The Complete Guide to the Disney Genie, Disney Genie+ & Lightning Lane


Disney just announced new digital services for the Walt Disney World Resort called Disney Genie, Disney Genie+ and Lightning Lane which replaces FastPass and FastPass+.  The company’s stated goal for these new services is to help guests navigate their day at the theme parks to make the experience more fun, productive and enjoyable.

While this new service may enhance the theme park experience for guests, Disney is operating a business so we would expect that this is another way for the company to increase its revenue through the use of these paid addons.

Read on to learn more about Disney Genie+, Lightning Lanes, the additional costs and how the service will operate.

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What is the Disney Genie Service?

Disney Genie is a virtual assistant that is free to all guests and will be part of the existing My Disney Experience mobile app.  This new digital service will help with vacation planning advice, provide tips & recommendations, forecasts attraction wait times, sign up for virtual queues, indicate showtimes and assist with dining reservations / mobile food orders.

Disney Genie allows guests to choose two different ways to purchase and reserve arrival windows using the Lightning Lane entrances.  The two options are Disney Genie+ service and the individual Lightning Lane purchases; these options offer different experiences but can also be combined.

While using Disney Genie is not required for your visit to one of the Walt Disney World theme parks, it is  necessary to get on select rides (virtual queues), order meals (mobile food ordering) and check existing attraction wait times / showtimes.

What is Disney Genie+?

Disney Genie+ is a premium add on to the Disney Genie service where guests can choose the “next available time to arrive” for more than 40 different attractions, shows and experiences using the Lightning Lanes (see below for more details). 

Guest can make their first selection of an attraction and experiences starting at 7:00 AM the day of your visit to an individual Walt Disney World theme park.

This new service will cost $15 per guest per day at the Walt Disney World Resort and guests will only be allowed to select one attraction or experience at a time.  In addition to the selection attraction arrival times, Disney Genie+ will include “themed audio experiences and photo features to capture your memories”.  

What are the new Lightning Lanes?

The Lightning Lane entrance is a separate queue line from the standby queue and is a premium (separately paid) upgrade.   

As of the winter 2021, the costs of individual Lightning Lanes average $7 to $15 per guest per attraction.  Guests can choose this option at up to different attractions per day but only attraction can be selected at a time.

Guests staying at Disney Resort Hotels including Shades of Green, the Walt Disney World Swan and the Walt Disney World Dolphin can purchase individual Lightning Lanes starting at 7:00 AM on the day of the particular visit.  All other guests can purchase Lightning Lanes when the park opens.  

Lightning Lane Individual Rides and Attractions

The following list provides the individual rides and attractions for both Individual Lightning Lane purchases as well as the Genie+ Lightning Lane.  As always, these rides and attractions may vary by date and subject to change by Disney.

Magic Kingdom

Individual Lightning Lane

  • Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
  • Space Mountain

Genie+ Lightning Lane

  • “it’s a small world”
  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
  • Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin
  • Dumbo the Flying Elephant
  • Haunted Mansion
  • Jungle Cruise
  • Mad Tea Party
  • The Magic Carpets of Aladdin
  • Peter Pan’s Flight
  • Pirates of the Caribbean
  • Splash Mountain
  • The Barnstormer
  • The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
  • Tomorrowland Speedway
  • Under the Sea – Journey of The Little Mermaid
  • Mickey’s PhilharMagic
  • Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor

EPCOT

Individual Lightning Lane

Genie+ Lightning Lane

Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Individual Lightning Lane

  • Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway
  • Rise of the Resistance

Genie+ Lightning Lane

  • Alien Swirling Saucers
  • Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run
  • Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith
  • Slinky Dog Dash
  • Star Tours – The Adventures Continue
  • The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror (TM)
  • Toy Story Mania!
  • Beauty and the Beast – Live on Stage
  • For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration
  • Muppet*Vision 3D
  • Disney Junior Play and Dance!

Animal Kingdom

Individual Lightning Lane

  • Avatar – Flight of Passage
  • Expedition Everest

Genie+ Lightning Lane

  • DINOSAUR
  • It’s Tough to be a Bug!
  • Kali River Rapids
  • Kilimanjaro Safaris
  • Na’vi River Journey
  • Festival of the Lion King
  • Animation Experience
  • Feathered Friends in Flight!

Will there be an additional cost for Virtual Queues?

At this time it does not appear there will be any additional costs for virtual queues.  Currently there is one only attraction that offers a virtual queues which is Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure.

At this time Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance is no longer offering a virtual queue.  According to Disney that virtual queue has been “paused”.

It would be expected that the virtual queue capacity will be reduced to for availability of “paid” riders.  So if you are unable to get into the virtual queue through the normal process, the only other way to get on one of these attractions would be a paid option.

Our Review of the Disney Genie system?

There has been a huge amount of controversary regarding the Disney Genie system, both positive and negative.  The Endless Summer family has taken some time to evaluate this new system and wanted to test it on a busy park day.  Fortunately we were able to put it through its paces at EPCOT on November 23, 2021 which was the week of Thanksgiving – one of the peak times of the year.  

Since EPCOT opened at 11:00 AM, we decided to purchase the Disney Genie+ system at noon since wait times for most attractions were getting quite long.  Typically when we visit Epcot our first ride is Test Track, but when checking the tip board, the next available Lighting Lane was 8:45 PM which was not going to work for us.

After reviewing other available options, our first selection was between Mission: Space or Spaceship Earth.  Since Mission: Space is among our favorites, we selected Spaceship Earth with a window of 2:05 to 3:05 PM.  Unfortunately that left a two hour gap at the start of our day which provided for our first Genie+ lesson – purchase early in your day (preferably at 7:00 am) so you can select your first attraction at park opening.  

Following our ride on Spaceship Earth, Disney Genie+ offered suggestions to a number of attractions that were well into the late afternoon / early evening, many of which did not work for our schedule (dinner at the Garden Grill).  So as a result, we were not able to take advantage of any other Lightning Lane Selections for our visit that particular day.

While our lack of familiarity for the system no doubt contributed to our experience as well as our particular theme park test case (EPCOT), at this time we don’t feel that Disney Genie+ is an improvement over the old FastPass+ system.  In addition, we did not enjoy spending a good portion of the day staring at a phone (isn’t that the reason we go on vacation after all?).

We will definitely give Disney Genie+ another try as we love the concept ($15 per person daily fee for potentially hours of time savings), but the jury is still out on whether this will be an effective system for guests or just another revenue grab by the company itself.

Is Disney Genie+ similar to Universal Express?

While Disney Genie+ and the Lightning Lanes have some similarity with Universal Express at the Universal Orlando Resort is that they both are premium (additional charge) add ons, there are some very significant differences.

First off, the cost of Universal Express (once per ride) starts at $69.99 per person per day and can go as high as $299.99 for Universal Express Unlimited (unlimited number of rides) while Disney Genie+ starts at $15 per person per day.   Advance attraction selections have yet to be priced so it will be interesting to see if that is comparable with Universal’s pricing structure. 

Additionally, Universal Express does not require advanced time reservations.  If a particular attraction is open for Universal Express, guests can just walk into the specific attraction pretty much any time during the entire day.  As a result, we see Universal Express is a more spontaneous option than a complete planning of your day.

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