Okay, so many of you are wondering: “how do you use Genie+ and Lightning Lanes??” Well, I am not a Disney expert, just a real mom with 3 kids who used this system all week, so let me do my best to break it down for you! Lightning Lanes are the new fastpass system at Disney. And in order to get access to those Lightning Lanes (which allow you to skip the sometimes super long standby line) you will have to pay extra. By the way, if you ever used the MaxPass system at Disneyland, the new Genie+ system is very similar! Let’s discuss:
#1 What is Genie+ and Lightning Lane?
Accessing a Lighting Lane depends on the attraction. Disney Genie (with no +) is a free planning tool that is integrated into the My Disney Experience app to help you plan your day while you’re at the parks. I didn’t find it that useful, FYI. HOWEVER, Disney Genie+ is a paid upgrade that will give you all-day access to the Lightning Lane for most attractions at each park for $15 a person per day. Some premium (highly popular) attractions will not be available thru the Genie+ option and instead can be reserved for a separate price, on an “a la cart” basis. Those attractions are purchased with an “Individual Lightning Lane” option. I’ll explain!
Genie+ will give Lightning Lane access to most of the attractions in all parks for an additional $15 a day, per person. There is no limit to how many times you can use it, but you can only use it once for each ride- no repeats. It works in all the parks for the entire day and will park hop with you. Check the Disney website or the My Disney Experience App for a list of Genie+ attractions at each park.
#2 What are Individual Lightning Lanes?
There are two premium, highly popular, attractions at each park that are not included in Genie+ that you buy separately. They are called the “Individual Ligthning Lane” or ILL and that fee varies each day for each attraction (for us it was anywhere between $7-$15 per person, per ILL). These individual Lightning Lane selections are capped and there is only a certain amount available each day. The concept is the same as Genie+, you get to skip the long standby line, once you purchase an ILL and reserve your time slot to ride.
The following attractions are the current Individual Lightning Lane Selections:
Magic Kingdom: Seven Dwarves Mine Train & Space Mountain
Hollywood Studios: Rise of the Resistance & Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway
Epcot: Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure & Frozen Ever After
Animal Kingdom: Avatar Flight of Passage & Expedition Everest
#3 I’m still confused?
You can choose up to two Individual Lightning Lanes (paid) per day. That’s the max you can buy. You can opt for just one, or two, and combine with the Genie+ or not. You don’t have to buy the Genie+ $15 option in order to get these individual ones. They are two totally separate things. That means the time windows can overlap when you book them as they are entirely separate. I’ll get into stacking later.
#4 Do I need to Buy Genie+ or Individual Lightning Lanes for the parks?
No, you don’t. There is always a standby option for every attraction and you don’t have to use Lightning Lanes. But if you are interested in minimizing your wait times then it will be very helpful. For my family of five, this was a trip we don’t often get to take, so we wanted to maximize our time in the parks and ended up using Genie+ and ILL every day.
#5 How do I buy Genie+ and ILLs?
For Genie+ service you can either upgrade your ticket package to include Genie+ ($15 per person, per day plus tax for your ENTIRE package) OR you can purchase Genie+ the day of your park reservation. You can do both in the My Disney Experience App. I chose to upgrade our ticket package so we all had Genie+ automatically added for each of our park days. If you don’t think you’ll use Genie+ every park day then you’ll have to add it on a day by day basis. See my answer to #6 for what parks I think you could skip using Genie+.
For ILL you are limited to 2 per day per person and buy them the day you plan to use them. You’ll purchase your ILL in the app under “Tip Board”
#6 Which parks do you recommend using Genie+ and ILL?
We used both Genie+ and ILL for all 4 of the Disney World parks because it was easier for me to just upgrade our ticket package instead of buying Genie+ each morning. BUT, I do feel that you can skip buying Genie+ for Epcot and Animal Kingdom, especially if it’s not a busy day and you get there first thing in the morning. I do NOT think you can skip purchasing ILL for these parks, however. See more info below. I do feel that Genie+ is a MUST for Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios.
#7 What Genie+ attractions are the hardest to get?
In my experience, some Genie+ Lightning Lanes go crazy fast, and some are available all day. Here are the most popular Genie+ attractions that you should grab first when making your selections.
At Magic Kingdom: Peter Pan’s Flight and Jungle Cruise
At Hollywood Studios: Slinky Dog Dash
At Epcot: Test Track
At Animal Kingdom: Kilimanjaro Safaris
#8 Which ILL should I buy and which should I skip?
So, this depends on you. Do you plan to get there early and rope drop? If so, I recommend rope dropping (arriving super early and being one of the first people on the ride in the morning) one ILL attraction and purchasing the other. In my experience, getting 3 young kids up and going early in the morning for rope drop was just about impossible. So I purchased a lot of ILL.
