Is Genie Plus Worth It? If You Want to Skip the Lines at Disney World, Yes. Here’s How It Works…
Have you ever seen a commercial for Walt Disney World? You know…the ones where the family vacation appears magically seamless and perfect.
Parents and kids strolling down Main Street USA hand in hand…kids running up to give Mickey a hug…and the montage of the family on ride after ride after ride.
Well, I hate to be a Debbie Downer, but normal people don’t just show up at the theme parks and have a day like that.
There are LINES, people. Gone are the days of going during the slow season and walking onto rides with minimal waits. There’s no “off season” at Disney World anymore.
BUT there’s still a way to MINIMIZE the time you spend waiting in lines at the theme parks.
It’s called Genie+ and it just debuted in fall 2021. Well, in its current form.
The Disney parks have been using a “Fastpass” system in some form or other to skip the lines for 15 years now. Genie+ is the current version, and not only does it work a little differently than the old Fastpass system, but you also have to PAY to use it.
How Does Genie+ Work?
Before I get into a breakdown of whether or not Genie+ is worth it, let me give you a rundown on how it works…
Genie+ is a ride reservation system that allows you to book time slots to show up for the park’s most popular rides and either walk right on or wait in a muuuuuch shorter line.
The cost for Genie+ varies based on demand but it’s usually between $15-25/person per day. You’ll find out the price when you open the app that morning.
That’s on top of your park ticket. It allows you to make reservations for the park’s most popular rides.
Sounds pretty good, right? Well, here’s the nitty gritty:
In each park there’s a list of attractions that are available to book with Genie+ (included in your flat fee) and then there’s an EXTRA “special” attraction that can be booked a la carte for an additional price.
You are not guaranteed to use the Lightning Lane (that’s what Disney calls the Genie+ entrance) for every attraction included in Genie+. Paying for Genie+ just means that you can use the system to book reservations that day. But there’s still a “system” you have to work.
***First things first, EVERYTHING regarding Genie+ is done on the My Disney Experience app on your phone. It’s essential that everyone you’re traveling with has a park ticket that’s linked to their account and that all of your accounts are linked together.
Genie+ can be purchased starting at midnight the day of your park day and technically they put a cap on how many can be sold each day, but I’ve never seen it not available.
Starting at 7AM, guests staying at a Disney resort with a park reservation for that day can book their first Genie+ attraction.
Non-Disney resort guests (those staying off property) have to wait until the park opens to book their first reservation.
Your next Genie+ attraction can be selected EITHER 1) immediately after you use your first Genie+ reservation (when you scan in for the ride), or 2) TWO HOURS after you make your previous selection (two hours after park opening if it’s your first selection).
I’ll give a couple of examples to show the difference.
Let’s say you’re going to Hollywood Studios and at 7AM you book Slinky Dog Dash for your first attraction with a return time of 2-3PM. Good news: you don’t have to wait until you ride Slinky at 2PM to make another Genie+ selection. If the park opens at 8AM, you can make your next Genie+ selection at 10AM.
But let’s say you’re going to the Animal Kingdom and you book Kilimanjaro Safari with a return time of 9-10AM. You can book your next Genie+ selection AS SOON as you scan into Kilimanjaro Safari. You don’t have to wait for two hours after the park opens.
And you’ll go the rest of the day like that. Booking your next Genie+ selections either every two hours or after you’ve scanned in at your previous ride (whichever comes first).
Now…you do not get to choose your return times. Return times (your reservation slot to show up and ride) are evenly distributed throughout the day and how quickly they fill up depends on the attractions popularity.
So I don’t know the actual numbers, but it’s all based on ride capacity. Let’s say that they’ve decided that they’ll give out 100 Genie+ reservations per hour at a certain attraction. They’ll start right at park opening, let’s say 8-9AM and move incrementally until they get booked up. So when 8-9AM gets booked up, the time slot moves to 8:05-9:05AM and then 8:10-9:10AM and on and on until park closing.
