Sign for Lightning Lane and Standby Entrance in Epcot at Walt Disney World Resort in front of Frozen ride

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Genie Plus is the new system at Disney World that allows you to “reserve” rides. It’s basically a replacement of the old Fastpass+ system.

We’re going to look at how to use Genie Plus. Then, we’ll go over our family’s experiences using the feature during our most recent Walt Disney World vacation. Next, we’ll go over whether or not Genie Plus is worth it. And finally, we’ll discuss some tips to use if you aren’t going to buy Genie Plus!

(Please note that we are only talking here about Genie Plus at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. While Genie Plus is also coming to Disneyland, a release date for the California parks has not yet been announced.)

How to Use Genie Plus

How does it work? Well, it’s all part of the My Disney Experience app. In fact, when you open up the app, the very top options are all Genie related.

The top part of the My Disney Experience app, where you can start using the Disney Genie Service at Walt Disney World

If you choose “View My Day,” you can then choose “Get Disney Genie+ for Today” (it’s in the rectangle with the purple background). That’s when you can purchase it for you and for anyone else in your group. (We’ll go over the cost a little later.)

Disney Genie Service section of My Disney Experience app, where you can select Get Disney Genie+ for Today

To start booking your first reservation, you’ll want to go to the Tip Board. You choose a ride (or “experience”) that you want and click on “Book Experience.” You won’t be able to choose a time – you have to take the next available time.

Tip Board for Epcot Genie Plus on the My Disney Experience App and how you can book Journey Into Imagination with Figment or Living with the Land

You’ll get a window to arrive, which usually is a one hour block of time. (Sometimes shows have shorter windows than rides do, since they depend on when each show starts.)

When you arrive, you won’t enter via the “Standby” entrance or line. Instead, you’ll get in the Lightning Lane queue. (There should be signs indicating this, but you can also ask a Cast Member if it’s unclear.)

After you ride it, you can book another experience (aka ride or show).

And one warning – you can only book a ride once. If you love riding the same ride over and over again, you can only do it once that day using the Lightning Lane with the Genie Plus service. You can ride it again, but you’ll have to go through the regular, standby queue.

2 Hour Rule (Skip If You Want to Keep Things Simple!)

Currently, there is one other way you can book another experience. And that’s if 2 hours have passed from when the park opened and you haven’t done your first ride yet.

For example, the earliest you can book is at 7:00 AM. Let’s say I book Jungle Cruise at 7:00 AM and get a return time of 12:15-1:15 PM. And let’s say its park, Magic Kingdom, opens at 8:00 AM.

At 10:00 AM, it’s been 2 hours since the park opened AND I haven’t used my reservation yet (since it’s not time yet). So I can book another ride at that time, say, Haunted Mansion for a return time of 10:30-11:30 AM (or any other return time).

If I get a farther out return time, like 3:00-4:00 PM, then at 12:00 PM I can book a third ride, because another 2 hours have passed without me using a reservation.

On the other hand, if my Jungle Cruise return time (my first ride reservation) had been 8:15-9:15 AM, then the two hour rule wouldn’t matter because I would have already done my ride within the first two hours the park was open.

Luckily, if this 2 hour thing seems too confusing, if you make your first reservation for an early return time and then keep making new reservations, then you’ll never even have to worry about it.

How Much is Disney Genie Plus?

Genie Plus costs $15 (plus tax).

That doesn’t sound so bad, right?

Well, that’s for one person, and for one day.

If you are, say, a family of 5, and you’re visiting the parks 4 days, it can add up. Using Genie Plus every day will come to $300 (plus tax). And that’s on top of what you’ve already paid for tickets.

Now, that might be a small amount compared to your total vacation budget. On the other hand, it might feel like this is getting a little ridiculous, and that in the past (before Genie Plus was offered) you could have used that money for something else in the parks, like a really nice meal or some souvenirs. Or you could have just not spent that money in the first place! So some of this comes down to perspective – and both viewpoints are definitely valid!

