Disney Genie, Genie+, and Lightning Lanes – What You Need to Know

A lot has changed since the year-that-shall-not be named, even at Disney. There’s certainly been quite a bit of news recently, but it’s the new Disney Genie system and Lightning Lanes that have got our attention. 

Disney’s rollout of this new offering was, well – not great. But we’ve done some digging and put the pieces together. Here’s everything you need to know about Disney Genie, Genie+, and Lightning Lanes.

Disney Genie

Let’s start with the free services, everybody likes free. Disney Genie is a new feature inside of the MyDisney Experience and Disneyland apps that provides tips and recommendations throughout your day at the parks. 

What is Disney Genie?

Disney Genie is a major upgrade to the apps. Previously the apps allowed you to view current attraction wait times, place mobile orders, and book Fastpass reservations if using Fastpass+ (WDW) or Maxpass (DLR). 

Now not only can you view current wait times (for attractions AND restaurants), but you can also see forecasted wait times throughout the day. Instead of waiting all day for the Peter Pan line to go down and getting stuck waiting at the end of the day, you’ll be able to see if the wait is ever going down and decide what time of day you’re willing to stand in line for an hour. 

At the beginning of your day Disney Genie will ask you about your interests and what your must-do attractions are. The service then uses that information, along with current attraction waits and your location in the parks, to generate suggestions for what to do next. 

Our Thoughts on Disney Genie

Honestly, this is a great service especially for free. Guests have been complaining about the inconvenience of booking Fastpass+ (WDW) months ahead of their vacation for a long time. It’s understandable, who really knows what time of day they want to ride Space Mountain that far out? Most people are still figuring out what to pack. 

For me planning a Disney trip is at least as fun as the trip itself, but not for most people. The average guest doesn’t want to spend hours of research to learn the park attractions, and then more research to strategize a way to ride everything. 

Disney Genie makes the parks much more accessible to this type of guest, and provides a ton of value in that respect. 

Are the recommendations perfect, no. You likely won’t ride all of the E-ticket attractions and you will wait in some lines. But you could follow the tips Genie provides and have a great day. 

Should You Listen to Disney Genie?

Disney Genie’s recommendations are hit or miss. The recommendations are 30-40% accurate to the strategies most frequent guests are used to using. However, the system has the potential to act as a crow control regulator, sending groups to quieter areas and smaller attractions most would skip. 

And that’s a good thing, you get to visit things you might have otherwise skipped!

I think that overtime Disney Genie will become more intune with what guests are looking for, and constantly improve crowd control. 

Disney Genie is a good tool to check while you’re in the park, but I wouldn’t follow it to the letter. 

Genie+

If you’ve been to the parks in the last decade you’re probably familiar with some iteration of Fastpass; whether it was Paper FP, Fastpass+, or Maxpass. Disney’s line skipping service has gone by quite a few names, and Genie+ is the latest. 

There’s a few changes with Genie+, but the biggest is the price. Gone are the days of free Fastpasses and (for Disney World) being able to secure 3 per day before setting foot in the park. 

Genie+ costs $20 per person per day at Disney World, and $15 per person per day at Disneyland.

Here’s How Genie+ Works

Genie+ is a rebranding of the Fastpass experience, as part of this rebranding the Fastpass Entrance or Fastpass Lane is now referred to as the Lightning Lane. 

Genie+, like Disney Genie, has been added to MyDisneyExperience (WDW) and the Disneyland(DLR) apps. Inside the app you can now book Lightning Lane reservations throughout the day. 

Guests staying at a Disney World resort can make their first reservation at 7:00am, non-resort guests of Disney World at 9:00am. Similar to the paper Fastpass system, you are only able to book one attraction at a time. However, if the return window for the ride you’ve selected is more than two hours away you’ll be able to book a second reservation in two hours. 

As an example; A guest is able to make their first reservation at 9:00am for Splash Mountain at 11:30am, that guest will be able to make another reservation after 11:00am. 

When making a Lightning Lane selection you will not be able to choose the return window. Each attraction has a set number of reservations available per one hour window, once the first window is ‘sold out’ the next hour will become available, and so forth. 

If you are park hopping, Genie+ will work across parks at no additional charge.

Genie+ Rides at Each Park

Hopefully this all hasn’t gotten too confusing yet, because there’s more. 

With the purchase of Genie+ you will be able to reserve Lightning Lane return times for quite a few attractions, but not all of them. Here’s the list of what’s available at each park. 

Disneyland Park

Autopia

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad

Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters

Haunted Mansion

Indiana Jones Adventure

“it’s a small world”

Matterhorn Bobsleds

Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run

Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin

Space Mountain

Splash Mountain

Star Tours – The Adventures Continue

Disney California Adventure Park

Goofy’s Sky School

Grizzly River Run

Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT!

Incredicoaster

Monsters, Inc. Mike & Sulley to the Rescue!

Soarin’ Around the World

Toy Story Midway Mania

Magic Kingdom

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad

Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin

Dumbo the Flying Elephant

Haunted Mansion

“it’s a small world”

Jungle Cruise

Mad Tea Party

Mickey’s PhilharMagic

Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor

Peter Pan’s Flight

Pirates of the Caribbean

Splash Mountain

The Barnstormer

The Magic Carpets of Aladdin

The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh

Tomorrowland Speedway

Under the Sea ~ Journey of The Little Mermaid

EPCOT

Disney and Pixar Short Film Festival

Journey into Imagination with Figment

Living with the Land

Mission: SPACE – Green

Mission: SPACE – Orange

Soarin’ Around the World

Spaceship Earth

Test Track

The Seas with Nemo & Friends

Turtle Talk with Crush

Hollywood Studios

Alien Swirling Saucers

Beauty and the Beast Live on Stage

Disney Junior Play & Dance!

