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Does Disney Genie+ have enough magic to make it worth the added cost?

Dec. 13, 2022
12 min read
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Want to save time and ride all the attractions at Disney World and Disneyland, from the fantastical to the thrilling and everything in between? If so, then short of splurging for a several thousand dollar private VIP guide, Disney Genie+ is the way to go.

Disney Genie+ is Disney's answer to the "skip the line" service available at most theme parks. With Disney Genie+, you can skip the standby line and utilize a much shorter "Lightning Lane" for most attractions, potentially saving hours of time waiting in line and ensuring you get on more attractions during your trip.

Before your next visit to Disney World or Disneyland, you'll want to get familiar with what Disney Genie+ is and how it works. Here's everything you need to know to decide if this service is worth it and how to get the maximum time-saving value from Disney Genie+.

What is Disney Genie+?

KENT PHILLIPS/WALT DISNEY WORLD

Disney Genie+ is the paid portion of the Disney Genie service. Disney Genie helps optimize your day by making suggestions on what to do in which order, displaying current and predicted future wait times, placing mobile food orders, helping you navigate the parks with an interactive map and more.

Disney Genie+, on the other hand, is a paid service that grants you access to Lightning Lane entrances at select attractions. Lightning Lanes allow you to skip the standby line, thereby freeing up your time to get on more attractions with less waiting throughout the day.

Related: Is Disney Genie as powerful as it seems? Here’s what I learned after testing it out

Many attractions are included in the Disney Genie+ service, but there are one or two attractions at each park that require a separate individual Lightning Lane purchase to skip the line. It isn't necessary to purchase Genie+ to buy individual Lightning Lane selections and vice versa. The individual Lightning Lane attraction pricing varies by attraction but typically ranges between $7 and $25 per person per attraction.

Disney may also utilize a virtual queue for new or popular attractions and those may or may not utilize a Lightning Lane entrance. Both Disney Genie and Disney Genie+ can be accessed through the My Disney Experience app.

How to use Disney Genie+

DISNEY

Disney Genie+ is available for purchase in the My Disney Experience app beginning at 12 a.m. on the day of your visit and can only be purchased one day at a time at Disney World or can be purchased ahead of time as a vacation add-on or after you enter the park at Disneyland. You must purchase the service for each member of your party who plans to use it and each person must have a valid ticket and theme park reservation.

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The pricing varies by day based on crowd levels and demand and starts at $15 per person per day at Disney World and $25 per person per day at Disneyland. Genie+ at Disneyland also includes unlimited PhotoPass digital downloads as part of the cost.

Related: How I maxed out Disneyland's Genie+ and rode 26 attractions in a single day

When you make a Lightning Lane reservation, you are given an hourlong arrival window when you can experience your selected attraction. When the window opens and it's time to ride, you can skip the standby queue and access the attraction via the Lightning Lane.

At Disney World, you can make your first Genie+ selection for Lightning Lane entry starting at 7 a.m. At Disneyland, you can purchase Disney Genie+ and make your first Lightning Lane selection upon entering the park.

At both parks, you can make subsequent selections after you redeem your selection or once two hours have passed from your last selection, whichever comes first. The two-hour rule begins when the park opens, even if you made your first selection at 7 a.m. This means if you make your first Lightning Lane booking at 7 a.m. and the park doesn't open until 8 a.m., you can't make your second booking until 10 a.m. -- unless you use your first Lightning Lane before that time.

You can modify Genie+ Lightning Lane selections if you want to change the time, attraction or number of people in your party who will accompany you on the attraction.

Related: The best points hotels near Disney World

It's possible to move through a number of attractions very quickly as long as the return times are available fairly soon after you book them. You can keep doing this grab-it-and-use-it strategy as long as Lightning Lane windows show immediate or near-term availability.

CHRISTIAN THOMPSON/DISNEYLAND RESORT

The other strategy you can employ is to "stack" your Lightning Lanes for later in the day. If the app is only displaying return windows that are many hours later into the day, you can start stacking reservations for later and add new reservations every two hours. You will have to use standby lines or separately purchased Individual Lightning Lanes early in the day to utilize this strategy.

It can be confusing the first time you use it, so let's look at a sample day to give you an idea of how to best utilize Disney Genie+. This example will be in Magic Kingdom at Disney World. The only difference at Disneyland would be that you couldn't make your first selection until you arrive at the park for the day.

