In 2021, Disney Parks announced the rollout of a new Genie+ service. Genie+ would replace the former FastPass+ as a way for guests to skip the regular queue on popular attractions. In May of 2022, we set out on a trip to the land of mouse with the express purpose of providing a Disney World Genie+ review.
Given that Genie+ replaces the free FastPass option with a for-fee service, we wanted to know how effective the line skipping capabilities were and whether the service was worth the cost. Here is what we discovered.
Table of contents
- What is Disney World Genie?
- Reviewing Disney World Genie Plus in the Real World
- Disney World Genie Plus Review, Getting Started
- Disney World Genie Plus Review, the Second Day
- Our Disney World Genie+ Review of the Individual Lightning Lane
- Would I Recommend Purchasing Disney World Genie+?
- Why You Might Not Need Disney World Genie+
- Tips and Tricks We Learned from Our Review of Genie+
- Using Disney World Genie Plus, the Magic Is in the Details
- What Is the New Disney World Genie Service and Can it Simplify Your Vacation?
- How to Save Money at Disney World: 22 Tried and True Tips
What is Disney World Genie?
Before getting started on our Disney World Genie Plus review, it might be wise to make sure we understand the difference between Disney Genie and Genie+. Disney Genie is a service meant to transform the time you spend in the park by offering relevant itinerary suggestions.
You can access the service through the My Disney Experience app. You’ll be asked to provide some information about yourself by answering simple questions. When you’re done, the app then spits out some trip suggestions to help you plan your day in the parks.
Suggestions are meant to change over time, based on your location within the park and other experiences you may or may not have had. We did this as an experiment for half the trip and were rather underwhelmed by the suggestions.
For the service to be truly useful, we expected to receive recommendations based on our location within the park. A push notification while I’m in Tomorrowland telling me to, hurry and ride Space Mountain while the wait time was only 20 minutes would have been helpful. Instead, the recommendations had little to do with our party, interests or the information I provided when setting up Disney Genie.
My hope is that this will change over time, as the Genie tool could be power in the palm for guests, especially those traveling for the first time, but suggestions will need to become more relevant to the individual.
Regardless of how I felt about Disney Genie, it was easy to see that the app service was really meant to power Disney Genie Plus. Disney Genie Plus allows guests to skip the regular line on popular attractions.
Genie+ works by allowing visitors to pre-book a spot in an alternative queue known as the Lightning Lane. As the name would suggest, the Lightning Lane is faster than the normal queue, making it possible to hop on and off rides in a fraction of the time it would take to experience these same rides if you waited in the normal queue.
If you’re wondering how that can be, we first have to dig a little deeper into how Disney World’s Genie+ service works.
Reviewing Disney World Genie Plus in the Real World
While anyone can use Disney Genie, only those who have paid the purchase price of $15 per person per day (plus tax) can use the Disney Genie Plus service. This is the first clue as to how Disney can expedite guests through the Lightning Lane line. Many guests simply decide not to expend the extra funds to purchase Genie+ and therefore never enter the Lightning Lane at all.
The second way that Disney keeps the Lightning Lane flowing is by limiting capacity. Unlike Universal’s popular Express pass, you can’t access the Lightning Lane whenever you want, even if you purchase Genie_. Each attraction has a certain number of people that it can accommodate through the Lightning Lane during any given hour. By requiring guests to book a ride time, Disney has greater control over how many people enter the Lightning Lane within each hour.
Last, Disney World seems to control how long guests spend in the Lightning Lane by prioritizing customers who pay for the option. This is purely anecdotal, but our experience would seem to suggest that guests in the Lightning Lane are boarded faster and more often than those in the regular queue. On some rides, 4 to 5 parties were allowed to board from the Lightning Lane for every one party that was waved through from the regular line.
When booking Genie+, guests are offered the next open window with availability. Sometimes, the next open window is only minutes away. For more popular rides, the next open window might be hours away. We’ll get into our strategy for booking reservations later, but for now, let’s dive into the Disney World Genie+ (plus) review.
Disney World Genie Plus Review, Getting Started
As the Genie+ service gains more traction, Disney continues to tweak how the experience is delivered. For instance, at its inception, guests were allowed to purchase park tickets that included the cost of Disney World Genie+.
