Going to Disneyland with a group of people has its own fun and complications. Visiting as a group while using the Disney Genie+ service takes even more thought and care. You'll do a little work in the beginning to make sure everyone is linked to at least one account, but Genie+ will make your day much more efficient. There are a lot of moving parts to keep track of in the park, as well as things to consider when using Genie+ as a group. We get a lot of reader questions about this topic, so we're tackling this one in its own post — and for good reason. We recently visited Disneyland with several other families and encountered issues that may not come up when traveling as a small family.
So let's answer those burning questions, and walk you through them, starting at the very beginning during the purchasing process and planning phase. Then, we'll cover a how-to guide for once you are in the park. Groups do not always stay together so we'll also tackle group dynamics in the park. Some people arrive late. Other people leave early. Some people want to split off for a few rides. Some people are too short to ride some rides. Everyone has different budgets and priorities, so some people want to pay for Genie+ while others don't. We will cover how to handle all these issues.
If you have questions, we have answers. And if we don't cover your concerns, drop those questions in the comments section below, and we will answer them! Our readers have the best questions. If you are wondering something, you can bet there are others with the same question. So ask away and we'll hop to it! You might want to hop by our Genie+ FAQ post first to make sure we have not covered it already. Today, we are focusing on questions related to using Genie+ with a group at Disneyland.
Purchasing Genie+ With a Group
In the planning phases of your Disneyland visit, you'll need to communicate with the other people in the party and assess your own household, as well. Any group over eight people is a pretty good-sized group for Disneyland. You might want to hop over to our Tips for Managing a Large Group at Disneyland post for hopful advice. Here are a few questions to ask yourself:
- Is everyone on board with purchasing Genie+? Does everyone want to use Genie+? If the answer is yes, great. That's easy — but it leads to more questions.
- How many days is your journey, and do you want Genie+ every single day? If the answer is yes, buy tickets preloaded with Genie+ to make life simpler and skip the step of buying in the park. If you do not want Genie+ every day, purchase tickets without Genie+. Then purchase Genie+ as soon as you have entered a theme park for the day on the days when you want to have it. If certain members of the family will use Genie+ and others will not, then you can add different tickets to your cart with Undercover Tourist, some with and some without Genie+. Be sure you name the tickets carefully with the correct name when linking them because you cannot change the name once you link it.
- Are you park hopping? And if so, which park will you start in? It's easiest if everyone is on the same page about park hopping, but we have visited with others who had a 1-Park Per Day ticket while we were hopping. This ultimately means you'll be dividing up at some point. But all park guests need to make a reservation, and park hoppers must select a starting park. Then, they will be eligible to hop back and forth as of 1 p.m. But unless you reserve the same starting park as your party, you cannot be together until hopping time. We see people with this problem all the time. So purchase and reserve at the same time to make sure you are on the same page and in the same park. Keep in mind that Magic Key holders have a different availability calendar, so make sure you reserve your days well in advance so you can get the same date and starting park.
- Are you willing to purchase tickets together? It's best if you can purchase your tickets together. It makes the process of using Genie+ as a group much easier. If you can have one party purchase the tickets and have other families pay them back, it will simplify the user experience. That is not always possible, especially if some people have Magic Keys, some party members already have tickets and others still need tickets. So don't stress and follow our tips for mixed parties below.
- How many people are using Genie+ in your group? If the group of Genie+ users is over 10, you might want to assign two Genie+ managers or schedulers who coordinate to make plans for their assigned people at the same time because the maximum number of people who can book at one time is 10 (according to Disney).
- Do you have mixed ticket types? If some party members are Magic Key holders and others are purchasing tickets, there are a few differences. Magic Key holders now get a 20% discount on Genie+ but only for their pass. Not for others in their party. Magic Key holders must wait until they are in the park to purchase. Other ticket holders can choose to purchase tickets with Genie+ or wait until they have entered a theme park. It's easiest for ticket holders to purchase tickets pre-loaded with Genie+. If everyone wants to purchase in the park, Magic Key holders must purchase Genie+ in a separate transaction from other ticket holders, but you can all use Genie+ together.