Here is what I recommend:
For Magic Kingdom: Rope drop Space Mountain and Purchase Seven Dwarves Mine Train. So many people at MK plan to rope drop Seven Dwarves Mine Train, so unless you are towards the front of the line, the wait time immediately goes up to an hour. And the ride is just not worth that amount of waiting. Even if you don’t plan to rope drop, you do not need to buy a Space Mountain ILL. The wait time will be low in the morning and in the evening. And the ILL option does not tend to sell out so it will be available pretty much all day long if you decide you need it. If you see the wait time for Space Mountain ever drop to 25 minutes or less, get in the standby line. It is usually goes faster than stated. Lots of people told me that Seven Dwarves Mine Train line goes down during fireworks and right before closing….I never found this to be true on the days we were there. Seven Dwarves Mine Train ILL will sell out immediately in the morning, so you are taking a chance if you don’t buy it right away. We bought it for our first MK day and then didn’t even bother with it for our second MK day because we all liked Big Thunder Mountain so much more!
For Hollywood Studios: Rope drop Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway and purchase and ILL for Rise of the Resistance. Everyone tries to rope drop Rise of the Resistance and it frequently breaks down. The wait time never dropped below 2 hours while we were there. Do not waste your time in line for this ride. Purchase the ILL IMMEDIATELY in the morning if you are staying on Disney property (more on that below). It will be gone by 7:02 a.m. Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway is a super cute ride that was my 4 year old’s most favorite! We bought an ILL for it because we didn’t rope drop. The lowest I saw the standby wait time go for this ride was 45 minutes. And the ILL for this ride does sell out by around noon, so try to grab it before then.
For Epcot: If you enter through the International Gateway (back entrance to the park) rope drop Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure and purchase an ILL for Frozen Ever After (or hop on if you see the wait under 45 minutes, typically this happens at night). If you are entering though the front of Epcot then rope drop Frozen Ever After and purchase Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure.
For Animal Kingdom: Rope drop Everest and purchase an ILL for Avatar Flight of Passage. Everest was closed when we were visiting but I’ve heard that similar to Space Mountain, you don’t need to purchase this one. ILL for Flight of Passage will sell out by 7:02 a.m.
#9 What order should I purchase ILL and make Genie+ selections?
Genie+ selections and ILL sell out. Some of them within minutes! Everyone coming to a park that day with a park reservation and Genie+ purchased can begin selecting Genie+ Lightning Lanes at 7am, regardless of the time the park opens that day. If you are staying on a Disney property (which I highly recommend you do!) you have an advantage over those staying off property because you can also begin purchasing your ILL at 7am. Those staying off property will not be able to purchase an ILL until 9am. That means, a lot of ILL will sell out (like Rise of the Resistance) before off property guests even have a chance to purchase them. On property guests also get to rope drop 30 minutes before off property guests, so they will also fill up the standby lines before off property guests even get a chance to get there. It pays to say on property!
Because everyone can make Genie+ selections at 7am, I recommend doing your selection first before buying any ILL. Think of it this way: you are competing with everyone coming to the park that day to book a Genie+, but you are just competing with on property guests to book an ILL. Here’s what you should do:
For Magic Kingdom: Book Genie+ for either Peter Pan or Jungle Cruise first. Then buy your ILL for Seven Dwarfs Mine Train.
For Hollywood Studios: Book Genie+ Slinkydog Dash then buy your ILL for Rise of the Resistance. Or have your parter book one while you book the other. Slinkydog Dash will be all gone for the day by 7:01 and Rise of the Ristance will be gone by 7:02. After booking Slinkydog I went to buy ROR it was gone. If this happens to you, just keep refreshing your page over and over and over. Other guests who are also trying to book that ILL will have payments that won’t go through and their time slots will open up. Just don’t give up! I went through the process of buying an ILL 4 times before I actually got one and it took about 10 minutes. Have fast fingers!
For Epcot: Book Genie+ for Test Track then buy the ILL you choose. I bought both Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure & Frozen Ever After and would happily do so again to avoid waiting in lines for those rides.
For Animal Kingdom: Buy ILL for Avatar Flight of Passage first then, depending on the time slot of your ILL, then book Genie+ for Kilimanjaro Safaris. Or book Na’vi River Journey for a time close to your Flight of Passage return time.
#10 So, how does it work?
