Disney Genie+ strategy guide: How to make Lightning Lane reservations work for you

Disney has made it virtually impossible to enjoy a day at one of its theme parks without mastering Disney Genie+ and all it has to offer.
Mickey Mouse at Disney's Magic Kingdom theme park in Orlando (Photo: Disney)
Photo: Disney
  • Disney Genie+ is available to purchase per person, per day at both Walt Disney World and the Disneyland Resort.
  • No matter which park you’re going to, you should have a strategy in place for getting the most out of Genie+.
  • Pricing for Disney Genie+ is on a flexible sliding scale at Walt Disney World and starts at $30 per day at Disneyland.

When Disney’s Orlando and Anaheim theme parks first launched the Disney Genie and Disney Genie+ suite of trip planning services in October 2021, it represented a monumental shift in the way park guests could interact with and experience everything at Disney World and Disneyland.

Disney Genie is a free service aimed at helping guests plan their days in the parks, while Disney Genie+ has replaced Disney’s FastPass+ system, which was suspended at the time of the pandemic-related park closures in March of 2020. When the parks reopened a few months later, FastPass+ was notably absent, leaving many to wonder what would become of the once-complimentary service. Now that Genie+ has arrived and its initial wrinkles have been ironed out, we know: Genie+ has totally changed the game for plan (and budget) for families dreaming of a Disney vacation.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: The Ultimate Guide to Understanding Disney Genie and Genie+

The era of arriving at a Disney theme park without planning everything ahead of time has unfortunately come to an end. If you’re going to visit Disney World or Disneyland in the near future, you absolutely must develop a Genie+ strategy. Keep reading for our best strategy tips and tricks to get the most out of your theme park day investment.

How and when to purchase Disney Genie+

Guests using phone at Magic Kingdom in Orlando (Photo: Walt Disney World)
You need a Genie+ strategy to make the most of your park visit (Photo: Walt Disney World)

Walt Disney World

You can purchase Disney Genie+ starting at 12:00 a.m. on the day of your Walt Disney World visit. Purchases can only be made one day at a time and for same-day visits. This initial purchase is just for Genie+ itself, not for any special skip-the-line reservations; those can’t be made until 7:00 a.m. While Disney maintains that Genie+ is subject to availability, I have yet to see it sell out right at midnight. Still, you may want to consider purchasing Genie+ as early as possible so all you need to worry about in the morning is booking those initial ride reservations.

I try to be up by 6:45 a.m. to purchase Genie+ then book attractions that utilize virtual queues for my family at 7:00 a.m. After getting virtual queue bookings, I make my first Genie+ selection for the day.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: When Is the Best Time to Visit Disney World and Disneyland?

Genie+ is priced on a sliding scale based on what park or parks you want to visit the day you purchase the service, plus how busy the parks are that day. For example, your family could buy Genie+ for $27 and it’s good for all four Walt Disney World theme parks, or you can purchase Genie+ for $17 to skip the lines at only Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park. Magic Kingdom is usually the most expensive single-purchase park. The benefit to the sliding scale is that if you have date-based single-park entry tickets you can purchase Genie+ for just one park at a time versus the more expensive all-park option. The downside is for those who want to park hop, knowing that the all-park Genie+ selection is always the highest priced.

Genie+ can be purchased in the My Disney Experience app and doing so is simple on the day of your visit. First, make sure your family’s park tickets and park reservations are linked to your My Disney Experience app. Everyone you want to purchase Disney Genie+ for must have a Disney account and park tickets linked to your app.

Then select “My Disney Genie Day” under the main menu on the app. Finally, under the “Tip Board” tab, select “Purchase Disney Genie+ for Today.” Select what park you want to visit if you’re purchasing an individual park Genie+ or pick the multiple parks option. Confirm your party by selecting everyone that you’re traveling with. Finally, check out and get ready for a great day at the parks.


Disneyland’s Genie+ service is basically the same as Walt Disney World’s where your family can skip the lines at some of the most popular attractions, but purchasing the service is done differently at the California parks.

First, you can purchase Disney Genie+ when you book your vacation package or buy your park tickets in advance of your trip. I love this because I’m able to ensure my family has Genie+ for the days I think it will be the most useful. Alternatively, Genie+ can be purchased the same day of your visit, but only after you’ve scanned your park ticket at the front gate of either Disneyland Park or Disney California Adventure. If you’re buying Genie+ on the day of your visit after you’ve entered the park, you can secure your purchase through the Disneyland app.

Disney Genie+ starts at $30 per person, per day at the Disneyland Resort, and prices are always subject to change. If you have a park hopper ticket, Genie+ will be valid at both Disneyland Resort theme parks, while single park tickets will only populate Genie+ selections at your chosen park.

What is included with Genie+?