So if it’s a SUPER popular ride, the return times are going to move later into the day at a faster rate because so many people are choosing that attraction and it’s availability is filling up. If it’s not a super popular ride (or it has a really high capacity), it won’t book as quickly and return times will tend to be earlier.
But you can check back during the day and if you see there’s an option for a return time that works better, then you can modify your reservation to the new time slot.
EXCEPT with the fancy pants “a la carte” individual attractions in every park (one in each of the four parks). Those let you pick your time (within bounds of what’s available).
For Seven Dwarfs Mine Train in the Magic Kingdom, Rise of the Resistance in Hollywood Studios, AVATAR Flight of Passage in Animal Kingdom, and Guardians of the Galaxy in Epcot, you can book a specific return time that is not tied to your Genie+ rules (every two hours or after you’ve scanned into your last attraction).
If you’re a Disney resort guest, you can book those individual special lightning lanes (max 2 per day) at 7AM. And you get to select that time you ride, BUT these are the most popular rides in Disney World so the lightning lanes get booked reallllly fast. So I would plan for the general time of day you want to ride, but take whatever you can get and book quickly.
The Lightning Lanes for these “a la carte” rides generally cost $10-15 per person per ride.
Now…if you’re NOT a Disney resort guest (you’re staying at a property off site), you have to wait until the park opens to book those individual “special” attractions. And honestly, they’re usually sold out for the day at that point. Sorry to say, it’s often hard to get a Lightning Lane for Rise of the Resistance if you’re not staying on Disney property.
And even though the rule is you can buy TWO Individual Lightning Lanes per day, there’s only one attraction available in each park so you’d have to park hop if you want to do the second. You can’t do the same attraction twice.
Is Genie+ Worth It?
So the million dollar question is…is Genie+ worth it? Part of the reason this question is getting asked so much is because Disney’s Fastpass system used to be FREE. And when you’re used to getting something for free, people aren’t super thrilled about having to start paying.
So is Genie+ worth it? Well, if I have to give a short answer, I would say yes. The long answer is…it’s more complicated and there are probably certain scenarios where it’s MORE worth it than others.
But in general, if you really despise spending time waiting in lines, you’re going to want Genie+.
So onto the complicated part. The biggest thing is going in with the right expectations. Genie+ is not an easy breezy way to walk to the front of the line at every attraction in the park. You don’t just walk up, flash a badge, and hop on. You’ve got to have reservations. And because Disney parks are crowded, and a lot of people are using Genie+, it self limits availability.
Disney officially says that the average guest should expect 2-3 rides with little to no waits when using Genie+. Yikes. In my experience…if you have a strategy and you can work the system, you can stretch it to 4-5 (depending on the park).
The other thing is…Genie+ is….complicated. You cannot just show up and start using this thing. You’ve got to do your research to know the best strategy to lay out your day. You pretty much need an education to know how to work it to your advantage and make it worthwhile.
I’ll be super out front about my personal opinion…if you’re going to Disney on a once in a lifetime trip (even if you go somewhat often but like to “do everything” on your trips), I strongly recommend putting Genie+ and one individual Lightning Lane attraction in the budget every day. It will make your trip soooooo much easier and you’ll really minimized time in line.
A trip to Disney World is EXPENSIVE these days. And I just can’t imagine spending all of that money and having to wait in lines for EVERY single ride. For $25-40/day, you can be in GREAT shape line wise ($15-25 for Genie+ and $10-15 for the extra special ride).
But if the budget is tight, or you go pretty often, or you’re just skeptical about giving the Mouse more money, let me break it down by each park so you can decide for yourself:
Genie+ in the Magic Kingdom
The Magic Kingdom is definitely the park that you’ll feel like you get the most value with Genie+, just because of the sheer number of rides and attractions. The Magic Kingdom is packed with attractions, which means that there’s a lot of Genie+ capacity. It’s easier to get earlier return times because there’s so many options and you’ll find the most options still available later in the day (when in some parks most Genie+ options will be sold out by early afternoon).
RIGHT NOW (as of Feb 1, 2023) Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is the fancy pants Individual Lightning Lane (ILL) attraction in the Magic Kingdom and it is the ride that gets by far the longest waits in the park.
