So, you’ve decided you’re going to go for it and purchase Disney Genie Plus during your next trip to Disney World. I mean, what’s a few more bucks in the grand scheme of things, right?
That was partially sarcastic and partially the exact way my brain works when I’m visiting Disney World.
Let’s be real, though, Disney Genie Plus is an investment. So, if you’re going to spend your money on it, you want to get it right.
That’s where having a good Genie Plus strategy comes into play.
While Disney puts out a disclaimer that guests will be able to enter an average of 2-3 rides per day by using Genie Plus, I’ve found that you can get onto many more than that!
In this article, I’m going to go over exactly what you need to know to make the most of your Genie Plus purchase. My Genie Plus strategy has worked time and time again for my family, and I know it will work great for yours, too.
I’ll also do a deep dive into how to use Genie Plus, so if you already know how to use the service, check out the table of contents to jump to whatever section of the article you need (although it never hurts to have a little review!).
Oh, and if you haven’t decided if you want to purchase Disney Genie Plus or not yet, don’t miss this post to help you decide if Genie Plus is worth it on your next Disney vacation.
Disclosure: You may see affiliate links throughout this post, which means these are the things I handpicked! If you purchase something through these links, I will get a small commission at absolutely no extra charge to you. And that sure means a lot to me, so thank you in advance!
The Basics: How to Use Genie Plus at Disney World
Before you start your park day…in fact, before you even get to Disney!…make sure you know the ins and outs of how to use Genie Plus. Just like packing for a Disney trip, you want to be as prepared as possible ahead of time.
If you’re looking to get the most out of your Genie Plus purchase, you can’t waste time figuring out the basics on the day you’re going to the theme park.
Disclaimer: I know Genie+ seems overwhelming before using it for the first time (or at least that’s how I felt!). But I promise you that once you start using it, you’ll get the hang of it pretty quickly…and dare I say that it’s actually kind of fun?!
So, let’s go over all the details! I’m going to try to break this down as straightforward as possible. It helps to have your phone out to actually click through as you’re reading this, so you can see exactly what I’m talking about.
First things first…
In order to use Disney Genie Plus, you must have:
- Purchased your park tickets and linked them to your My Disney Experience account.
- Made your park reservations.
- Downloaded the My Disney Experience app.
These steps are essential if you’ll be using Disney Genie Plus on your upcoming Disney trip.
Tip: Make your park reservation as soon as you purchase your park tickets. You can always go back and modify it if you change your mind. But with park availability limited, it’s better to book early to be on the safe side.
What is the difference between Disney Genie and Disney Genie Plus?
I know…all these genies can get confusing! Let’s talk about each of them separately.
Disney Genie is a free service offered in the My Disney Experience app to help you organize your day based on your interests and favorite attractions at Walt Disney World.
This service does NOT allow you to skip the lines. But it does try to point you in the right direction to minimize your wait times in the standby lines.
Disney Genie updates your “My Day” tab in the My Disney Experience app throughout the day to provide you with the most up-to-date information and recommendations. This tab is also where you’ll see any reservations you have throughout the day, including dining reservations and Lightning Lanes (if applicable).
How do you find that tab? Open up your My Disney Experience app and click on the three lines at the bottom right of the screen. From there, you can click on the tab called “My Disney Genie Day.”
In that tab, you’ll see a “Tip Board” tab and a “My Day” tab on the top of the screen. By clicking “My Disney Genie Day,” it takes you straight to the “My Day” section.
Once you’ve made your park reservation, you will be able to tell Disney Genie what you’re interested in by clicking the “Get Started Now” button in the “My Day” tab (I’ll dive into this later on in the article, so don’t run to set it up this second!). This allows Genie to come up with an individualized itinerary for you, which you can access in the “My Day” tab throughout your park day.
To be honest, I don’t think I ever actually use Disney Genie’s recommendations when visiting the parks. It’s much better to prioritize the attractions you really want to do and use the “Tip Board” to check out the current wait times to decide if you want to tackle that attraction now or wait until later in the day.
Disney Genie Plus
Disney Genie Plus is a paid service that allows you to skip the line at an attraction by booking a Lightning Lane reservation on the My Disney Experience app.
Instead of waiting in the standby line, you will be able to go through the Lightning Lane, so your wait time goes way down! This service replaces the previously free FastPass reservation system from the good ol’ days.
How much does Disney Genie Plus cost?
The price for Disney Genie Plus may vary each day of your trip. It will also vary based on which park you want to purchase Genie+ for. You can expect to be spending at least $15 (plus tax) per person per day (probably more!). Yes, it can add up quickly.
Kids under 3 years old do not need a park ticket to enter the parks. And, therefore, will not need to have Disney Genie Plus to go through the Lightning Lane with you.
What’s included in Disney Genie Plus?
