A common complaint about Disney’s Genie+ line-skipping system is that it’s not as simple as those that many other parks use. Never fear, TouringPlans is here! We’ve spent hours in the parks testing and using Genie and we’ve got answers to your questions. (Last updated June 30, 2023)
All those complainers are right. Genie is more complicated than the systems in many other parks, enough that we have several articles on it. So I’m going to start with a question that’s very basic:
What is Disney Genie?
Disney Genie is a service in the My Disney Experience app that guests use as an assistant while touring the parks. There are three components to Genie:
- Genie: a free itinerary planner, tracker, and wait time board
- Genie+: a paid service that allows you to skip [most of] the line at several rides throughout the parks by making Lightning Lane reservations
- Individual Lightning Lane: individual upcharge purchases to skip the lines at one attraction per purchase
If you’re only planning on using the free features of Genie, almost nothing in this article will apply to you. You’ll probably find Customize the Genie Tip Board for Convenience and Speed a more valuable use of your time.
If you are planning on using the upcharge features of Genie+ or Individual Lightning Lanes, this article focuses on the nitty-gritty questions. If you’re looking for a walkthrough, you might prefer Step-By-Step Guide: How to Use Genie+ and Lightning Lane at Disney World. There’s a link to this article at the end of that one, so you can come back here when you’re ready.
If you’re continuing on here, you’ll find that the questions have been divided into three big groups: Questions about buying the upcharge features, questions about making reservations with them, and questions about using them in the parks. I’ll just take time for one more basic one here first.
Why is Genie+ so complicated?
Whoa, we could write a whole article just on that one topic. But I’ll note a couple of important things. First, Genie+ is much cheaper than many other systems that are simpler to use. Yes, it’s easy to say “go to the special queue for every attraction” – but that simplicity limits availability because the more people you sell it to, the less well it works.
Second, Genie+ appears to be more generally available than some comparable line-skipping systems. Universal’s Express Pass, for example, sells out on high-volume days. While Genie+ can sell out (it did so for the first time on February 19, 2023), it appears that it may do so less frequently than Express Pass.
Taking these two tidbits together, one could conclude that Disney has chosen a system that lets a lot of people skip a few lines each, in preference to a system that lets fewer people skip every line. While this is only my personal speculation, it’s not inconsistent with the fact that Disney minimized the “have and have not” effect by maintaining Fastpass as a free system long past the point where every other park’s line-skipping system had an upcharge. The need to share capacity across a large group is the reason for all the rules limiting when you can book, how often you can book, etc., etc.
Questions About Buying Genie+ or Individual Lightning Lanes
How much does Genie+ cost? How much do Individual Lightning Lanes cost?
The price of Genie+ varies depending on the day you buy it. The lowest price is $15, and so far the highest we’ve seen is $35. These prices are per person and do not include tax. As of June 27th, 2023, you’ll be able to buy Genie+ as an “All Parks” option, or only for a single park, with different pricing for each park and for the All Parks option. It’s not clear how this will affect Genie+ pricing, and it probably won’t be for a while.
The price of Individual Lightning Lanes varies from $10 to (currently) $25 per person, per attraction (and again without tax). Recently, prices for individual rides have been seen at
- Rise of the Resistance – $15 to $25
- Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind – $14 to $17
- Avatar Flight of Passage – $11 to $16
- Seven Dwarfs Mine Train – $10 to $12
- TRON Lightcycle / Run – $20 (this ride is new and doesn’t have a range yet)
Is there any way to know the price of Genie+ or Individual Lightning Lanes in advance?
Not for sure, no. But as a general rule, higher ticket prices and higher crowds will mean higher prices for both. Disney publishes ticket prices well in advance and raises them only once or twice a year, and probably updates its crowd predictions more often, so don’t rely too heavily on ticket price as an indicator of Genie+ price.
When can you buy Genie+?
Genie+ can be purchased at 12:01 a.m. of the day you plan to use it. If your ticket requires park reservations, then you’ll need to have a park reservation in place to buy. There is currently no way to buy Genie+ in advance – you can’t pay for it on Tuesday to use it in the parks on Wednesday.
Can you buy Genie+ for two separate parks?
Yes. As of June 27th, you can buy Genie+ on a per park basis. So you can, say, buy Genie+ for EPCOT and for Animal Kingdom. You’ll then be able to make Lightning Lane reservations at either of those parks, but only those parks. It appears that buying the All Parks option is the least expensive if you want to use Genie+ in more than one park. But if you buy a single park first, there’s no “bridging” the price to pay only the difference between your first park and the All Parks option. You’ll have to pay the whole price of the All Parks Genie+ even if you’ve already bought Genie+ for a single park.
