Walt Disney World is one of our favorite places to vacation as a family. With so many different things to see and experience, everyone in the Frog Family leaves hoppy. Mommy Frog loves relaxing at the resorts, Tad and Lily can’t get enough of the attractions and I enjoy eating my way through the parks. We have our different preferences, but one thing we can all agree on is that waiting in line is everyone’s least favorite part of our vacation.
For families like ours, Disney has rolled out Disney Genie+ and introduced the revamped Lightning Lane (formerly FastPass+) queues. Genie+ (and Lightning Lane access for select individual attractions) has saved our family precious park time and helped us maximize our time in the parks. For newbies, this system can be a little tricky to understand. But with a little bit of research and using our expertise as a guide, you’ll be a Genie+ expert before we can say, “Ribbit!”
We're hoppy to answer your questions about the Genie+ system, plus show you how to get the most out of these services, especially with the tadpoles in mind. We believe that you can avoid a lot of waiting with the Genie+ tools, but ya gotta know how to use 'em!
Our Top Tips for Using Disney Genie Plus with Kids
Know the Lingo
So, what exactly are the Disney Genie, Genie+ and individual Lightning Lane services, you ask? Disney Genie+ service is Disney’s replacement for the FastPass+ systems that essentially allowed you to skip the line using the FastPass queue. For a fee, the new Genie+ service also lets you skip the standby line and provides shorter wait times. This purchase allows you to hop ahead in line at over 40 Lightning Lane attractions spread across the four parks. These are referred to as the Genie+ Lightning Lane attractions, and you will use the Lightning Lane queues to ride them and get priority seating at a show.
Effective Oct. 11, 2022, Genie+ prices now vary by date. Since Genie+ can only be purchased the day of, guests should double check the My Disney Experience app for the current price. (Up until Oct. 11, 2022, Genie+ at Disney World cost $15 per person, per day.)
Different from Genie+, the Disney Genie service is free. It’s available to all guests to use within the My Disney Experience app. It's a planning tool that helps you decide what to do in the parks based on your interests and input. Genie will give you an itinerary to follow in the My Day section of the app, with both current and projected wait times. You can also place a Mobile Order or find helpful suggestions in the section called "Tip Board." If you don’t like what Genie suggests, you can switch out the suggestions using a swaparoo. The big difference is that Genie doesn’t allow you to book any attraction times or give you access to skip the lines.
Individual Lightning Lane attractions, not to be confused with the Lightning Lane queues, are made up of the four most popular rides at Walt Disney World (there's one in each park!). You can pay an additional fee to skip the line at these attractions. The purchase of Genie+ does not include these attractions. However, you do not need to purchase Genie+ in order to buy an Individual Lightning Lane attraction. You can think of these as à la carte options. The average cost of Individual Lightning Lane attractions is typically between $7 to $22 per person. These prices vary depending on the day or season. You can expect these prices to rise during weekends and busy seasons. Scrolling the My Day and the Tip Board is where you’ll find the option of purchasing the Individual Lightning Lane attractions.
Get to Know the Genie+ Features Before Your Trip
Learning how to use Genie Plus, with kids or without, can be a little overwhelming. There's a lot to learn and there are several moving parts that make up the whole process. We recommend setting aside a little bit of time before your trip to download the My Disney Experience app to your phone, link your theme park tickets and play around with the features. The last thing you’ll want to do is try to figure out how it works while navigating the parks with your whole family in tow.
When you first log into the app, you will see a section titled "My Plans." If you haven’t already purchased Genie+, you can click the Get Started button and pay for the service right within the app on the day of your visit. Next, click the My Day option to the right. Here, you will find the main functions of the Genie+ system. In the Tip Board, you can toggle between Experiences and Dining. In the Experiences section, you’ll be able to see the current wait time for each attraction as well as the next Lightning Lane availability. Individual Lightning Lane availability and prices are located there too.
The My Day section of the app will give you a scrolling view of your park itinerary for that day which includes your Genie+ selections and your Individual Lightning Lane purchases if you’ve made them. If you’re looking to find your itinerary for other days in your trip, you can find that by clicking on the three lines down on the bottom right and then clicking the Future Plans button.