By purchasing Disney Genie Plus, you will have access to book Lightning Lanes to be able to skip the standby line at almost any attraction in the theme park you’re visiting. “Almost” being the key word.
In each of the 4 Walt Disney World theme parks, there is a ride or two that you will need to purchase separately if you want to bypass the standby line. Those are called “Individual Lightning Lanes,” and I’ll get into those more in a second.
When you book a Lightning Lane using the Genie Plus service, you will be given an hour-long timeframe, in which you will be able to visit the attraction. You are only allowed to book one Lightning Lane for each attraction per day.
The second biggest perk of purchasing Disney Genie Plus is that you’ll get to download your Disney PhotoPass ride photos for free from your My Disney Experience app even if you didn’t purchase the PhotoPass Memory Maker package.
In addition to saving time in the queue and getting your ride photo downloads, Disney Genie Plus also gives you access to Disney PhotoPass Lenses and Audio Tales.
The PhotoPass lenses allow you to take fun pictures in the theme parks by adding special Disney filters to photos.
With Audio Tales, you can listen to fun facts and get behind-the-scenes information about the Disney Parks.
What are Individual Lightning Lanes?
Alright…I’m adding on yet another step for you in this Disney Genie journey! (It really does feel like a journey with all that goes into it, right?!).
When looking through your Lightning Lane options on the “Tip Board,” you will notice that there are one to two rides in each park that are not offered through the Disney Genie Plus service.
Instead, these rides will be labeled “Individual Lightning Lane” when scrolling through your “Tip Board” on the My Disney Experience app. And they will have a separate price listed.
The price for an Individual Lightning Lane attraction varies. It can be anywhere from about $7 (plus tax) per person per ride to $15 (plus tax) or more per person per ride. In the example below, TRON Lightcycle/Run costs $20!
You will want to peek at the “Tip Board” prior to purchasing Disney Genie Plus to see which rides are considered Individual Lightning Lanes. Spoiler alert! These are usually the most popular rides in the park.
You do not…I repeat, you do NOT…need to purchase Disney Genie Plus in order to purchase an Individual Lightning Lane. But you can purchase both Disney Genie Plus and Individual Lightning Lanes for your day at the Walt Disney World theme parks if you want.
You can only purchase up to two Individual Lightning Lanes each day. And they don’t have to be in the same park if you have the Hopper option on your park ticket.
If you decide to purchase Individual Lightning Lanes in two different parks, make sure the selection you make at your second park is after 2:00 PM since you won’t be able to hop until that time.
One major difference between a Lightning Lane and an Individual Lightning Lane (other than the cost, of course)? With an Individual Lightning Lane, you’ll have more control over what time you choose to book the ride.
When booking a Lightning Lane with Genie+, the reservation system will give you the return time. But, when booking an Individual Lightning Lane, you’ll get to choose from a list of return times.
Clear as mud? Let’s take a second to review the terminology.
- Disney Genie is the free service that is available to all Walt Disney World guests. It helps create an individualized itinerary based on your interests. Although it may help minimize your time in the queue at each attraction, you will not be able to bypass the standby line by using this service.
- Disney Genie Plus is the paid service that you use to book your Lightning Lane reservations on the My Disney Experience app. It allows you to skip the standby line at whichever attractions you make a reservation for.
- Lightning Lane is the actual queue you walk through to get to the attraction (instead of taking the standby line). The entrance to the Lightning Lane is labeled at each attraction.
- Individual Lightning Lane is a Lightning Lane reservation that you can purchase for an individual ride at a separate fee. It is not included in the Disney Genie Plus service.
How exactly does Genie Plus work?
Purchasing Disney Genie Plus
In order to use Disney Genie Plus, you must purchase it through the My Disney Experience app. You will not be able to able to purchase Disney Genie Plus until the day you will be going to the theme park, so this is one step in planning your Disney vacation that you won’t necessarily be able to set up ahead of time.
Beginning at 12:00 AM on your theme park day, the app will allow you to purchase Disney Genie Plus. If you’re up late at night and would like to purchase it for your upcoming day, go for it! But if you’re like me and you’re already in bed by then, you can purchase it in the morning.
Just make sure to purchase it before 7:00 AM because that’s when you’ll be able to make your first Lightning Lane selection, and you’ll want it to be ready to go!
To purchase Disney Genie Plus, open the My Disney Experience app. Once you’re in the app, press the three lines at the bottom right of the screen. Then click “Tip Board.” You’ll see the option to purchase Genie+ right at the top of that screen.
Once you click “Purchase for Today,” you will have to select which park you would like to purchase Genie+ for. You will only be able to purchase the multiple parks option if you have a park hopper ticket.
(Go ahead and open up the app now to practice!)
Booking a Lightning Lane Using Disney Genie Plus
Beginning at 7:00 AM, you will be able to make your first Lightning Lane selection using Disney Genie Plus (whether you’re staying on Disney property or not).
