When Walt Disney World unleashed the Genie, 10,000 years of captivity was unleashed on an unsuspecting public.
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Prior to the Covid-19 Pandemic shut down, guests booking a Walt Disney World trip could preselect up to 3 Fastpasses (skip the line pass) for each day of their trip. Some guests could select more if staying club level.
Guests at Disneyland had a couple of options. Fastpass machines located around the park or Max Pass, a $20 service, could be purchased and allow guests to make some selections by phone. Either way, these were always done day of visit.
After the parks reopened, neither offered a skip the line pass anymore. That is until the Genie service was introduced, October 19 at Disney World and December 8 at Disneyland.
So what is Genie and how does it work? Genie is actually a 3 part system found within the My Disney Experience app. The first part is a daily planning service. The second and third parts are the new version of Fastpass. One part is Genie+ the other part is Individual Lightning Lane Attractions. I’ll get into the differences below.
The Genie service is a daily planning service that allows anyone with a park ticket and reservation to set your goals for the day by selecting a few of your top interests. To get started, click View My Day on the main screen of the My Disney Experience app, then Get Started Now
If you don’t have any tickets tied to your account, you’ll see the screen below. If you have tickets, you can link them now, or purchase tickets if you’re planning to go soon. Essentially, the app will take you through Rides, Entertainment and Dining options to get an understanding of your interests. On your actual day, those options will create a Genie plan that shows up on the My Day page.
Genie+ is a package for what was once known as Fastpasses. The new term is Lightning Lane. The Genie+ package has a $15 per day cost at Walt Disney World and a $20 per day cost at Disneyland. This can either be purchased at the same time you buy your tickets, but must be purchased for length of stay, or you can purchase on the day you want to use the service. Choosing this method, you have to add it each day you plan to use it. At Disney World, you can add it as early as midnight that day. At Disneyland, you’ll have to wait until you enter the park to purchase.
To purchase the day off, go to the My Day tab and scroll to the Purple box that says Take Today to the Next Level Get Disney Genie+ for today. You’ll then see the above and below screens as you scroll the page.
Guests with an eligible ticket and reservation for the day will be listed on the next screen. Select all that you are purchasing for, then complete the checkout process. Please note, Disney World does add tax at checkout, which makes the actual price about $16/person
So what can you get with Genie+? With Genie+, you can select Lightning Lane passes on the day of your visit. Depending on the parks you’re visiting, you can select the following rides at Walt Disney World.
Or the following rides at Disneyland.
Each day, you can select each ride one time only per person. Beyond the above information, each park has unique rules for Genie+ and Individual Lightning Lane Attractions.
Walt Disney World
So how and when can you make selections? At Disney World, all guests are eligible to make their first selection at 7am. After that, you’ll have a couple of rules to follow.
You can either book your next selection upon checking into your first ride OR 2 hours after the park opens. After your second selection, its based on checking into your most recent selection or 2 hours after the last selection. Example:
- 7am – Book Slinky Dog Dash at Hollywood Studios for 12pm
- Hollywood Studios opens at 9am, you can select again at 11am
- 11am – Book Toy Story Mania for 12:30pm
- 12pm – check into Slinky Dog Dash ride
- Your last selection was made at 11 for TSM, so you’re not eligible for another selection.
- 12:30pm – check into Toy Story Mania. This was your most recent selection, so you can select again.
- 12:35pm – Book Tower of Terror for 8pm – wait 2 hours
- 2:36pm – Book Rock n Roller coaster for 8:30pm – wait 2 hours
- 4:37pm – Book Indiana Jones for 5pm – wait until you check in.
- 5pm – Book Frozen for 7pm
This example probably won’t ever play out in real life, it’s difficult to get 3 good rides in Hollywood Studios. The point is, pay attention to your last selection. If it’s 2+ hours after the selection is made, you have to wait 2 hours for your next selection. If it’s less than 2 hours, but overlaps 2 hours, you can either check in and make your next selection or make your next selection at 2 hours.
It does not pay off to wait, meaning if you wait til 2 hours and make a selection, checking into the previous selection does not add another selection option. In the above example, had you not checked into TSM at 12:30, but instead waited til 1pm, 2 hours after TSM selection to select ToT, you would not be able to select when checking into TSM, but rather would wait until 3pm, 2 hours after selecting ToT.
So, what strategy should I use when booking my Lightning Lane passes? Each park has 1 or 2 passes that will go quickly each morning, so it’s important to understand which those are and whether or not you should get those specifically.
These screenshots from the website Thrill Data show Lightning Lane availability throughout the day on Saturday February 26th. Green means earlier times available, red means the passes are almost out and gray means passes are out. Most parks have some availability throughout the day, although Hollywood Studios is notorious for their hard to get passes for rides.
Slinky Dog Dash will always sell out immediately, if not by 11am, 2 hours after park opening. Tower of Terror, Mickey and Minnie Runaway Railway and Millennium Falcon will sell out shortly after 11am or at least before 1pm, so 1 of these should be your second pick. Toy Story Mania, Alien Swirling Saucers, and Rock n’ Rollercoaster will sell out between 1 and 3, so should be your third pick.
At Epcot, you basically have to choose between Test Track and Frozen Ever After at 7am. Beyond that, choose what works best for you. Word of caution from experience, do Spaceship Earth at a time when you plan to enter or leave the park from the front entrance. It’s so far from everything, it’s just a lot of walking for no real reason. And really, try your best to do the Epcot rides in order around the park. There’s already so much walking that it’s best not to backtrack to hit a ride.