As of June 8, 2022, this option will no longer be available. Instead, each and every guest will need to purchase Disney Genie+ each and every day they want to use it.
In the case of Disney World resort guests, this means waking up before 7:00 am, logging into the My Disney Experience account, and purchasing the service for each member of your party who plans to use it. This must be done before you can book your first reservation at 7:00.
During our visit in May of 2022, we really wished that we had bundled Genie+ into the cost of our ticket. For one thing, it’s a rush trying to purchase Genie+ and snag a Genie+ for one of the most popular attractions when so many other people are vying for spots. We also found the app to be a little glitchy when trying to purchase and book right around 7:00 am. This is the time when Disney World resort guests are able to make their first Genie+ reservation of the day.
On the first day of our trip, we were up bright and early to book our first Genie+ reservation when the booking window opened at 7:00 am. I logged in to the My Disney Experience app, navigated to Genie+ and made my purchase for the day. I then proceeded to book Big Thunder Mountain Railroad with a 9:30 am return time—exactly what I wanted.
I received my confirmation number and moved onward to book an Individual Lightning Lane (ILL) reservation for 7 Dwarfs Mine Train (more on this in a minute). Again, rising at 7:00 am proved worth it. I was able to book my pick of times for this ride, quickly and easily. It wasn’t long before we were up, dressed and headed to the parks for an 8:30 am early theme park entry.
This is where things began to fall apart. We used the lower crowds at Early Theme Park Entry to ride Space Mountain, since we’d purchased an ILL for 7 Dwarfs. The line was tolerable, and we were on and off before the park officially opened. We took a turn on Buzz Lightyear, failed miserably at containing the alien invaders, and then moseyed our way over to Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.
When we arrived, the posted wait time for the regular queue was 20 minutes and people were rapidly filing into the line. Feeling the power of the Genie, I pulled up my phone to double check the time for our Lightning Lane reservation. BIG SHOCK! Nothing showed up in the app.
Thinking there was a glitch, we tried to tap through at the Lightning Lane turnstile only to be denied entry. According to Disney’s system, we hadn’t booked a Genie+ reservation for that morning.
A quick check of my phone revealed that I had no confirmation email stating that I had booked, despite the fact that I clearly remembered receiving a confirmation number when I made the booking.
That’s when I learned the importance of grabbing a screenshot of the confirmation number. Had I done that, I could have gone to one of the customer experience stations within the park and easily had my Genie+ reservation restored.
At this point, standing in the park as people streamed around us, quick thinking was required. We decided that we’d jump in that Thunder queue, and see if the posted wait time was accurate. Fortunately for us, it was even shorter than 20 minutes. In total we were on and off the ride in less than 15.
Trying our luck with Genie plus again, we booked another reservation after our Ride on Thunder Mountain. That experience worked exactly as it should, with no glitches, but here is the interesting thing about that early morning Genie+ adventure.
I actually screen recorded the process of making those 7:00 am Genie+ reservations to make an educational reel after the trip. I reviewed it while writing this blog and clearly found where the Thunder Mountain booking went through, and I received the confirmation number.
The moral of the story here is to screenshot the confirmation numbers you receive when booking anything through Disney World Genie+.
Disney World Genie Plus Review, the Second Day
After our mixed successes with Disney World Genie+ on day one, we had hope for a smoother experience on day two. Unfortunately, our hopes weren’t to be rewarded.
To be fair, we were attending Hollywood Studios where competition for Genie+ reservations for the most popular rides, such as Slinky Dog Dash, can become fierce.
Despite the reality, we had our fingers crossed for an early Slinky Dog Dash entry to the Lightning Lane, but by the time we had made the Genie+ purchase and were passed through to the reservation system, the earliest return time for Slinky Dog Dash wasn’t until early afternoon.
However, we didn’t think of ourselves as completely green newbies when it came to Genie+. We’d stalked Genie+ return times through the app in the days leading up to our departure and even read tips on Facebook forums. We knew that new slots opened at 10-15 minute intervals during the first hour that booking was open.
As the story goes, if you continuously refresh the screen, earlier times will eventually pop up. So, refresh we did, 3 of us, sitting on the bus, travelling to Hollywood Studios. While two seven-year-olds screamed loudly in each other’s faces and their mothers chatted amiably, we refreshed, over and over, time after time.