When the booking window opens, you will be able to select the attraction you wish to book for your first Lightning Lane from the “Tip Board.”
Follow the steps to complete the booking. Congrats! You’ve made your first Lightning Lane selection of the day! And you’ll be able to find the Lighting Lane reservation that you booked in the “My Disney Genie Day” tab.
It’s important to note that when you book a Lightning Lane through Genie Plus first thing in the morning, you might not see a return time listed on the “Tip Board” for the attraction you want.
As you start the booking process, it will show you the return time (in which case you can decide if that time will work for you or if you need to abort the mission and choose a different attraction). A little later in the morning, the “Tip Board” will show you the next available return time.
Booking an Individual Lightning Lane
If you’re staying on property (meaning a Disney resort, the Swan and Dolphin, or Shades of Green), you can book your Individual Lightning Lanes beginning at 7:00 AM.
If you’re staying off property, you can book your Individual Lightning Lanes at the official park opening time for the ride you want to book. So, if Epcot opens at 10:00 AM and the attraction you want to book is at EPCOT, you can book your Individual Lightning Lane beginning at 10:00 AM.
When your booking window opens, you will be able to select the attraction you wish to book from the “Tip Board.”
As you follow the steps to complete the booking, you will be able to choose the return time (unlike when you book a Lightning Lane through Genie Plus).
- You can only book up to two Individual Lightning Lanes per day.
- You do not need to purchase Disney Genie Plus if you only want to go through the Lightning Lane at an attraction that’s listed as an Individual Lightning Lane.
- If you have the Hopper option on your park ticket and you want to book an Individual Lightning Lane at the park you will be hopping to later in the day, make sure the reservation is for after 2:00 PM.
Using Your Lightning Lane
When your return time is here, head over to the attraction you selected. Outside of the attraction, you’ll see signs for the standby line and the Lightning Lane. Scan your MagicBand or card at the entrance to the Lightning Lane and go enjoy the ride!
Note: Some rides have TWO areas where you’ll need to scan your MagicBand or card…one at the entrance and one closer to the ride. Make sure everyone in your party scans at each checkpoint (and the scanner lights up green!), or you’ll have issues when it comes to booking your next Lightning Lane.
Booking Your Next Lightning Lane…and the One After That…and the One After That
You can book your next Lightning Lane two hours after park opening OR immediately after checking into your Lightning Lane…whichever comes first.
Beyond that, the same thing goes…you can continue to make a Lightning Lane selection every two hours OR after checking into a Lightning Lane.
You can set an alarm on your phone to help you remember to book your next one. If you don’t go that route and you forget when you can book your next selection (like I usually do!), you’ll be able to see the exact time you’re eligible for your next booking window at the top of your Tip Board (in the spot where you purchased Genie+).
Genie Plus Tips: How to Maximize Genie Plus
Whew! You got through how to use Genie+.
But as important as it is to know how to use it, it’s equally important to know how to maximize it. With how much money you spend on this service, you want to squeeze every last little bit out of it.
Here are my top Genie Plus tips:
Download and get to know the My Disney Experience app before your Disney trip.
Rule #1 when it comes to planning any Disney World vacation: download and set up your My Disney Experience app.
Not only will there be more useful things than you can count on that app, but it’s absolutely essential to have the app on your phone if you want to use the Genie+ service.
So, download it…click through it…look at attraction wait times while you sit in your house 1000 miles away (not that I do this on a regular basis or anything! Ha!). Just get to know it, so you have a general idea of where things are in the app before you even step foot in Disney World.
Make sure your Family & Friends list is up-to-date on your My Disney Experience app.
While there aren’t many things you can do with Genie+ before you purchase it, there are definitely things you can do to set yourself up for success ahead of time.
And making sure the people you’ll be with on your Disney trip are all linked to your My Disney Experience account is one of those things.
So, either online or on the My Disney Experience, go to your profile, then click “Family & Friends List.” From there, you can add a guest to be linked to your account if they’re not already.
This is a BIG step in getting ready to make your Lightning Lane reservations, so don’t skip it!
Do your homework.
Lucky for you, I’ll help you with your homework!
It’s important to know 5 things when choosing which Lightning Lane reservations you want to make:
1. What attractions have Lightning Lanes?
The easiest way to figure this out is to go to the “Tip Board” on your My Disney Experience app, choose which park you’ll be going to at the top, and then click the toggle to “Show Only Disney Genie+ Lightning Lanes.” The attraction list will change to only show the ones that are a part of the paid Genie+ service.
If you don’t click the toggle, as you’re scrolling down, you’ll notice that every attraction has a Standby Line time listed. Under the Standby Line section, most attractions will have another box that either says “LL Disney Genie+” or “LL Individual Lightning Lane.” Those will be the attractions that are offered as a part of the Genie Plus service or as the “a la carte” Individual Lightning Lane service.
If you have your phone out, go ahead and check out the “Tip Board” in the My Disney Experience app now. That way you’ll get an idea of what it will look like when you start using Genie+. You’ll see return times listed, as well as current wait times. And you’ll see if certain attractions have “sold out” for the day if they say “Not Currently Offered.”
Side note: if you’re checking this on your My Disney Experience app late at night trying to sneak in some Disney World planning well after your kids are in bed and the parks are closed, you won’t see actual times listed…everything will just say that it’s not currently offered.
2. What are your priority attractions?
This will look different for each family. You’ll want to base your priority attractions on any height or accessibility restrictions your party has and your party’s interests.
It’s also good to know that Lightning Lanes aren’t just available for rides. They’re also available for some character meet and greets, shows, and parades.
Knowing what your family would be most excited to see will also help guide you on which attractions you want to book Lightning Lanes for.
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3. What are the most popular Lightning Lane attractions at each park (AKA which ones will “sell out” the quickest)?
These change from time to time, but I’ll try to keep them updated as best I can (I get all of this data on Thrill Data…and I’m lowkey obsessed with that website!).
These are only for the Lightning Lane attractions…not the Individual Lightning Lane attractions. The Individual Lightning Lane attractions almost always sell out before any of the Lightning Lane attractions, so those would take the top 1-2 spots in each category if I included them.
Here are the top 3 most popular attractions at each park based on when their Lightning Lanes “sell out”:
- Meet Ariel
- Disney Festival of Fantasy Parade
- Enchanted Tales with Belle
- Slinky Dog Dash
- Meet Olaf at Celebrity Spotlight
- Disney Junior Play and Dance!
- Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure
- Test Track
- Frozen Ever After
- Meet Favorite Disney Pals at Adventurers Outpost
- Na’Vi River Journey
- Kali River Rapids
4. What are the rides with the longest wait times?
Just basing your choices off of when the Lightning Lanes “sell out” isn’t the only thing you need to consider (you’ll notice that some of those Lightning Lanes that “sell out” early are shows or parades, which are offered only a limited number of times throughout the day unlike a ride which is open all day).
You want the most bang for your buck, and in order to do that, you want to spend the least amount of time in lines as possible.
A Lightning Lane cuts down on your wait time significantly, so you’ll want to consider booking Lightning Lanes for attractions that normally have long wait times.
For this one, I’m going to add in the Individual Lightning Lane attractions because I think it’s important to know how long their wait times are to help you decide if you want to try to purchase an Individual Lightning Lane on top of Genie Plus.
Here are the top 3 (or so) attractions with the longest wait times at each park:
- Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
- Peter Pan’s Flight
- Space Mountain (with Jungle Cruise very close behind)
- Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance
- Slinky Dog Dash
- Millenium Falcon: Smugglers Run (with Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway and Toy Story Mania! very close behind)
- Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure
- Frozen Ever After
- Test Track
- Avatar Flight of Passage
- Na’Vi River Journey
- Kilimanjaro Safaris
5. Where are the Genie+ attractions located in the park?
Last but not least, when booking your Lightning Lanes, you’ll want to have a general idea of where the attraction is located in the park.
As much as it’s great to get your steps in each day (seriously, check your step count at the end of a Disney park day…it’s mind-blowing!), you really don’t want to be galavanting across the park…and then back again…and then back again because you keep booking Lightning Lanes on the opposite side of the park.
If you’re not familiar with the park layout, have a paper map on hand or have the map pulled up on someone else’s My Disney Experience app so you can easily look back and forth between the map and the Genie+ return times on your “Tip Board.”
Set up your My Disney Genie Day.
Another thing you can do ahead of time (even from the comfort of your own home prior to your trip!) is to set up your My Disney Genie Day.
This will allow you to choose which people in your group you want to book Genie Plus Lightning Lanes for AND choose the rides that will show up at the top of your “Tip Board.”
These steps are essential in helping speed up your click-through time when booking your first Lightning Lane of the day.
To set up your My Disney Genie Day, click the three lines in your My Disney Experience app, click “My Disney Genie Day,” then click “Get Started.” Go through the prompts, starting with choosing the date you will be at Walt Disney World and which park you have a park reservation for that day.
Then (this step is SUPER important!) select everyone in your party that you will be making your Genie Plus reservations for that day.
Make sure you only choose the people who will be on the trip with you and will have purchased Genie Plus that morning (so, don’t choose people who traveled with you to Disney in the past and still show up on your Family & Friends list or your kiddos who are under 3).
Choose only 2 attractions when setting up My Disney Genie Day.
I put this as a totally separate tip because it’s an important one! You’ll have LOTS of options when setting up your My Disney Genie Day. And when choosing which attractions you’d most like to do during your day, you can technically click all the rides in the park.