  • 7 a.m. — Reserve a Genie+ Lightning Lane reservation for Jungle Cruise with a return window of 9 a.m. to 10 a.m.
  • 8:30 a.m. — Arrive at Magic Kingdom for rope drop (or Early Entry if you are staying in a Disney World hotel) and use the standby queue to ride Space Mountain.
  • 9 a.m. — Ride Dumbo the Flying Elephant or "it's a small world" via the standby queue.
  • 9:30 a.m. — Ride Jungle Cruise via your Lightning Lane and make your next Genie+ Lightning Lane reservation for Big Thunder Mountain Railroad between 12:30 p.m. and 1:30 p.m.
  • 10 a.m. — Visit a character meet-and-greet, Tom Sawyer Island or ride the Liberty Belle riverboat. Or have lunch and find a spot for the noon parade.
  • 1 p.m. — Ride Big Thunder Mountain via the Lightning Lane and stack your first evening Genie+ Lightning Lane Reservation for Peter Pan's Flight between 8 p.m. and 9 p.m.
  • While you are stacking afternoon and evening Lightning Lane reservations, you can check the Disney Genie Tip Board for attractions with short wait times or even head back to the hotel and cool off in the pool for a couple of hours.
  • 3 p.m. — Make another Genie+ Lightning Lane reservation for Haunted Mansion between 7 p.m. and 8 p.m.
  • 5 p.m. — Make another Genie+ Lightning Lane reservation for Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin between 6 p.m. and 7 p.m.
  • 6 p.m. — Redeem the Genie+ Lightning Lanes you stacked throughout the afternoon. Eat dinner, watch the fireworks and rest up so you can do it again the next day.

Which rides accept Disney Genie+?

CHRISTIAN THOMPSON/DISNEYLAND RESORT

Many rides at Walt Disney World and Disneyland are included with Disney Genie+. This list may change when a new attraction opens, but you can always see the latest ride list – including which rides require a separate Individual Lightning Lane purchase – on the Disney Genie websites for Disney World and Disneyland.

Walt Disney World

Magic Kingdom

  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.
  • Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin.
  • Disney Festival of Fantasy Parade.
  • Dumbo the Flying Elephant.
  • Haunted Mansion.
  • “it’s a small world.”
  • Jungle Cruise.
  • Mad Tea Party.
  • Meet Cinderella and a Visiting Princess at Princess Fairytale Hall.
  • Meet Mickey at Town Square Theater.
  • Meet Princess Tiana and a Visiting Princess at Princess Fairytale Hall.
  • Mickey’s PhilharMagic.
  • Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor.
  • Peter Pan’s Flight.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean.
  • Space Mountain.
  • Splash Mountain.
  • The Barnstormer.
  • The Magic Carpets of Aladdin.
  • The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh.
  • Tomorrowland Speedway.
  • Under the Sea ~ Journey of The Little Mermaid.

* Seven Dwarfs Mine Train requires an individual Lightning Lane purchase.

Epcot

  • Disney and Pixar Short Film Festival.
  • Frozen Ever After.
  • Journey into Imagination with Figment.
  • Living with the Land.
  • Mission: Space.
  • Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure.
  • Soarin' Around the World.
  • Spaceship Earth.
  • Test Track.
  • The Seas with Nemo & Friends.
  • Turtle Talk with Crush.

* Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind requires an individual Lightning Lane purchase.

Disney's Hollywood Studios

  • Alien Swirling Saucers.
  • Beauty and the Beast Live on Stage.
  • Disney Junior Play & Dance!
  • For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration.
  • Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular.
  • Meet Olaf at Celebrity Spotlight.
  • Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway.
  • Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run.
  • Muppet*Vision 3D.
  • Rock 'n' Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith.
  • Slinky Dog Dash.
  • Star Tours - The Adventures Continue.
  • The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror.
  • Toy Story Mania!

* Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance requires an individual Lightning Lane purchase.

Disney's Animal Kingdom

  • Festival of the Lion King.
  • Dinosaur.
  • Expedition Everest - Legend of the Forbidden Mountain.
  • Feathered Friends in Flight!
  • Finding Nemo: The Big Blue... and Beyond!
  • It’s Tough to Be a Bug!
  • Kali River Rapids.
  • Kilimanjaro Safaris.
  • Meet Favorite Disney Pals at Adventurers Outpost.
  • Navi River Journey.
  • The Animation Experience at Conservation Station.