But let’s explore more what it was like for us to use Genie Plus, and if it’s worth it for you.

Our Genie Plus Experience

On our last Disney World trip, we used Genie Plus on two different days.

Now, there are a couple different ways you can get Genie Plus.

If you have tickets, then you can purchase it beforehand for the length of your stay.

If you have annual passes (like we do) or if you don’t want to do it every day, then you can purchase it the same day you want to use it.

We only chose to do it on two days of our trip.

Genie Plus at Animal Kingdom

Giraffes seen on the Kilimanjaro Safari ride at Disney's Animal Kingdom in Walt Disney WorldOn the first day we used Genie Plus, we were switching from a Universal Studios hotel to a Disney World hotel. We also spent the morning at Universal Studios Florida, where we had breakfast at the Leaky Cauldron. So we knew we’d only have so much time at our second park of the day, Animal Kingdom.

We also knew that we had a couple of attractions we really wanted to do at Animal Kingdom (Kilimanjaro Safaris and Na’vi River Journey).

So for us, buying Genie Plus to make sure we rode those two rides – without having to spend a lot of time in line – was worth it.  Without it, given how long the lines get in the afternoon, and considering that the Safari doesn’t always run in the evenings, we might not have been able to ride both attractions.

As it turned out, we were able to do both with extremely short waits, but then we used Genie Plus for the Celebration of Festival of the Lion King show. We might not have needed it, but knowing we could just show up during our return window and be “guaranteed” a seat meant we didn’t feel the need to rush over to get in line. Instead, between the Safari and the show, we bought Cokes and took a short but relaxing break, sitting at one of the tables in the Harambe Market area.

Genie Plus at Magic Kingdom

Trader Sam's decorated for Christmas on the Jingle Cruise ride in the Magic Kingdom in Orlando FloridaThe second day we used Genie Plus, we had talked about not using it and instead doing Early Entry at the Magic Kingdom. We knew we’d be visiting Disney Springs in the evening, so we wanted to make the most of our time in the park that day.

While doing Early Entry would have been a great way to avoid longer lines… it is, as the name says, early! And sometimes, when you’re on vacation, you want to be able to sleep in a little. So we decided to get Genie Plus for the day.

Now, as I mentioned before, we had to buy Genie Plus that day. However, I was still up around midnight, so I actually purchased it the “night” before, a little after midnight. That gave me less to worry about the next morning.

A couple of us did still get up at 7:00 AM to make our first Genie Plus reservation, so it’s not like we slept super late. But we were still able to start our day at a more relaxing pace, knowing that we just needed to get there to make our first Genie Plus reservation (which was mid-morning) instead of needing to get there in time for Early Entry (which was at 8:30 AM).

Days Without Genie Plus

For the rest of the Disney part of the trip, we didn’t bother getting Genie Plus. Most of what we wanted to do at Epcot and Hollywood Studios were things like shows, exploring the World Showcase, shopping, and enjoying the holiday atmosphere – and you don’t really need Genie Plus for that. (Now, if we had been wanting to do wild rides, which we were not, that would have made a difference at Hollywood Studios.) And we did end up doing Early Entry for Epcot one morning, which allowed us to basically walk onto Soarin’.

Stress Levels

For the most part, I think I was able to keep my stress levels within check, relatively speaking. (I am the kind of person who can find stress in basically any situation, so there is that.) But there were a few moments when things didn’t work as expected and I felt more than a little panicked.

For example, when I tried to book a Lightning Lane reservation and got this message:

Disney Genie+ Lightning Lane Selection for Pirates of the Caribbean with Unknown Conflict message

Now, the names are blacked out in this screenshot, but the part that freaked me out was the “Unknown Conflict.” Because that certainly didn’t sound good.

I’m not entirely sure why I got that message, but after backing out and trying again a few times, I was able to book the Lightning Lane reservation that I wanted. The return time may have changed a little, but it was more or less what I wanted.

And I do know that I was a little distracted at the very beginning of the Jungle Cruise (or Jingle Cruise, in our case), because I felt pressured to schedule another Lightning Lane reservation. I can definitely see how you could end up spending lots of time on your phone using the app. And obviously, that’s not ideal for either a relaxing vacation or quality time with family or friends.

I mention this because, while I was happy with our overall Genie Plus experience, I do think it can be more stressful than the old Fastpass system (or not using any system).

Genie Plus and Disney Dining

On both our days using Genie Plus, we used mobile order for lunch at Pizzafari and Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn and Cafe.  We placed our orders when we knew we had some “down time” before our next Lightning Lane reservation window started. This worked out well for us. If we had made dining reservations beforehand, that would have been more stressful. We could have made the Lightning Lane reservations around our dining reservation, but that would have given us fewer options.

It’s another consideration to make if you tend to line up restaurant reservations before your trip and are thinking about purchasing Genie Plus.

Is Disney Genie Plus Worth the Money?

For us, the answer is YES. Genie Plus was worth the money for the days we used it. It allowed us to hit (almost) all of the top rides we wanted to do in a limited amount of time, with very short wait times. I don’t think we waited more than 10 minutes in any of our Lightning Lane queues.

At Animal Kingdom, we had 2 rides we really wanted to do. For Magic Kingdom, we picked 5 rides that were priorities.

Side note: You can even “tell” Genie – the free service – which rides are your top picks. Regardless of using the paid Genie Plus service, I highly recommend this. It’s one of the best features of the new Genie service! It allows you to quickly see wait time of your favorite rides, without having to scroll down very far.

My Top Picks Section of Disney Genie part of My Disney Experience app for Walt Disney World

Anyway, we were able to get 6 out of those 7 top rides done with short wait times. (And as it turned out, the one we didn’t get to – Peter Pan’s Flight – was basically a walk on when we rode it during the Disney Very Merriest After Hours event later that week.)

So, for our family, the service was worth using for a couple days of our vacation.

Here are some reasons I think it could be worth it during part of your trip:

You Have A “Must Do”

Is there a ride (or a couple of rides) that you feel like you MUST ride? Obviously, no ride is literally a necessity, but sometimes there’s a favorite attraction that you (or your child, friend, parent, significant other, etc) badly wants to ride.

If you go into it figuring that you will use the cost to make sure you can get experience that must-ride attraction – without having to wait a long time in the queue – then yes, I think it’s worth it.

Note that this is different from wanting to ride ALL the rides. For some people, part of the fun is riding as many things as possible. If that’s the case, then Genie Plus can be a useful part of your strategy. But simply purchasing it may not allow you to get to everything, because you have to rely on return times and can’t just book multiple attractions at a time. So it may not feel worth it in that case.

A note about ride availability – just like with Fastpass+, there are only so many times available. And they continue to get booked by other Genie Plus users. So as the day goes on, there are fewer opportunities for booking a Lightning Lane reservation. This is especially true on busier days. That’s why having Genie Plus is not a guarantee you’ll be able to ride many attractions. But again, if there is just one or two rides that are MUST do’s, you’re much more likely to accomplish that with Genie Plus.

You Want to Avoid Long Lines

Now, this one might sound obvious.

And I’m not talking about needing to avoid long lines for health/medical reasons – you should look into the Disability Access Service (DAS) if that is the case.

But there are other reasons that long lines (of, say, 60+ minutes, or even 30+ minutes) may not work for you.

Maybe your kids are a little too young (or just not ready) to have that kind of patience. Maybe YOU don’t have that kind of patience (no judgment here!). Or maybe you know that your feet can take walking around the parks for a week but not walking around the parks for a week AND standing in long lines.