But trust me on this one…don’t do that! The attractions that you choose when setting up your My Disney Genie Day will become your Top Picks on your “Tip Board,” which is where you make all of your Lightning Lane reservations.
Usually the “Tip Board” lists attractions in alphabetical order. But when you have your Top Picks set up, those attractions will be right at the top of the list. When making the very first Lightning Lane reservation of the day, you’ll need to move fast. And the less scrolling the better!
So, when setting up “My Disney Genie Day,” choose 2 rides that you’d be happy with as your first Lightning Lane of the day. That way, when your booking window opens, you can quickly choose which Lightning Lane you want to book.
After you make that very first Lightning Lane reservation, you can always go back and modify your “Top Picks” by clicking “Edit Selections” near the top of the “Tip Board.”
Decide what you want to book first.
If you’re staying on Disney property, you will be able to book your first Lightning Lane AND your Individual Lightning Lane(s) at 7:00 AM. If you have your heart set on an Individual Lightning Lane attraction, things get a little dicey, and decisions will need to be made!
My advice? Ideally, you’ll have two people in your party that can be on their phones to book the attractions. One person will take care of the Lightning Lane and the other person will take care of the Individual Lightning Lane(s).
But if that’s not an option, and you only have one person doing the booking, I recommend booking the Lightning Lane FIRST!
You might be thinking, “Jenn, why would I do that when the Individual Lightning Lane attractions are the most popular attractions in the park?”
Well, guests staying off Disney property will not be able to purchase their Individual Lightning Lanes until the park opens, whereas everyone (whether they’re staying on property or not) will be able to book their Lightning Lanes at 7:00 AM.
There will be more “competition” so to speak for the Lightning Lanes at 7:00 AM, so that’s the priority.
Now if an early morning time is what you absolutely need for your Individual Lightning Lane, then you might want to go for that first.
Remember, your priorities are your priorities…simple as that. And because of that, everyone’s use of Genie+ will look a little different.
(Oh, and just to muddy up the waters a little bit more. If you want to try to get into a Virtual Queue for a ride, which is a free service for select rides for all guests, plan to try for that before anything else because those things can “sell out” in seconds!)
Purchase Genie Plus before 7:00 AM.
You can purchase Genie+ beginning at 12:00 AM on the day you plan to use the service. But no matter what, you’ll want to purchase before 7:00 AM because that’s when you can book your first Lightning Lane.
I recommend purchasing Genie Plus no later than 6:45 AM.
That will give you time to go through the purchasing process, double-check your My Disney Genie Day to make sure your party and your “top pick” attractions are correct, and be ready to book your first Lightning Lane.
Refresh, refresh, refresh…then, click FAST.
Ok…the time is here! It’s just about 7:00 AM!
Make sure you are already in the My Disney Experience app and on the “Tip Board” tab. A few seconds before 7:00 AM, start refreshing your screen repeatedly until you see the booking window open.
The second the booking window opens and Lightning Lane reservations become available, click the attraction and click through the booking process as fast as you can. No need to take a bunch of time to make sure your party is confirmed because you already did that when you set up your My Disney Genie Day (see…it pays off to do a little work ahead of time!).
Tip: It helps to be off wifi for this part!
And a quick reminder from earlier in this post, when you book a Lightning Lane through Genie Plus first thing in the morning, you might not see a return time listed on the “Tip Board” for the attraction you want. Go ahead and click on the attraction to book your Lightning Lane, and you’ll see the return time pop up. From there, you can decide if that will work for you or if you want to try for a different attraction.
Don’t give up.
Let me tell you a little story about the time I was so upset that Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance sold out in seconds before I even had a chance to grab an Individual Lightning Lane. Listen, I’m not even a Star Wars fan, but I had my heart set on that ride after hearing such great things.
Well, around 7:20 AM, I just so happened to check back real quick, and sure enough, there were times available! Whoop whoop! (The ride really does live up to the hype by the way.)
Or how about the time that I didn’t prioritize Frozen Ever After as my first Lightning Lane reservation and by the time my next Lightning Lane booking window opened up, it wasn’t currently offered?
Well, later in the day when I could book another Lightning Lane, it was available to book again! Can I get another “whoop whoop”?!
So, the moral of the story: if you see “Not Currently Offered,” that means the attraction’s Lightning Lane reservations are sold out for the day…or just the moment. It never hurts to check back later to see if one opens up!
Change your Lightning Lane reservation or return time if needed.
Just because you make a reservation doesn’t mean you have to stick to it. If you want to see if an earlier time is available, try to modify the reservation. If you made a reservation that doesn’t really work for you, modify it!
Not sure if you noticed, but the keyword here is “modify.” You never want to cancel and rebook a Lightning Lane because that can really mess up your booking windows. If you cancel and rebook a Lightning Lane, your two-hour clock will restart, and you definitely don’t want that.
By modifying your Lightning Lane reservation, you can either choose a new time OR a new attraction. And the best part of modifying? It doesn’t mess with your booking windows whatsoever.
The modify feature comes in great when stacking Genie+ reservations for later in the day, too. It allows you to play with the times a little bit, so you can set up your evening however you want to based on the order you want to do the attractions.
For example, I use the modify feature to ensure the return times for each attraction line up location-wise in the park, so I’m not running from one side of the park to the other.
Take advantage of every single booking window.
Remember, you want to squeeze every last ounce of goodness out of your Genie+ purchase. And the absolute best way to do that is to never miss an opportunity to make a Lightning Lane reservation.
So, book your Lightning Lanes at 7:00 AM, 2 hours after park opening, then every 2 hours after that at the minimum. And don’t forget to take advantage of being able to book another Lightning Lane as soon as you use one, even if it hasn’t been two hours since you last booked one.
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The Best Genie Plus Strategy for You
First, let’s do a quick review of the steps to book your first Lightning Lane of the day (because these steps will look the same for everyone):
Step 1: Purchase Genie+ on the My Disney Experience app any time after midnight…but before 7:00 AM…on the day you will be going to the parks.
Step 2: Make sure you have gone through the My Disney Genie Day setup to confirm your travel party and check off the top two rides you’d consider for your first Lightning Lane reservation.
Step 3: In the seconds leading up to 7:00 AM, begin refreshing your Tip Board.
Step 4: Book your first Lightning Lane as soon as your booking window opens (and do a little happy dance!).
But here’s the thing: everyone’s Disney vacation will look different. This means a good Genie Plus strategy isn’t a one-size-fits-all kind of thing. So, I’ve come up with some different strategies beyond the basics, so you can decide which one suits you.
Which strategy do I personally use? Well, my main goal when using Genie+ is to not wait in any lines with my kids. So that means I’m only doing attractions that have super short standby lines or I’m booking a Lightning Lane.
With that being said, I combine The Rope Dropper, The Park Hopper, AND The Midday Napper for my perfect Disney Genie Plus day!
The Rope Dropper
If you like to “rope drop” (AKA get to the Disney parks right at park opening, or even before!), this is the Genie Plus strategy for you. If you’re staying on property and you’re able to take advantage of Early Entry, this strategy works even better.
Your goal with this strategy will be to book your first Lightning Lane return time around 45-60 minutes after the park opening.
First thing in the morning, attraction wait times are low. So hop on a few rides via the standby line. As the lines start getting longer, you’ll be ready to use your first Lightning Lane!
Since the return windows are an hour long, you can gauge what the standby line wait times are and decide if you want to use your first Lightning Lane right when your return window begins or if you want to hold off and use it toward the end of the hour.
As soon as you scan into the Lightning Lane (literally as you’re walking through the Lightning Lane queue to the attraction), jump on your My Disney Experience app and book your next Lightning Lane.
At this point, choose a ride that’s nearby and basically has an immediate return time. Then as soon as you are done with your current attraction, you can go straight to the next one without missing a beat.
If you start to notice one of your priority attractions’ Lightning Lane return time getting later in the day, go ahead and grab it (you don’t want to risk it “selling out”). Otherwise, continue to use the strategy where you hop from ride to ride based on the next available return times.
If you get to the point where you book a later return time and now need to wait for the two-hour rule, use that time to visit an attraction with a low wait time or grab a bite to eat. You’ll find the wait times for the attractions on your “Tip Board.”
Just don’t forget to make your next Lightning Lane reservation as soon as those two hours are up, so you can pack in as much as you can.
*If you have an absolute must-do attraction that usually “sells out” early in the day, book that Lightning Lane at 7:00 AM no matter what the return time is (if you click through fast, you might get lucky with an early return time anyways. I once got a 9:00 AM return time for Slinky Dog Dash and was SUPER proud of myself!).
Yes, you might have to jump into the two-hour rule right off the bat, but at least you have the Lightning Lane booked. AND you can still take advantage of short wait times when you rope drop. Plus you can always try to use the modify function to get an earlier return time.
The Sleeping Beauty
Not a morning person? This is the strategy for you!
Unfortunately, you’ll still have to wake up early to purchase Genie+ and book your first Lightning Lane…you don’t want to miss out on that very first Lightning Lane reservation you can make!
But there’s no need to jump out of bed. And there’s actually a little less feeling of urgency because you don’t need (or want!) to get those early morning return times.
Go ahead a book your top priority ride with a later return time (ideally it’s close to the time you’ll be getting to the park for the day, but it doesn’t have to be). Then relax and enjoy your morning.
