Let’s face it:
Walt Disney World vacations are not cheap. And, for years and years, we were strong advocates of the idea that you didn’t have to pay anything extra to have a magical time.
We still think that is mostly true. But, now that the free FastPass+ has been replaced with the new pay-to-use Genie+, we think there are definitely some situations when it might make sense to go ahead and spend a little bit more on extras to help make your trip a lot more enjoyable and efficient.
Here’s when we think Genie+ is worth it, and when we think it makes more sense to skip.
What is Genie+?
Before we go too far into discussing whether or not we think it is worth it, we should probably cover exactly what Genie+ is, first.
If you are already familiar with Genie+ feel free to skip down to the next section. Otherwise, keep reading and we’ll go over a brief overview. If all of this is new to you, though, we recommend you check out some of our other Genie+ resources to help get you all caught up on how this service works.
Disney Genie+ is the new FastPass+ system at Walt Disney World. Like the old FastPass+ system, Genie+ lets you cut the waits at the most popular attractions by allowing you to enter through a special line called a Lightning Lane (bypassing the longer Standby Line). But, unlike the old FastPass+ system that was free, Genie+ costs extra; it uses a date-based pricing system, with busier times of the year being more expensive.
Currently, Genie+ starts at $15 per ticket, per day (plus tax) but depending on the time of the year, it has gone all the way up to $29 per ticket. Unfortunately, there isn’t a way to know ahead of time how much Genie+ will cost on the day of your visit. Instead, you will see the price when you go to purchase it inside the My Disney Experience app.
5 Important things we think you need to know about Genie+
Now that we understand what Genie+ is, let’s cover 5 things that, we think, are very important for you to understand about how Genie+ works:
You don’t have to purchase it for every day of your trip
Probably the most important thing we want people to understand is that you do not have to purchase Genie+ for every day of your trip.
With the high price tag, many people immediately do the mental math of what an entire trip’s worth would cost and cross Genie+ off the list of possibilities because they are looking at the total for their entire trip.
Don’t do that!
If it is in the budget, feel free to purchase Genie+ every day, but you don’t have to purchase Genie+ for every single day you are in the parks.
Instead, we think it is much smarter (and a better use of your vacation budget) to pick and choose the days when using Genie+ will make touring significantly easier (meaning you’ll have a much better day in the parks). More on that below.
You don’t have to buy it for every person in your party
Depending on what your goal for your park day is, it may not make sense for everyone in your party to purchase Genie+.
For example, if you are a family with someone who won’t be riding all the rides, it may make sense to not purchase Genie+ for them. Just keep in mind that that person will not be able to use the Lightning Lane and ride with you if they change their mind.
The price is dynamic
This is one of the more frustrating aspects of Genie+. Currently, there is no way ahead of time to know exactly how much Genie+ will cost during your trip.
What we do know is that during busier times of year, the price will most likely be higher. For example, during Thanksgiving 2022, Genie+ reached $29 per day (plus tax).
If your trip is over one of the busy holidays (Spring Break, Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc.), expect the price to be closer to the $25+ mark, per person, per day. Other times of the year, the price will likely be closer to the $15 price point.
There are no guarantees on how many attractions you’ll be able to use it for
The old FastPass+ system allowed you to pre-select up to 3 attractions PLUS, after you rode those, you’d have the opportunity to snag additional FastPass+ spots one-at-a-time until all available FastPass+ reservations were gone.
That isn’t how it works with Genie+, though.
Disney even has made special note to keep expectations on the number of attractions you may ride low, citing “On average, guests can enter 2 or 3 attractions or experiences per day using the Lightning Lane…”:
The truth is that if you know what you are doing, during most times of the year it is possible to ride more than 2 or 3 rides. The key is to be sure you are booking your first attraction right at 7 a.m. and then continuing to book additional rides as soon as those booking windows open up.
More on what we mean about that below.
You do not have to purchase Genie+ in order to purchase Individual Lightning Lane Selections
This is probably one of the most confusing parts about Genie+, especially if you are familiar with the old FastPass+ system.
There are 2 things you can buy to use the Lightning Lanes:
- Genie+ (available at lots of rides)
- Individual Lightning Lane Selections (only available at 1 or 2 rides in each park)
Not every attraction with a Lightning Lane (remember, that is the new name for the old FastPass+ line) is available with Genie+. Each park has 1 or 2 attractions where the Lightning Lane is ONLY available if you purchase a separate Individual Lightning Lane Selection.
This is an entirely separate purchase from Genie+.
You do NOT have to buy Genie+ in order to purchase an Individual Lightning Lane selection.
You can purchase both if you want to – but it is NOT a requirement.
Attractions with Individual Lightning Lane Access (not available with Genie+)
Here are Disney World’s Individual Lightning Lane attractions currently available for purchase.
- Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
- Space Mountain (frequently moves to Genie+ during busy times of the year)
- Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind
- Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure (frequently moves to Genie+ during busy times of the year)
- Frozen Ever After (frequently moves to Genie+ during busy times of the year)
- Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway (frequently moves to Genie+ during busy times of the year)
- Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance
- Avatar Flight of Passage
- Expedition Everest – Legend of the Forbidden Mountain (frequently moves to Genie+ during busy times of the year)
When is Genie+ Worth It?
Now to the tough question: When is Genie+ worth it?
As you can imagine, that is kind of going to depend, but these are the situations when we think it makes sense to go ahead and spend the money on Genie+:
When your goal is to wait in as few of lines as possible
This one is probably a no-brainer, but when your goal is to spend as little time as possible waiting in lines, it will most likely make sense to buy Genie+.
For most guests, Genie+ is the only way to skip the Standby Line and even with Genie+, to avoid the most lines you’ll still need to plan for Rope Drop and maybe even consider buying Individual Lightning Lane selections.
When you are comfortable with technology and know how to use the My Disney Experience app
Genie+ lives entirely in the My Disney Experience app, and you will have to be extremely comfortable using the app in order to maximize your purchase.
That means keeping track of when you can book your next Genie+ selection, being willing to spend time on your phone modifying current selections if necessary, etc.
None of it is difficult, but if you are the kind of person who struggles to use apps on your phone, you may want to see if there is another person in your party who is willing to take charge of handling your Genie+ bookings.
When you can be flexible with your day
Unlike Individual Lightning Lane Selections where you can select your return time, with Genie+, you are assigned the next available return spot, and you can take it or leave it.
Yes, after you’ve made a selection you can try to modify your return time – and, in most instances, if you are willing to keep refreshing you’ll have a decent chance you’ll be able to get things moved around to where you need them to be.
But since spots for some of the most popular attractions go very, very fast – modifying a popular attraction to a different return time is never guaranteed.
And, just like many things at Walt Disney World, the time of year matters, too. The busier the time of year, the more difficult modifying any Genie+ return time can be.
That means you’ll need to keep things kind of flexible. Having 1 dining reservation is typically easy to work around. But, for example, having 2 dining reservations, a Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique reservation, and an Individual Lightning Lane Selection can make things a lot more difficult.
Yes, even with a bunch of plans and reservations, you definitely can still make use of Genie+. It just won’t be as easy to maximize your purchase, and you may not be able to accomplish as many attractions.
When you are traveling during busier times of the year
Traveling during a busy time of the year like Spring Break, Easter, Thanksgiving, or Christmas?
We really recommend you consider purchasing Genie+ to help keep you out of longer-than-average Standby Lines.
The biggest downside to using Genie+ during busy times of the year is the dynamic pricing. It will be more expensive over any holiday. Plus, with more people in the parks, there will be more competition for available Genie+ spots at all of the attractions. But, we still think it is worth the splurge in order to maximize your time in the park when the parks are packed.
When you are visiting Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios
If you only want to purchase Genie+ for one or two days, we highly recommend you use Genie+ at Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios.
Magic Kingdom has a ton of attractions, and Genie+ there makes it really easy to churn attraction after attraction or to stack them for later in the day.
And, over at Hollywood Studios, there are so many headliners that garner long lines nearly all day long, so Genie+ is about the only way you’ll be able to do them all in 1 day without spending half the day waiting.
As for the other 2 parks, Genie+ makes touring Animal Kingdom and Epcot effortless, but it isn’t as necessary there. Buy it for those parks if it is in the budget, but if you have to pick and choose – save your money and splurge on Genie+ for Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios.
When should you skip buying Genie+?
Now that we’ve shared when we think you should definitely consider buying Genie+, let’s cover when we think it makes more sense to skip it:
When you don’t care how many attractions you ride
Sometimes folks (ourselves included!) go to the parks with the purpose of doing things other than riding the rides.
Maybe you prefer to people watch or soaking in the atmosphere. Whatever the reason, if you aren’t planning to ride more than 1 or 2 things, skip buying Genie+.
Instead, to keep from waiting in long lines, ride what you want to ride in the first hour or 2 of the day (Rope Drop) and save your money for something else.
If you aren’t comfortable with technology
If you are not comfortable using technology OR if you are the kind of person who doesn’t want to spend a bunch of time on your phone, Genie+ may not be for you.
When you like making 3 dining reservations a day
You can absolutely still get some good use out of Genie+ even if you have a couple of dining reservations per day, just know that the more reservations you have to work around, the more difficult it will be.
The people who are going to find it a lot easier to maximize their Genie+ purchase are the ones who can be the most flexible with their day.
If you are going to Animal Kingdom or Epcot
While we really, really think Genie+ is worth it at Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios, we feel just as strongly as to it not being as necessary at Animal Kingdom and Epcot.
But, while it isn’t necessary, it can definitely make touring those 2 parks a lot, lot easier.
If you plan to use the Disability Access Service (DAS)
The Disability Access Service is a system that is in place to assist Walt Disney World Resort guests that may not be able to comfortably wait in a traditional queue environment.
The DAS is not a “front of the line” pass, but rather a tool to provide the maximum amount of flexibility to guests with disabilities.
If you are eligible for the DAS, you may find that service to be enough to accommodate your needs. You can, however, choose to pay for Genie+ in addition to using DAS. This can be especially useful for guests who cannot tolerate more than a few hours in the park at a time, as purchasing Genie+ in addition to the DAS would allow you to accomplish more in a shorter amount of time.
Are Individual Lightning Lane Selections Worth it?
Now that we’ve narrowed down when we think it is worth it to pay the extra money for Genie+, what about Individual Lightning Lane Selections? Are they worth it?
Here’s what we think:
If they are in your budget, buying the Individual Lightning Lane Selections can make your day of touring the parks much easier if you purchase them. But, they aren’t absolutely necessary.
The attraction(s) at the parks with the Individual Lightning Lane Selection are typically the most popular ride in the entire park. They are often the ride we would recommend you visit first* IF you were planning to tour without purchasing an Individual Lightning Lane Selection for it.
*The exception is Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind. For that attraction, if you aren’t planning to purchase an Individual Lightning Lane Selection, you’d need to join the Virtual Queue as there is no Standby Line there.
But, by eliminating that most popular attraction that you have to ride at Rope Drop, you’ll be able to head to a couple of the other headliners while the main crowd heads towards it.
Tips to Maximize Genie+
If you do decide to purchase Genie+, here are some tips to maximize your purchase:
Practice using the app
You don’t have to be in the parks to practice using the My Disney Experience app. Although you can’t actually purchase Genie+ until the day you need it, you can still learn how to navigate the app ahead of time.
The more you can figure out before you arrive, the better. You don’t want your first time using My Disney Experience to be the morning you need to make your first Genie+ selection.
Book your first Genie+ reservation right at 7 am
To get the most out of your day, you should be making your first selection right at 7 a.m.
If you are onsite, and you are planning on also purchasing Individual Lightning Lane Selections, you may want to split those tasks up between 2 people in your party since you can also make your Individual Lightning Lane Selections right at 7:00 a.m., too.
If there is only one of you available to make those selections, check out our guide on the Genie+ and Individual Lightning Lane timeline to help you know which order you should try to book.
Keep track of when you can book your next Genie+ reservation
When you use Genie+, you’ll have what is called a booking window. When that window opens up can be a little confusing, but you’ll be able to see in the app exactly when you can make your next selection.
Keep track of that time and make sure you are booking your next Genie+ reservation as soon as you can.
When we are in the parks, we typically set a reminder on our phone so that we don’t forget when it is time to book.
If you don’t see what you want – don’t give up: Refresh, refresh, refresh
Disney has made it much easier to modify your Genie+ reservations. The key to finding what you want, however, is refreshing.
Even if when you go to modify or book your Genie+ nothing you want is popping up for you, try refreshing. And we don’t mean just refresh once. Sometimes you may need to refresh for 5 or 10 minutes or more. Most people have pretty good success snagging what they want by being persistent in the refreshing.
Unfortunately, this is one of our least favorite things about Genie+: the amount of time it forces you to be on your phone.
Tips for people who don’t purchase Genie+
If you decide not to purchase Genie+, here are some tips that can help you avoid the longest of the lines:
Maximize Early Theme Park Entry and the last 2 hours of the day
The first 2 hours and the last 2 hours of the day are some of the best (meaning lowest waits) for touring.
We sound like broken records, but if you are staying onsite, Early Theme Park Entry and Rope Drop are probably the best ways you can minimize your waits on the most popular attractions.
The 2nd best time is the end of the evening. If you can handle staying up late, the last 2 hours of the night are also typically good.
If you plan to do both, it is a good idea to go ahead and take a break midday to rest and recharge, especially if you are traveling during the heat of the summer and fall.
If you are staying at an eligible resort, attend Extended Theme Park Hours
Deluxe and Deluxe Villa resorts at Walt Disney World are eligible for Extended Theme Park Hours. These hours are a special perk that allows guests staying in those resorts the opportunity to stay in the park after official park closing at both Epcot and Magic Kingdom.
Extended Theme Park Hours aren’t every night (they typically happen in each park one time per week), but if they fall during your trip, they can be a great way to knock out a few more rides without a long wait.
Consider riding a headliner during the nighttime entertainment
The waits for all attractions dip a bit during nighttime entertainment. If you don’t mind skipping the shows or fireworks, you can often find the lines to be a bit shorter around that time.
Another great tip is to jump in line right at the end of the evening. Oftentimes, that Standby Wait Time is inflated, and guests are typically allowed to get into line until the park closes. So, rather than spending the last hour the park is open in a long line, go ride other things with shorter lines and then jump into the line of one of the headliners at the end of the evening, instead.
If you are a night owl and an event is available, consider an After Hours Event
Disney has recently brought back the After Hours events at both Hollywood Studios and Magic Kingdom.
After Hours are specially ticketed events that cost extra, but they have extremely low crowds, which makes it easy to ride plenty of attractions with little to no waits.
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