Once you purchase tickets, you will link them to your account in the Disneyland app. (This process differs from Disney World.) You should link everyone in the party's tickets to at least one person's Disneyland account. Let's call this person the manager. We like to assign one manager for the group who is on it, making reservations for everyone, watching the clock, setting alarms and just making sure that we are on track for the next Lightning Lane selection.
This is your group organizer who is the most knowledgeable and has an itinerary or park plan in mind. They should be the person most comfortable with technology and most familiar with the Disneyland app. Or they are the natural leader. You will have to link tickets to a Disneyland account anyway to make park reservations. So if you have done that, anyone who logs into the Disneyland account in the app will have access to the tickets.
Make sure you name the tickets properly when you link them, or it will cause problems when you try to choose some people to ride and others not to ride. You cannot change the names later so do it correctly the first time.
If there is more than one household in the mix, link each ticket to at least one account in each household, as well as to the manager. You'll want each household to have an account in the Disneyland app so they can mobile order their own food, have access to their tickets and even make mobile purchases at gift shops if they like. Keep in mind that whenever anyone is logged into your Disneyland account they have access to make food purchases through Mobile Order or buy merchandise through Mobile Checkout. So you have to trust anyone who has your login and password. It's a good thing that Tad can order food and drink when he separates from us. But it can be costly if he decides to treat all his friends to lunch on our account. Croak! So set guidelines.
We prefer to have each family set up its own account for purchases, but then link all the tickets of the group to at least one person in each family. That way if the manager steps away and someone else wants to take over, they have ALL the tickets they want to book for a ride and nobody gets left off.
If your group has teenagers or young adults who want to split off, you can give them access in a variety of ways. Either give them your Disneyland login information so they can log into your account. Or they can create their own accounts and link the people splitting off to one of their accounts so they can book their rides without accidentally thwarting your plans. They can only control their group and not yours.
Keep in mind that to use Genie+, you have to have a smartphone. If none of the kids splitting up from you has a phone, then an adult may have to part with theirs to give to the kids or accompany them to scan them into rides. If your kid has a phone, they need to bring it with them (and a charger).
Planning Your Visit
You have purchased your tickets and have linked them and now you need to talk about logistics. Genie+ adds a twist to planning with a group. You can only book one Lightning Lane for each ride per person, per day. If you all plan to arrive, ride and leave together, then no problem! If you are all about the same height and have the same interests, great. It'll be easy for you.
But many groups have mixed ages, interests and vertically challenged members. That means you're going to have to divide and conquer at some point. You will need to pick and choose rides you can ride together and ones you'll have to tackle separately.
You cannot control other people. If some of you are diehard rope droppers (like us, the Frog Family) while others are wandering in mid-morning with a coffee or midday (like Grandma Frog), you're going to have to work some things out. Or maybe you have some teens and tweens in the group who want to break off on their own for part of the day. How will that work? Here are some topics to discuss among yourselves:
- What rides are important to ride together? You want that group dynamic and bonding time, so which rides will everyone save for a group ride?
- Which rides have height requirements that are too high for smaller group members? We will cover this topic, and Rider Switch, below.
- Which rides are important to some members and "not gonna do it" for others? Save those for when you break up.
I always ask everyone in our party what their must-do ride is so we can make sure everyone gets their number one choice, and Genie+ makes it much easier to do that since the ride wait time is no longer a factor for many rides.
How to Use Genie+ With a Group Once You're in the Park
You are in the park. Hooray! You may or may not need to purchase Genie+, depending on whether or not it's on your ticket. If you already have it, you can book your first ride ASAP! If you still need to purchase, know that there is a wrong way and right way to do this with a group (especially if you have tickets linked to you for which you do not want to pay for Genie+). We are only going to tell you the correct ways so you do not get confused.
Go to the three horizontal lines (aka the "hamburger menu") at the bottom right of the app. Tap "My Genie Day." Under "My Day," tap the purple bar that says, "Take Today to the Next Level - Get Genie+ for Today." Follow the steps and when you get to the page with all the tickets that are linked to you, select only the tickets for which you wish to purchase Genie+.