Understand the Genie+ Rules
In order to unlock the full time-saving potential of using Genie Plus with kids, you have to understand the rules of the system. We won’t bore you with a ton of jargon, but it’s important to understand the basics so you don’t end up feeling frustrated. I’ll keep it short and sweet here, but you can also learn more with our Genie+ Overview and FAQs.
- Using one selection at a time, you can theoretically use unlimited Genie+ passes throughout your day. However, you can only use one Lightning Lane once per attraction for any given day. So if your little frogs love Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and want to ride it again after using a Genie+ pass, you would have to hop in the standby line for your repeat ride.
- You may only purchase two individual Lightning Lane passes each day. If you're park hopping, you can split these up between two parks.
- You can make your first Genie+ selection at 7 a.m. Resort guests can also make their individual Lightning Lane selections at 7 a.m. Guests who are staying off property can make their individual Lightning Lane selections once the park opens.
Know When to Purchase Genie+
Currently, Genie+ service is only available to purchase within the My Disney Experience app on each day of your visit. If you only want to use Genie+ on certain days, you'll want to purchase on those select days before 7 a.m. so you can make your first Genie+ selection at 7 a.m. If you want to purchase Genie+ every day during your trip, you'll need to purchase it each day (again, before you make your first selection at 7 a.m.).
Know When to Book Your Genie+ Passes and Individual Lightning Lanes
Before arriving at the parks each day, you’ll want to wake up early and be ready at 7 a.m. to make your first Genie+ selection. If you’re staying at any of the Walt Disney World Resorts, you can also book your two individual Lightning Lane selections at 7 a.m. All other guests can make their individual Lightning Lane purchases at the time of park opening (this time can vary, depending on the park).
Genie Plus passes can be booked as they become available throughout the day, while individual Lightning Lane passes can be secured for a specific time (though due to the popularity of a ride, you might only be able to snag what's available). This can give you some control over how you’d like your day to flow. You know your little frogs best and will want to schedule your first Genie+ selection and your two individual Lightning Lane selections around breaks, naps and meals. You don’t want to find yourself missing out on a favorite attraction because you booked your Lightning Lane in the afternoon when your family will be heading back to the resort for a pool break.
Know How to “Stack” Genie+ Passes Throughout Your Day
Even though I just explained the rules and said that you can only have one Lightning Lane selection at a time, there’s an exception to this rule. This exception is the 120-minute rule. Disney states that you can book an additional Lightning Lane attraction after you have used your most recently booked reservation OR after 120 minutes, whichever comes first.
For this reason, we recommend that you book your first Lightning Lane attraction for later in the day when wait times are expected to be higher. Because the 120-minute rule applies, you can book a second Lightning Lane attraction two hours after park opening. If the park opens at 8 a.m., you can book your second Lightning Lane attraction at 10 a.m. Now you have two Lightning Lane passes, or have “stacked” passes to use throughout your day. Once you go on your most recently booked ride, you're able to book an additional pass, one at a time, while your afternoon pass will remain in place until you use it.
If it ever gets confusing, you can always double check when you can make your next selection at the top of the Tip Board.
Use Genie+ for More than Just Rides
Not only can you use Genie+ to skip lines, but you can also use it for character greetings, close-up priority seating at shows and special parade viewing areas! If Mommy Frog and I were alone, we wouldn't really need to use Genie+ for the character greetings since we like hopping on as many rides as we can, but if we have Lily with us, she always has to say hello to Mickey.
You can also take advantage of priority seating and special viewing areas when using Disney Genie Plus with kids. You never really know if someone tall will end up right in front of your tadpoles. That way, you don't have to hear, "I can't see anything!"
Have a Plan, Plus a Backup Plan
Before selecting your first Lightning Lane pass, decide in advance which attractions are must-dos versus fun-dos. (That’s our word for rides that are fun but not necessarily a priority.) In our family, Space Mountain is definitely a must-do, while Under the Sea - Journey of the Little Mermaid is a fun-do. This list will help you narrow down which attractions to try and get a pass for both in the morning and throughout the day.
