this article, of course!
Last updated: August 29, 2022.
We’ll discuss all the tips and tricks you need to know to squeeze every cent of value out of your Genie+ investment (should you choose to buy it). So let’s get right to business and get started with the basics.
Editor’s Note: Disney Genie is available at Disneyland as well as of December 8, 2021. But the systems have very different rules, and your strategies need to be quite a bit different between the two resorts. See our guide to Disney Genie+ & Lightning Lane at Disneyland for all the details and tips for the California parks.
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Basics of Disney Genie+ at Disney World
Genie+ at Walt Disney World costs $15 per person per day, plus tax. It works very similarly to the now retired MaxPass from Disneyland. While Disney used to allow guests to add Genie+ to the length of a ticket in advance of a trip, guests must now buy Genie+ a la carte by purchasing starting at midnight on any given day they plan to be in the parks. This definitely gets onerous since you need to add Genie+ every day, though you can save money by only buying Genie+ for the days you really need it.
Booking Attraction Return Times with Genie+
Once you’ve purchased Genie+, that unlocks the ability for you to make Lightning Lane selections. Lightning Lanes have replaced the old Fastpass lanes. Think of Lightning Lanes as the physical line you will enter and Genie+ as the key that gives you access to the line (H/T Brooke McDonald as our guest on Disney Deciphered for this helpful explanation).
It’s important to note that Genie+ allows you to book the next available return time for an attraction. You cannot otherwise select a time of your choosing. The system gives you a return window of 1 hour to visit an attraction via the Lightning Lane.
Genie+ allows you Lightning Lane access to over 40 attractions (both rides and shows) at Walt Disney World – but not all of them. Some attractions, like the People Mover at the Magic Kingdom, do not have Lightning Lane access at all.
Disney now states “On average, guests can enter 2 to 3 attractions or experiences per day using the Lightning Lane entrance if the first selection is made early in the day.” We consider that a worst case scenario. Hopefully if you follow our tips you’ll be able to use the Lightning Lane for more attractions than that!
Genie+ vs. Individual Attraction Selection
The most popular attractions, like Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance at Disney’s Hollywood Studios or Avatar: Flight of Passage at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, only offer Lightning Lane access via Individual Attraction Selections (IAS). Purchasing Genie+ won’t get you on them.
IAS Lightning Lanes are essentially paid Fastpass – you pay for access to the Lightning Lane for a single ride. IAS Lightning Lanes are separate from Genie+ Lightning Lanes. They can be used in conjunction with Genie+ or completely independently. Guests are limited to purchasing access to just two IAS attractions per day, although there are a total of 4 of them across the 4 parks. Those attractions and their cost are:
- Magic Kingdom: Seven Dwarfs Mine Train ($10-12)
- Epcot: Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind ($14-17)
- Hollywood Studios: Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance ($15)
- Animal Kingdom: Avatar Flight of Passage ($11-14)
While this article will focus mostly on Genie+ strategies, we will also touch upon some Individual Attraction Selection strategies when they affect your Genie+ strategy.
Note that the attractions that offer Individual Attraction Selection have changed several times since these new systems were released. Some of the rides that initially were for individual Lightning Lane sale have now been moved to Genie+ to add more capacity to Genie+ and prevent some of the frustrating “sell outs” that happened during busy times.
How Genie+ Works
The basics of how Genie+ works: at 7:00 AM you can pick your first Lightning Lane of the day from any of the attractions available. From that point on you can keep adding Lightning Lanes throughout the day in order to minimize your wait time in line, but you can only book the Lightning Lane for each attraction once per day.
From our experience, entering the Lightning Lane generally means a mere 5-10 minute wait, which saves a lot of time compared to standby wait times of 45 minutes or more. Also note that the ratio of people who are seated on attractions is heavily weighted towards guests using the Lightning Lane, just as it was for the old Fastpass system. Just like with Fastpass, you simply scan your MagicBand, Magic Mobile pass, or RFID card to redeem a reservation at the Lightning Lane entrance.