Space Mountain at Disney's Magic Kingdom (Photo: Matt Stroshane : Walt Disney World)
Space Mountain at Disney’s Magic Kingdom (Photo: Matt Stroshane : Walt Disney World)

Your purchase of Genie+ grants you the ability to book Lightning Lane reservations for select attractions. The “Lightning Lane” is the new term used for what used to be known as the FastPass queue. The reservation system works similar to FastPass+ in that you can make a selection for a one-hour return window where you and your party can access your reserved ride via an expedited queue known as the Lightning Lane (formerly known as the FastPass queue or FastPass entrance).

GALAXY QUEST: The Ultimate Guide to Galaxy’s Edge, Disney’s Star Wars Land at Hollywood Studios

A Genie+ purchase includes most but not all rides and attractions in your selected park or parks for that day (you only need to purchase Genie+ once if you plan on park hopping). We’ll chat more about which rides aren’t included in a little bit.

It’s important to note that you can book a Lightning Lane reservation for a ride via Genie+ only once per day. That means that if you wish to experience that attraction again, you can only do so via standby. Looking to best your personal record of how many rides on Space Mountain you can squeeze in on one day? Plan on only having one of those trips via Lightning Lane, and the rest will be via standby.

How to book Lightning Lane reservations

Poe Dameron's X-wing at Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge in Orlando (Photo: Walt Disney World)
Poe Dameron’s X-wing at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge in Orlando (Photo: Walt Disney World)

Walt Disney World

Gone are the days of the 30- and 60-day reservation windows we grew accustomed to with FastPass+. With Genie+, the Lightning Lane selections can only be made on the day of your park visit. Bookings for Genie+ attractions begin at 7:00 a.m. each morning at Walt Disney World.

BE A VIP: Everything You Need to Know about Disney Vacation Club

Similar to how FastPass+ used to operate, Lightning Lane selections via Genie+ can only be made one at a time. You must wait two hours or redeem your current Lightning Lane reservation (whichever comes first) before you can make another Lightning Lane selection. Disney’s two-hour wait to make another selection begins when the park opens, even if you were able to make your first selection right at 7:00 a.m.

Let’s say you book manage to book a Lightning Lane reservation for Space Mountain as soon as the reservation window opens at 7:00 a.m. for a ride time of noon to 1:00 p.m. If Magic Kingdom doesn’t open until 9:00 a.m., you will not be able to book your second Lightning Lane reservation until 11:00 a.m. This policy can sometimes feel as clear as mud, but just keep in mind that the 120-minute rule doesn’t go into effect until park opening.

If you’re like me and can lose track of time at Walt Disney World, know that your next booking time is always listed at the top of the Tip Board in the My Disney Experience app.


One major difference between Walt Disney World and Disneyland is that you can’t begin making your Lightning Lane bookings at either Disneyland theme parks until you’ve scanned your ticket into your first park. If Disneyland Park is set to open at 8:30 a.m., you’re going to want to be in line to enter by 7:45 a.m. to ensure you’re close to the front of the pack to be able to purchase Disney Genie+ for the day if you didn’t add it on with your park tickets or vacation package ahead of time.

Make your first selection as soon as you can. I suggest making Lightning Lanes for popular attractions like The Matterhorn or Indiana Jones Adventure as early in the day as possible since these tend to go quickly. After making your first selection, you can pick your sequential selection after you’ve redeemed your first selection or after the arrival window has passed. You can also make another selection if you currently have a Lightning Lane arrival window that’s more than two hours from the time the selection was made.

To make it easy and to know exactly when you can make your next Lightning Lane selection head to the Disneyland app Tip Board where you’ll be able to see your selection time displayed at the top of the screen. Lightning Lanes are limited to one ride per attraction per day. If you want to ride again you’ll have to wait in the stand-by line.

What rides are not Included with Genie+, but can be purchased individually?

The first full-size Starblaster ever built stands outside the Guardians of the Galaxy ride (Photo: Disney)
Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind’s Lightning Lane requires a separate purchase (Photo: Disney)

Genie+ lets you book a Lightning Lane return time for most rides and attractions in the Disney parks, but not all of them. You can pretty much take it to the bank that a park’s most popular rides are not included with your Genie+ purchase and will instead require a separate additional purchase in order to book a return time for the ride’s Lightning Lane. The separate additional purchase is called an Individual Lightning Lane, and the prices vary day-to-day and by attraction. (Note that Individual Lightning Lanes are totally optional and many of the attractions that utilize this service also have a stand-by line where you can wait.)

Disney occasionally changes which rides are included in Genie+ and which ones are part of the Individual Lightning Lane service, so be sure to check ahead of your visit to see which rides are currently available under which bucket.