Do you need to be in the park to buy an Individual Lightning Lane?
No, you don’t need to be in the park. Guests of the Disney World resort hotels can begin booking ILLs at 7 a.m., before the parks are even open.
Do you need to buy Genie+ to make an Individual Lightning Lane reservation?
No. Genie+ and Individual Lightning Lanes are independent of each other. You don’t need to buy Genie+ to use Individual Lightning Lanes. And you don’t need to buy Individual Lightning Lanes to use Genie+.
Do you need to include everyone in your party when you buy Genie+? Do you need to include your whole party for an Individual Lightning Lane reservation?
No. For each purchase you’ll have the opportunity to select which members of your group should be included.
If you’ve already purchased Genie+, you’ll have the chance to select which members of your group to include each time you make a Lightning Lane reservation.
Can kids or teens buy Genie+ or Individual Lightning Lanes?
Yes. Minors who are old enough to have their own MDE accounts can purchase Genie+ or ILLs, but they’ll need to enter payment info during checkout instead of using a stored payment method. See more details: How Can Kids and Teens Pay for Things at Disney World?
Are Genie+ and Individual Lightning Lanes worth it?
That’s a complicated question that depends on your personal feelings about value, when you’re visiting the parks, and how you plan to tour them. You’ll need to do some more research to decide if you think Genie+ and Individual Lightning Lanes will be worth it for you, but here are some articles to help you with that. These links will all open in a new tab. One thing you should know – it’s pretty easy to save an hour or more with Genie+ unless you’ll only be in the parks for a very short time, even if you know almost nothing about the system or how to use it most effectively.
- What Does Genie+ Availability Look Like?
- How Much Time Can I Save with Genie+ at WDW?
- Best Individual Lightning Lanes to Purchase
Questions About Reserving Lightning Lanes or Individual Lightning Lanes
Which rides are eligible for Genie+? Which rides use Individual Lightning Lane reservations?
The list of Genie+ and ILL rides changes as new attractions are added to the parks, and depending on how heavy Disney is expecting crowds to be. The official listings from Disney are here:
In practice, almost all attractions that use a queue (as opposed to self-paced exhibits) offer Lightning Lane. There are a few attractions that don’t offer it, but these tend to be attractions where you’re least likely to need it.
What time can you begin making Genie+ and Individual Lightning Lane reservations?
For Genie+ Lightning Lanes, everyone can begin making reservations at 7 a.m. Only one reservation can be made before the parks open.
If you are park hopping, you can make reservations for a ride in the park you’re hopping to as soon as the ride’s return time goes past 2 p.m. Between 7 and 7:30 a.m., you will not be able to see the return times on the Tip Board – if you’re trying during this time, you’ll need to do it repeatedly until the return times rise past 2 p.m. If the attraction you’re trying to get isn’t one of the ones that “sells out” quickly, you may be better served by just waiting until 7:30 a.m. to see what the return time is.
For Individual Lightning Lanes
- Onsite guests of Disney hotels can begin making Individual Lightning Lane reservations at 7 a.m.
- At park opening, all guests are able to make Individual Lightning Lane reservations for that park’s attractions.
Practically speaking, this means that for very popular rides offsite guests may not be able to get ILL reservations.
Can I make two Individual Lightning Lane reservations at the same time?
Yes. For Genie+ Lightning Lanes, there are limits on how often you can make them. For Individual Lightning Lanes, there are limits on the total number of reservations you can make; no more than two. But you can make both Individual Lightning Lane reservations that you are allowed at the same time, or at least, as fast as your fingers can work the phone. That means you can make ILLs for two different rides at 7 a.m. if you are staying onsite, or at park opening if you’re staying offsite.
It’s after 7 a.m., why can’t I see the Lightning Lane return times on the Tip Board?
Between 7 and 7:30 a.m., return times aren’t displayed for either Genie+ Lightning Lanes or Individual Lightning Lanes. It still matters when you book – the early bird gets the worm – but the times change so quickly that it’s not possible for Disney to display them accurately on the Tip Board.
Can you make a Lightning Lane reservation in more than one park?
Yes. You’ll need to have purchased the “All Parks” version of Genie+. And if you’re making a reservation in a park that you’re hopping to, the return time you’re trying to book needs to be later than 2 p.m. or you won’t be able to complete the reservation. This might mean that you need to keep checking back until the time gets high enough for you to book.
