Disney Genie Service: How Genie+ and Individual Lightning Lanes Work

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star wars galaxys edge disney lit up at dawn against a dark sky
Want to travel to another galaxy at Disney? This ode to Star Wars is a must do! Disney Genie+ service will add Lightning Lane (paid) access. Photo credit: Nasreen Stump

Would you pay to skip the lines at Disney’s most popular attractions? Well, they’re betting you will. After discontinuing the free Fastpass+ service Disney Genie+ was introduced. It’s not lost on us that Disney named this new service after one of the most beloved Disney characters of all time. Who didn’t adore Robin Williams voicing the Genie in Aladdin? But the paid access Genie+ and Individual Lightening Lanes- not as popular with the Disney fans no matter what you’re calling it. We utilized it on several recent trips and are here to share our successes and mistakes. Here’s how to use Disney’s Genie service, both the paid and free versions.

Disney Genie Service: It Has Levels, Let’s Explain Them.

First of all, a lot of confusion stems from the fact that the entire service is called Disney Genie but not all of it is paid. So I’m going to dive into a food analogy here because I love food and I think it makes sense. Then we’re going to break it all down in the sections below.

Your Disney park ticket is nachos. Everybody who buys a ticket gets nachos. Now they want to give you something to go with the nachos so you get complimentary salsa. It’s a small bowl and a little water-y but hey it was free right? The free salsa is Disney Genie service. It has the ability to input things your family likes/dislikes and what your priorities are. It will give you some ideas on how to maximize your park time, such as suggestions on slow times to go line up for rides. But it won’t get you on anything faster.

Genie+ is guacamole. It costs extra and it’s amazing. Genie+ gives you premium (guac) level access to book some of your rides with a specific return time. You’re fancy, you’re avocado, you skip the line. But the crowning glory of the nachos is the protein- steak or chicken fajita meat (Individual Lightning Lanes). That $&@t costs extra extra. There are two rides per park that are a steak level upcharge. These you can pay for extra and the price varies per day (think Rise of Resistance, Mickey and Minnie Runaway Railroad, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train etc) . You do not need to have guacamole (Genie+) to order steak. Or you can go for over the top nachos and get both the guacamole and steak if you want.

Basic Disney Genie Service: What It Does

Just like the Genie in the Aladdin story, you’ll share your wishes with him. Tell Genie what you like- toddler rides, thrill rides, princesses and more. Genie will help build an itinerary and then direct you to rides when wait times are shorter.

This service is digital and built into the My Disney Experience and Disneyland apps. There are two tabs, Tip Board and My Day. This portion of the Disney Genie Service is free to use but you must have a linked ticket to get personalized recommendations on the My Day tab. Without a ticket Genie just shows you current wait times and upcoming shows on the Tip Board. It just won’t be a personalized itinerary.

SheBuysTravel Tip: If you haven’t updated your MyDisneyExperience app in awhile do it! The full power of Genie only works on updated apps and you certainly don’t want to be trying to run an update the first time you need to buy Genie+.

Daily Disney Genie+: When to Buy It and What It Includes

The portion of Disney Genie Service that is not free is the FastPass+ style perk: access to the shorter ride lines, now called Lightning Lanes.

Disney Genie+ service prices just went up. They used to be $15 per ticket per day at Walt Disney World Resort. Now we’re seeing a range of $15-22 depending on crowds. At Disneyland, the cost is $25 per ticket per day.

That means my family of six would pay an additional $132 per day at Disney World or $150 per day at Disneyland for Lightning Lane access. That’s on top of the park tickets.

What Does Disney Genie+ Include?

The daily Disney Genie+ price includes:

  • Lightning Lane reservations to access shorter ride wait times at many rides and select attractions
  • Disney parks-themed audio experiences and photos to capture memories
  • Augmented reality lenses (Walt Disney World Resort)
  • Unlimited Disney PhotoPass downloads (Disneyland Resort)

When Should I Buy Genie+?

Originally this was an area that many folks struggled with. You had the option to add Genie+ to your tickets in advance. It added it to every day of your tickets. This was great for folks who are budgeting carefully and want to pay their vacation down before they go. No big surprises, no big add-on charges daily when you get there. You know you have it and when you open your app in the morning to book its there.

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However, that ended on June 7, 2022. Now you can only purchase it the day you’d like to use it it’s subject to availability. You can add Genie+ to a regular daily ticket after midnight on the day of your ticket.

