Step-By-Step Guide: How to Use Genie+ and Lightning Lane at Disney World

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As a long-time FastPass+ user, one of the things that surprised me on my first trip with Genie+ was how unfamiliar it was. If you’re an old hand at FastPass+ but have never used Genie+, or if you’ve never been to Disney World at all, this guide will walk you through the process of buying and using Genie+. Today we’ll be talking about Genie+ at Disney World, but if you’re a Disneyland visitor click here for the equivalent post. Click on anything in the list below to go directly to that section, and click on any image in this walkthrough to enlarge it.

Brief Overview of Genie, Genie+, Lightning Lane, etc.

When FastPass+ went out and Lightning Lane moved in, it brought a lot of new terminology with it. Here’s a quick run-down.

I find the best way to explain this line-skipping system is to think about a restaurant that serves an all-you-can-eat buffet for dinner, but sells desserts a-la-carte. Nothing prevents you from visiting the restaurant and only getting the buffet, or only getting a dessert, or getting multiple desserts — but there are no desserts in the buffet, and ordering a dessert won’t get you any dinner. Either way, once food is on the table in front of you your manners are the same: use silverware and keep your mouth closed while chewing.

Following this analogy, Genie+ is the buffet and Individual Lightning Lane Rides are the desserts. With Genie+, you pay once and have a selection of rides to choose from; you can make new Genie+ Lightning Lane reservations for included rides without having to pay again. Making an Individual Lightning Lane reservation is like ordering the chocolate cake: you’re only ordering the cake, it doesn’t matter whether or not you have Genie+, and you only get the one reservation. Whether it’s a Genie+ reservation or an ILL reservation, the process of checking in and using the Lightning Lane (the special queue) is the same.

How to Set Up Genie

The basic Disney Genie is free, and has two tabs available. The first is the Tip Board, where you can view attraction wait times and Lightning Lane availability. The second is the My Day tab, where you can view any reservations you have made as well as Genie’s recommendations for your personalized itinerary.

If you are not using Lightning Lanes, and you remember when your lunch reservation is (or you don’t have one), then you don’t need to use Disney Genie unless you want to. You can still view wait times and all the other available information in MDE just as you did in the past.

If you want to use Genie+ or buy Individual Lightning Lane reservations, you must do it through Genie. If you want to skip this setup, you can still access the Tip Board and Lightning Lane reservation features, but you’ll spend a lot more time clicking — for instance, to repeatedly tell Genie what park you are in — whenever you try to use them.

You can begin setting up Genie from either of two places: the MDE Home Screen, or through the Hamburger Menu.

Notice the park reservations at the top in the third panel – if you don’t have a Park Pass reservation, you won’t be able to proceed at the next step

In the next few screens you’ll select your park and the date, and indicate who you’ll be touring with.

The order of the screens after the steps above can vary a bit, and you may or may not be offered the opportunity to purchase Genie+ as part of the sequence. Don’t worry, if you click it away here you’ll have another chance later.

Most of these screens are self-explanatory (and you can go back and change your choices later), but one that isn’t so obvious is the Top Picks screen. Choices you make in your Top Picks will appear at the top of your Tip Board, so choosing attractions that you are interested in getting a Lightning Lane for will save you some scrolling later on.

If it’s after 7 a.m., you’ll see Genie’s recommendations for your day in the final screen.

You can set up Genie for days in the future if you choose, but Genie will always wait to give you recommendations until 7 a.m. on the day of your visit.  At this point we do not recommend using the personalized suggestions feature of Genie, as we find Genie’s suggestions are rarely an effective way to enjoy the parks.

How to purchase Genie+

If you’ve purchased Genie+ as an add-on to your ticket or with a package, you will not need to do this step in order to be able to make Genie+ reservations.  If you haven’t, then you can purchase Genie+ beginning at 12:01 a.m. of the day that you plan to use it.

You may see a splash screen to purchase Genie+ when entering Genie for the first time that day, or you will see the option to purchase on the My Day tab if you have a park reservation. If it’s after 7 a.m., you can also start by clicking an available Lightning Lane time from the Tip Board. You’re not likely to struggle finding an entry point to the Genie+ purchasing process, because Disney will be thrilled to take your money.

Genie+ will automatically select everyone in your party, but you don’t need to buy it for everyone in your group. You can select Edit in the 2nd screen below to remove anyone that won’t be making Genie+ reservations. After the confirmation screen shown on the right below, clicking Continue will bring you back to either My Day or the Tip Board, depending on where you began your purchase.

The price displayed in the Detail Review screen (2nd above) does not include tax. You’ll see the full payment price including tax in the Order Summary (3rd above).

How to make a Genie+ Lightning Lane (LL) reservation

To make a Genie+ reservation, start on the Tip Board and select the experience that you want to book. In the “Review Details” screen, make sure to note the time of the reservation. It is very common for this to be a different time than you saw on the Tip Board, even if you refreshed the tip board immediately before booking. You don’t have to accept the changed time if it doesn’t work for you (click the x on the top left to back out), but you can’t adjust the time that you see here. As usual, you can choose to make the reservation for all or only some members of your group.

If the reservation you made is not for the park that you have a Park Pass for, the time will automatically be shifted later than 2 p.m. and you’ll see a note to that effect.

How to make an Individual Lightning Lane (ILL) reservation

To make an Individual Lightning Lane reservation, start on the Tip Board and select the experience you would like to book. For an ILL reservation, you can select the time, so browse to find a time that’s convenient for you. As usual, you can select to include all or only some of your group.

On the Review Details page, make sure to check the time of the reservation — the same as you see with Genie+ reservations, it’s not uncommon to have it change from what you selected. If the time is wildly inappropriate for you, you can go back and search for a different time and try again.  After clicking purchase you’ll see a confirmation screen, and clicking through will bring you back to Genie

How much will Genie+ or ILL help me?

We have a series of posts covering this question from a variety of angles. Keep in mind that as of this writing, the system is only 3 months old. Disney is still adjusting it, people are still adjusting to it, and very little has yet reached any kind of steady state where the behavior is predictable.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which rides are eligible for Genie+? Which rides use ILL 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:

Magic Kingdom | EPCOT | Hollywood Studios | Animal Kingdom

What time can I begin making Genie+ and Individual Lightning Lane reservations?

All guests who have purchased Genie+ can begin making Lightning Lane reservations at 7 a.m. for their park day. Onsite guests of Disney hotels can also begin making Individual Lightning Lane reservations at this time. At park opening, all guests are able to make Individual Lightning Lane reservations for that park’s attractions.

Do I need to buy Genie+ to make an ILL reservation?

No.

Are there limits on how many reservations I can make?

Guests are limited to 2 Individual Lightning Lane purchases per day. With Genie+, guests may not reserve the same ride twice in one day. For Genie+, there are limits to how frequently you can make a reservation.

How often can I make a Genie+ reservation?

When you make a reservation, it will block any further Genie+ reservations. That block releases when any one of three things happens:

  • You use the reservation
  • You cancel the reservation
  • Two hours have passed since either a) you made the reservation or b) the park opened, whichever is later

If you have a reservation that is active but isn’t blocking further reservations, using or canceling it will not trigger eligibility for a new reservation. Keep a mental note of the last reservation you made, because that’s the one that matters for knowing when you can make a new one.

Can I make a reservation in more than one park?

Yes. Reservations made for attractions in a park that you do not have a Park Pass for will be automatically adjusted to times after 2 p.m. when park hopping is available.

What happens if I don’t use a Genie+ 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.

Do I need to include everyone in my party when I buy Genie+ or an Individual Lightning Lane reservation?

No. For each purchase you’ll have the opportunity to select which members of your family should be included.

Can I cancel or modify a reservation?

Individual Lightning Lane reservations can’t be canceled or modified. Genie+ reservations can’t be modified, but you can cancel a reservation and book a different time for the same attraction, if one is available.

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” that can be used at a variety of alternate experiences at a time of your choosing.

 

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Jennifer Heymont

Jennifer Heymont has a background in math and biology, but since she couldn't pick between the two she ended up in Data Science where she gets to do both. She lives just north of Boston with her husband, kids, and assorted animal members of the family. Although it took three visits for the Disney bug to "take", she now really wishes she lived a lot closer to the Parks.

26 thoughts on “Step-By-Step Guide: How to Use Genie+ and Lightning Lane at Disney World

  • January 30, 2022 at 3:26 pm
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    I feel really sorry for the people who don’t have a smart phone or are technically challenged. This must be putting those people off going to WDW – although they should note that, when we went in November/December last year, the parks were really busy and we managed to do all the rides we wanted to – except Ratatouille – without using Genie+ or individual lightening lanes. The queues for Ratatouille were only virtual when we were there – I actually got a place in the virtual queue but the time given wasn’t until late evening and we weren’t planning to stay that late so I deleted our place. Going again in February and I understand that there is a stand-by queue now so fingers crossed that we will be able to experience Ratatouille this time. I am going to try and use genie+ on one of the days we are there to see if it makes a difference.

    Reply
    • January 30, 2022 at 6:46 pm
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      Hey Ruth, I totally hear where you’re coming from on this one. When I was in the parks in December, it definitely seemed to me that there were more people consistently walking around looking at their phones (instead of hauling them out quickly in line or whatever), but I’m not sure whether it’s that there really were more, or that after so much time on our sofas I was noticing it much more.

      I definitely agree that it’s possible to have a great time without Genie+ or Lightning Lane. I’ve always felt that the key to having a great vacation at Disney, more than anything else, is just to have reasonable expectations about what you’re going to do.

      Reply
  • January 30, 2022 at 4:19 pm
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    Are there any restrictions on the number of lightening lanes you can book at one time (either through genie + or ILL purchases)? I have a group of 11, and I think I saw someone post the most you can book at one time is 10. Is that correct? TIA!

    Reply
  • January 30, 2022 at 10:06 pm
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    Would love to see a list of attractions for each park that should be prioritized for Genie+ and ILL. For example DHS, you better get one for Slinky Dog because it will run out quickly. If you were oblivious to this fact, you will be disappointed when you can’t get one later in the day. For MK, Jungle Cruise will run out fast since it’s a low-capacity ride. You get the point.

    Reply
  • January 31, 2022 at 8:28 am
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    This is a great post. Thank you. However, I just returned from a trip and my Genie+ screens looked different. Are your screen shots from an Apple phone? I have a Samsung (Android). My screens were not as detailed and I could not figure out how to cancel a LL.

    Reply
    • January 31, 2022 at 12:15 pm
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      Hi Jean, yes, these screen shots are from an Apple phone. I’m sorry to hear you had trouble figuring out how to cancel; if you ever have issues like that on a future trip I’d suggest seeking out the Guest Experience team in the parks — look for the blue tents. They’re usually terrific at helping to get issues like that resolved.

      Hope you had a great trip!

      https://touringplans.com/blog/disneys-best-kept-service-secret-the-guest-experience-team/

      Reply
      • January 31, 2022 at 12:58 pm
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        Yes, the Guest Experience team was very helpful. It is too bad that Android user have to get assistance though and can’t do the same things as Apple user. I guess Disney tech is focusing on Apple operating systems first. Hopefully Android updates will follow soon.

  • January 31, 2022 at 10:29 am
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    I am a habitual overplanner. So figuring out the optimal Genie+/ILL strategy has kept me pretty busy. We plan on visiting during spring break and staying off-site. I’ve plugged in our preferred rides and we can do it all without any LL. We can even do all we want to do without too many long lines. “Long” lines is a bit subjective anyway. There is a difference between the Haunted Mansion’s graveyard and Soarin’s waiting-in-a-long-hallway-with-no-cell-reception.

    So, I think I am going to do a first (for me) and just not worry about it. We can’t plan to rope drop because (potentially) everyone on-site will always be there a half hour before us. We can’t plan to get ILL for the high demand rides because the on-site will have a 2-3 hour head start. I suspect that we won’t even be able to use G+ more than once or twice a day at these crowd levels. Why stress about something that won’t happen anyway? Just trust the Lines App.