There is also a new "Purchase for Today" link to start the purchasing process. It may be easier to see. You can find it at the top of the Tip Board. Make sure you download the latest version of the Disneyland app to see all the features.
Remember, you can only purchase Genie+ and make selections for guests who have entered the park. So the tickets of those latecomers will not be eligible for Genie+ purchase until they scan a ticket into the park turnstile. You can deselect any eligible tickets of people who are not getting Genie+. So if we decide Lily is not tall enough for most rides and we do not want to select her, we do not have to buy for her. If all the aunts, uncles and cousins are in there, we do not need to pay for all of them. We can buy and try to collect money from them, but it's easier on the budgeting and accounting if they buy their own.
If, on the other hand, we had one latecomer and Lily was not using Genie+, we could purchase for Lily (for the few rides she can ride) and just use Lily's ticket to reserve thrill rides with the group for the latecomer. That way, if early in the day we chose Lightning Lane returns that were later in the day, that person could still ride with us.
Your timer or alarm clock on your phone is your friend, especially with a group. There are a lot of distractions with a big group. Set timers to remind yourself of these things:
- When you are eligible to make another selection (it's after you scan in for a ride or two hours from when you made the selection — whichever hoppens first)
- When it's time to ride the next ride
- Any dining reservations you have
- When a virtual queue opens (set it for five minutes early so you can prepare and get to a location with a strong signal)
Here are a few common in-park scenarios that many groups may face and how to manage these situations.
Scenario 1: Teens Want to Break Off
A very common scenario with a large family or friend group is when older kids and young adults want to split off from the rest of the pack for a bit. Here's how we do it:
- We link all the kids to one scheduler's app. Then one responsible adult is in charge of all the tickets and plans.
- We have each of the kids create their own account or have an account they can log into on their phone so they have control of their ticket if they want to hop or exit the park and re-enter.
- We have each kid link to each other's app so they can manage themselves and their whole group. They might assign their own scheduler who is in charge of their plans.
- The adult scheduler makes sure to deselect the kids from any rides the group is not riding together.
Scenario 2: Small Tadpoles and Rider Switch
Some kids are not tall enough to ride. You can use Genie+ with Rider Switch. Some people will get to ride twice!
- When approaching a ride with a height requirement (including Genie+ rides), assign one adult to be the first babysitter and choose two people who will ride with them. That's party 2.
- Let a cast member at the queue entrance know you want to do Rider Switch. They will scan the tickets for the three people who want to ride second.
- Party 1 consists of everyone except the babysitter and baby. It can include the two extra people in party 2 who will also be riding with the babysitter. Party 1 can use Genie+ to use the Lightning Lane.
- When Party 1 returns, someone else becomes the babysitter while Party 2 skips the standard queue via the Lightning Lane or other designated line.
- Party 2 will have a start time to be able to redeem Rider Switch (with a code as with Genie+). It's supposed to be a one-hour window, but ours stayed on our devices all day until we used them.
Party 2 does not need a Genie+ reservation to ride. But if the first babysitter does have that ride selected on Genie+, then a few scenarios unfold. That person could use their Lightning Lane AND Rider Switch to ride twice.
Alternatively, if you know your little one will need a sitter for every ride, you do not need to purchase Genie+ for one of the parents. Just rely on Rider Switch. The only problem is when some members receive Multiple Experiences passes, then the adult without Genie+ will not have any.
Scenario 3: Parties Arrive at Different Times
Party 1 arrives at Rope Drop and is ready to go. Party 2 arrives at lunchtime when lines are peaking, and they cannot start selecting a Lightning Lane until they enter a park. This is a challenge but it's doable. Just communicate in advance about rides you want to ride together and apart.
The following rides are great to save to ride together because they have the closest windows in the afternoon (don't waste them in the morning):
- Star Tours (a great group ride you can all ride together)
- Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters (get a little friendly competition going)
- "it's a small world" (another great ride where you can all get the same boat)
- Goofy's Sky School
- Monsters, Inc.
- Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and Haunted Mansion on less crowded days (but not during Halloween and Holiday Time)
Party 1 can focus on rides without Genie+ in the first hour of park opening. They may want to prioritize rides that might not be immediately available later when the others arrive, such as Space Mountain, Indiana Jones Adventure or Toy Story Midway Mania! Party 1 can also hit rides that Party 2 doesn't like. They can save the rides that everyone loves for when the group is together.
In the morning, Party 1 can also ride any attractions they know they'd like to ride with the group but would also like to do twice (riding without using Genie+) in the morning. So if they love Space Mountain, they can ride that standby in the first hour and then get a Lightning Lane later with the group.
If Party 1 acquires any Multiple Experiences passes, they can use them in different ways:
- They can save them to ride a ride with Party 2 that they already used a Lightning Lane for.
- They can give them to Party 2 (if the groups are the same size) to ride an attraction that Party 1 has reserved if Party 2 is unable to get a matching time window.
Scenario 4: Multiple Experiences Passes Appear in the App Due to a Ride Breakdown
Some people view ride breakdowns as a negative, but when you are using Genie+, they are a game-changer. With a little inconvenience comes great rewards. If a ride breaks down in your Lightning Lane window, you'll get a Multiple Selections notice under My Day. When you tap it, you'll see the Multiple Experiences pass. Here's why we love them:
- They immediately release you from any waiting periods associated with that ride.
- You can re-book that ride or book a different ride.
- You can use these on almost any other rides in the park (both Genie+ rides and rides without Genie+, but there are some exceptions). Tap "Find out where you can go" for a list.
- If you are park hopping, you can use them in the other park.
- They can be used until a ride or the park closes that day, so you no longer have just one hour to ride.
- If you rebook the same ride and it is still down, you can get another pass and another.
- You can use them for a ride you have already ridden with Genie+!
We frogs scan the Disneyland app, looking for rides that are temporarily down. If they have a close-by distribution window (within the hour), we grab a Lightning Lane. If the ride is still down when our ride window starts, we get a Multiple Experiences pass to use on almost any other ride. We might re-book that ride that is down. If it reopens, we get to ride. If not, we acquire another pass.
Now, the tricky part with groups is if you split up and different members get Multiple Experiences passes. It's not inherently obvious which party members can use which passes, and anyone with the code can redeem them. But if you scroll down on the pass, it lists the party size and the members who can use it. So the managers of each group should pay close attention to which ride breakdowns they have gotten and who is using which codes.
There are two tiers of rides:
- Tier 1 is Space Mountain, Matterhorn Bobsleds, Indiana Jones Adventure and Toy Story Midway Mania! When those rides break down, you can access Tier 1 and Tier 2 rides, along with almost all other rides in the park except for individual Lightning Lanes or Peter Pan's Flight.
- Tier 2 includes every other Genie+ ride except Tier 1 rides. When a Tier 2 ride, such as Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, breaks down, you can use the Multiple Experiences pass to ride any Tier 2 ride or any other ride in the parks except for individual Lightning Lane or Peter Pan's Flight.
You can tap the pass to find out which rides it can and cannot be used on. That is important because If you have both Big Thunder Mountain and a Matterhorn Bobsleds breakdown (Under My Day), you might want to save Matterhorn for a Tier 1 ride such as Space Mountain instead of using it on a ride in a lower tier.
Scenario 5: Some Party Members Changed Their Mind About Riding a Certain Ride
Guardians sounded like a good idea when the whole group got a Lightning Lane until you realized you don't like dark or drop rides. That's OK — you can cancel the Genie+ reservation. When you go to cancel, you can tap on the Lightning Lane reservation and hit cancel. Then select just the name of the person trying to cancel and leave everyone else's plans intact. You'll want to cancel because if you are left holding an unused Guardians Lightning Lane and don't tap in with the group, when they go to make the next selection, you will be unable to join since you are technically still waiting to ride Guardians. You don't want members of the group to get off the group plan.
You always want to stay in the same eligibility windows as the rest of the group. Make sure you scan every code for the group at the ride entrance.