If your main concern is avoiding long lines, then Genie Plus is definitely worth it. This is especially true on busier days, or if you have park hopper tickets. Park hopping – or going to a second (or third or fourth) theme park is allowed after 2 pm, as long as you’ve already visited the park that you had your original reservation for that day. (Also, you can only park hop to a park that isn’t full. Occasionally, on very busy days, a park can reach capacity and not allow park hoppers in.)

The good thing about park hopping and Genie Plus is that you can make reservations for attractions in multiple parks. So if you’re in Hollywood Studios and you’ve already gotten to all the rides you want to do – or there are no Lightning Lane times left for the rides you haven’t done yet – you can start making Lightning Lane reservations for rides at another park and then “hop” there at 2:00 PM.

You Have A Limited Amount of Time

If you’re going to be at a park all day, you have the opportunity to ride attractions when the wait times seem lower (this especially happens early and late in the day). You also can choose to wait in line for an hour or two, since you will be there all day.

But if you’re only going to be in a park for a few hours or so, then Genie Plus can really help you make the most of your time. This was the case for us.

You’re Not An Early Riser

Okay, so you’re still going to need someone to get up at 7:00 AM if you want to be sure to get a reservation for one of the most popular rides (such as Slinky Dog Dash at Hollywood Studios). But if you’d prefer to sleep in a bit, Genie Plus can be a great way to avoid some of the longer lines during midday.

How to Get Around Using Genie Plus

What if none of those situations really describe you and your family? Or what if they do, but you just don’t have it in your travel budget?

Well, if you still want to use Genie Plus, sometimes you can save money on your tickets or save money on your hotel stay – the difference might be enough to pay for Genie Plus!

But if you don’t want to use Genie Plus at all, that’s okay, too!

Here are some tips if you won’t be using Genie Plus:

Early Entry & Extended Hours are Your Friends

Early Entry, or being able to enter the park half an hour early, can make a huge difference when it comes to avoiding longer lines and getting things done.

You can enjoy this perk if you stay at a Disney resort and a handful of other nearby hotels (we’ve included a full list in this review).

We highly recommend using David’s Vacation Club Rentals to stay at a DVC resort (like Grand Floridian, Wilderness Lodge, Beach Club, Polynesian Village, etc). You do not have to be a Disney Vacation Club member to stay there if you go through David’s. And you’ll be able to stay at a deluxe resort (the top category of Disney hotels) at prices that are often cheaper than a moderate or even a value resort.

And because the DVC resorts are deluxe resorts, you can take advantage of both Early Entry as well as Extended Evening Theme Park hours. Currently, Extended Evening hours includes 2 extra hours at night every Monday at Epcot and every Wednesday at Magic Kingdom. (This schedule may change, so be sure to check Disney’s website before your trip.

Since only guests of certain hotels can ride attractions during those time periods, the lines are shorter. This is a great time to ride some of the more popular rides without needing Genie Plus. In fact, you cannot use Genie Plus during Early Entry or Extended Evening hours.

Check the App for Wait Times

Now, I am definitely not suggesting that you spend ALL your time on the app. But you can monitor wait times using the Tip Board, even if you don’t pay for Genie Plus. You can also check them the “old fashioned” way (i.e. the pre-Genie way) on the My Disney Experience App (by selecting the icon second from the left at the bottom).

And while you shouldn’t have to do a lot of homework before or during a vacation – it’s a vacation, after all! – checking wait times every now and then a day or two before your trip can give you an idea of how things are trending. While every day is different, it might help you realize that your favorite ride tends to have lower wait times earlier or later in the day.

The free Genie feature is supposed to give you this information as well (how wait times trend during the day). However, and maybe that’s just me, but I feel a little more comfortable checking it out for myself than relying on the Genie recommendations.

Take a Midday Break

Wait times often get longer around the middle of the day and early afternoon. Consider taking a break during this time. You could go back to your hotel for a nap or a swim in the pool. This works well if you’re staying onsite at a Disney World hotel, since they include transportation options all day long.