For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration

Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular – Returning December 19, 2021

Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run

Muppet*Vision 3D

Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith

Slinky Dog Dash

Star Tours – The Adventures Continue

The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror™

Toy Story Mania!

Animal Kingdom

Celebration of the Festival of the Lion King

DINOSAUR

Feathered Friends in Flight!

It’s Tough to Be a Bug!

Kali River Rapids

Kilimanjaro Safaris

Naʻvi River Journey

The Animation Experience at Conservation Station

Our Thoughts on Genie+

Paid Fastpass has been a long time coming. Many competitors have offered a similar service with a much higher price tag for years. At Universal Studios, for example, a single day Express Pay can cost over $100. 

After the introduction of MaxPass at Disneyland in 2017, this was inevitable. But parts of Genie+ are pretty offputting. Part of the reason MaxPass was accepted, though never well received, was because it offered a premium tier of service. Guests could still use the paper Fastpass system at Disneyland. You didn’t have to purchase MaxPass, but it gave you the advantage of book a Fastpass from your phone instead of racing across the parks. 

The value of MaxPass was the convenience and exclusivity, you saved time booking and could even do so while in another queue. Genie+ takes the foundation of MaxPass but removes the exclusivity. 

With the new Genie+ system, guests have to purchase in order to make a Lightning Lane (or Fastpass) reservation. The price will be a deterrent for some, especially large groups, but not for everyone. 

Individual Attraction Purchases

If you noticed the attraction lists for Genie+ were missing a few of your favorite rides: not to fear, Lightning Lane reservations are available for these….at a price. 

Alongside Disney’s announcements of Genie and Genie+ came the news that the Lightning Lane for certain attractions (up to two per park) are available only by individual purchase. The price for each attraction varies by time of year, time of day, and crowd index but ranges between $7 and $15 per person so far. 

Each guest is able to purchase up to two Individual Attraction reservations per day and purchase of these premium selections does not impact a guest’s ability to hold a Genie+ reservation. 

However, once purchased premium selections cannot be rebooked or canceled. If the attraction is down during your reservation window, you will be automatically refunded. Just like Genie+ though, you’re not able to choose your return time. Reservation windows are available to book as the previous window fills up.

Premium Rides at Each Park

Here are the rides you’ll have to purchase an individual Lightning Lane pass for. 

Disneyland

Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance

Disney’s California Adventure

Webslingers

Radiator Racers

Magic Kingdom

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train

Space Mountain

EPCOT

Frozen Ever After

Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure

Hollywood Studios

Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway

Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance

Animal Kingdom

Avatar Flight of Passage

Expedition Everest

Our Thoughts on Individual Attraction Purchases

Individual Attraction Purchases feels like a cash grab. I could understand if these purchases went above and beyond the Genie+ service, if they let you immediately walk on. As it is though, having to buy access to an individual attraction sounds a lot like the ride ticketing Disneyland had at park open. 

And listen, I’m not one to say I told you so. But I’ll just leave this here, if you’re interested. 

With so many of the parks having been closed for so long these past few years, it’s not surprising that Disney is looking for ways to save costs and increase revenue. There has been so much construction and now incoming cash flow to balance it out. This just feels excessive though. 

Should You Buy Genie+ and Individual Attraction Reservations?

Maybe. 

There’s quite a few details to consider as well as your personal vacation and Disney style. Let’s take a look at each offering. 

Should You Pay for Individual Lightning Lane Reservations

Most, if not all, of the premium attractions are walk-ons if you can make rope drop at the parks. Using Genie+ the amount of time you’ll spend in line for non-premium rides will be less, which would allow you to withstand some of these insane lines. 

If one of the premium rides is on your must-do list and will make or break your trip – absolutely go for it. But otherwise, I wouldn’t. 

Watch the Disney Genie tip board throughout the day to see how far out Individual Attraction reservations are booking. If the available window stays within an hour or two of the time you are checking, the standby line should go pretty quickly. However, if you look at 9:00am and the available window isn’t until the afternoon – buy it. 

Should You Pay for Genie+

If it’s in your budget, yes. 

The cost of Genie+ is not enough to deter the majority of guests, and the more people who use Genie+ the longer the standby lines will be. Based on observation, cast members have been trained to allow 7-10 Lightning Lane guests through the merge point for every 1 standby guest. 

This ratio is problematic for anyone not willing, or able, to pay for Genie+. While you won’t need the Lightning Lanes for all of the available attractions, it will save you a ton of time and allow you to do more. 

TL:DR

Disney Genie is an awesome new product available to all park guests that helps, so called, casual park goers navigate an overwhelming large vacation destination. 

Genie+ and, even moreso, Individual Attraction Purchases are yet another sign of the times. For years Disney’s services and offerings have declined while prices and surcharges have gone up. A family of four would need to pay an additional $60 – $180 per day for these new products. 

There was a time, before Fastpass, when we all stood in line. We’d bring cards, and snacks, play patty-cake, and just talk to each other. Most of us spend more than an hour on social media each day. Fastpass felt like gamifying Disney, and it’s fun but, it wasn’t necessary. 

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