Two hours after park opening, make sure to hop back on your phone to make your next Genie Plus reservation. (You might want to set an alarm on your phone, so you don’t miss it!)
For this booking, you’ll also want to aim for an attraction with a return time right around the time you’ll be getting to the park, so you can hit the ground running once you get to the park. You’ll continue to book a Lightning Lane every two hours or once your use a Lightning Lane.
If you like to “stack” your Genie+ reservations for the afternoon, that works great with this strategy! Just make sure that you’re taking any dining reservations you have into account. And don’t spread yourself so thin on time that you can’t make it to all of the Lightning Lanes on time.
The most important thing to know about this strategy is that you will likely need to use the modify feature on Genie+ to get the times you want.
For example, when I used this strategy, I booked Frozen Ever After at Epcot for 1:30 PM (if it’s a popular ride, just grab whatever you can!), but I actually wanted the Lightning Lane return time to be around 3:30 PM. So, I waited a few minutes, then modified the reservation to ensure I got a later return time.
The Park Hopper
This is the strategy you need if you added the Hopper option to your park ticket.
Here’s the key difference with this strategy: you’ll have more than one park to make Genie+ reservations for. And decisions will have to be made!
Is your top priority ride located at the second park you’ll be visiting that day? And does it usually “sell out” quickly during the day?
You can totally make a Lightning Lane reservation for that ride during your 7:00 AM booking even if you’re not starting at that park. Just make sure your return time is after 2:00 PM because you won’t be able to hop to your second park until that time.
If you go that route, I recommend going to your first park of the day at park opening and taking advantage of the low wait times. Two hours after park opening, you can make your next Lightning Lane, in which case I recommend choosing an attraction with an immediate return time. Rinse and repeat until you decide to go to the next park.
Now what if you want to make the most of your time at the first park before hopping to the second park? I’d follow The Rope Dropper strategy above.
Then once you’ve seen what you want to see at park #1 (as far as Genie+ reservations go), start booking future Lightning Lanes for the next park you’ll be visiting. Again, just make sure the return times are after 2:00 PM.
To see which Genie+ Lightning Lanes reservations and return times are available in each park, go to “Tip Board” in your My Disney Experience app, and click “Change Park” at the top.
The Midday Napper
This last Genie Plus strategy leaves you with some downtime in the middle of the day.
With this strategy, you’ll want to book your Lightning Lanes in the morning just like any other strategy above, but in the middle of the day, you’ll likely go hours without using a Lightning Lane.
So, don’t book Lightning Lanes that have return times during your midday break. But also, don’t forget about the two-hour clock!
During your downtime, make sure you continue to book Lightning Lanes every two hours. This gives you a great opportunity to “stack” your Genie+ reservations and set up your afternoon/evening in a way that you can hop on a bunch of rides as soon as you return to the parks.
A Sample Day at Disney World Using Disney Genie Plus
Some important background info for this specific example: we stayed on Disney World property (at the BoardWalk) and started our day at Magic Kingdom. We had the park hopper option on our tickets and knew we wanted to end our day at either Hollywood Studios or Epcot after the kids got an afternoon nap.
7:00 AM: Booked a return time of 9:30-10:30 AM for Peter Pan’s Flight.
8:30 AM: Magic Kingdom opened for Early Entry (we had arrived at the park around 8:15 AM).
9:00 AM: Magic Kingdom opened for all park guests.
Between 8:30 AM and 9:45 AM, we rode Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin, Dumbo, The Barnstormer, Under the Sea-Journey of the Little Mermaid, and Prince Charming Regal Carrousel using the standby lines.
9:45 AM: Used Peter Pan’s Flight Lightning Lane. Immediately booked a return time of 10:30-11:30 AM for Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin (yes, we did this twice! My boys love that ride!).
10:30 AM: Used Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin Lightning Lane. Immediately booked a return time of 10:40-11:40 AM for Tomorrowland Speedway.
10:50 AM: Used Tomorrowland Speedway Lightning Lane. Immediately booked a return time for 10:55-11:55 AM for Mad Tea Party.
11:05 AM: Used Mad Tea Party Lightning Lane. Immediately booked a return time of 11:55 AM-12:55 PM for The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh.
Grabbed lunch after riding on Mad Tea Party. While we were eating, I peeked at what the Genie+ situation looked like at Hollywood Studios and Epcot, and we decided to end our day at Hollywood Studios.
12:20 PM: Used The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh Lightning Lane. Immediately booked a return time of 5:30-6:30 PM for Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway (I made that reservation around 12:25 PM, so that started my two-hour clock!).
Returned to our resort for a midday break.
2:25 PM: Booked a return time of 4:30-5:30 for Toy Story Mania!
4:25 PM: Booked a return time of 4:45-5:45 for Alien Swirling Saucers.
4:45 PM: Arrived at Hollywood Studios
5:15 PM: Used Toy Story Mania! Lightning Lane.
