Disney World has implemented a whole new system for planning your days at Walt Disney World’s four parks. This is a digital service used through the My Disney Experience app. There are 3 levels to this service, Disney Genie, Genie+, and Lightning Lanes.
Disney Genie Service
The first level is the Disney Genie Service. This free service is intended to make planning out your day easier and more efficient. Using artificial intelligence and algorithms, Disney Genie will build an itinerary based on your party’s interests. Considering anticipated crowd levels, expected wait times, and current dining reservations the app will suggest when to ride your selected attractions, see entertainment, and where to eat. In theory, this plan will save you time, help you avoid the most crowds, and help you experience the things that are your top priorities. This is a free service for all park guests.
How to use Disney Genie Service
To use Disney Genie you must log in to your My Disney Experience app and link your park tickets. On the main Disney Experience page, in the Disney Genie Service box, click on the Summon Disney Genie button. This will bring you to a page with the tabs “Tip Board” and “My Day”. The Tip Board is where you can find wait times for all attractions and if attractions still have Disney Genie+ available (more about that below). There is also a dining section. This is where you will find a list of all of the dining locations in the park and if that location has availability on their walk-up list, available dining reservation times, and mobile order pick-up arrival times.
In the My Day tab, Disney Genie will build your itinerary for the day. To start this process, under the My Day tab, click on Get Started Now. From here the app will walk you through the process of selecting the attractions you want to experience, dining preferences, general interests, and enchanted extras. It will also ask if you want to upgrade to Genie+ and/or Individual Lightning Lanes, we will discuss those options later. Once you have entered all of your preferences, the app will give you a customized plan for your day. It will give the best times to go on rides, when and where to eat, when to see shows and parades, and character locations. The app will update your plans based on changes in wait times, weather, and ride closures.
So, to summarize, Disney Genie is a service that is built to help you maximize your time in the parks. It gives you a customized itinerary that will adjust throughout the day to provide you with the best experiences. In reality, this service is not all that Disney would like you to think that it is. The main purpose of Disney Genie is to spread guests throughout the park evenly. With this service, Disney can better control guest behavior. This can result in lower wait times for attractions and food service but in my experience and from reviews from other guests it is not as dreamy as Disney claims. If you are new to the parks and have no idea how to plan your day this service will be great for you. It takes the pressure off of trying to plan out every minute. For guests that have been to the parks multiple times, I think this service is interesting and can offer some value but it probably won’t change how you plan your day.
Genie+ is the next level of service offered through Disney Genie. This is a paid service and is purchased using the My Disney Experience app. On the home screen of the My Disney Experience app scroll down to Disney Genie+ Service and select Purchase for Today. Then select the people in your party you want to purchase Genie+ for. All members of your party much have Genie+ to enter the Lightning Lanes. For Walt Disney World, the cost of Genie+ varies by day. This is a new change as of October 2022. The cost will vary from $15 – $22 per person per day. There is no way to know what the cost of Genie+ will be on each day but if you are going during peak season, on a weekend or around a special event you should expect to pay $22. Genie+ can be purchased after midnight on the day you plan to use it and is subject to limited availability. Genie+ allows you to make Lightning Lane “reservations” for select attractions that are listed below. They are subject to change.
What are Lightning Lanes?
The Lightning Lane is just like the old FastPass+ lanes. For select rides, you can reserve an arrival window for your party to enter the Lightning Lane. This line is separate from the standby line and your wait time should be significantly shorter, although there is no way to know how long the wait will be. To use Lightning Lane you must first purchase Genie+, then starting at 7:00 am on the day you are visiting the park you can make your first Lightning Lane selection. The app will give you an arrival time to select. You have an hour from your selected arrival time to enter the Lightning Lane.
You can book your next Lightning Lane-
- when you have entered your first Lightning Lane
- when the arrival window for your first selection has expired
- 2 hours after you have made your first Lightning Lane selection (unless you booked it before park opening, then 2 hours after park opening)
Clear as mud, right!! You can make Lightning Lane selections like this throughout the day as long as they are available. Lightning Lanes are available for select attractions at each park.
Disney Genie+ Attractions at 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
- See Mickey at Town Square Theater
- See Princess Tiana and a Visiting Princess at Princess Fairytale Hall
- See 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
- Frozen Ever After
- 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
- Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure
Disney Genie+ Attractions at 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
- Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway
- Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run
- Muppet*Vision 3D
- Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith
- See Olaf at Celebrity Spotlight
- Slinky Dog Dash
- Star Tours – The Adventures Continue
- The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror™
- Toy Story Mania!
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
Strategies for reserving Lightning Lanes
- Purchase Genie+ BEFORE 7:00 am. It’s available to purchase at midnight.
- Select your priority experiences in My Day so they appear at the top of your tip board. Do this once you make your park reservation. Your tip board is where you purchase your book your Lightning Lane experiences.
- Be in the app and have your tip board open prior to 7:00 am and then just pull down to refresh once it hits 7:00 am.
- Act quickly!! The time shown may not be available once you hit continue. Determine ahead of time which rides are your first priority and book one of those first.
- Lightning Lanes sell out!! So although you paid to have access to them all day you may only get to reserve a couple. If all of the attractions you were hoping to reserve are unavailable, keep checking throughout the day, some may open up.
- You can return to your selected attraction 5 minutes before your selected return time. You should be able to reserve your next Lightning Lane time once you scan in. (just like FastPass+ you need to tap your Magic Band or your phone to check in to the Lightning Lane – some lines have two locations you need to tap in)
Tips for using Lightning Lanes
- Make sure that everyone you want to reserve a time for is connected to your My Disney Experience account. You must select each person, individually, when you make your Lightning Lane selection.