Eventually, it happened. A 10:00 a.m. time appeared. My daughter clicked to secure it, selected the people from our party who would be riding the ride, and then clicked again.
The result? We secured a 12:50 return time on Slinky Dog Dash. If you’re wondering where the 10:00 return went, you aren’t alone.
We expected the system to grab that window and hold it. Since the app already had access to the number of people in my party, it could have easily held 3 spots while my daughter completed the booking. If I didn’t book 3 reservations, the unused reservations could have easily been rereleased to the queueing system after I completed the process.
But alas, this is not how Genie+ works. When booking popular rides, expect to actually book a later time than you are shown, in some instances, much later. However, it can be worth it to use the refresh technique if you really want an earlier return time.
Why all the fuss, you may wonder. After all, who wants to get up at 7:00 am on vacation to stare at a phone?
Well, booking your first Lightning Lane entry early in the day has a few advantages. For one thing, if you’re a Disney World resort guest, you’ll be able to utilize that 7:00 am window to make your first reservation, but you won’t be able to book another Lightning Lane pass until 11:00 or until you’ve used the first booking.
If you hold a reservation with a return time before 11:00 am, you can book another Genie+ as soon as you enter the queue, making it possible to skip more lines overall throughout the day. For some popular attractions, the only way to score a Genie+ return window before 11:00 is to book early.
Our Disney World Genie+ Review of the Individual Lightning Lane
While Genie+ at $15 per person per day does allow you to book spots in the Lightning Lane for the majority of the most popular attractions, there are a handful of the ultra-popular rides that aren’t included in the service. Some of the newest entries on the Disney World attraction list, including heavy hitters like Rise of the Resistance and Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, require the purchase of an Individual Lightning Lane (ILL).
In our Experience, purchasing an ILL ranged from $7.00 a person to $12.00 a person, and Disney freely admits that costs vary depending on the ride and day of the year. If you are going to splurge on anything at Disney World, this is where I recommend you do it, as long as you plan to experience the ILL enabled attractions.
We used ILL for all enabled attractions throughout the trip and saved ourselves hours in line. For example, Avatar Flight of Passage in Animal Kingdom had a 70-minute wait time the first day the girls rode it. With an ILL, they walked right on.
The same held true for Rise of the Resistance at Hollywood Studios. Both time we rode, standard queue lines posted a wait between 90 and 100 minutes. Our first ILL experience with a 12:50 return time left us standing in line about 8 minutes. Our second ILL-enabled ride, with a return time around 6:30 pm, allowed us to walk right on.
As I write this Disney World Genie Plus review, I’m estimating that we saved ourselves around ten hours of waiting in line by purchasing the Individual Lightning Lane pass for each enabled attraction over the course of 6 days.
Would I Recommend Purchasing Disney World Genie+?
To wrap up my Disney World Genie+ review, it’s important to say that everyone has different touring styles when experiencing the Disney World parks. Some are so laid back about the experience that they don’t even mind standing in line for 60 minutes to grab a drink at Starbucks.
Others want to jump on and off attractions with as little wait as possible. If you’re this type of person, you’d do well to purchase Disney World Genie+. We found the greatest benefit when we stacked our Genie+ reservations for later in the day and then used the morning to ride other attractions with low wait times.
Taking this approach, you can even avoid having to go into the parks early at all. This was a big challenge for us as we’ve always been ones to rise with the sun, be among the first at rope drop and hit as much as we can in the morning before most people have even had a cup of coffee.
For this trip, we pried ourselves away from our tried-and-true strategy, and instead of heading over to Magic Kingdom for Early Theme Park Entry, actually slept in. I even enjoyed a peaceful 30 minutes on the balcony, watching the sun come up over the golf course at Saratoga Springs.
We then headed to one of our favorite breakfast restaurants at the Animal Kingdom resort. We relaxed over a meal at Boma and then headed out to the savanna to take some pictures. Unfortunately, the animals weren’t out yet, so we settled for taking some shots of the pool area, since we need these for our Animal Kingdom Lodge review.
While it all sounds idyllic, I was making regular Genie+ reservations throughout the day. You can make a new Genie+ booking every 2 hours. We weren’t planning to enter the park until around 4:00 that day, so I logged in at 9:00 am and booked our first Genie+ for Peter Pan’s Flight for around 3:30.