BUT…Tron Lightcycle Run opens April 4 and that will really knock everything on its ear.
Tron will initially open with a virtual queue (meaning boarding groups are assigned by lottery in the app and it’s not an option to just walk up and get in line) and an Individual Lightning Lane.
What’s not clear YET is whether Seven Dwarfs Mine Train will get absorbed into the general Genie+ line up or if it’ll be a second Individual Lightning Lane.
Either way, it’s going to be a priority. You’ll either want to rope drop it (get there an hour plus before park opening and run straight there), buy the ILL, make the Genie+ reservation, or plan to spend 70-120 minutes in line.
Besides Tron and Mine Train, rides that I would prioritize for Genie+ in the Magic Kingdom: Space Mountain, Splash Mountain (if it’s hot), Big Thunder Mountain, Peter Pans Flight, Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin, Winnie the Pooh, Pirates of the Caribbean, Haunted Mansion, Jungle Cruise.
If you have small kids (or you don’t), you’ll want to alter your picks to what your travel party is most into.
There are some rides that using a Genie+ isn’t generally worth it (because the ride doesn’t have super long waits). Mad Tea Party, Small World, and pretty much any show.
Oddly enough (I think it’s odd), Jungle Cruise is usually the ride that ends up selling out first and even if you can get it the return times are often into the early evening pretty early in the day. So some people make it their first Genie+ selection.
Overall, Genie+ works really well in the Magic Kingdom. There are so many rides in the Magic Kingdom that it would be hard to do everything in one day with NO waits. So having Genie+ is really an advantage.
Genie+ in Epcot
When Genie+ first debuted at Epcot, its value was a little questionable. First of all, there just aren’t a ton of rides at Epcot in general, and two of them were not in the regular Genie+ attractions pool, but were Individual Lightning Lanes instead. But things have started to change at Epcot. Two brand new attractions have recently opened, and with Disney cutting down the number of ILLs in each park to just ONE ride, I think it’s increased the value of Genie+ at Epcot.
Currently, Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind is only accessible via a virtual queue (expected to move to an in person line once Tron opens) and Individual Lightning Lane.
So if you don’t get a boarding group in the virtual queue and you want to ride Cosmic Rewind, your only option is to pay for the Lightning Lane.
Besides the Guardians coaster, rides that I would prioritize for Genie+ in Epcot are: Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, Frozen Ever After, Soarin’, Test Track.
Plus there’s a handful of rides that usually have Genie+ availability late in the day (Spaceship Earth, Mission Space, Living with the Land, Seas with Nemo and Friends).
This means, if you’re willing to get there early to “rope drop” one attraction and you work the system well, you can do pretty much every single ride at Epcot with little to no waits using Genie+.
Depending on which entrance you’re coming into Epcot, I would either head to Frozen Ever After or Remy’s Ratatoille Adventure as your first ride (Frozen if you’re entering at the park’s main entrance and Remy if you’re entering from the World Showcase). And then I would pick the alternate ride for your first Genie+ selection of the day.
Genie+ in Hollywood Studios
Hollywood Studios is probably the park where Genie+ is most valuable. There’s just such a large concentration of VERY popular attractions (90-120+ minute waits) that Genie+ saves you so much time. And even with the perfect Genie+ strategy, you’re still going to end up waiting in some lines.
By far the hardest Genie+ reservation to get (anywhere in Disney World) is Slinky Dog Dash. It’s also the line you’ll least want to wait in (all outside). Be ready on the trigger and make Slinky your first selection RIGHT AT 7AM. And your return time will likely be afternoon.
Then you should immediately purchase an Individual Lightning Lane (ILL) for Rise of the Resistance. Remember, if you’re a Disney resort guest, you can do this at 7AM but off site guests have to wait until park opening (they’re usually sold out by then). It’s not uncommon for Rise of the Resistance to show that it’s sold out for the day around 7:00-7:15AMish, but keep refreshing and time slots almost always pop up. But don’t sleep on this! By park opening they’re usually all gone for real.
