Walt Disney famously said that the Disney Parks would never be complete as long as there is imagination left in the world, and this has so far held true, with the Walt Disney World Resort undergoing many changes over the years. In recent years, the popular and complimentary FastPass system was discontinued for a series of new services and reservations designed to help Guests save time and see more.
While it sounds great in theory, Disney Genie+ and Lightning Lane have proven to be a little difficult to understand with many new rules, tricks, tips, and ways to get the most out of each service. With so much information and every Guest wanting to make the most of each minute at the Walt Disney World Resort, we’ve broken down the new systems and are answering your most pressing questions to help understand how best to use Disney Genie, Disney Genie+, and Lightning Lane.
What is Disney Genie?
Disney Genie is a complimentary service provided to Guests at the Walt Disney World Resort that is accessible via the My Disney Experience App. This free service provides Guests with a customized itinerary for each day with suggestions on attractions, dining, and more as well as providing useful information including wait times. Guests can choose to further enhance their personalized itineraries by entering into the app and selecting which experiences and attractions are more important to them.
What is Disney Genie+?
Unlike Disney Genie, Disney Genie+ is a paid-for service on the My Disney Experience App that is essentially the new version of the FastPass system, with several more requirements and involvement from Guests. The service essentially allows Guests to make selections and report to specific attractions at assigned times to enter via the Lightning Lanes and enjoy the experience with little to no wait.
Disney Genie+ costs an additional $15 per day per person on top of Disney theme park tickets, however it is not required to be purchased for the entire length of stay. Guests can choose to pay for and utilize Disney Genie+ on select days throughout their Walt Disney World Resort vacations.
Guests who are looking to book Disney Genie+ for the entire length of their vacation can do so ahead of time via the My Disney Experience App by updating their tickets and paying the additional fee. Those who are looking only to purchase Disney Genie+ for certain days throughout the vacation can do so daily after midnight. So for example, if a Guest wants to pay for Disney Genie+ on a Tuesday for the Magic Kingdom, they can log onto the My Disney Experience App beginning at 12 a.m. that day to make their purchase. It’s a smart move to purchase close to midnight or very early in the morning for daily usage as Guests can begin to book their selections at 7 a.m.
Once Disney Genie+ has been purchased, Guests can begin the booking process which is simple in theory but has some important pieces of information to take note of. The first Disney Genie+ selection that Guests can make can be done at 7 a.m. through the My Disney Experience App and Guests essentially select the most important attraction that they would like to experience and are provided with an available return time.
Popular attractions like Slinky Dog Dash, Frozen Ever After, Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway, Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, and Space Mountain tend to get booked up quickly, so Guests should prioritize their favorite attractions first at 7 a.m. Less popular attractions like Spaceship Earth, the Haunted Mansion, and Princess Fairytale Hall can be booked as second selections.
Guests should also be aware that they are only allowed to book one selection for each ride per day using Disney Genie+. For example, once a Guest makes a selection for Big Thunder Mountain Railroad or Toy Story Mania and enjoys that attraction, they cannot choose it again that day on Disney Genie+.
After making their first Disney Genie+ selection at 7 a.m., there are two scenarios for booking additional selections. The first scenario is that Guests can book a second selection after using their initial selection in their chosen Disney Park. This would work for example if a Guest rode Expedition Everest – Legend of the Forbidden Mountain at 9 a.m. and immediately made another selection at Disney’s Animal Kingdom after tapping at the entrance of the attraction while waiting in the queue.
The alternative option for booking additional selections after 7 a.m. requires Guests to wait two hours after their selection in the app (9 a.m.). However, the two-hour waiting period only begins at the time that a specific Disney Park opens for the day, so if Guests were looking at EPCOT, which opens at 8 a.m., they can make an initial selection at 7 a.m. but must wait until 10 a.m. to make additional selections.
Guests who are planning to Park Hop can still use Disney Genie+ in their second Disney Park of the day, however, they can only begin to make selections for that Disney Park in the My Disney Experience App for time slots after 2 p.m., when Park Hopping officially begins.
Disney Genie+ is definitely a little complicated, but once Guests get the general gist down, they can use the system to efficiently skip some of the longest wait times in the Disney Parks!