We’ve noticed on weekends or during the holidays, the Lightning Lane passes for some of the more popular attractions may fill up and become unavailable. If you find yourself in this situation, there are some things you can do, and that’s where your backup plan comes into play. If you’re a Walt Disney World Resort guest, you’ll certainly want to take advantage of the 30-minute Early Theme Park Entry. By arriving early, you’ll most likely be able to knock out at least one attraction, if not more, off of your must-do list.
If you’re not staying on property, we still recommend arriving at the parks at least half an hour early and rope-dropping the attractions that you were not able to get Lightning Lane passes for. The wait times are usually much shorter in the morning, and you will spend less time waiting for these in the morning, versus the afternoon and evening.
Another plan is to stay late and jump in the attraction's standby line right before the park closes. If you’re flexible with meal times, wait times will shorten during the peak meal times such as 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Wait times will also dwindle during the nighttime shows, and we have to admit, you can catch amazing firework views from some of the attractions.
Maximize Your Day by Purchasing both Genie+ and Individual Lightning Lanes
Even though they're technically two separate systems, the Genie+ and the Individual Lightning Lanes services are made to work together. You can really maximize your time if you decide to purchase both.
Here’s a step-by-step guide on how we made it work for us on our Magic Kingdom day.
- 7 a.m. - I book the first Genie+ reservation. I select Big Thunder Mountain Railroad because Tad and Lily love this attraction and it's on their must-do list. This attraction can have significant wait times, so reservations may go more quickly and the next available reservation might be hours away. I'm able to make one at 1 p.m.!
- As Walt Disney World Resort guests, I also book one individual Lightning Lane pass for the day: Seven Dwarfs Mine Train at 6:15 p.m. This actually works out perfectly for us because we like to go back to the resort for a little pool time before returning to the park later in the evening. (While Genie+ will only offer you the next available timeframe to select, individual Lightning Lane selections often have a few options for you to choose from, if available, giving you some flexibility.)
- Early Park Entry - We're able to hop on Peter Pan's Flight and Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin before other park guests begin to enter the park.
- Snack time - Grab a snack and snap family photos in front of Cinderella Castle. We stick around to watch a Disney cavalcade or two on Main Street.
- 10 a.m. - We book our second Genie+ reservation because the park has now been open for 120 minutes (Hop Tip: Set an alarm to remind you of your next eligible booking time once you make another res!)
- 10:30 a.m. - Ride several more attractions using Genie+ reservations that are closer to the actual time as they become available in the app.
- Lunchtime - We use Mobile Order at Columbia Harbour House and finish with just enough time to make our 1 p.m. Big Thunder Mountain Railroad Genie+ reservation we made first thing.
- Break time - Head back to the resort to cool off and relax at the pool, but not without meeting Mickey in the Town Square Theater on the way out!
- 5 p.m. - Return to the park, and have dinner at Jungle Skipper Canteen.
- 6:15 p.m. - Use our individual Lightning Lane selection and ride Seven Dwarfs Mine Train.
- Continue to “stack” the Genie+ selections as they become available and ride several more attractions, completing all of the must-do attractions on our family’s list.
- End the evening with the new nighttime spectacular, Disney Enchantment.
What a toadally amazing day, right? Be sure to use our strategies to help you create your own perfect itinerary when using Genie Plus with kids.
Use the Additional Genie+ Features
If you have purchased Genie+, then you have also purchased a couple of interactive features that most kids will really enjoy. The first is the interactive PhotoPass lenses. Your kids can take fun selfies with filters that look as though a Disney character is in the shot. This is a great way to pass the time while waiting in line and the photos will become some of your cherished Disney memories for years to come. Lily has a ton of fun with these and loves sharing them with family and friends.
Audio Tales is an interactive feature that is available in all four parks. In the app, you can find the Audio Tales icon pop up on the map. When you click on it, you can hear informative snippets about the park's attractions, Imagineering, buildings and more. Tad discovered these during our last trip and has made it his mission to find and listen to them all.
Don’t Froget to Have Fun!
While there is a lot of information to digest here, Disney Genie is truly at your service! We like to think of it as just another tool in your Disney planning tool belt, but one that has super time-saving benefits and helps you get the most out of your Disney vacation.
In the comments below, let us know what questions you still have about using Disney Genie Plus with kids, or your experience if you’ve already had the opportunity to try out Genie Plus with kids! What other tips do you have to share?