Do you have to include your whole group when you make a Lightning Lane reservation?
No, you can select to make a reservation for only some members of your party. For Genie+ Lightning Lanes, you can also cancel only some members of your group if you booked them by mistake.
Is there a limit on how many people can be in my party when I reserve a Genie+ Lightning Lane?
Yes. At most 12 people can be included in the party on a single Lightning Lane reservation. If your group has more than 12 people in it, you will need to make two separate reservations.
Are Lightning Lanes and Individual Lightning Lanes available during Early Park Entry, Extended Evening Hours, and events such as Halloween and Christmas parties?
No, they are not. Lightning Lanes are only available during regular park hours that are included in the admission ticket for everyone.
Can you get overlapping return windows for Lightning Lanes and/or Individual Lightning Lanes?
Yes, you can. It’s up to you to keep track of the return times and make sure you can use everything you book before reserving it; Genie won’t stop you from making “impossible” plans.
Are there limits on how many Lightning Lane reservations you can make?
For Individual Lightning Lanes, guests are limited to 2 Individual Lightning Lane purchases per day.
With Genie+ Lightning Lanes, guests may not reserve the same ride twice in one day, and there are limits on how frequently you can reserve. If you reserve a Lightning Lane but then do not ride and let it expire, that counts as “using” it.
How often can you make a Genie+ Lightning Lane reservation?
When you make a reservation, it will block any further Genie+ reservations until either
•The reservation is “gone” – you either use it or cancel it, or it expires
•Two hours have passed since either a) you made the reservation or b) the park opened, whichever is later.
You can also see at the top of the Tip Board when you’ll be eligible again. (If different members of your group have different reservations, you’ll only see the eligibility for the MDE profile that is logged in.) For a more thorough explanation and practical examples, see When Can I Book My Next Genie+ Lightning Lane?
How many Genie+ Lightning Lane reservations can you make in one day?
This answer is going to vary based on when you visit the parks, what you prefer to see, and how long you plan to be there. It’s important to understand that the answer is based on availability – since you can’t book everything at the same time, it’s going to depend on how long you need to wait between each of your reservations, and how fast reservations for other attractions are running out.
Disney’s official answer is 2 to 3 attractions. In practical testing we find that’s a conservative estimate and 3 to 5 is not difficult under usual conditions if you’re planning to spend most of the day in the parks. With some planning, it’s often possible to get even more if you’re spending a full day in the parks.
Can you have more than one Genie+ Lightning Lane reservation at a time?
Yes. The Genie 120-minute rule says that you can always make a new reservation if two hours have passed since you made the last one, or two hours since park opening if you made the reservation before the park opened. If you’re holding a reservation when the 120-minute rule kicks in, then after you make a new Lightning Lane reservation you will have two at a time. Depending on when your return windows are and when the 120-minute rule applies, you can have 2, 3, 4, or more Genie+ reservations at the same time.
Can you cancel a Lightning Lane reservation?
Individual Lightning Lane reservations can’t be canceled.
To cancel a Genie+ reservation, click on the reservation and select Cancel. You can choose to cancel only some members of your party, or all of them. You can cancel a reservation once the return time window has started, and if you do you will be able to rebook the same ride later if times are available.
Can you modify a Lightning Lane reservation?
Individual Lightning Lane reservations can’t be modified.
Genie+ Lightning Lanes can be modified to change the time, or to change to a different attraction in the same park. If you want to change to an attraction in a different park, you’ll need to cancel and rebook.
If you modify a Lightning Lane reservation, does it change the time when you can book a new one?
Maybe. Remember that there are two time points that govern when you can make a new reservation: when your return window opens, and the time that you made it. The Genie 120-minute rule says that you can make a new reservation at most 2 hours from when you made the last one, and this countdown timer doesn’t change if you modify the reservation. If you made it at, say, 11 a.m., then your two hours will be up at 1 p.m. even if you modify the reservation at noon.
If the start of your return window was within two hours of when you made the reservation, either before or after modifying it, then the time you can book again might change. And, if the reservation you modified wasn’t the one blocking your eligibility, then modifying it definitely won’t have an effect. For practical examples, see When Can I Book My Next Genie+ Lightning Lane?.
Can you modify a Lightning Lane reservation to an attraction in a different park?
At this time, you can only modify your reservation to a different attraction in the same park.
If you modify a Lightning Lane reservation to a different attraction, can you still reserve the original attraction again later?
Yes. If you modify a reservation to change the attraction, it won’t use up your “once a day” on the original attraction. You’ll still be able to book again later.
Can you modify a Lightning Lane once the return window has opened?
Yes, we tested this and found that you can.
Can you modify a Lightning Lane that has expired?
No. Although the reservation may still appear on your My Day tab for several minutes after it expires, you will not be able to modify it. (We think the fact that it still shows on My Day might be related to the grace period, but we’re not sure.)
Can you modify a Lightning Lane for only some of your group?
Yes, when you modify a Lightning Lane reservation you will have the opportunity to change the reservation for only some of the group. For those you select to change, you can modify either the time or the attraction. Their “when can you book” windows will follow the same rules as if you had modified everyone.
Questions About Using Genie+ or Individual Lightning Lanes
Will I still have to wait in line with a Lightning Lane reservation?
Yes. The Lightning Lane is a special queue that lets you enter the attraction much faster than those waiting in the regular (standby) line. But there can still be a wait in the Lightning Lane because other people will have the same return window as you. Most of the time, the wait in a Lightning Lane queue is 5 to 10 minutes or less.
What happens if I’m late for a Lightning Lane reservation?
This is always at the discretion of a Cast Member, but for rides there is generally a 15-minute grace period at the end of the window. For shows, you’ll usually be allowed in as long as space is available and the show hasn’t started yet.
What happens if I don’t use a Genie+ Lightning Lane reservation?
As soon as the window has expired, you will be able to make a new Genie+ reservation. However, you will not be able to make a new reservation for the same ride as your expired reservation. If you know that you’re not going to use a reservation, and you want to be able to reserve for that attraction at a different time, it’s better to modify the reservation or cancel it before it expires.
Is there a grace period for Lightning Lane reservations?
Typically, guests are able to tap in 5 minutes ahead of time or 15 minutes after the window has closed. Note that Disney has a history of removing policies like grace periods if users begin viewing them as loopholes to exploit.
What happens if the ride is down during my reservation time?
For an Individual Lightning Lane reservation, you will be able to use the reservation at a time of your choosing later in the day. If you are not able to use the reservation then it will be refunded, although you may need to contact Disney to get this processed.
For a Genie+ reservation, your reservation will convert to an “any time Lightning Lane” (also called a “Select Experiences Lightning lane”) that can be used for a variety of other attractions at a time of your choosing.
Can someone else use my Lightning Lane reservation?
According to Disney, no, but in practice, yes.
Disney says that Lightning Lanes aren’t transferrable, but when you scan in using a ticket card, MagicBand, or MagicMobile, Cast Members do not check your ID. If someone in your group went back to the resort for a nap and left their MagicBand with you, you can use it to tap in for their Lightning Lanes, and we know that it’s not uncommon for family members to do this kind of “I’m going to grab a snack, you use mine” transfer. Note that this only works if the ticket owner has entered the park – you can’t just bring Mom’s MagicBand to the park while she’s having a pool day and expect to make and use Lightning Lane reservations with it.
What’s the best strategy for using Genie+ and Lightning Lanes?
There are a few commonly used strategies with Genie+.
“Stacking” refers to making a number of Genie+ Lightning Lane reservations in the future, packing them into a relatively small time period and then knocking them off to ride a large number of headliners within a couple of hours. Read more about it with some practical examples: Genie+: All About Stacking. Stacking is a “greedy” approach that considers maximizing the average amount of time saved on each ride.
“Catch and Release” refers to the practice of booking Lightning Lanes that are available with short return windows. This is a greedy approach that considers minimizing the amount of wait time between Lightning Lane redemption. Unfortunately, the total time savings with Catch and Release can be poor.
If Stacking doesn’t suit your touring style, our “Simple Strategy” is an improvement on Catch and Release which considers maximizing the amount of time you’ll save in the line compared to the time you’ll need to wait before your next booking. (That’s easier than it sounds). Simple Strategy usually generates a hybrid between Catch and Release and Stacking approaches – you can read a practical example here: Genie+ Simple Strategy Example Day At Each Park
Can you use Genie+ with DAS?
The two systems are completely independent – you can use both at the same time. Especially if crowds are low, you may find that Genie+ doesn’t have as much value to you.
Can you use Lightning Lanes with Rider Switch?
Yes, you can. Everyone who will ride needs to have a Lightning Lane for the attraction; depending on the ride you may all be asked to tap in before the Rider Switch pass can be issued. More details are here: Rider Switch at Disney World: Guide and FAQ.
Did we miss your question? Let us know in the comments!