So now the question becomes WHEN should I buy Genie+ as in, when is it worth it? Depending on what your park schedule looks like you may be paying for a whole lot of nothing. In some of the parks like Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios there’s a huge advantage to having Genie+. However, in EPCOT and Animal Kingdom it is useful but not 100% necessary. 

Is Genie+ Worth the Cost?

I’m going to confess that I was pretty against spending even more money on a Disney ticket when this option was revealed. Then I went in early December with my two middle kiddos ages 11 and 9. I have an annual pass. I purchased their park tickets through Sam’s Club (yes, you can buy them through Sam’s!). The purchase through Sam’s was easy. I got email ticket confirmations quickly. Then you load the ticket numbers into MyDisneyExperience and make your park reservations. When you arrive at Disney you just check in at Guest Services before entering the park and they either give you a Key to the World card or confirm that your MagicBands are connected.

We heavily utilized Genie+ while we were there. My 9 year old wasn’t doing great with lines and it helped us structure our day and move through everything faster.

seven dwarf mine train entrance disney not included in Disney Genie+
Disney Genie+ Lightning Lane access for Seven Dwarfs Mine Train costs extra. Pricing varies by date. Photo credit: Nasreen Stump

How Do I Use Lightning Lane Access?

When you pay for Disney Genie+ service, you use the MyDisneyExperience app to choose the next available time to arrive at that ride or attraction. The time will be a one hour arrival window during which you can show up and use the Lightning Lane entrance.

Here’s the current issue in execution. Currently many wait times on the Standby Line will get you in before the next available Genie+ time. On some you could wait 30 minutes to ride Mad Tea Party at 1:40 pm OR book it with Genie+ for 3:40pm. That’s a huge difference. Is there an advantage to knowing when you’ll have a promised time? Yes. Is it worth it to wait hours for that promised time? Only if you have other stuff to do in the meantime.

stacking genie+ reservations in my disney experience app
You can “stack” Genie+ reservations when your ride window is later in the day. Wait 120 minutes and book again. Just make sure they’re close to each other to make it to all of them! Photo Credit: Nasreen Stump

How Often Can I Book Genie+?

The Genie+ booking window starts at 7am the day of your visit. Genie+ attraction selections are designed to be made one at a time throughout the day. There is one notable exception. If 120 minutes has passed since your last selection you can book another one, even if you haven’t ridden the first ride yet. This scenario is seen most frequently at Hollywood Studios. Slinky Dog Dash goes FAST. Even booking at 7am we weren’t able to get a ride return window until early evening. In that case at 9am we were able to book another Genie+ slot even though we hadn’t been on Slinky Dog yet. I set an alarm on my phone if the ride I booked was more than 2 hours out.

Park hopping? You can make selections across multiple theme parks if you have a Park Hopper ticket that allows you to visit more than one park in a day.

Disney Genie+ Attractions at Magic Kingdom

  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
  • Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin
  • Disney Festival of Fantasy Parade
  • Dumbo the Flying Elephant
  • Haunted Mansion
  • “it’s a small world”
  • Jungle Cruise
  • Mad Tea Party
  • Meet Mickey at Town Square Theater (character meet and greet)
  • Meet Princess Tiana and a Visiting Princess at Princess Fairytale Hall
  • Mickey’s PhilharMagic
  • Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor
  • Peter Pan’s Flight
  • Pirates of the Caribbean
  • Meet Cinderella and a Visiting Princess at Princess Fairytale Hall
  • Space Mountain
  • 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 Genie+ Attractions

  • 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
  • Frozen Ever After
  • Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure

Disney Genie+ Attractions at Hollywood Studios

  • Alien Swirling Saucers
  • Beauty & The Beast Live on Stage
  • Disney Junior Play and Dance
  • For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration
  • Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular
  • Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run
  • Muppet*Vision 3D
  • Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster
  • Slinky Dog Dash
  • Star Tours- The Adventure Continues
  • The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror
  • Toy Story Mania!
  • Meet Olaf at Celebrity Spotlight
  • Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway

Genie+ Attractions at Animal Kingdom

  • Celebration of the Festival of the Lion King
  • 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
  • Expedition Everest- Legend of the Forbidden Mountain

What if the ride is down during my Genie+ return window?

Unfortunately this does happen. On the last day of our trip we rope dropped EPCOT and headed straight to Test Track. When time came for it to open it didn’t. We got vague announcements about there being a delay. Finally, after waiting for a bit we left the line and I bought Genie+ for the day. I booked a later return window. Well, it was still down. A cast member issued us a Genie+ Lightning Lane pass that could be used on any Genie+ attraction until the park closed. Luckily, the ride came back online again and we did end up making it on.