Besides Slinky Dog and Rise of the Resistance, rides I would prioritize for Genie+ are: Millennium Falcon Smuggler’s Run, Toy Story Mania, Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway, Tower of Terror, and Rockin’ Roller Coaster.
I’ll level with you…it’s going to be really hard to get all of those. If you end up with three (plus Slinky and Rise), I would consider that a very good use of Genie+.
So if you’re able to show up for rope drop, I would suggest doing EITHER:
- Heading to Tower of Terror first thing followed by Rockin’ Rollercoaster. They’re right next to each other and most people are dashing to Galaxy’s Edge or Toy Story Land first thing so the lines don’t get quite as crazy early.
- Head to Toy Story Land and knock out Toy Story Mania and Alien Swirling Saucers. Slinky Dog Dash draws all of the traffic to Toy Story Land first thing and these two have pretty short lines first thing. Then you could go for Genie+ on Tower of Terror and Rockin’ Rollercoaster later in the day.
Another thing to know…Rockin’ Rollercoaster and Millennium Falcon Smuggler’s Run both have single rider lines. If everyone in your party is okay riding separately, it usually saves quite a bit of time. You’ll all stand together in line, but once you get to the front, they’ll use you to fill in odd numbered parties. Just keep in mind, the single rider line is usually faster, but not always (if it’s a long string of even numbered parties, your line isn’t going to move much) and it’s not guaranteed that it’s always open. I’ve had better success earlier in the day than later, but it’s pretty random.
I wouldn’t burn a Genie+ reservation on Star Tours (usually a shorter line) or any shows.
Genie+ in Animal Kingdom
Like Epcot, Animal Kingdom is a park that you can pretty much max out if you’re willing to purchase Genie+ and the Individual Lightning Lane. That means if you’ve got a good strategy, it’s doable to not really wait in any lines all day. That’s what I like to hear!
I’d book Kilimanjaro Safari as your first Genie+ selection at 7AM and then purchase the ILL for AVATAR Flight of Passage.
That’s going to leave you with the following attractions to book Genie+ throughout the day: Expedition Everest, Dinosaur, Kali River Rapids (if it’s warm), and Navi River Journey.
If you’re willing to get there early, I’d probably go for Navi River Journey. If you’re willing to get there really early, you could rope drop Flight of Passage and skip the ILL and then hop on Navi River Journey.
Expedition Everest, Dinosaur, and Kali River are usually easy enough to grab as the day goes on.
Expedition Everest also has a single rider line that’s usually very speedy.
And you won’t need Genie+ reservations, but definitely plan to see the Festival of the Lion King Show (arrive 20 minutes early or so because it does fill up) and the Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail and Maharajah Jungle Trek.
***Here’s a little tidbit I learned on my latest trip: at rope drop we went straight to Kilimanjaro Safari and we were on one of the first dozen or so safaris of the day (at 8AMish) and we saw very few animals. Once we got off, we got back in line (a posted 25 minute wait) and we saw SO MANY MORE ANIMALS. Lesson: animals are just like us. They like to be cozy in their beds and sometimes they’re a little slow to get out to the savannah in the morning. So all of that to say, if you’re using a Genie+ and you have an early return time, I would make sure you don’t get in line (remember they give you an hour window) until about an hour after park opening.
Can You Do the Parks without Genie+?
Of course. I don’t want you to think that you can’t do the park without Genie+, but it’s definitely tougher.
Plan on a very early arrival, staying until close, and you’ll need a super star strategy. I would recommend looking at Touring Plans as they’ll generate a customized itinerary for you based on what you’re interested in and whether or not you’re using Genie+. They have so many years of data and research that drives their recommendations.
Want more Walt Disney World posts? Check these out…
My Personal 5 Day Disney World Itinerary
Disney Trip Planning Timeline (When to Book What)
The Best (i.e. My Favorite) Time to Go to Walt Disney World
My Favorite Things to Do in the Magic Kingdom
Tips for a day at Disney’s Animal Kingdom
Disney’s Hollywood Studios Park Strategy
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