As you can no doubt tell, the Genie+ system (along with the Individual Attraction Selection system) can get pretty complicated pretty quickly. But for the remainder of this particular post, let’s take a look at the tips you need to keep in mind to craft a simple strategy that will get you on as many rides as possible.
Changes to Disney Genie+ at Disney World Since Its Release
One final note – it’s important for guests also to know that Disney has made a number of tweaks and changes to the Genie+ system and rules since the product was unveiled. So if you are reading blog posts or listening to vlogs or podcasts about Genie+, chances are pretty good the tips are out of date if not updated very recently! Here are the major past changes to know about and watch for (which we will keep updating as we update this post):
- February 25, 2022: Walt Disney World announced several temporary changes to Genie+ and individual Lightning Lane for February 25, 2022-August 7, 2022. A few attractions that were originally announced as Individual Attraction Selection moved to Genie+. Those rides are: Space Mountain (Magic Kingdom), Frozen Ever After (Epcot), Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure (Epcot), Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway (Hollywood Studios), and Expedition Everest (Animal Kingdom).
- June 8, 2022: Walt Disney World discontinued advance sales of tickets that included Genie+ for the entire length stay. All Genie+ purchases must be made every day you want to use it, starting at midnight on day of use.
- July 26, 2022: Disney removed the display of return times for Genie+ and Individual Lightning Lane attractions on the Tip Board for the most volatile in-demand first minutes of the day. So from 7:00 AM until about 7:30, instead of seeing times displayed on the Tip Board, expect to see “Check Availability” or “See Available Times.” You won’t see a time offered unless you click further into the process.
- August 3, 2022: Disney extended the previously-temporary changes of moving 5 rides from Individual Lightning Lane selection to Genie+. Now, guests can count on the following rides as being indefinitely part of Genie+: Space, Frozen, Remy’s, Runaway Railway, & Everest.
- August 11, 2022: Disney made changes to Genie+ for guests park hopping. Previously, guests could select a ride in a park they planned to park hop to later in the day and the system would automatically adjust the guest’s return time to 2 PM or later (when park hopping starts). Now, park hopping guests cannot make a Genie+ reservation for a ride in another park until that ride is returning a post-2 PM return time for all guests. So make your Disney World Park Pass reservations carefully in light of this change!
- August 25, 2022: Disney added a helpful banner to the Tip Board that shows guests using the service the time when they are eligible to book their next attraction with Genie+.
Beginner’s Genie+ Strategy: 6 Basic Tips for Disney World
Let’s start with some basic strategies for Genie+ users. If you internalize these tips, you’ll be better prepared to maximize Genie+ than the majority of Disney World guests before you even step into the park.
1. Charge your phone! And bring a portable charger
Rule #1 about using Disney Genie+: keep your phone charged! In general you’ll need a portable phone charger to make it through the day at Disney World, but with Genie+ you’ll be draining even more battery. It’s imperative that you keep a good charge throughout the day.
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Without your phone fully charged (and preferably some additional charged phones amongst your fellow party members) you won’t be able to take advantage of booking Lightning Lanes with Genie+ in practice. Technically you can use the guest experience team but that’s super inefficient – keep your phone juiced.
2. Understand what allows you to book your next Lightning Lane (the qualifying event)
Aside from the surprisingly difficult task of keeping your phone charged, the next most important thing you need to understand to maximize Genie+ is what allows you to book your next Lightning Lane. You become eligible to book a new Lightning Lane after one of several things happens: we call these situations that make you eligible “qualifying events”.