Get More, for More Money: Individual Lightning Lane Selections

High-demand attractions such as Seven Dwarfs Mine Train at Magic Kingdom in Florida and Radiator Springs Racers at Disney California Adventure park at Disneyland are not included in Disney Genie+. If you want to access the Lightning Lane for those rides, you will have to pay more since they’re sold individually. A la carte Lightning Lane attraction pricing varies based on day, time, and crowds. You DO NOT have to purchase Genie+  to book Individual Lightning Lane selections.

You can buy Individual Lightning Lane access the day of your park visit. There is an advantage for on-property guests. Individual Lightning Lane selections can be made by Disney Resort hotels and select guests at 7am the morning of. All other guests have to wait until the time that the park opens. This means that most early slots are taken by resort guests. Off-property guests staying elsewhere in the Orlando area may find it challenging to snag a spot on popular rides. Good news for guests of Shades of Green and the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin, you’re included in the 7am crowd.

The Two Rides We Would Pay for Individual Lightning Lane on Again and One We Wouldn’t

Avatar Flight of Passage has a pretty hefty wait. Because Animal Kingdom doesn’t have a ton of thrill rides the wait times go up quickly. On one visit a friend and I chose to wait in the standby line, on another visit I bought Individual Lightning Lane access for my party. If you’re trying to be quick at Animal Kingdom and want to park hop for 2pm I’d recommend purchasing.

Rise of the Resistance is another one we bought. We were a little hesitant because it is known for its breakdowns and we didn’t want to spend money and then have the ride be down. This ride is famous for long lines though, averaging over an hour and a half. You can do a lot more with your day at Disney’s Hollywood Studios if you’re not waiting in a 2 hour line. In the end it was worth it to us and everything went smoothly.

Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind can feel like a must buy but you may want to try for the virtual queue first. We’ve heard multiple reports of ILL only saving 10-20 minutes. It may be worth it if you can’t snag a spot in the virtual queue but otherwise it won’t save a ton of time.

Note: You DO NOT have to purchase daily Genie+ to book Individual Lightning Lane access.

Lightning Lane Individual Attractions at Walt Disney World

Magic Kingdom

  • Seven Dwarfs Mine Train


Hollywood Studios

  • Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance

Animal Kingdom

  • Avatar Flight of Passage

Can Annual Passholders add on Disney Genie+?

Yes, if you have an annual pass you can add on Disney Genie+ daily like any other guest. It is not available to add onto your pass for all days at this time.

Read More: Is a Disney Annual Pass Worth It?

Overall Thoughts on Disney Genie+ and Some Tips to Make the Process Smoother

I’ve got a lot of feelings on this one. I love Disney and have had many magical memories there. The Genie service within the app seems does help with planning.Being able to build a favorites board and predict future wait times will make Disney vacations better.

There has been a lot of chatter about how using the service makes you glued to your phone all day in a place that’s supposed to be about the memories. To an extent that is true. Trying to snag slots and line up rides definitely involved some screen time. And the 7am wakeup even on our EPCOT morning was slightly brutal. Here’s what I suggest that worked for us to reduce screen time.

  • Start a Note or Memo on your smartphone or on a plain old fashioned little notepad. As you book times add them. This reduced the number of times I had to refer back to the app to see our next booked time.
  • Use alarms on your phone for when you can book your next ride slot so that you aren’t checking. You can name the alarms. I’m a huge fan of alarm reminders at Disney. It helps my ADHD brain organize itself a bit. I have alarms set for when we need to start walking to dining reservations, when to find a spot for parades, and more.
  • Explain ahead of times to your kiddos that you will need to check your phone from time to time. Try to do it when you’re in lines or stopping for snacks.

Disney is already an expensive vacation. An extra $15-22 per ticket per day is just one more expense for families to absorb. Genie+ is a decent way to skip some waits but in the long run it sets Disney fans up for the justification of more and more pay to play add on charges. We’re not looking forward to that.

3 responses

  1. Hi Nasreen, Great article! Really helpful and insightful.

    I clicked the link to purchase tickets. However, there isn’t an option for a two-day visit (we’re planning Epcot and Hollywood Studios). Is there something not right with the link/website?

  2. Do guests at good neighbor hotels get 7 am buying privileges or do they have to wait until 9?

    1. Hi- at this point good neighbor hotels are not included at 7am. They can purchase when the park officially opens (times can vary by park and date).

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