So what are Individual Lightning Lane attractions? Each park typically has one or two rides that are essentially Premier attractions. Disney is taking advantage by charging an extra and separate price for these attractions. The price is between $5-$15 per day and that cost is to ride that one specific ride and nothing else.
What are the Individual Lightning Lane attractions? In the screenshots above of the Lightning Lanes in each park, at the top of the list are the Individual Lightning Lane attractions. During Christmas for a couple of weeks, and now, from February 25th through August 7th, the double star items were removed from the additional pay list and added to the list of Genie+ attractions. This is to help alleviate some stress not enough attractions in some parks are causing the Genie+ system.
When can I book an Individual Lightning Lane attraction? This is one perk currently available for onsite guests. Right now, onsite guests are able to book these passes at 7am while offsite guests have to wait until the park opens to book. This is the same whether the park opens at 7:30am or 11am. So if you want a chance at a Rise of the Resistance pass, you’ll have to stay on site. When I was there over Christmas with the 1 individual Lightning Lane pass in each park, as an offsite guest, I was able to grab a pass for each of the rides besides Rise.
So how and when can you make selections? At Disneyland, whether you’re trying for a Genie+ or Individual Lightning Lane pass, you have to wait for both the park to officially open as well as you must enter the park. However, at Disneyland, less strategy is needed, at least for now, as numerous rides typically have immediate return times, though a few rides do go a couple hours out.
The rest of the information below typically applies at both locations.
So how do I make a selection? You can go into View My Day from the main screen and click the Tip Board. This is where you’ll see the list of available attractions. Click on Change Park to view another park. Click the ride name to view ride details. When you’re ready to book a pass, click the Book Experience next to the time. The time shows you the next available pass time. If you haven’t purchased the Genie+ service yet, you’ll be prompted to complete the purchase to continue.
So, if I click on a specific time, am I guaranteed that time? No, unfortunately the system isn’t sophisticated enough to switch times each time thousands of people are clicking to book a pass. This is especially true at 7am for the popular rides. The faster you move through the process, the better chance you have of an early pass.
So can I pick my own ride time? Only for the Individual Lightning Lane attractions. For Genie+, you can only select the time shown. If you want a later time, you can refresh the page until it gets to a desired time (not recommended for Slinky Dog Dash) or wait awhile and come back. When choosing an Individual Lightning Lane attraction, you’re presented with hours you can choose from followed by 15 minute blocks during the hour. Usually you’ll get the time you select, but you do have to move quickly still as the time could be taken before you finish. Always confirm your actual ride time after you complete the entire process.
So when do I have to check in to the ride? You have a 1 hour window from the time you selected. If you selected 11am, you would have from 11am to 12pm to get to the ride. You’re also allotted a 5 minute before and 15 minute after grace period to get to the ride.
So what do I do if my pass time interferes with a dining reservation, show, etc? It depends. If you think you can get the ride done before going to your reservation, that’s probably easiest. However, in my opinion, go to your reservation first, keep your receipt, then head to the ride as soon as possible. I experienced this with both a Genie+ and Individual Lightning Lane pass. With the Individual Lightning Lane, the Cast Member was a little more strict asking why we didn’t make it in time – wife had a chiropractor appointment so got there later than we hoped – so he let us on. Genie+, just explained we had a dining reservation and just got done.
So what happens if a ride is down during my return time? A few things could happen depending on the circumstances.
- If the ride goes down during your return time and you haven’t checked into it yet, the system should automatically convert your pass to an anytime pass that could be used at other rides. You may also be able to select a pass for that ride later.
- If the ride goes down after your return time while still in the grace period, you can check with the Guest Experience Team to get the pass converted.
- If the ride goes down after you scanned in, the workers may attempt to give everyone waiting a return pass or they may direct you to the Guest Experience Team to convert the pass.
- If the ride comes back up, you can choose to use the converted pass immediately or wait for another ride later. You should be able to book the same ride again if the pass is converted to an anytime pass. But only if you hadn’t checked in before it went down.
So what if I can’t get to my ride/don’t want to ride? You can cancel or leave it booked. There are no modifications for booked passes. If you cancel and try to grab a different pass with limited availability, you may miss out due to the speed some passes disappear. You could be out both passes. If you don’t want to ride, you can cancel and let someone else have a shot at it. If you’re cancelling your most recent selection, you should be able to book a new selection – your 2 hour window restarts. If it’s not your most recent, you will not be able to select a new pass.
So, are Genie+ or Individual Lightning Lane passes worth it? As with anything related to cost, that depends on what is valuable to you. On a busy day, you could save an hour in line per ride for the Genie+ rides or anywhere from 1-3+ hours for Individual Lightning Lane attractions. Rise of the Resistance was 3 hours earlier today. That saved time could allow you more break time or time to stand in other lines, combining for more total rides. More and more people are purchasing, which means an overall lower value for you as far as multiple rides, but the rides and saved standby waits may be worth it for you!
If you’re ready to start exploring a Walt Disney World or Disneyland family vacation, I recommend checking out Undercover Tourist for your ticket options. I’ve already used them twice, once at Disneyland and once at Disney World and will plan to continue comparing their prices with other sites, however I usually come back to UT because they have the best deals and their instructions make it easy to add your tickets to the Disney apps.