5:40 PM: Used Alien Swirling Saucers Lightning Lane (whew! Just made it!).
6:10 PM: Used Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway Lightning Lane.
After that, we grabbed dinner and wrapped up our night! In this example, we rode 12 rides…8 of which were Genie+ Lightning Lanes! Much more than the average of 2-3 rides that Disney World promises. And that was with a 4-hour midday break when we weren’t even at the parks!
While I could’ve chosen to continue booking Lightning Lanes to get on even more rides, our boys can’t always hang that late into the night, so I opted to stop booking them for the day once I had our evening set up.
FAQ: Disney Genie Plus
Is there a grace period for your Lightning Lane return time?
Your return time will be one hour long, but there’s a little wiggle room. You’ll be able to check in to a Lightning Lane 5 minutes prior to the start of your return time. And you’ll have a grace period of 15 minutes after the end of your return time.
What happens if I miss my Lightning Lane return time?
Unfortunately, you won’t be able to use your Lightning Lane, as it will expire. You will not be able to rebook that Lightning Lane because you’re only allowed to book a Lightning Lane once per day for each attraction.
Can I reserve a Genie Plus attraction more than once?
Nope. The Genie Plus service only allows you to book each attraction once per day. If you want to ride more than once, you’ll have to use the standby queue.
What if I change my mind and would rather book a different Lightning Lane or a different time?
You can modify your selection to choose a new one. Do not…I repeat, do NOT cancel your Lightning Lane to rebook a new one. When you modify an existing Lightning Lane reservation, your 2-hour booking window is not affected. However, if you cancel your Lightning Lane and rebook, your 2-hour booking window will start over.
How does Genie Plus work with a hopper pass?
Using Genie Plus with a hopper pass is my favorite way to do it! You’ll be able to make Lightning Lane selections at any of the parks. But, remember, if you’re making a Lightning Lane selection for a ride at a different park than the one you have a park reservation for, make sure the return time is after 2:00 PM since park hopping does not begin until after that time.
Does everyone in my party need to book the same Lightning Lanes or can we split up?
When you book a Lightning Lane, you can check off which members of your travel party you want to include in that reservation. So, if half of the party wants to do one ride and the other half wants to do another, you can split up!
Will I be able to choose the time I return for the ride using Genie+?
For a Lightning Lane, no. The service will give you a return time. If the time you see initially doesn’t work for you, keep refreshing or check back later. The more popular rides will go through the available return times faster.
For Individual Lightning Lanes, you’ll be able to choose your return time. But if it’s a super popular attraction, your return time options might be limited.
Can Genie Plus reservations overlap?
Yes! Your Genie Plus reservations can overlap. This is where you hear the term “stacking” Genie Plus reservations. If you use your Lightning Lane booking windows throughout the day to book a series of Lightning Lanes in the afternoon or evening that overlap or are close together, you officially stacked your Genie Plus reservations!
How many Genie Plus rides per day?
This really depends on your interests and how busy the park is. Disney World’s website states that, on average, guests are able to enter 2-3 attractions by using Genie Plus. I’ve personally found that you can do much more than that by using the Genie Plus strategies in this article.
What happens if a ride is down during my Lightning Lane return time?
If the ride is down and your return time has come and gone, you will get a special Lightning Lane added on to your account that can be used at almost any other Genie Plus attraction.
Make sure to read the fine print because unfortunately, some of the attractions will not be included in this. Peter Pan’s Flight was down during our last trip, so we got one of these special Lightning Lanes added on to our account. I thought, “Great! We can use it to meet Mickey at Town Square Theater on the way out of the park!” Nope…that attraction wasn’t one of the options.
It’s also good to note that since you technically booked the ride (even though you didn’t get to use the Lightning Lane due to the attraction being down), you won’t be able to book it again later in the day if it opens back up. So, if your heart is set on going on that specific ride, save your special Lightning Lane to go on that ride once it opens back up later.
Can you use Genie Plus during after-hour events?
No, you cannot use Genie Plus during after-hour events, such as Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party. Genie Plus reservations are only able to be made during regular park hours.
I know, I know…Genie Plus sounds like a lot. But I promise you that as you start to use it, you’ll get the hang of it quickly!
And if you keep these strategies and Genie Plus tips in mind, you’ll easily be able to maximize your Genie Plus purchase.
Want to know EXACTLY what to pack for your upcoming Disney World trip?
Snag a free printable Disney World packing checklist by clicking the button below. (And how do I know it’s EXACTLY what you need? Well, it’s the list I personally use, so it’s been through plenty of trial and error.)
Wondering how I give my photos a bit of an oomph?
Well, let’s just say I’m a little obsessed with the Light & Airy Photographer photo editing presets.
In just one click, your photo goes from, “Aw, that’s cute,” to, “WOW!”