* Avatar Flight of Passage requires an individual Lightning Lane purchase.

Disneyland

Disneyland Park

  • Autopia.
  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.
  • Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters.
  • Haunted Mansion.
  • Indiana Jones Adventure.
  • “it's a small world.”
  • Matterhorn Bobsleds.
  • Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run.
  • Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin.
  • Space Mountain.
  • Splash Mountain.
  • Star Tours – The Adventures Continue.

* Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance requires an individual Lightning Lane purchase.

Disney California Adventure

  • Goofy's Sky School.
  • Grizzly River Run.
  • Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: Breakout!
  • Incredicoaster.
  • Monsters, Inc. Mike & Sulley to the Rescue!
  • Soarin' Over California.
  • Toy Story Midway Mania!
  • Web Slingers: A Spider-Man Adventure.

* Radiator Springs Racers requires an individual Lightning Lane purchase.

Related: These are the best hotels at Disney World

Will Disney Genie+ save me time at the theme park?

TARAH CHIEFFI/THE POINTS GUY

In short, yes, but there are a few things you need to know if you want to maximize the money you spend on Disney Genie+.

You need to purchase Disney Genie+ first thing in the morning and begin making Lightning Lane reservations as soon as you are able to. This ensures you have access to the most Lightning Lanes possible. If you purchase the service later in the day, it won't be as valuable.

You also want to maximize other expert-level Disney strategies to make sure you get on as many rides as possible. As the old saying goes, the early bird gets the worm. If you arrive before the gates open for the day, you can be near the front of the group and knock out some high-demand attractions before the lines get long. During the first hour after the park opens, standby lines tend to be shorter.

It's also worth mentioning that certain attractions may run out of Lightning Lane availability before the park closes for the day. The earlier you can make your Lightning Lane reservations, the better (even if they are for later in the day).

Additionally, if you don't see what you want available when it comes time to grab your next Lightning Lane, the best advice is to refresh, refresh and refresh some more within the My Disney Experience app. New Lightning Lane reservations become available either when other groups cancel or as Disney periodically loads more throughout the day, so the more persistent you are with refreshing the options in the app, the more options you will eventually have.

Related: Where to stay at Disneyland: The best on- and off-property hotels

There are also situations where purchasing Disney Genie+ may not be necessary for your day.

Are you planning a day of eating and drinking around the world at Epcot? Do you prefer to stroll around the parks while you take photos and people-watch? Do you hate being on your phone and prefer to let the day take you wherever it may? Disney Genie+ won't help you with any of that, though you can use the free Disney Genie service to mobile order a cocktail or find the rides with the shortest lines.

Whether you find value in Disney Genie+ depends on the type of Disney World or Disneyland vacation you are planning.

For most guests who want to get on as many attractions as possible during their Disney trip, Disney Genie+ is worth the added cost to avoid spending hours waiting in line. There are plenty of ways to save money at Disney so that you can fit Genie+ into your budget and have the most magical vacation possible.

Featured image by CHRISTIAN THOMPSON/DISNEYLAND RESORT
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
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  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
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Apply for American Express® Gold Card
at American Express's secure site
Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees
Best for the well-traveled foodie
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.
4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
3XEarn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
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    Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.

    60,000 bonus points
  • Annual Fee

    $250
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent/Good

Why We Chose It

There's a lot to love about the Amex Gold card. It's been a fan favorite during the pandemic because of its fantastic rewards rate on restaurants (that includes takeout and delivery in the U.S.!) and U.S. supermarkets. If you're hitting the skies soon, you'll also earn bonus points on travel. Paired with up to $120 in Uber Cash (for U.S. Uber rides or Uber Eats orders) and up to $120 in annual dining statement credits at eligible partners, there's no reason that the foodie shouldn't add this card to their wallet. Enrollment required.

Pros

  • 4x on dining at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets (on the first $25,000 in purchases per calendar year; then 1x)
  • 3x on flights booked directly with the airline or with Amex Travel
  • Welcome bonus of 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first six months

Cons

  • Weak on travel outside of flights and everyday spending bonus categories
  • Not as useful for those living outside the U.S.
  • Some may have trouble using Uber/food credits
  • Few travel perks and protections
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • $120 Uber Cash on Gold: Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.
  • $120 Dining Credit: Satisfy your cravings and earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the American Express® Gold Card at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar and select Shake Shack locations. Enrollment required.
  • Choose the color that suits your style. Gold or Rose Gold.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees