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Genie+, Individual Lightning Lane Selections, and Virtual Queues: Which to Book First?

Genie+, Individual Lightning Lane Selections, and Virtual Queues: Which to Book First?

Mornings at Walt Disney World have gotten a LOT more hectic now that the Genie+, Individual Lightning Lanes (aka pay-to-ride), and virtual queues are in place.

There is so much pressure to snag them all, and Disney makes it even more difficult by having them all open up right at the exact. same. time.

But, we’ve been testing different methods over and over, and we’ve got some suggestions that should help you get everything you want.

Let’s go over a timeline for what you should book first (and when you should do it). Plus, we’ll show you exactly how to figure out when you can book your next Genie+ spot (and the next, and the next…)

About this Genie+ timeline

When Genie+ started, we found ourselves making notes on our phones for our morning game plans. We spelled out exactly who would be booking what right when that clock turned 7 a.m.

We quickly realized that if we were having to do that, other people were likely doing the same thing, so it made sense to compile all of those notes into 1 spot to (hopefully) make *your* mornings a bit less stressful than ours were.

That’s what you’ll find below. We are going to give you the exact order we think will maximize your chances of snagging everything you’d like to snag, right at 7 a.m.

We’ll split it all out park by park, and include a handy graphic to help you remember the ideal order you’ll be booking all the things. And, we really do promise that the graphic will make things a lot easier, so be sure to save it to your phone so you’ll have it when you need it.

Then, we’ll dive into the other tricky topic: figuring out when you’ll be able to book your next Genie+ reservation.

Genie+ timeline of what to book when

Always purchase Genie+ before 7 a.m.

If you get nothing else from this post, we want you to walk away with the knowledge that you should always, always, always purchase Genie+ before 7 a.m., and here’s why:

If you wait until 7 a.m. to buy Genie+, while you’re spending time making that purchase, everyone else is snagging all the spots in the virtual queues, getting the earliest Genie+ return times, and purchasing all the best Individual Lightning Lane return times.

You’ll be behind the game.

You can purchase Genie+ any time after midnight on the day you wish to use it. So, if you are a night owl and you’re up after midnight, you can snag it then. Otherwise, plan to wake up before 7 a.m. (we usually do around 6:45 a.m.) so you have time to purchase Genie+ and/or deal with any snags that pop up.

If you can, have more than 1 person booking things

If you have more than 2 people who are familiar with the My Disney Experience app, you’ll have a lot more success if you divide up who is booking what between the 2 (or more) of you.

Seconds really do count, and if your goal is to book a Genie+ selection, snag a spot in a virtual queue, AND purchase 2 Individual Lightning Lane selections, you may miss out by the time you get to the last thing on your list.

Instead, split up the booking tasks between multiple people.

For example, you can have one person snagging a spot in the virtual queue and securing 1 Individual Lightning Lane selection, while the other person does the first Genie+ selection and the other Individual Lightning Lane Selection.

Genie+, Individual Lightning Lane Selections, and Virtual Queues

Here’s what order we recommend you book everything, park-by-park. Remember, all of this takes place inside the My Disney Experience app, so make sure you either have good Wi-Fi OR a good cell signal.

Also keep in mind you do NOT have to do all the things listed. Skip over things that aren’t in your plans, but if you want to maximize your chances, keep the order of the remaining things how we have them listed.

Magic Kingdom

  • Day before: Confirm that everyone in your party has valid theme park admission AND a Park Pass Reservation (if required) for Magic Kingdom
  • 12 a.m. — 6:45 a.m. Purchase Genie+
  • 7 a.m. — Join the Virtual Queue for TRON: Lightcycle / Run (both onsite and offsite guests)
  • 7 a.m. — Purchase an Individual Lightning Lane for TRON: Lightcycle / Run (onsite guests only)
  • 7 a.m. — Make your first Genie+ selection; we recommend either Peter Pan’s Flight or Jungle Cruise (both onsite and offsite guests)
  • 7 a.m. — Purchase your 2nd Individual Lightning Lane Selection. It could be Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, or, if you are planning to park hop, you could book at one of the other parks for a return time after your planned park hop time. (onsite only)
  • Park opening — Once a park officially opens, offsite guests can purchase Individual Lightning Lane Selections. (Note: You have to wait for park opening, but you don’t have to be inside the park.)
  • 2 hours AFTER park opening OR after you’ve tapped in for your first Genie+ (whichever comes first) – Make your 2nd Genie+ selection

Epcot

  • Day before: Confirm that everyone in your party has valid theme park admission AND a Park Pass Reservation (if required) for Epcot
  • 12 a.m. — 6:45 a.m. Purchase Genie+
  • 7 a.m. — Join the Virtual Queue for Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind (both onsite and offsite)
  • 7 a.m. — Purchase an Individual Lightning Lane for Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind (onsite only)
  • 7 a.m. — Make your first Genie+ selection; we recommend Test Track, Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, or Frozen Ever After
  • 7 a.m. — If you are planning to park hop, purchase your 2nd Individual Lightning Lane Selection at one of the other parks for a return time after your planned park hop time. (onsite only)
  • Park opening — Once a park officially opens, offsite guests can purchase Individual Lightning Lane Selections. (Note: You have to wait for park opening, but you don’t have to be inside the park.)
  • 2 hours AFTER park opening OR after you’ve tapped in for your first Genie+ (whichever comes first) – Make your 2nd Genie+ selection

Hollywood Studios

  • Day before: Confirm that everyone in your party has valid theme park admission AND a Park Pass Reservation (if required) for Hollywood Studios
  • 12 a.m. — 6:45 a.m. Purchase Genie+
  • 7 a.m. — Make your first Genie+ selection; we recommend Slinky Dog Dash or Millennium Falcon Smugglers Run
  • 7 a.m. — Purchase an Individual Lightning Lane for Rise of the Resistance
  • 7 a.m. — If you are planning to park hop, purchase your 2nd Individual Lightning Lane Selection at one of the other parks for a return time after your planned park hop time. (onsite only)
  • Park opening — Once a park officially opens, offsite guests can purchase Individual Lightning Lane Selections. (Note: You have to wait for park opening, but you don’t have to be inside the park.)
  • 2 hours AFTER park opening OR after you’ve tapped in for your first Genie+ (whichever comes first) – Make your 2nd Genie+ selection

Animal Kingdom

  • Day before: Confirm that everyone in your party has valid theme park admission AND a Park Pass Reservation (if required) for Animal Kingdom
  • 12 a.m. — 6:45 a.m. Purchase Genie+
  • 7 a.m. — Purchase an Individual Lightning Lane for Flight of Passage
  • 7 a.m. — Make your first Genie+ selection; we recommend Kilimanjaro Safari or Na’vi River Journey
  • 7 a.m. — If you are planning to park hop, purchase your 2nd Individual Lightning Lane Selection at one of the other parks for a return time after your planned park hop time. (onsite only)
  • Park opening — Once a park officially opens, offsite guests can purchase Individual Lightning Lane Selections. (Note: You have to wait for park opening, but you don’t have to be inside the park.)
  • 2 hours AFTER park opening OR after you’ve tapped in for your first Genie+ (whichever comes first) – Make your 2nd Genie+ selection

When can I book my next Genie+ selection?

Hands down, one of the most confusing aspects of Genie+ at Walt Disney World is deciphering when you can book your next Genie+ Lightning Lane selection.

But, here’s our tip to make that a bit easier to figure out:

It is only your most recently booked attraction that will determine when you can make your next Genie+ reservation.

That’s it.

But why is it so important to keep track of when that next booking window opens up?

Because, Genie+ isn’t cheap, especially if you are purchasing it for multiple people.

So, to maximize both your day AND your money with Genie+, you’ll want to book your next Lightning Lane reservation as soon as you can.

And, you’ll be able to do that more efficiently if you can keep track of – either mentally or on your phone – when you can use Genie+ to snag your next Lightning Lane spot.

Tip: Use your phone to set a reminder for your next booking window. We don’t recommend you use an alarm unless it is set to vibrate only, as that can interfere with others if it goes off while you are on an attraction.

Genie+ Booking Rules: Only one of these has to happen before you can book your next G+ reservation

Remember, it is only your most recently booked attraction that will determine when you can make your next Genie+ reservation.

So, with that in mind, only ONE of the following has to occur before you can use Genie+ to book your next Lightning Lane reservation:

  1. If the most recently booked attraction return time is MORE than 2 hours away, you can make your next Genie+ Lightning Lane reservation at the 2-hour mark. IMPORTANT NOTE: The 2-hour clock starts when the park opens. If your first booking is more than 2 hours after the park opens, you’ll have to wait until 2 hours after park opening and not 2 hours after you booked.

    OR

  2. If your most recently booked Genie+ ride time is LESS than 2 hours away, as soon as you tap into the tapstiles at the attraction, you can book your next one. IMPORTANT NOTE: some of the more popular attractions have 2 tapstiles and some will have 1. If there are 2, you must tap into both before you’ll be able to make your next selection.

    OR

  3. If your most recently booked Genie+ Lightning Lane pass has EXPIRED (meaning you missed your return window), you can make a new Genie+ selection. IMPORTANT NOTE: you can cancel Genie+ reservations, so if you decide not to ride, don’t waste time waiting for a Genie+ reservation to expire.
Genie+ booking rules

How to use My Disney Experience to see when you can book your next Genie+ reservation

But what happens if you get confused, and you still aren’t sure when you can make that next Genie+ reservation?

Trust us: this is very likely to happen, especially later in the day as return times start to overlap and things start stacking up.

Disney has made it easy to see when your next booking window opens up. You’ll find it at the top of your Tip Board inside of the My Disney Experience app:

genie+ return time

Genie+ return times

Now, let’s talk Genie+ return times.

First, and most importantly, you do NOT get to pick your return times with Genie+.

That can be very confusing for people, especially since you could select your return time with FastPass+ and you can select your return time with the Individual Lightning Lane selections, but when making a Genie+ reservation, you’ll only be able to book the next available time.

That means if you are trying to stack return times for later in the day or group nearby attractions together, you may need to spend a bit more time on your phone watching for the “perfect” time or attraction to open up.

Do Genie+ reservations ever run out?

Yes, they do. And, for the most popular attractions like Slinky Dog Dash, they can run out just seconds after reservations start at 7:00 am.

And, while you may see additional spots open up throughout the day, they are limited in number and can be difficult to snag unless you are dedicating a lot of time to refreshing the app.

But, to help with planning, there are definitely trends to which attractions run out of Genie+ spots first.

In order to go into greater detail, we have broken all that out into Genie+ guides for each park:

What is Genie+ stacking and churning?

In general, there are two different Genie+ methods: stacking and churning. Keep in mind that most people end up doing a combination of both of these.

What is stacking?

Stacking is essentially you making your Genie+ selections for later times in the day and then stacking one right after the other, so you’ll have a bunch together. You can overlap them and create a situation where you are riding attraction after attraction with very little waits.

Toy Story Mania entrance Lightning Lane

Stacking works well for when you have other plans for the morning, even if your other plans are to tour during the morning without using Genie+.

This method also works well for anyone who wants to get to the parks later, BUT, keep in mind that you can’t sleep in!

Not only can you begin grabbing your first Genie+ selection starting at 7 a.m. EST, but you’ll have to be on your phone grabbing your next Genie+ every 2 hours from the point you make your first selection.

For those staying offsite and therefore can’t use Early Theme Park Entry, the stacking method can also work in your favor too, especially since you can’t enter the parks 30 minutes before official park opening like the onsite guests can.

This is a good example of what stacking can look like. Ideally, by the time you get to the early afternoon, you’ll start using the churning method described below to fill in time gaps with less-popular attractions.

Genie plus examples for booking

Open PDF version

What is churning?

Churning is when you make your Genie+ selections for early times in the day, tap in, and then make another, and try to get as many as possible during your entire park day.

You are churning through them, one after another. To make it work, you’ll want to grab Genie+ reservations for attractions with return times that are right now, or at least relatively close to the current time.

This method works well if your first Genie+ selection of the day isn’t more than 2 hours out, however, even if you start churning 2 hours after the park opens, you’ll likely still have success especially with the less popular attractions.

This is a good example of what churning can look like.

Genie plus examples for booking

Open PDF version

Attractions that use Genie+ at Walt Disney World

The following are the eligible attractions you can book with Genie+.

Keep in mind that you cannot select your return time; you can only pick the next available time when booking.

Magic Kingdom Genie+ Attractions

Epcot Genie+ Attractions

Hollywood Studios Genie+ Attractions

Animal Kingdom Genie+ Attractions

How does park hopping work with Genie+ and Individual Lightning Lanes?

As long as you have a Park Hopper benefit, you can make Genie+ and Individual Lightning Lane selections at different parks.

And if your ticket requires you have a Park Pass reservation to visit, to park hop, you must have first visited the park where you held your Park Pass reservation for that day.

genie+ park hopper lightning lane selection

You can even make your first selection outside your first theme park if you’d like. But, we don’t necessarily recommend this strategy.

You should really try to make your first selection where you plan to start your day if you plan to visit that park during the first half of the day.

Important note: The exception to that suggestion are popular attractions like Slinky Dog Dash. Because of its popularity, return times here are quickly pushed to late in the day.

Remember, you can’t select your Genie+ return time, but you can select your return times for Individual Lightning Lane attractions.

Individual Lightning Lane Attractions

Genie+ and pay-per-ride Lightning Lane passes are separate from one another.

They are both built into the Disney Genie system that’s available in the My Disney Experience app, but the Individual Lightning Lane Selections are not included with Genie+.

That means these are sold separately and are pay-per-use, so you pay additional money if you want to use the Lightning Lane to ride these select attractions.

Unlike Genie+ selections, you can choose your Individual Lighting Lane Selection times.

It’s also important to note that once you book an Individual Lightning Lane Selection attraction, you cannot change the time or cancel your booking.

So, when it comes to booking these, you want to make sure there isn’t too much overlapping that it’s impossible for you to get there in time.

Pricing for the pay-to-ride option varies by date, attraction, and park. The daily price will be listed next to each attraction on the day of purchase.

You can purchase up to 2 Individual Lightning Lane passes per day.

You can book both Individual Lightning Lane Selections at the same time. And, as long as you have a Park Hopper ticket, you can make selections at different parks.

Magic Kingdom Individual Lighting Lane (à la carte) Attractions

Magic Kingdom currently has 2 Individual Lightning Lane attractions:

Epcot Individual Lighting Lane (à la carte) Attractions

Epcot has 1 Individual Lightning Lane attraction:

Hollywood Studios Individual Lighting Lane (à la carte) Attractions

Hollywood Studios has 1 Individual Lightning Lane attraction:

Animal Kingdom Individual Lighting Lane (à la carte) Attractions

Animal Kingdom has 1 Individual Lightning Lane attraction: