Original publication date January 30, 2022. Last updated/republished Oct. 20, 2022.
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.
- How to set up Genie
- How to purchase Genie+
- How to make a Genie+ Lightning Lane (LL) reservation
- How to make an Individual Lightning Lane (ILL) reservation
- How much will Genie+ or ILL help me? Is it worth it?
- Frequently Asked Questions
If you’re not interested in purchasing Genie+ or Lightning Lanes and you just want to know how to setup Genie and the Tip Board for convenient touring, click here.
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 miss out on some convenience.
You can begin setting up Genie from either of two places: the MDE Home Screen, or through the Hamburger Menu.
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.
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 as a touring plan, as we find Genie’s suggestions are rarely an effective way to enjoy the parks. For more details on the “Some Additional Screens” and how to use the Tip Board while touring, check out our walkthrough on customizing Genie and the Tip Board.
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.
Note: the Genie+ ticket add-on is no longer sold, although there are still tickets that were purchased before it was discontinued that haven’t been used yet.
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. You’ll also find a banner right at the top of the Tip Board, and if it’s after 7 a.m., you’ll be prompted to purchase if you click on a Lightning Lane time. 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.
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 you’re booking between 7 a.m. and 7:30 a.m., you won’t see a time as you do on the screenshots below. You’ll be able to book, but the button will say “Check Availability”. It still makes a difference when you book, earlier bookings tend to get earlier returns. It’s just that so many people are booking in the first half hour that the times you see before clicking wouldn’t be close to accurate, so Disney doesn’t show them.
Reservations for Park Hopping
If the reservation you made is for a ride that isn’t in the park where you have your Park Pass, you will not be able to make a Lightning Lane reservation unless the return time is after 2 p.m., when you can park hop. It’s OK if you’re booking before 2 p.m., only the return time for the LL needs to be later than 2 p.m.
Practically speaking, this means that if it’s between 7 a.m. and 7:30 a.m., and you’re trying to book in a park you’re hopping to, you may have to try a few times before you’re successful since you won’t be able to see the return time to know if it’s late enough. Unless the reservation you’re trying to make is for an attraction that books very quickly and will pass 2 p.m. rapidly, it may be easier to simply wait until 7:30 a.m. to begin looking at reservations in a park you’re hopping to.
Making Your Next Reservation
After you make one reservation, you can make another one either
- When you’ve used the one you just made (or canceled it)
- When it has expired
- After two hours have passed – and for the purposes of this calculation, reservations made before park opening behave as if they were made right at park opening. So if you make a reservation at 7 a.m. and the park opens at 9, you’ll need to wait until 11 a.m.
For planning purposes it’s nice to understand how the rules work, but the good news is that you don’t have to remember what the time will be since you can see it in the app.
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. Although the time can change between when you first select and the Review Details screen, once you click Continue and move on to the payment screen your time will be reserved for 10 minutes while you complete payment.
Similar to regular Lightning Lane where return times don’t display on the Tip Board between 7 and 7:30 a.m., ILL panels will show “See Available Times”. Again, this is simply Disney’s way of acknowledging that due to the number of people booking during this time, it’s not possible to give accurate times on the Tip Board.
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 the data is changing; most of the articles linked below are updated regularly.
- What does Genie+ availability look like?
- How much time can I save with Genie+ in each park?
- How much time can I save with Genie+ at individual attractions?
- What are the best Individual Lightning Lanes to Purchase?
- Genie+ Priorities at Magic Kingdom | EPCOT | Hollywood Studios | Animal Kingdom
- What could it feel like to take a vacation with Genie+?
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.
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.
It’s after 7 a.m., why can’t I see the 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.
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.
Do I need to buy Genie+ to make an ILL reservation?
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 (or cancel it)
- The reservation expires
- 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. You can also see at the top of the Tip Board when you’ll be eligible again.
Can I make a reservation in more than one park?
Yes. 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.
Can I 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.
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.
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 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 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.
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.
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.
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 here.
How does Genie+ work 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.