One time, we did not properly redeem our niece's code for Indiana Jones Adventure. When we immediately booked the next ride, she was automatically deselected because she was still technically waiting to scan in for Indy. We booked the ride without her, and then immediately canceled her Indy Lightning Lane. But by the time we booked her for the same ride as the rest of the group, the times had shifted. There was overlap so we waited until we all were eligible to ride, but since she was not on the group reservation, her Lightning Lane code was separate and somehow did not get redeemed again. So we had to cancel that and start over for the next ride. Trust me when I say it's easier to stay in the same eligibility windows.
Scenario 6: You Have Some Park Hoppers and Some 1-Park-per-Day Tickets in Your Group
Maybe you are starting in different parks and later coming together in one park. Or you start your day together and split off. Again, you'll want to discuss any group rides you want to ride together and what you'll want to book together.
If you are starting in different parks, you can book your first ride for after 1 p.m. after you can hop. Make sure everyone is eligible to book and reserve the party at the same time to get the first time slot after 1 p.m.
Scenario 7: Some People Use Genie+ and Others Don't
You want to use Genie+, but your sister's family is not up for the cost. What do you do? You are going to do some things together and some things separately.
- Start the day together at park opening, riding as many rides as you can during the shortest wait times of the day.
- When it's time for the first Genie+ reservation, part ways for a bit but stay in touch. Maybe the Genie+ family can complete a few rides while the other party goes on some rides of their own.
- Meet up for meals and character meet and greets.
- Ride attractions that don't offer Genie+ together or hit the Single Rider lines. (Remember that most Disneyland rides are not on Genie+.)
- See shows and parades together. Jungle Cruise, Pirates of the Caribbean and King Arthur's Carrousel make great group rides.
- Take some group photos using a Genie+ user's PhotoPass and share them.
Scenario 8: Parties Exit the Parks at Different Times
One family is done for the day in the late afternoon or evening, but you still want to stay. If they are not coming back and have their Genie+ tickets linked to you, nothing is stopping you from using their tickets to make Lightning Lane selections or redeeming Multiple Experiences passes. Obviously, you can only book rides they have not already used. But this is a way to book two Lightning Lanes at a time.
Redeeming the Correct Ride
You have to use caution when splitting up from people linked to your account. You'll see both your ride selections and theirs under "My Day." You'll have to do your best to keep the plans straight, especially if you have Multiple Experiences passes in there or if you made similar plans or overlapping plans for the same ride and ride window as the other people. You can scroll down on the Multiple Experiences passes to see the names of the people who received them. When you go to redeem a Lightning Lane, each code will also have the user's name on it.
Also, if you are a frequent visitor and have linked to friends' accounts or have their tickets linked in your app, you'll see their plans popping up on your phone if they hoppen to be in the park at the same time as you, and they can see yours. So use caution with linking tickets. On the other hand, it's a good way to keep tabs on what your teen or tween is up to since their ride plans and Mobile Orders will pop up on your device.
Scenario 9: You Have a Mix of Ticket Types in Your App or Have Problems Confirming Your Party
We recently visited Disneyland with a group of three families. Some purchased tickets and some had Magic Keys. As we mentioned earlier, the Magic Key holders had to purchase Genie+ separately from other ticket holders because Magic Key holders get a discount. Those of us over a certain height purchased Genie+ upon entering the theme park. We quickly booked our first ride, went on a few rides without Genie+ and made our way to Space Mountain to use our first Genie+ Lightning Lane selection and — uh, oh — only three people out of seven had a Lightning Lane. The Magic Key holders were separated from the ticket purchasers. We went to Guest Relations and they said that sometimes when you purchase tickets separately or have a mix of ticket types this can happen. Usually, all eligible party members appear together, but sometimes, another group of tickets might appear on a separate page.
On other visits, we did not encounter this problem with mixed ticket types, but sometimes it hoppens. It's good to be aware of it in case it hoppens to you.