The following is a list of qualifying events that could make you eligible to book a new Lightning Lane reservation using Disney’s Genie+:
- When tap into a Lightning Lane to redeem a reservation
- If you cancel a Lightning Lane reservation you’re holding
- If your Lightning Lane one hour reservation window expires (you miss your Lightning Lane time)
- If the ride you’re holding a Lightning Lane reservation for breaks down
- If two hours have passed since you last made a Lightning Lane reservation and you haven’t had any other qualifying events during those two hours (in the morning, the clock counting the two hours starts at official park opening time and not at 7:00 AM when you make a first reservation)
If you take a look at the list of qualifying events, they all generally make sense. They each represent times you’d expect Disney Genie+ to allow you to make a new Lightning Lane reservation. The only tricky thing to remember is that two hours of idle time without any qualifying events generates the ability to make a new Lightning Lane reservation. But this is only true after the theme park you have a reservation for opens.
So for example, if you book a Lightning Lane at 7:00 AM and you have a reservation for Magic Kingdom on a day that the theme park opens at 8:00 AM, you will be able to book a new Lightning Lane at 10:00 AM if you’re idle and have no qualifying events during that time (not 9:00 AM).
While all of these qualifying events follow common sense logic, it can be easy to forget what makes you eligible to book a new Lightning Lane. Make sure you lock all of these qualifying events into your brain.
If you’re having trouble keeping track of your qualifying events, thankfully Disney has now added a banner on the Tip Board that tells you when you are eligible to book again. But you can sometimes make yourself eligible earlier (like when you tap into an attraction early in a 1 hour return time window), so it’s important to understand the parameters of the system too if you want to take full advantage.
3. Learn to prioritize Lightning Lane reservations for the high demand attractions
When using Disney Genie+, it’s important to prioritize Lighting Lane reservation for the high demand attractions. Even on low crowd days, several attractions generally run out of Lightning Lane reservations by the afternoon. On medium to high crowd days, these same attractions may run out of Lightning Lane spots by lunchtime. A couple can even run out before you are eligible to book a second Lightning Lane for the day at all!
So you definitely want to make your first Lightning Lane reservation for a high demand attraction. These are the attractions that run out of Lightning Lanes with Genie+ the quickest in each park:
- Animal Kingdom: Kilimanjaro Safaris, Expedition Everest
- Epcot: Test Track, Frozen Ever After, Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure
- Hollywood Studios: Slinky Dog Dash*, Millennium Falcon: Smugglers’ Run
- Magic Kingdom: Jungle Cruise, Peter Pan’s Flight
*Tip: Slinky Dog Dash regularly runs out in minutes every day and is the single hardest Genie+ Lightning Lane to get.
Day to day there may be exceptions, but in general we’ve been seeing the above attractions run out the quickest. At Magic Kingdom both Splash and Big Thunder Mountain often run out of Lightning Lanes on the sooner side too. In Hollywood Studios pickings get slim for all attractions by mid-day (more on that later).
But as a general rule, start with one of the above attractions for your first Genie+ Lightning Lane selection of the day. Some advanced strategies we discuss below will break that rule, but for most families just focus on these headliners to start.
4. Choose attractions to prioritize ahead of time and select them in Disney Genie
One underrated facet of Disney Genie+ is the importance of time and speed at 7:00 AM, especially for the high demand attractions discussed above. Five seconds (!) could be the difference between a 9:00 AM and 2:00 PM Lightning Lane reservation at an attraction like Slinky Dog Dash. So you not only need to prioritize the attractions you want to ride as a family, but you also need to make sure that Disney Genie+ prioritizes those rides for you as well.
To do this, you’ll actually use the vanilla Disney Genie. In the My Disney Experience app, click on “My Day” and then “Get Started Now” with Disney Genie. You’ll then be able to choose the park you’ll be starting at for the day (Disney Genie will check to confirm you have a park reservation for that day as well). From there you can select up to eight attractions you are interested in riding.
Here’s the important part: only select the one or two attractions that you want to prioritize at 7:00 AM. When you actually go to book Lightning Lane reservations, you will need to use the “Tip Board” section of the My Disney Experience app. Why? We may never know, but that’s how it works. By selecting the one or two attractions you are prioritizing you will make sure those show up at the top of your Tip Board, saving you precious seconds when trying to book them in the morning. Instead of scrolling all the way to the bottom for Slinky Dog Dash (the Tip Board organizes in alphabetical order if not given guidance) you’ll see it at the top of your board.