- You can only use Genie+ one time per attraction per person per day.
- Genie+ can sell out for the day and availability for Lighting Lane access is limited
- You can not choose your Lightning Lane time. The app will give you the next available time AND the first time you are given may not be the actual time you end up with. By the time you select your party and move on to the next screen that time may be gone and the app will just give you the next available time. (That’s handy, right? Ugh.)
- You can stack a Lightning Lane attraction and an Individual Lightning Lane attraction at the same time. See Individual Lightning Lane information below.
- If you don’t like the return time you were given, you can cancel it and try to book another time. Just remember there is a chance that there may not be any availability for that attraction left for the day.
- If you can not make it to your scheduled return time make sure you cancel it. Otherwise, you will not be able to book another one for that attraction. (You are only allowed one per attraction)
- You can have an unlimited number of Lightning Lane reservations
- Get the most out of Genie+ by incorporating extra magic hours, rope drop strategies, extended evening hours, and Individual Lightning Lanes into your planning
- If you are park hopping, you can book Lightning Lanes for the park you are hoping to. The app will only give you return times after 2:00 for parks you do not have a Park Pass reservation at.
Is Genie+ worth it?
As with most things, it depends. Things like how often you visit, which park you are going to, how busy are the parks, and how much time you have will really determine its value for you. I would say that at Magic Kingdom Genie+ is worth it for everyone. This park has the most attractions so you need a good strategy to make the most of your time. Genie+ will be an important part of that strategy. I also think it is useful for Hollywood Studios. This park has fewer attractions but the ones that are available with Lightning Lane are very popular so wait times can get really long. Using Lightning Lane for Slinky Dog Dash, Rock ‘n Roller Coaster, and/or Tower of Terror will really help maximize your day. I don’t think it is necessary for Animal Kingdom or Epcot. The attractions that have Lightning Lanes at these two parks generally do not have crazy long wait times. However, if parks are busy, which they have been over the past several months, it may be worth it to use Genie+. For these two parks, I would purchase Individual Lightning Lanes first then make your decision to purchase Genie+ or not.
Consider this when deciding on Genie+. It really does not allow you to get more done in a shorter amount of time, you use to primarily so you don’t have to stand in line. Less time in line can mean more time to do other things but since you can not choose your return times for Lightning Lanes you may find that you spend time waiting around for your next return time. Again, this is all dependent on your level of experience at Disney World. If you don’t go very frequently you will find other things to do to fill your time. If you are an experienced Disney World guest, you may not enjoy having this downtime between attractions.
As I am writing this it is the Tuesday after Presidents Day weekend and before Princess Race weekend. The parks are packed!!! Park Pass reservations for today through Thursday are gone for all parks. Here are some examples of current wait times:
- Haunted Mansion – 50 min
- Peter Pan’s Fight – 105 min
- Slinky Dog Das – 135 min
- Tower of Terror – 130 min
- Avatar Flight of Passage – 140 min
- Frozen Ever After – 150 min
Considering Park Pass Reservations are gone for the day, these wait times are not that bad. We should also consider the fact that most Disney experts feel that Disney is inflating these posted wait times. Perhaps to get more people to buy Genie+? Who knows. The point I am trying to get to is that if you are going to Disney World when wait times look like this you will get more out of your day if you pay for Genie+.
What is an Individual Lightning Lane?
For the most popular attractions at each park use of the Lightning Lane must be purchased individually, hence the name Individual Lightning Lane. It is the same concept as Genie+ except you have to purchase it separately for each attraction. It is not necessary to have Genie+ to purchase Individual Lightning Lanes. You can purchase 2 per day and you can not purchase access to the same attraction twice in one day. Prices vary by attraction and the day. They range from $7 – $15 per person per attraction. Individual Lightning Lane (ILL) is purchased on the day of use. Guests at Disney Resort Hotel guests, Shade of Green, and The Swan and Dolphin Hotels (including Swan Reserve) can buy ILL at 7:00 am. If you are staying off-site (even at Disney Springs hotels) you can not purchase ILL until the park opens. You do not need to be at the park. You can choose your return time for ILL just be aware that the time may change before you check out so pay attention to that. Once you purchase an ILL it can not be modified or canceled. If you are park-hopping you can get an ILL at the park you have a Park Pass Reservation for and any other park after 2:00 pm park-hopping time. However, there is no guarantee that the park you want to hop to will be available for park hopping. If a park is at capacity you can not hop there.
Like Genie+, you will purchase ILL in the My Disney Experience app. The attractions that have ILL at each park are:
- Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
- Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind
- Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance
- Avatar Flight of Passage
Starting Friday, February 15th through August 7th Disney World has moved Frozen Ever After, Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway, and Space Mountain from Individual Lightning Lanes to Genie+ Lightning Lanes. I think it is fair to assume there may be a few more changes in the weeks to come. Be sure to follow me on social media or join my friend list HERE to stay informed and further changes.
For better or for worse, the new Disney Genie, Disney Genie+, and Lightning Lanes is the system we have been given for planning your day at Walt Disney World parks. You honestly could go to the parks and not use any of these services and that might work out okay. The effectiveness of this system has so many variables. If you read my posts enough (which you totally should) you will see me say this a hundred times, you need to know what is important to YOU when planning your days at Disney World. Everyone has different expectations and you have to plan your Disney days to suit your vacation expectations. If you need help figuring out how to plan the best Walt Disney World vacation for you give me a shout! Leave a comment, send me a message on my social media, or shoot me an email, or whatever you prefer.