Genie, Genie +, Lightning Lane, Individual Lightning Lane – Worth it for Your Next Disney Vacation?

Genie, Genie +, Lightning Lane, Individual Lightning Lane – Worth it for Your Next Disney Vacation?

December 2021

Genie, Genie +, Lighting Lane, Individual Lightening Lane – Worth it for Your Next Disney Vacation?

There are a ton of changes that came to Walt Disney World post-pandemic, so much that it takes some intense reading to understand it all. In this post, we are going to break down the in’s and out’s of the new Genie, Genie +, Lighting Lane, Individual Lightening Lane . We experienced these on our most recent trip to the most magical place on earth and I will give you an assessment of value and worth for your next Disney vacation.

In additional, there is quite a bit of new technology to navigate while planning your Disney World trip and I have this post for Navigating the New Technology of Walt Disney World to help.

Ok, what on earth is Genie, Genie +, Lightning Lane, Individual Lightning Lane? Remember that awesome FastPass system? Well, it is gone and has been replaced with the complicated Genie, Genie +, Lightning Lane, Individual Lightning Lane system.

Genie, Genie +, Lightning Lane, Individual Lightning Lane

Let’s start by learning the new vocabulary:

  • Genie is the free version of the program. It works by having you selecting the rides you wish to go on and the “Genie” putting your requests into an algorithm. In return you are supposed to get an itinerary that tells you when to ride what rides based on data that predicts ride wait times throughout the day.
  • Genie + is the closest equivalent to legacy FastPass system but it comes at a price of $15 a person per day of use. It does work for park hopping which is a plus but it is subject to availability that day – just because you spent the money does not guarantee you will get on a certain ride as slots are limited. Unlike Genie, you have the leg work of selecting rides throughout the day in which you are given a return window to enter the Lighting Lane to ride the attraction. You can also only ride each ride once using Genie + and the Lighting Lane – if you want to ride it again you have to wait in the standby line.
  • Lightning Lane is the name of the FastPass lanes. When you purchase Genie + you are purchasing access to the Lightning Lanes for those attractions. 
  • To further complicate things, there is also Individual Lightning Lanes. Outside of Genie and Genie +, you can purchase Individual Lightning Lane for select rides as well. This is reserved for the most popular two attractions in each park and you pay per ride per person. These are pay per ride attraction and these prices can change depending on demand with the most expensive ride costing $15 a person (currently Rise of the Resistance). This is NOT included in Genie + and is an additional fee if you purchased Genie +. Note that if you are park hopping, you can only purchase two individual lighting lanes a day so choose wisely. 

Using Genie, Genie +, Lightning Lane, Individual Lightning Lane

For better or for worse, you cannot make selections ahead of time and ride selections are done the morning of your park day for each of the options.

I did not use the Genie service (the free version) as I watched many reviews indicated that simply following the Tip Board in the My Disney Experience App was a better option. The Tip Board in the My Disney Experience App displays the wait times of the attractions so you can make the decisions on what to ride. I would recommend monitoring wait times in order to dictate your ride selection.

For using Genie + and Individual Lightning Lane, selections are made at the beginning of the day for your park day. You can purchase Genie + ahead of time for the day you wish to use it but Individual Lightning Lane can only be purchased day of. In both scenarios, ride selections can only be made the day of your park day.

Disney resort guests can book their Genie + and Individual Lightning Lane attractions starting at 7AM. This gives a huge advantage to these guests giving them the first opportunity to book attractions. As the minutes move through the 7 o’clock hour, the ride return times move farther into the day until they are sold out. If you are not staying on Disney property, you can make your ride selections when the park opens.

Genie + bookings if you a return window and you are unable to select the time you desire – what you get is what you get. Recall that you cannot book all the rides at once but as you ride attractions throughout the day, you will be eligible to make more ride selections.

Individual Lightning Lane does permit you to select the arrival window you want as long as there is availability. Be aware that Individual Lightning Lane is reserved for the most popular attractions so these go very fast. It is critical to be on the My Disney Experience App exactly at 7AM (use if you are a resort guest, or at park open for non-resort guests. I will say, it is not uncommon for Individual Lightning Lane to be sold out before the park opens. The other essential piece is to make sure you have a form of payment linked to your My Disney Experience App so you do not have to waste time fumbling with payment.

How to book Genie +, Lightning Lane, Individual Lightning Lane

Booking attractions is done through the My Disney Experience App in the Tip Board section. Open the app and go to the bottom icon bar – the right most icon with the three bars will display a series of options, including the Top Board.

The first thing you want to do is confirm the park is where you want to be. For some reason, the AI is not good enough to know where you are (despite the location finder being on to use this app) so make sure to change the park at the top of the screen if needed.

Above the park information is the Tip Board tab and the My Day tab. The Tip Board tab displays wait times of the attractions as well as dining options. The My Day tab displays anything you have planned or scheduled for that day.

Below the park information is two tabs – one for experiences and one for dining. Experiences is where you find wait times for attractions and where you book Genie +, Lightning Lane, Individual Lightning Lane attractions. The dining tab shows information such as the earliest order window for Mobile Food Orders, available dining reservations and if sit down restaurants are accepting walk-up lists.

I logged into the Tip Board at 7:17AM to see what Genie + and Individual Lightning Lane was looking like on December 30th so note it is a popular park day and every park reservation was sold out. Seventeen minutes into the Genie + and Individual Lightning Lane selections being available, Slinky Dog Dash’s Gene + was already booking at 5:40PM at night so I bet that definitely sold out shortly after I checked. Looking at an Individual Lightning Lane, Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure could be purchased for $9 with still ample availability left in the day. Standby Line was unavailable as I was checking these before the park opened.