What is Lightning Lane?
Lightning Lane is the term used for what were previously the FastPass entrances and queues that Guests would use on any given attraction throughout the Disney Parks. Instead of entering via the FastPass queue, Guests now enter via the Lightning Lane queue, and appropriate signage has been installed throughout the Walt Disney World Resort.
These Lightning Lanes are used by Guests using the Genie+ service, individual Lightning Lane purchases, and other various requirements, including those using Rider Swap or the DAS Pass. It is worth noting that while most attractions do feature Lightning Lanes, others that never had a FastPass entrance (Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room, Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover, etc.) do not have anything other than a regular standby line.
What Are Individual Lightning Lane Selections?
Wait, I thought we already covered what a Lightning Lane is? We did, you’re paying attention. Individual Lightning Lane selections are an entirely different thing with a very similar name.
Individual Lightning Lane selections are singular purchases for select attractions throughout the four Disney Parks that provide short wait times for some of the most coveted experiences. That means that, even if you have purchased Disney Genie+, you must pay extra if you want Lightning Lane access to these rides.
Currently, Individual Lightning Lane selections are available only for the following attractions:
Magic Kingdom – Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
Disney’s Hollywood Studios – Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance
Disney’s Animal Kingdom – Avatar Flight of Passage
Guests who want to enjoy a ride on any of these four attractions have to purchase an Individual Lightning Lane via the My Disney Experience App. The cost of each Lightning Lane selection varies depending on the attraction and the day (weekends/holidays cost more) but typically ranges from $7 to $15 per person. So a family of four theoretically could pay an additional $60 to enjoy Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance with little to no wait.
Individual Lightning Lane selections are also different than Disney Genie+ in that they are paid for at the time of booking, not in advance. When booking, Guests are provided with a selection of times to return to their chosen attraction, offering them more control over their daily schedule. Guests should also note that once an Individual Lightning Lane selection is booked and paid for, it is non-refundable and non-modifiable with two exceptions.
Should the paid-for attraction be down and not operating during a Guest’s return window, they can return at any point throughout the day once the attraction is back up and running. Should the attraction not come back up and operate again on that given day, Guests will be refunded for their Lightning Lane purchase via the My Disney Experience App.
Like Disney Genie+, Individual Lightning Lane selections are made day of through the My Disney Experience App, with two reservation windows technically available. Guests who are staying on property at a Disney Resort have an advantage here as they can begin making their selections at 7 a.m., however, those who are staying off property cannot begin their selections until their chosen Disney Park is officially open for the day.
Guests who are planning to Park Hop should note that they can purchase two Individual Lightning Lane selections per day, however, they cannot repeat an attraction. So for example, a Guest can book Avatar Flight of Passage in Disney’s Animal Kingdom for the morning and then book Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind in EPCOT for a ride time after 2 p.m. when Park Hopping begins, but they could not book Seven Dwarfs Mine Train twice on the same day.
What is a Virtual Queue?
The final topic we’re going to discuss in this guide to the new systems being used at the Walt Disney World Resort is a Virtual Queue. A Virtual Queue is a complimentary reservation of sorts that Guests can book beginning at (you guessed it) 7 a.m. on the My Disney Experience App. Those who are lucky enough to score a spot on a Virtual Queue will be assigned a boarding group and provided with an estimated return window at which time they should report to the attraction to enter via the Lightning Lane and enjoy the experience with little to no wait.
The only attraction currently using a Virtual Queue at the Walt Disney World Resort is Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, so Guests can try their luck to get a free boarding pass for the attraction before committing to purchasing an Individual Lightning Lane selection.
Okay, so there we have it. A (somewhat) basic overview of the current systems available to Guests at the Walt Disney World Resort to help them save time, enjoy more attractions, and make the most of their vacation. Guests who plan ahead and decide which service or combination of services works best for them can find themselves really saving time and stacking Disney Genie+ selections as well as Virtual Queue access and Individual Lightning Lane selections. It all depends on a Guests priority for whether they would like to spend additional money on top of their tickets and how important specific attractions and experiences are to them.
Have you used Disney Genie, Disney Genie+, Individual Lightning Lanes, or Virtual Queues?