A First-Timer’s Guide to Disney Genie+
Several friends of mine know that I write about Disney a lot. So, they come to me whenever they have questions.
Recently, one asked me for a beginner’s guide to Disney Genie+, as they’re booking their next trip soon. Almost immediately afterward, several others asked for a copy.
At that moment, I realized how profoundly confusing this new system is, even to longstanding Disney fans.
For this reason, I’m writing this tutorial on how Disney Genie+ works.
What Is Disney Genie+?
Look, you shouldn’t allow the name to baffle you. It’s a marketing gimmick.
People associate the phrase “FastPass” with a free service to skip the longer lines at popular Disney theme park attractions.
Those line-jumping digital passes are no longer free. For this reason, Disney is currently training its customers to use two new terms instead.
Still, when you hear “Disney Genie+,” you can mentally substitute FastPass because that’s what it is. The only difference is that you’re paying for it now.
Also, Disney uses a secondary term, Lightning Lane, to describe the shorter line queue. However, Disney also uses that term for a different service, inconveniently named Individual Lightning Lane, which costs an additional a la carte fee for select rides.
Yes, I know it’s stupid. If I’d been in the conference room for that discussion, I would have screamed at the top of my lungs to stop Disney from doing that.
Apparently, nobody else there fully appreciated the stupidity of this decision.
So, we’re stuck with the Lightning Lane version of Disney Genie+ plus an entirely different Individual Lightning Lane. Even though it’s got nothing to do with me, I sincerely apologize for the confusion.
I think of the situation like this. When customers book Disney Genie+, I describe all the reservations that way.
Technically, you enter a Lightning Lane at the attraction and should look for the signage that says as much.
Personally, I reserve the term Lightning Lane to indicate a ride for which I pay for the privilege of skipping this one line.
Currently, each Walt Disney World theme park offers one such attraction. Those are the true Lightning Lane experiences in my estimation.
Everything else falls under the Disney Genie+ umbrella.
How to Buy and Use Disney Genie+
Until recently, Disney Genie+ cost $15 per person per day. But unfortunately, Disney just switched the payment structure to surge pricing.
For this reason, I cannot tell you how much it’ll cost on the day of your visit, although it will likely range somewhere between $15 to $29 per person, per day. You can check the Disney park calendar for that information.
Also, Disney altered the purchasing system for Disney Genie+. As a result, you can only purchase this reservation on the day of your visit.
Technically, the purchase window opens at midnight. However, many people wait until the 6:45 a.m. range when they’re up and about at the hotel.
Personally, I wouldn’t wait since Disney Genie+ can sell out now, a relatively new aspect of the service.
Once you’ve purchased Disney Genie+, you’ll use it via the My Disney Experience app. Here’s how it will work.
When you load the Tip Board screen for a given park, it’ll list various attractions. For example, some of them will display the following: “LL Genie+ Lightning Lane.”
After this text, you’ll notice a time like 11 a.m. That’s the moment when your Disney Genie+ window opens, presuming you book this experience.
Here’s what all that gobbledygook means in pre-2019 Disney terms. You’re reserving the equivalent of a FastPass reservation from 11 a.m. through noon.
When your reservation window opens, you visit the attraction and enter the exclusive shorter line queue, the so-called Lightning Lane.
For most Disney attractions, a Lightning Lane reservation ensures you board the ride within 15 minutes on all but the most crowded park days.
I just spent a week at the parks, and I purchased Disney Genie+ each day. The only time I waited more than 15 minutes involved an attraction breakdown.
So, this system is lightning-fast as advertised.
How Disney Genie+ Works
Since Disney Genie+ isn’t free, your wait time is likely shorter than under the previous FastPass system.
I say this because virtually all guests used FastPass. However, only about half of them buy and then use Disney Genie+.
That’s terrific news for people who willingly pay for a formerly free service. Yes, that sucks to think about in those terms, but it’s where we are.
What I’ll say is that I DO believe that Disney Genie+ is worth the money. Here’s how it works.
When you’re on the Tip Board, choose the selection you want. Then, check whether a reservation window is available.
Presuming that the answer is yes, you should book it. I’ve previously listed rankings for the parks and probably will again soon. The attractions keep changing, which alters the decision tree.
Still, there are a few tactics to know and mistakes to avoid.
First, the reservation window opens at 7 a.m. EST. At that time, you should target attractions that are high in demand, like Slinky Dog Dash, Na’vi River Journey, and Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure.
Since you’re not in the park yet, you cannot book an additional Disney Genie+ reservation yet.
Your next booking window will open when A) you’ve tapped your MagicBand in the line queue or B) two hours have passed.
Those two parameters will drive your decision-making while you’re at the parks.
You should always evaluate whether you’d rather ride something now or guarantee a short wait for a better attraction later.
Generally, you can book almost immediately for attractions that are in low demand.
Conversely, attractions like Jungle Cruise/Jingle Cruise, Frozen Ever After, and Test Track might only offer Disney Genie+ reservations later in the day.
Disney Genie+ Tips
Here’s an important tip. The instant you’ve tapped your MagicBand in line, you can book again.
Rather than standing around doing nothing, you should pull out your phone and start choosing your next options.
You can search and book for anyone within your traveling party as long as you have connected accounts/tickets on My Disney Experience.
There were countless times during my most recent trip when we had booked our next experience before we had completed the current one.
That’s an essential strategy due to recent changes with Disney Genie+. Formerly, Disney assured guests of up to eight experiences.
Currently, Disney only lists “2 or 3” as a guaranteed part of the service. YOU determine how many lines you skip based on your skill with Disney Genie+.
So, you should consider Disney Genie+ practice/usage as vital to maximizing your purchase.
Once you’re comfortable with it, you WILL love the product. It really makes a difference.
Even before then, Disney Genie+ will ensure that you ride plenty of stuff during a park visit. Without it, you’re stuck waiting in long lines all day.
I consider Disney Genie+ a necessity for a successful park visit in 2022/2023.