    Reply
    • January 31, 2022 at 12:23 pm
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      Hey J, I like your style. I have been for a weekend trip where I used Genie+ some days and didn’t on others, and I can confirm that it is possible to have a great time both with and without. Don’t forget, even those who do use Genie+ are not using it on every single ride.

      Reply
  • January 31, 2022 at 9:41 pm
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    I had the fast pass system down and am trying to get a handle on the genie +. We are doing a trip the first week in May, staying on property at the dolphin. I was planning on buying all of our theme park tickets (4adults and 2 children) with the 1 park a day genie+ option. Is that the correct thing to do? Or do I just need to purchase genie + with my ticket. That’s what I’m confused about I guess.

    Reply
    • January 31, 2022 at 10:33 pm
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      Hi Alayna, only you can say what’s truly right for your vacation. That said, the only real advantage to buying Genie+ with your ticket is that you don’t have to wake up early (earlier) to buy it on the day you want to use it. It doesn’t sell out, and there’s no discount for attaching it to your ticket. And you don’t really need it in every park – in Epcot it doesn’t have as much value as the rest of the parks unless you really, really want to avoid as many lines as humanly possible. I recommend checking out some of the articles in the section above about how much it will help you in each park and what you can expect the availability of different rides to be like before making your decision.

      If you know that you’ll want to use it absolutely every single day, then attaching it to your ticket will definitely save you some hassle and makes sense. But personally, if it was me, I would get the bare ticket, buy Genie+ when I wanted it (which wouldn’t be every day), and put the savings into some ILLs or a park hopper instead.

      Reply
  • February 2, 2022 at 9:47 am
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    Is it possible to have someone with an Android operating system do this same post? The information is so much easier to understand with the visuals. I just read another post that showed Android users’ screens are different (we don’t have the option to cancel a LL!). If not, please keep this in mind for future articles. Thank you so much for providing this information.

    Reply
  • April 27, 2022 at 11:28 am
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    Once you make an ILL or an IL where does that show in the APP? My Day, or My tip board? Do you get any kind of notification when it’s time to redeem or do you just have to remember?

    Reply
    • April 29, 2022 at 1:28 pm
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      Hi Lorraine, we experimented with this and found that you can’t expect to see notifications or alerts on your home screen or within the MDE app. However, we know that the behavior of the app can be inconsistent, and of course Disney can make changes at any time. If you want to make sure you get an alert of some kind I would suggest using your phone’s reminder feature rather than relying on Disney’s app.

      As to where to look for your reservations, look in My Day. The tip board will show if you have a reservation booked, but the *time* shown is not the time of your reservation — it’s just the next available time. It’s very easy to get confused by this, so use My Day any time you’re trying to review plans.

      Reply
      • May 3, 2022 at 8:32 am
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        THANKS!!!

  • April 29, 2022 at 5:27 am
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    Can you book 2 ILL at once, or are there time restrictions on booking like with Genie+?

    Reply
    • April 29, 2022 at 9:41 am
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      Hi Tanya, you can book two ILL one right after the other, there is no waiting period. The only time restrictions are that your booking window opens later if you are an offsite guest than if you are a Disney resort guest.

      Reply
      • May 6, 2022 at 9:12 am
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        We are finally going on our Disney trip that was cancelled back in 2020!!! Excited but trying to learn everything about the new system. Do you know if it’s possible to make ILL reservations at different parks. For example, could I make a reservation for Flight of Passage and for Rise of the Resistance?

  • May 3, 2022 at 9:52 am
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    I am really struggling to decide if this is worth the money for our family. From what I have seen I worry that if I try to use it I might end up creating a lot of extra walking which to me is worse than waiting a bit longer. Does anyone have input on if you can use this and not walk all over?

    Reply
  • May 6, 2022 at 12:07 pm
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    @Lily C – yes, you can make ILL reservations at different parks. For the park that you are hopping to, your reservation will be adjusted after 2 p.m. if you choose an earlier time.

    Reply
  • May 7, 2022 at 12:06 pm
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    Is it possible to integrate Genie+ selections to an existing touring plan?

    Reply

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