Since we had an hour after this time to appear at the turnstile for the ride, this gave us a little leeway and also made it possible for me to use my 11:00 booking time to grab a 5:00 slot on Jungle Cruise.
When my next booking window opened, I found a 5:50 return for Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. We then booked a 6:30 window for Space Mountain and effectively went from ride to ride with no wait.
To round out the evening, we hit those attractions with low wait times and still had a leisurely day, without standing in line and without rising at the crack of dawn.
It is important to note, however, that we had planned to spend 2 days in the Magic Kingdom. This allowed us to split up the rides with the longest wait times across the 2-day span, and book Genie+ reservations accordingly.
If you’ll only be spending a single day in each park, you’ll want to adhere to the early morning rule, get your first Genie+ as soon as you can, and then continue booking a new reservation every 2 hours, or as soon as you tap into a Genie+ enabled ride.
Overall, if we’re recommending one splurge for budget-conscious tourists, it’s the purchase of Genie+. However, there are some caveats to this advice.
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Why You Might Not Need Disney World Genie+
There are some situations where you might not need Genie+ and some travelers who will actually hate the service.
First, if you are traveling to a park where the rides with the highest wait times also have height restrictions, you might not need Genie+. For instance, if you’re traveling to the Magic Kingdom with youngsters who are still under 40”, you probably won’t be riding some of the attractions with the longest wait times. These include Thunder Mountain, Splash Mountain and Space Mountain.
In this case, you could skip Genie+, as long as you are prepared to get to the parks early and take advantage of the lower morning crowds to experience rides such as Peter Pan’s Flight, Jungle Cruise and Pirates of the Caribbean. Keep in mind, you will wait in longer lines than if you had purchased Genie+, but the day is doable and can still offer plenty of enjoyment.
There is another type of traveler that probably won’t benefit from Genie+. This is the type of traveler who hates to look at their phone while on vacation and wants to just go with the flow. If you fall into this category, you’re likely to be one of those people who purchases Genie+ and hates it. Save yourself the angst and skip the Genie.
However, if you don’t like standing in line or are a seasoned Disney World traveler who spends most of the day hitting the highlights, Genie+ is likely to be worth the money for you, and a service that will make your day in the parks more enjoyable.
We hope you enjoyed our Disney World Genie+ review. If you have any questions about Genie+, feel free to contact us using the form to the right. You can also email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tips and Tricks We Learned from Our Review of Genie+
No Disney World Genie+ review would be complete without some tips to help you make the most of the experience. Here are some of the things we learned:
- Use Genie+ for the rides that stack up the longest wait times in the regular queue. These include the following attractions, listed in order of descending priority:
Na’vi River Journey
Kali River Rapids
Disney Hollywood Studios
Slinky Dog Dash
Tower of Terror
Millennium Falcon: Smuggler Run
Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster
Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway*
Toy Story Mania
Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure*
Frozen Ever After*
Soarin’ Around the World
Peter Pan’s Flight
Pirates of the Caribbean
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin
*Currently included as a Disney World Genie+ attraction but may be included once again as an Individual Lightning Lane attraction after August 7, 2022.
2. If you have a Genie+ reservation available for booking, always check the return time for an attraction before jumping in the regular queue. We arrived at Animal Kingdom one evening around 4:30 pm. The wait time for the Expedition Everest regular queue was 30 minutes. Thinking that was tolerable, we were about to join the line, but a quick check of the Genie app let us know that we could book a Genie+ Lightning Lane return for 5 minutes later.
We hit the restrooms, joined the Lightning Lane and rode the ride with no wait.
3. Be sure to stack your Genie+ reservations. You are able to book a new Genie+ ride every two hours or as soon as you use one of your bookings. If you take the time to do this, you should be able to experience a number of attractions with low waits. Just be sure to use the tip above and reserve Genie+ reservations for those rides that typically have the longest wait times.
4. Don’t sweat it if a ride goes down during your Lightning Lane return window. Due to inclement weather, we had this happen more than once during our trip. If the ride was still closed about 20 minutes into our return window, we were automatically gifted a free Genie+ reservation to use on any ride in that park, at any time during the rest of that day.
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