Don’t worry, after you get that first Lightning Lane or at any point during the day you can always re-select attractions you are interested in by going back to the My Day section. But getting those high demand attractions at the top of your Tip Board for your 7:00 AM reservation will do wonders for your day.
Tip: Use time.gov on another device to help you time exactly when to get a Lightning Lane at 7:00 AM. Pull down to refresh your Tip Board a split second before the clock hits seven!
5. Stack multiple Lightning Lane attractions in a shorter time window to maximize your time
Another tip for our basic strategy section is the concept of stacking multiple Lightning Lanes. Put simply, unlike its predecessor Fastpass+, Disney Genie+ doesn’t care whether your Lightning Lane reservations overlap one another. That means you could have a Lightning Lane reservation for a 3:30-4:30 PM window and a second Lightning Lane for 3:40-4:40 PM: this causes no conflict or error inside Disney Genie+ or your My Disney Experience app except for a warning.
This may not seem like a huge deal but trust us. It’s a huge deal! For starters, it allows you to be more efficient with your time. Under the old Fastpass system you often were waiting an hour between attractions (or hitting a standby line in between Fastpass attractions). Since you can stack a bunch of rides all around the same time frame in Disney Genie+ it allows you to be more efficient in the parks. Taking a simple example, you could take a long lunch and then hit 3-4 stacked Lightning Lane reservations in an hour and a half.
This may sound complicated, but in practice you’ll likely end up stacking Lightning Lane reservations without even trying to. Remember: just book new Lightning Lanes every qualifying event or at the very least every time you tap into a new attraction or 120 minutes has passed. That will really help you to maximize your day with minimal effort. Once you’re comfortable with that, you can move on to more advanced strategies.
6. Don’t let perfect be the enemy of the good – especially on busy days
While we love to try to maximize our Genie+ selections, on very busy park days return times can vary wildly and disappear in a matter of seconds. On days like these we strongly recommend that you just stick with the return times that Disney gives you. While you can try to cancel Lightning Lanes to get better times, there’s no guarantee you will be able to pick up a better time after you cancel your Lightning Lane. What often happens is you end up with a worse time and you reset your two hour window to book your next Lightning Lane. From personal experience, we can attest that generally it isn’t worth the hassle.
All that being said – the temptation to refresh for better return times is real and if we’re being honest we still cannot completely kick the habit. If you’re going to refresh for better return times, the best way to do it is to select your priority attractions in Disney Genie and pull down on the tip board. (iPhone users can also refresh times by clicking on an attraction and then clicking on the “LL” Lightning Lane icon). Act quickly and if you get a time you can live with stick with it! You’ll almost never get the perfect time.
Advanced Genie+ Strategy: 4 Additional Tricks to Maximize Stacking at Walt Disney World
Two concepts from our beginner’s tips form the base of strategies that can be used to further unlock the power of Genie+. Once you understand what qualifying events unlock new Lightning Lane reservations and internalize the idea that you can stack multiple Lightning Lane reservations on top of each other you’ll be able to truly maximize Genie+.
Just be aware that Genie+ doesn’t hold up as well on very busy days. Guests using it intelligently could fare well in the Magic Kingdom most of the time. But with fewer attractions in Epcot, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom on the Genie+ system, return times for desirable rides run out very quickly at peak times, even with the tweaks Disney has made to the system the past year. You likely will not get to ride nearly as much with Genie+ if you are in one of those parks exclusively at a very high crowd time. Use other strategies like early theme park entry or park hopping to maximize your day.
So with this limit in mind, let’s dive into advanced strategies which are where the real fun with Genie+ begins!
1. Stack morning Lightning Lanes from outside the parks for late arrival days
This isn’t the most powerful strategy, but it’s very useful if you’re taking it easy in the morning or even on a travel day when you’ll be arriving in Orlando in the afternoon. We’ve personally used this strategy to ride five attractions at Hollywood Studios in two hours on an arrival day!
For morning Lightning Lane stacking, you’re mostly using the two hour idle time qualifying event. The strategy goes something like this for a 9:00 AM park opening:
- 7:00 AM – Book Lightning Lane 1
- 11:00 AM – Book Lightning Lane 2 (two hours after park open and being idle)
- 1:00 PM – Book Lightning Lane 3, continue booking Lightning Lanes every two hours
This strategy works pretty well at Hollywood Studios some days, because Hollywood Studios attractions book into the afternoon very early in the day (especially Slinky Dog Dash and Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run). On busy days this strategy doesn’t work as perfectly because many attractions you want to ride might be completely sold out by 1:00 PM! It’s essential to prioritize the attractions that run out for your 7:00 AM and 11:00 AM selections and leave less popular rides for the 1:00 PM slot.
2. Stack on your lunch break
One of our favorite stacking methods is what we call lunch break stacking. This again takes advantage of the two hour idle time qualifying event. The premise is simple: when you’re eating lunch at a table service restaurant, you’re not riding rides. For most families lunch can take at least an hour, but sometimes with travel time you might end up taking two hours or more for lunch.
Use that time to your advantage! Set up your day so the last thing you do before lunch is ride an attraction via a Lightning Lane you booked through Disney Genie+ (this isn’t necessary of course but let’s use this as an example). After you tap into that attraction, book a new Lightning Lane. At this point, the two hour clock has started ticking on a potential qualifying event. Set a timer for two hours and as you’re enjoying a leisurely meal, or a break at the hotel, or time at the pool – make another Lightning Lane selection when that two hour timer goes off!
Lunch break stacking is probably one of the simplest stacking methods: it just requires that you be organized enough to remember to grab a new Lightning Lane after two hours. We call it lunch break stacking but you can really utilize this during any break in the day. This tip is just a reminder to book Lightning Lanes whenever you’re idle. Like all the strategies, this will be trickier on a busy park day as Lightning Lanes begin to sell out, but it’s still better to book something while you’re idle than nothing, so don’t forget!
3. Make a Morning (Magic Kingdom) Mad Dash
While stacking in the afternoon works for some parks and strategies, one strategy Magic Kingdom guests may want to attempt is the precise opposite. Instead of banking attractions every two hours to ride later, this strategy involves using tapping into a Lightning Lane as a qualifying event to move through a number of attractions quickly early in the day.
This is much more like how MaxPass worked at Disneyland. This strategy works best at Magic Kingdom because there are many more Genie+ attractions in play and return windows for many of them don’t get pushed to later in the day right away.
The key is to book an attraction with an early return window (soon after park opening), and then book your next attraction with Genie+ immediately after tapping into the first. Each time, you’ll be looking to book an attraction with a return time that is relatively soon after that time. This means you won’t necessarily book a headliner every time, as the return windows for some of those rides start getting too late. But this can be a powerful method to work your way through a lot of D-Ticket attractions quickly in the morning.
So how do you fit in the headliners? Ideally, you act fast enough at 7:00am so you can get one of them as your first Genie+ booking of the day. You should ride another one or two of the most popular rides with early theme park entry or at rope drop when lines are shortest. Do this right before you redeem your first Lightning Lane. Finally, you should aim to book another E-Ticket headliner with Genie+ before every ride’s return times run out for the day. This should be after you’ve made your mad dash through several D-Ticket attractions.
4. Take Advantage of Multiple Experiences Passes
What happens when an attraction isn’t operating during your Lightning Lane window? When that occurs, you get one of our favorite things at Walt Disney World: the “Multiple Experiences Pass”. Put simply, My Disney Experience will give you a pass to ride a variety of attractions (not just the one you had a Lightning Lane for) at any time throughout the rest of the day! Of course, most people will use this to ride the attraction that they missed, but you’re not limited to only that attraction.
Generally, your Multiple Experiences Pass will be valid for all attractions at the same popularity as the attraction that wasn’t operating and below. So if you have a Lightning Lane for Test Track and it’s raining, you pretty much will get a Multiple Experiences Pass valid for anything in Epcot except for Frozen, Remy’s, and Cosmic Rewind. If you don’t really want to ride Test Track, you could always use that to re-ride an attraction that you or your family loves.
Another tip to bear in mind is that while the Multiple Experiences Pass My Disney Experience automatically adds to your account will be for the same park, if you’re park hopping you can visit the Guest Experiences Team (look for blue umbrellas) and they should be able to make that pass valid for another park as well. That’s something you can definitely use to your advantage.
Finally, if a ride breaks down late at night, you’re often given a Multiple Experiences Pass good for the entire next day. Depending on what experiences are eligible, that can make a huge difference in planning for your next day. So make sure you pay close attention whenever an attraction you have a Lightning Lane for breaks down. It may end up working to your advantage.
If you’ve made it this far, you probably have enough tips to truly take advantage of Disney Genie+. You should be able to maximize your day, especially if the parks aren’t at level 9 or 10 crowds. Still, there are a few more miscellaneous tips and things you should know that might be able to help you out, so we’ll list some here.
- If Disney Genie+ gives you a Lightning Lane return time that you don’t like or doesn’t fit your strategy, go back before confirming the reservation and try to get a new time.
- Keep editing your “My Day” selections to keep the attractions you want to get Lightning Lanes for at the top of your Tip Board, especially if they are marquee attractions. Scrolling wastes valuable time!
- Individual Lightning Lanes (the a la carte purchases) can overlap with Disney Genie+ Lightning Lanes, so plan accordingly.
- You not only have a grace period of entering a Lightning Lane 15 minutes late, you can also enter up to 5 minutes early.
- Be prepared to have to re-login to the My Disney Experience app multiple times throughout the day (and often deal with one time codes being sent to your e-mail).
- Remember you can only use Lightning Lane once per attraction per day. Your Lightning Lane expiring counts as using it regardless of whether you tap in during the grace period or not, so make sure to cancel if you’re going to miss a Lightning Lane window for a ride you really want.
- Consider a two (or three) phone strategy for 7:00 AM on busy days. If you are trying to make both a Genie+ booking and individual attraction selection Lightning Lane purchases to start the day, you may need more than one person doing these tasks simultaneously to get the times you want (especially if Slinky Dog Dash and Rise of the Resistance are both on your list).
- If you want to get the most value out of a Genie+ day, combining these strategies with park hopping is best. You’ll run out of desirable attractions to ride with Genie+ in parks like Animal Kingdom or Epcot, so doing two or more parks lets you ride more headliners in total for the day.
If you take nothing else away from this guide, remember this: grab your next Lightning Lane as soon as you’re eligible, whether that’s from tapping into an attraction, 120 minutes passing, or even canceling a reservation.
It cannot be overstated how important this will be on medium to busy days when Lightning Lanes start selling out by mid-afternoon. You’ll want to make sure you’ve made enough reservations to feel like your purchase was worth it before then. Pay attention to your qualifying events and make new Lightning Lane reservations whenever you can to truly maximize your Disney Genie+ purchase.
We hope you have as much fun using Disney Genie+ as we did figuring out how it all works. Enjoy!
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About the author: Contributing writer Joe Cheung loves traveling with his wife and three children. He has been writing about using miles and points to reduce the cost of family travel since his wife was pregnant with their first child. He loves traveling all around the world with a special place in his heart for travel to Asia and all things Disney. When he’s not writing, you can find Joe chatting about Disney World on the Disney planning podcast Disney Deciphered that he and Leslie co-host or working as a travel agent specializing in Disney destinations. You can contact him by e-mail at email@example.com.