Checking later in the day, the example below shows that Astro Orbiter is a 45 minute wait, Barnstormer is a 25 minute wait with Genie + still available and Big Thunder Mountain is a 70 minute wait but Genie + selections are all sold out.

Now that we have covered the bases of what Genie, Genie +, Lighting Lane, Individual Lightning Lane are and how to book them, is it worth adding these to your next Disney vacation. Is purchasing your way through riding Disney rides the way to go?

We visited in the week before Christmas in December of 2021 which is a busy time of the year to visit the Disney parks. We scheduled one full park day with a park hopper – our park reservation was for Hollywood Studios and we planned on park hopping to EPCOT later that day. Most parks were sold out for the day so we knew to expect crowds and competition in the Genie +, Lighting Lane, Individual Lightning Lane market.

As mentioned previously, I do not fine Genie worth the time – simply look at the Tip Board for wait times of the attractions you want to visit and manage the wait times yourself. I also opted to not purchase Genie + as the number of attractions at Hollywood Studios and EPCOT did not feel worth a $15 per person investment. Plus we planned on getting to the park at open. Since we were staying on Disney property, we were eligible to get into the pair 30 minutes ahead of the park opening which we planned on taking full advantage of. I did plan on utilizing Individual Lightning Lane for the most popular attraction, Rise of the Resistance, since everyone in our group really wanted to ride it and we did not have three hours to wait in line.

Alarms set for 7AM, we were all ready to fight to book the most popular ride in Disney World. As 7AM rolled around, the Tip Board continued to display “Not currently offered” in the Individual Lightening Lane box. I refreshed and refreshed but no change. I was so happy I packed a portable charger cause I needed it – in case it came back online I did not want to miss the opportunity to book the Individual Lightening Lane.

We made our way to the bus stop for our ride over to Hollywood Studios when an error message finally showed up in the app indicating that Individual Lightning Lane was down. Thank goodness cause I was starting to think I blew this entire plan! But no one was able to purchase Individual Lightning Lane which meant we were all in the same boat.

After entering the park we headed straight to the Rise of the Resistance queue with hopes that the standby line was not too long – the extra half hour that resort guests have the enter the park ahead of the official opening time is a huge benefit. We got in line right before 8AM (the actual park open time) and made it onto the ride portion of the attraction at 8:30AM – amazing! The old trip of taking advantage of early park hours still does the trick, and we saved $15 a person!

When 9:30AM came around, the Individual Lightning Lane was still down but after a few minutes it started to come back online for certain attractions. I do not think it every came back up for Rise of the Resistance, at least while we were in Hollywood Studios.

The other Individual Lightning Lane we were looking to purchase today was Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure. At the time of our visit, there were only two ways to ride the new attraction – entering the virtual queue or purchasing the Individual Lightening Lane. Since we did not have a park reservation for EPCOT this day and were instead parking hopping, we were not eligible to sign up for the virtual queue so the only way we could ride it. Luckily around 10AM, the Individual Lightning Lane did come back online for Remy’s so we paid the $11 per person and selected a time for after the 2PM park hop window. When we arrived, the Individual Lightning Lane worked just like the old FastPass system and we walked right onto the attraction.

*Update: Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure is no longer a virtual queue and is not a traditional standby queue with the option of purchasing an Individual Lightning Lane.

Is it worth it? My Recommendation for using Genie, Genie +, Lightning Lane, Individual Lightning

While our experience with Genie, Genie +, Lightning Lane, Individual Lightning was limited, we made lots of observations that created my recommendation on using these:

  • Do not use Genie – use the Tip Board to look at wait times yourself.
  • The only time I may suggest Genie + is if you are parking hoping and doing two or more parks with lots of Genie + eligible rides, such as Magic Kingdom but overall, I do not think Genie + is necessary for your visit.
  • I would recommend purchasing Individual Lightning Lane for only the most in demand ride with more than average wait of 90 minutes or more (such as Rise of the Resistance) or you have limited flexibility to ride such rides.
  • Wait times were generally more elevated than they actually were – speculation is this is being done on purpose by Disney to drive people to purchasing Genie +, Lightning Lane, Individual Lightning Lane.

Here is what I would recommend:

  • Get to the parks at least a half hour before your earliest entry time into the park for opening. Many people do not like getting up early for vacation but it is the absolute best time to ride attractions. This is how we always have done our park days and I was pleased to find that this tip held true on this trip.
  • Take advantage of the hours leading up to park close. As the park empty out, the rides still remain open and the wait time plummet. You can get into a line up until the park close time so if you are able to, use this time to catch up on popular attractions.
  • Avoid the afternoons in the park – they are crowded, typically hot, and not a great time to try and get one attractions. There are so many great options for a park day break – enjoy the resort or the place you are staying, or take advantage of Park-Free Options at Walt Disney World.
  • Working with these times of the day mitigates the need to spend $15 per person per day on Genie + and often the Individual Lightning Lane fee like we did for Rise of the Resistance.

In conclusion, if you are willing to do the parks when they open and later towards closing, I do not think you need to purchase either Genie + or Individual Lightning Lanes to ride attractions on your Disney trip. If you are able to be flexible, you do not need to buy your way through Disney.

Phew! I hope you were able to keep up with all these changes. It is a lot to take in but if you do the steps a little at a time it is not as overwhelming. I hope this blog post serves as a resource and I will update it as things change. One thing is for sure – a portable charger is going to be your best friend. Even the newest phones will be no match for the amount of phone usage you will need for visiting Walt Disney World.

Read more Disney blog posts and planning tips here!

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