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Disney's Lightning Lane and Genie+: Is it Worth It?

Tron, Magic Kingdom
Queue Sign, Tron, Magic Kingdom

Wanna jump to the facts? What to know about Genie, Genie + and Lighting Lane.

The History

The old Fast Pass was a free service. You went to a machine, scanned your park ticket, searched for a ride that you liked, and requested a ticket to enter the express line. If you were successful, the ticket chose the next available time. You took your ticket, looked at the time, and headed to the attraction at that time. Once you used that Fast Pass, you could try to get another one. You could only do one attraction at a time. So, is the current system of Disney's Lightning Lane and Genie+ worth it? Read on.

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Later, in person and on the app, Disney introduced a variation on the Fast Pass. Fast Pass+ started letting you choose more than one attraction at a time. They categorized the rides, letting you choose a ride from sometimes at least 2 categories and you planned your day around that. Once you used one of the Fast Passes, you could try to book another one. This service was also free. I'm still not convinced that Disney's Lightning Lane and Genie+ are worth it.

Disney Fast Pass
Throwback: Fast Pass

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During the Covid-19 virus pandemic, Disney discontinued its Fast Pass program and began it's Genie, Genie+ and Lightning Lane program. Many theme parks already had a paid express service: pay extra to get on a faster line to the attractions. Some parks do this a la carte (you can buy a pass for one attraction). Others include most attractions for a broader pass. Sometimes the price varies according to peak times or dates. During Covid, Disney's Lightning Lane and Genie+ were not worth it because the lines weren't long. Attendance was severely limited.

Disney decided to start charging money for these services. They changed the name, calling the services Genie+ and Lightning Lane.

Haunted Mansion, Magic Kingdom
Haunted Mansion Standby Entrance

These new planning features were rolled out almost at the same time that park reservations and limited annual pass purchases were put into effect, confusing everyone. Even more confusing was the fact that for a little while, the process kept changing as Disney and park goers were adjusting to the service. So, is Disney's Lightning Lane and Genie+ worth it? Compare and see.

So, here's the "Know Before You Go" Facts:

Disney has three basic planning features:


1.Genie: this lets you create your own itinerary so that you don't forget the fun things you may want to do, like catch a parade, or a character greeting. This is a free feature within the My Disney Experience app. However, this does not get you on the express line. It's just a list of what you may want to do. The app will tell you how long the wait is for a certain attraction, and if you have your notifications turned on, you'll get a reminder to head over to an event or location.

PS: you don't have to specifically use the Genie option to see wait times. That is also a feature of the app itself. After you have chosen what you think you will like to do, click My Day and you can see your day planned out. Also, click the Tip Board for, well, more tips. Check out this for more information: Disney Genie.


2. Genie+ is a paid feature. You have to have a park ticket and a reservation (if required) for the day you want the feature. You can make express reservations for an attraction. The price of Genie+ depends on the day because the price varies but it ranges somewhere starting at $22 or so, per person, per day. This is how it works:

a. The window to buy the express feature is available for the day you want to visit the park only. You can't buy it in advance.

b. Get up early: the window opens at 7AM.

c. Use the My Disney Experience app. I always use my phone, and I always use cellular only, sometimes the WiFi in hotels can be glitchy. Furthermore, I go outside to get the best signal.

d. Buy the Genie+. This part will be easy, but there may be a limited amount of Genie + passes available to buy.

e. Book the attractions you want. Genie + does not mean fast access to all attractions automatically. This is why the basic price is so cheap. The hard part is booking the attractions you want. That's what goes fast. Buying the Genie+ feature does not guarantee you will be able to book the ride you want. You have to buy a Genie + for each member of your party if they want to use the feature. They cannot tag along if they don't have a Genie+ pass. BUT... You don't have to buy one for each person if they are not going to use it.

f. You have to reserve the attraction you want to do!! Find the attraction you want and book the best time. If you get an early time, be ready to head to the park. Take into account how long it will take you to get there, park (or take the Disney bus), get through security and to walk to the attraction itself. Generally, give yourself 90 minutes to do all of this. (It may be faster).

g. Not every attraction is under Genie+. Some are an individual Lightning Lane purchase only. Read the information carefully!!!!

h. When you're ready, you will use the Lightning Lane entrance. You have one hour to use your reservation. Everyone will have to scan in, so buy one for everyone who will attend.

i. Once you use one of your Lightning Lane passes for a certain attraction, you can book another one.

j. Remember: buying Genie+ does not guarantee you will be able to reserve the attraction you really want!

i. If you go to other theme parks, you may be used to paying one big price to access the fast lane to almost all of the attractions. And you usually can buy the express pass in advance. This service is different!!

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3. Lightning Lane is an a la carte service. You can purchase an express pass for one particular ride if that's all you want. The same basic rules for Genie+ apply: get up early, buy a Lightning Lane pass for each person that will do the experience. Choose the right attraction and hope you get the time you want.

Annual Pass Holders: If it is a park reservation day, the app will not let you purchase either Genie+ or Lightning Lane if you do not have a park reservation. Be sure to make your reservation first (which you can do up to 30-60 days in advance), then on the day of your visit, buy your Genie+ or Lightning Lane and then, right after that, reserve your attraction.

So, was it worth it? We have annual passes but we had someone with us who had a regular ticket and would probably not be back for a couple of years. We really wanted to ride certain attractions, so we bought the Genie+ pass, booked a couple of rides, and it was worth it to give the person a great experience. If you're an annual passholder and you come back regularly, try to come at non-peak times and do standby.

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Happy Travels.

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All photos and videos created and copyrighted by Marcia Crayton, unless otherwise noted.


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