Here's the fix: What you need to do is slow down and look carefully whenever you confirm your party. If you do not see all the names of Genie+ users when selecting your party, tap the Edit button. The rest of the names will appear under "Anyone Else Going?" You can select the ones who want to ride. Tap the Confirm Party button. If this separation of groups hoppens to your group, it just means you'll need to take extra care all day to make sure you edit your party to select everyone.
Even we frogs try to move too quickly and can make mistakes, so this is our tip to slow down and not try to make selections while walking through the park or while distracted. Look over your party carefully to make sure you have no froggy left behind.
Scenario 10: You Have People with Special Needs in Your Group
We have hopful posts about visiting Disneyland in a wheelchair or when using Disability Access Service (DAS). Genie+ is a great tool to help you when you or someone in your party has special needs. People who use DAS can also use Genie+. Genie+ users who need accommodations will still get those whether or not they access a Genie+ ride or another ride.
The DAS return times can overlap with Genie+ windows. You can manage both of them on the Disneyland app. Once you set up DAS (either online or in the park at any Guest Relations location) and add all party members and link them to the app, you can start making ride returns.
Since DAS return times can be made for any ride in the park and Genie+ Lightning Lanes can be made for select attractions, we suggest using DAS for rides that do not offer Lightning Lane. (Or use it for a second ride on a favorite ride with Lightning Lane). Genie+ selections must be used within a one-hour window, but DAS return times do not expire until the ride or park closes. So if you have overlapping times, you'll want to prioritize those Lightning Lane windows. Since DAS is meant for the user and up to five others (for a party of six), if you are a larger group and Disney cannot accommodate all of you on DAS, then you might use Genie+ for the party members who cannot fit on the DAS.
Genie+ Strategies for Groups at Disneyland
There are a few ways to make sure you ride or don't ride together. Here are some group tips:
- Assign one Genie+ manager (it's easier to ride together if one person books for everyone at the same time — otherwise you might get different one-hour ride windows).
- Try to arrive at the park together.
- Decide which rides you will ride together or separately (since each person gets one Lightning Lane reservation per ride). So if part of the group arrives in the morning and rides Space Mountain with Lightning Lane, but the rest of the party arrives at noon and also wants to ride Space Mountain, group one will not be able to reserve it for themselves again to ride with the second party. But if group one knows that group two does not like "it's a small world" and loves Space Mountain, then "small world" is a better Lightning Lane to hit before the others show up, and group one can use standby for Space Mountain at Rope Drop for a short wait and save the Lightning Lane to use with the whole group later.
- When people split off, be careful to select only the party members who will be riding together. If Tad and his cousins take off to ride Big Thunder Mountain Railroad while we ride Haunted Mansion, our party for Haunted Mansion will have Tad and the cousins deselected. Then Tad and the cousins will select their own rides. If a person accidentally gets added to the wrong party, they can cancel.
- If someone changes their mind and does not want to ride with the group, you can cancel just that person from the ride selection. You will keep the group's Lightning Lane selection. Then that person can rebook something else.
- Be sure to select all party members who want to ride when confirming your party.
- Scan every code when redeeming (it helps speed things up if they were all booked at one time by one person).
- Watch out for the Multiple Experiences passes as they pop up. Let's say Tad's group received some Multiple Experiences passes for a Big Thunder Mountain Railroad breakdown and we got some for Matterhorn Bobsleds. We want to tap the pass to check the ride it replaced and the names of the party members who received it. That way we make sure to redeem the correct one. (Especially, since Matterhorn is a top-tier ride and the pass is valid for a few more rides than, say, Thunder Mountain.)
- Set timers.
- Bring external phone chargers.
- Have someone manage PhotoPass photos.
- Scan every ticket of each riding individual or cancel non-riders.
- Book the next selection as soon as you are eligible. (That's after scanning into a ride or two hours from when you booked a Lightning Lane — whichever comes first).
Do you have any questions about using Genie Plus as a group that we did not cover? Let us know in the comments section below. Undercover Tourist sells discount Disneyland Resort tickets with and without Genie+. Some of the savings per ticket are even greater than the cost of Genie+ itself!
Related: Genie+ FAQ