Think of Genie+ selections and ILL as two separate tracks that do not intersect each other. They are completely separate with each other and do not impact each other at all. For Genie+, you make your first selection right at 7:00 a.m. Set your alarm! You may book your second Genie+ selection EITHER after you scan in using your magic band (highly recommend) or Disney ticket at that attraction’s Lightning Lane area OR it’s been 2 hours since you booked your last Genie+ section. BUT!!! If you are using this 2 hour rule, it is NOT 2 hours after 7:00 a.m., it is 2 hours after park open. So, if the park opens at 9:00 a.m. you can not make your 2nd Genie+ selection until 11:00 a.m. Here’s some examples:
7:00 a.m. book Genie+ for Peter Pan’s Flight for 10:00-11:00 return window
9:55 a.m. scan in to Peter Pan’s Flight lightning lane (you can arrive 5 minutes early! Do it!). Immediately after scanning in (some attractions you scan twice, so wait until your second scan) book your next Genie+ selection, let’s say Jungle Cruise for 2:30-3:30 return window. Set an alarm on your phone for 2 hours from now.
11:55 a.m. (2 hours after you booked Jungle Cruise) book your next Genie+ selection.
1:55 p.m. Book your next Genie+ selection
And so on, booking a Genie+ every 2 hours, or after you scan in and use it, whichever comes first. Fill in the time with waiting in standby lines.
7:00 a.m. book Genie+ for Slinkydog Dash for 3:00-4:00 return window
11:00 a.m. book your next Genie+ selection
Scan in to your Genie+ selection OR book your next selection once it’s been 2 hours (1:00 p.m.) whichever comes first. Fill in the time with waiting in standby lines.
I found that it was pretty difficult to book morning return times for Genie+ at Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios. We ended up riding lots of rides standby in the morning, going back to our hotel to swim and rest, and then returning in the later afternoon to ride all of the Genie+ selections I made in the morning or while we were resting.
#11 How do you stack Genie+ and ILL?
Because you book every two hours or once you scan in, you are booking Genie+ return times all day long, frequently for later in the afternoon or evening. And since you have an hour return time window, you can easily have two lightning lanes reserved for similar times. Once you add in paid ILL rides you get a nice little stack! Remember, ILL can be purchased (if available) throughout your day, so you can stack them with Genie+ selections.
#12 General tips
-You can tap in to your Genie+ selections and ILL up to 5 minutes early. We did this a lot if we had a stack of Lightning Lanes booked for similar times and did not want to miss them.
-Do not arrive late for your return window! It is up to the Cast Member to decide if you can ride if you arrive late.
-If you don’t like the times Genie+ is offering, refresh your app. New spots often pop up.
-Do not, I repeat, do not, refresh for Slinkydog Dash. Grab whatever time slot you can!
-While booking a Genie+ or paid ILL, the time can switch on you within seconds while you are making the reservation. This happens when the times are filling up and selling out. You may think you are buying a 10:00 a.m. return time but by the time you check out, you actually have a 3:30 p.m. return time. Be aware!
-When you finalize a selection, take a screenshot in case your app crashes.
-You can edit your Genie+ selections if needed. But you will have to cancel your selection before making a new selection. I did this a few times when I saw better time slots pop up. Lots of people cancel so keep checking your app!
-You can NOT edit your paid ILL return time. However, you can ask either the front desk at your Disney hotel, or people at the blue umbrella stands at the parks to edit them for you. It is up to the Cast Member to help you or not. When I was buying an ILL for Frozen Ever After, the time changed on me (as it often does). But after the purchase was complete I saw the time I really wanted become available again. A Cast Member at the Yacht Club front desk was able to edit it on her computer for me….but only because the time slot I wanted was available.
-If you aren’t going to make it in time for your Genie+ return window, cancel it. If you just don’t show up, the app will not let you book that ride again.
-If the attraction you are supposed to ride breaks down during your return window, you will automatically get an “Experience Redemption” added to your app that can be used as a lighting lane at any time! These are lucky! They can be used on a ton of different rides (it will tell you which ones). And does not count towards your Genie+ selection for that ride….meaning you can ride something twice! The Jungle Cruise went down right before our Genie+ plus return time, so an Experience Redemption was added to my app automatically. I then rebooked Genie+ for Jungle Cruise for later that evening and then used our Experience Redemption to ride Winnie the Pooh (which would not have been my first choice, but that Genie+ was surprisingly hard to get!). I didn’t have to do anything to use it to ride Winnie the Pooh other than show up to the Lightning Lane area and scan our magic bands. The app figured it out.
-Magic bands are a must if you are doing Genie+ and ILL. They make it SO easy to scan in. Buy them ahead of your trip in the app or on the website for the biggest discount.
-Save your top Genie+ selections and ILL choices in your tip board under “my day” ahead of time. That way in the morning when it’s time to book the Lightning Lanes that sell out the quickest, your top choices will be added to the top of the page for you, so you don’t have to waste time scrolling and looking for them.
Did I miss anything? Be sure to follow me on Instagram where I’ll share more examples today!!