If it’s not as easy for you to get back to your hotel, consider visiting another Disney resort during your break. For example, if you’re visiting the Magic Kingdom that day, you could take a monorail to the Polynesian Resort, enjoy a Dole Whip from Pineapple Lanai, and take in the beauty of the hotel. Or you could take a bus from any theme park to the Animal Kingdom Lodge and see which animals you can spot. These activities won’t cost you extra (well, except for the Dole Whip), but it can be an enjoyable way to stay out of the heaviest crowds of the day.

Enjoy Some Non-Ride Experiences

The rides at the Disney World theme parks are definitely fun. But there are other things to see and do that you might not notice if you’re focusing exclusively on rides. For instance, you can view some great animals (like red kangaroos or ring-tailed lemurs) by walking the Discovery Island Trails at Animal Kingdom. And the World Showcase can be a fascinating place to explore (and shop and eat and drink!).

If wait times get a little crazy, there are a lot of other ways to entertain yourself in the parks. And while it may not be what you initially planned, sometimes those can be the most memorable experiences!

One Last Note

So we’ve been discussing using Genie Plus, but we haven’t mentioned one detail. Not every single ride is included in Genie Plus. A few rides, like the Gran Fiesta Tour Starring The Three Caballeros (i.e. the ride in the Mexico pavilion in Epcot), simply don’t have a Lightning Lane entrance and aren’t part of the program.

And two rides per park are part of something separate, called Individual Lightning Lane (ILL). For those rides, you pay just for the ride itself, not any other ride. If you’re a Disney resort guest, you can buy it at 7:00 AM in the morning. If not, then you have to wait until the park opens.

You can purchase an ILL with or without getting Genie Plus. And you can get Genie Plus with or without buying an ILL.

For your reference, here are the attractions currently available for ILL and for Genie Plus, divided by theme park.

Magic Kingdom

Individual Lightning Lane

  • Space Mountain
  • Seven Dwarfs Mine Train

Genie Plus Rides

  • Pirates of the Caribbean
  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
  • Peter Pan’s Flight
  • Jungle Cruise
  • Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin
  • Dumbo the Flying Elephant
  • Haunted Mansion
  • It’s a Small World
  • Mad Tea Party
  • Magic Carpets of Aladdin
  • Mickey’s PhilharMagic
  • Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor
  • Splash Mountain
  • The Barnstormer
  • The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
  • Tomorrowland Speedway
  • Under the Sea — Journey of the Little Mermaid

Hollywood Studios

Individual Lightning Lane

  • Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance
  • Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway

Genie Plus Rides

  • Slinky Dog Dash
  • Alien Swirling Saucers
  • Beauty and the Beast Live on Stage
  • Toy Story Mania
  • Disney Jr. Play and Dance!
  • Frozen Sing-Along Celebration
  • Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run
  • Muppet*Vision 3D
  • Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster
  • Star Tours — The Adventures Continue
  • Twilight Zone Tower of Terror
  • Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular (when it returns on December 19, 2021)

Epcot

Individual Lightning Lane

  • Frozen Ever After
  • Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure

Genie Plus Rides

  • Test Track
  • Soarin’ Around the World
  • Disney and Pixar Short Film Festival
  • Journey into Imagination with Figment
  • Living With the Land
  • Mission Space (Green and Orange)
  • Spaceship Earth
  • The Seas Nemo & Friends
  • Turtle Talk with Crush

Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Individual Lightning Lane

  • Avatar Flight of Passage
  • Expedition Everest

Genie Plus Rides

  • A Celebration of Festival of the Lion King
  • Na’vi River Journey
  • DINOSAUR
  • Kilimanjaro Safaris
  • It’s Tough to Be a Bug!
  • Kali River Rapids
  • The Animation Experience
  • Feathered Friends in Flight