Rides with Individual Lightning Lanes at Walt Disney World

  • Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Magic Kingdom Park
  • TRON Lightcycle / Run, Magic Kingdom Park
  • Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, EPCOT
  • Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, Disney’s Hollywood Studios
  • Avatar Flight of Passage, Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park

When to purchase

Guests staying at a Disney World Resort hotel can make their first Individual Lightning Lane selection starting at 7:00 a.m., the same time that Genie+ reservations open up. If you’re not staying on Disney World property, you have to wait until the park opens in order to make your first selection. There’s also a limit to how often you can book Individual Lightning Lane entries: You may only purchase this type of entry up to two times a day, and you must do so one at a time. Each ride’s Lightning Lane is available once per day, per guest, but many of the attractions also have a stand-by line if you want to ride again. 

Also note that you do not have to purchase Genie+ in order to purchase Individual Lightning Lanes for rides. So, if all you care about is riding Rise of the Resistance on your day in Disney’s Hollywood Studios, you only need to make that one separate purchase if you want to use its Lightning Lane.

GRANDPARENTS WELCOME: How to Plan a Multigenerational Disney World Vacation That Makes Everyone Happy

Rides with Individual Lightning Lanes at Disneyland

  • Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, Disneyland Park
  • Radiator Springs Racers, Disney California Adventure

When to purchase

You can purchase up to two Individual Lightning Lanes for your group on the same day after you’ve scanned your ticket into the park. Since there are currently only two attractions that offer Individual Lightning Lanes at the Disneyland Resort, you can book both on the same day if you have a park hopper ticket.

The best Genie+ strategies for families

Epcot Forever fireworks spectacular (Photo: Kent Phillips)
Epcot Forever fireworks spectacular (Photo: Kent Phillips)

The arrival of Genie+ has forced even seasoned theme park pros to develop a new strategy for their days in the parks. (Sometimes it seems as though Disney is still figuring things out, too.) Your best Disney+ strategy might look entirely different from your neighbor’s, but in general, you should decide ahead of time which days you want to purchase Genie+ and which days you do not. The cost of Genie+ is prohibitive for many families. Depending on how large your party is, that cost can add up fast if you’re relying on Genie+ every day.

THRILL RIDES: 13 Best Rides at Disney World for Adults and Teens

Another important factor to consider for your Genie+ strategy is timing: When should you purchase Genie+ and when should you make those initial Lightning Lane reservations? My advice is to do so early, not necessarily because Genie+ will sell out but because you will want to start booking your Lightning Lane reservations as soon as possible. These do run out, especially for the more popular rides, and you want to make sure you’re getting the most bang for your buck, not matter what coast you’re on.

Whether you’re at Walt Disney World or the Disneyland Resort there are two big strategies to consider before you begin booking Lightning Lanes.


Stacking is when you try to line up a bunch of Genie+ reservations back-to-back. This strategy is best if you want to visit the parks early in the morning for rope drop, then go back to your hotel room for a while and revisit the park later in the day. When your booking window opens try to make selections that start after 4:00 p.m. and stack selections as close together as possible.


Churning is the strategy for those who just want to ride as much as possible without a detailed plan of what they want to ride. The goal of this Genie+ strategy is to select attractions with times that are as close to the current time as possible. After you’ve scanned into the Lightning Lane of your selected attraction you can immediately make another one.

5 more tips for Genie+

  1. Think about the park layout: Try to book your Genie+ selections based on the layout of the park. Booking Lightning Lanes in one area of the park at a time will keep you from walking back and forth all day, which saves time and energy.
  2. Refresh and modify often: Genie+ selections are able to be modified throughout the day. If you don’t get a great return time for an attraction, keep refreshing throughout the day and a new one may be given to you. This works best if you’re trying the “churning” strategy, but can be helpful for “stacking” to get attraction times closer to each other.
  3. Use your phone alarm: Always set an alarm on your phone for the time when you can make your next selection. This ensures that you don’t lose track of time and that you keep up with making selections throughout the day.
  4. Have one person make reservations for the group: Try to dedicate one person as the selection pro for the entire group for the day. Make sure they know how to use the Disneyland or My Disney Experience app, and ensure they know how your touring strategy works.
  5. Keep grace periods in mind for attractions: Every Lightning Lane has a grace period. You are usually allowed to enter the Lightning Lane line about 5 minutes before or after your selected time. Those 5 minutes can be the difference of getting on one more attraction during the day, so use them wisely.

More from FamilyVacationist:

Updated: June 19, 2024

Carly Neil
Carly Neil is a New England-based writer who specializes in theme parks, local attractions, food and drink, and travel. Her expertise for all things Disney has been featured in numerous industry-leading sites, and over the years she has become a trusted voice in helping first-timers and experts alike plan their Disney vacations. When Carly isn’t planning her own Disney getaway, she can be found catching the latest Broadway play. Visit her website at carlyterzigni.com for more information, and follow her on Instagram and Twitter @itscarlyneil for theme park news, other daily musings, and pictures of her pets.