1-Day Epcot Itinerary Using Genie+ & Lightning Lanes
This 1-day itinerary for Epcot offers a step-by-step day at Walt Disney World using Genie+ and Lightning Lanes. This park plan illustrates how paid FastPass works, with tips for efficiently doing rides via the line-skipping service and standby. (Updated June 17, 2022.)
This is a theoretical day at Epcot since there are unknowns and variables that’ll differ during your day in the park. For example, the Lightning Lane return times here are not necessarily what you’ll get, and your Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind boarding group will occur somewhat at random. All of that varies considerably based on crowd levels, how many other guests buy the Genie+ service, and a variety of other variables.
This 1-day Epcot Genie+ plan is intended to supplement our Lightning Lane and Genie+ at Walt Disney World FAQ. A lot of you have had questions, and we’ve tried to answer most of the common ones there. However, many are about specific scenarios and that FAQ would be as long as a Tolstoy novel if we addressed each one there.
Instead, we’re going to explain by showing via a hypothetical day at Epcot, which will hopefully address a lot of concerns/questions/etc. in the process. If you’re a type A vacation planner, hopefully this gives you some peace of mind about how Genie+ and Lightning Lanes work on your vacation.
If you’ve read our past 1-Day at Disney’s Hollywood Studios with Lightning Lanes & Genie+ or 1-Day at Magic Kingdom with Lightning Lanes & Genie+, you’re familiar with how this “itinerary” works.
Before we kick things off, let’s start with some updates. The good news is that Genie+ has changed at Epcot more than any other park at Walt Disney World in the last several months–and for the better! This is mostly because the park’s two attractions with the longest lines–Frozen Ever After and Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure–have joined the Genie+ ride roster.
Additionally, Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind is now open. While this attraction sells a la carte line skipping access, it also offers a free virtual queue. See our Virtual Queue Strategy Guide for Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind for the secrets to success with that.
Nevertheless, you might consider skipping Genie+ at Epcot entirely. For that, our 1-Day Epcot Itinerary covers how you can accomplish everything even if you’re staying off-site and don’t want to spend anything extra on Genie+ or Individual Lightning Lanes. It also offers great “zig when they zag” advice to avoid crowds and long lines.
One big reason for skipping Genie+ at Epcot is that it’ll force you to walk approximately 30 miles criss-crossing Epcot. Okay, slight exaggeration, but it will entail more back-tracking, and consequently, the amount of time you’ll save as compared to the standby line may not be super significant. It’ll definitely require more walking–at a park that already involves lots of that.
If you’re staying on-site, there are a couple of “free” efficient alternatives to Genie+ and Lightning Lanes at Epcot. The one thing we highly recommend is Early Entry at Epcot. Check out our recent Early Entry at Epcot: Better Than Genie+ post–the title says it all.
For those who are more of night owls, Epcot also does Extended Evening Theme Park Hours for select guests. That’s currently on Monday nights and runs for 2 hours after normal closing. Almost all open attractions have shorter waits during Extended Evening Hours. Those extra hours also offer access to a third virtual queue entry time for Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind.
It’s even possible to beat long lines without Early Entry or Extended Evening Hours. A lot of Epcot attractions have higher wait times at various points of the day, but not consistently. For example, Spaceship Earth’s wait time typically spikes early in the day since it’s big, iconic, and right at the front of the park. By late afternoon and evening, it’s often a walk-on, even with moderate to higher crowd levels.
A similar phenomenon occurs throughout the front of the park, which the vast majority of guests do first before continuing to World Showcase where they spend their afternoons and evenings. Even Test Track and Soarin’ Around the World have significantly shorter waits in the afternoon.
There are some days and weeks when you’ll absolutely want to purchase Genie+ at Epcot. If you’re visiting around Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s, Easter, or any other time when crowds are heavier, even the ‘second tier’ attractions at Epcot can have long waits.
There aren’t many of them, but saving 30 minutes each at Spaceship Earth, Mission: Space, Journey into Imagination, and Living with the Land adds up. That’s 2 hours total, in addition to what’s probably another hour or two at the headliners. If it offers a total time-savings of 3-4 hours on busier days at Epcot, that might justify Genie+ for you. (Most of the time, we’d expect Genie+ to save an hour or two in lines at Epcot–a far cry from Magic Kingdom or DHS.)
Another wildcard is Park Hopping. This is relevant since you purchase Genie+ per day, not per park.
An ideal use case for Genie+ is split between a day at Epcot and Animal Kingdom. This makes tremendous sense not just from a cost-savings perspective, but also from a time-savings and maximization one. Animal Kingdom opens several hours before Epcot, and Epcot closes several hours after Animal Kingdom. Hopping between the two can extend your day by 3 hours. (This is such a natural use case that we’ll have a combined DAK/Epcot itinerary soon.)
With that extensive commentary out of the way, here’s our 1-Day Epcot Itinerary with Genie+ and Lightning Lanes…
7 am — Attempt to join the Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind virtual queue. Fail anyway. (See How to Ride Cosmic Rewind at Epcot & Virtual Queue FAQ for advice to avoid such failures.)
Debate paying $14 per person for individual ride Lightning Lane access, but decide against it. You’ll succeed next time, you tell yourself.
7:01 am – Book Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure via Genie+ with a Lightning Lane return window of 9 am to 10 am.
8:30 am – Rope drop Frozen Ever After via standby.
This is a savvy approach because, most days, you’re unlikely to be able to book Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, Frozen Ever After, and Test Track all via Genie+, so you’ll have to do one of them via standby. Most people arriving for Early Entry prioritize Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure and most arriving for regular rope drop do Test Track, which leaves Frozen Ever After as the best option to beat the crowds. You’ll still have a wait, but it won’t be as bad as those alternatives or later in the day.
9:15 am – Finish Frozen Ever After and head towards the France pavilion.
9:30 am – Do Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure via Lightning Lane (Genie+ ride reservation).
9:31 am – Book Test Track via Genie+ with a Lightning Lane return window of 2 pm to 3 pm.
Mid-Morning – Continuing strolling around World Showcase, enjoying its atmosphere and details before the crowds arrive. While this might feel like a poor use of time early in the day, World Showcase will be far busier in the afternoon and front-of-park attractions will have shorter lines later. Stop to see the American Adventure at some point.
11 am – Rope drop the opening of La Cava del Tequila or Choza de Margarita for “performance enhancing” drinks that’ll help you experience World Showcase “better.” For those who prefer beer, stop at Norway for a Carlsberg.
Although you’ve done barely anything, we nevertheless suggest strolling around World Showcase at this point before the crowds arrive. Consider Drinking Around the World or Snacking Around the World. Or both for a different form of the “Dopey Challenge.”
~11:30 am – Do Gran Fiesta Tour via standby line.
11:31 am – Book Soarin’ Around the World via Genie+ with a Lightning Lane return window of 1 pm to 2 pm.
Note: This is when you’re eligible to book anything ride reservation because it’s 2 hours after 9:31 am, which is consistent with the 120 minute rule. This Genie+ policy allows you to make your next ride reservation either immediately after tapping into the Lightning Lane for your previous one or after 120 minutes have passed, whichever happens first. In this case, that’s the passage of 120 minutes.
12:15 pm – Meal Time at the Muppet Meatery! It’s hardly the paragon of worldly cuisine, but one of the best counter service restaurants in Epcot is the recently-added Regal Eagle Smokehouse. (We’ve eaten everything on the menu—read our Regal Eagle Smokehouse: A Review of All Foods, But Mostly BBQ Meats for thoughts on what to order.)
You will likely have no shortage of time, so you might instead consider a table service meal for lunch (Via Napoli would be our top pick right now in World Showcase) or simply grazing from the food booths for one of Epcot’s several, nearly year round festivals.
1:00 pm — Attempt to join the Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind virtual queue again, AND SUCCEED!
As it turns out, Cosmic Rewind is more reliable than Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, meaning it does not have persistent breakdown problems. On top of that, it does have a healthy hourly capacity, meaning you have a pretty good chance of success with the virtual queue at 1 pm, so long as you know what you’re doing.
1:31 pm – Book Mission: Space via Genie+ with a Lightning Lane return window of 4 pm to 5 pm.
1:15 pm – Do Soarin’ Around the World via Lightning Lane (Genie+ ride reservation).
1:45 pm – Do Living with the Land via standby line.
2:15 pm – Do Test Track via Lightning Lane (Genie+ ride reservation).
2:45 pm – Do Spaceship Earth via standby line.
3:15 pm – Talk to turtles (Crush and otherwise), meet manatees, and more at the Seas pavilion.
Finish up other Future World (sorry, not using the new neighborhood names until they’re supported by substance) attractions via standby lines since they’ll all be walk-ons, anyway. Now is also a good time to wander around the front of the park at your leisure; do some shopping, taste-testing at Club Cool, etc.
4:30 pm – Your boarding group is called! Do Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind via virtual queue.
5:00 pm – Do Mission: Space via Lightning Lane (Genie+ ride reservation).
5:30 pm – After returning from the red planet, head above Earth for dinner at Epcot’s newest restaurant. See our Photos & Video Inside Space 220 Restaurant as well as our Space 220 Restaurant Dinner Review that looks at whether the food is worth the price tag.
~7:00 pm – Head back to World Showcase; enjoy at your leisure.
8:15 pm – Grab a spot for Harmonious (check out our viewing location tips for Epcot fireworks). Hopefully, you’ll already have one reserved for the ‘front of the house’ via Genie+, but who knows whether that’ll be possible. If not, head to Japan or Italy.
Ultimately, this is our “ideal day”plan for Epcot based on assumptions about Genie+, wait times, and crowd levels. Depending on when you visit Epcot, some of these assumptions could be off and not reflect what you actually experience–but the same could be said of any itinerary. We think this is probably ~75% accurate. At the very least, it should illustrate how a day could look using Genie+ at Epcot.
The point here is to illustrate how Genie+ could prove advantageous–or not–for days you opt to purchase the add-on. Whether you’re better off purchasing Genie+ for Epcot largely depends on if you’ll do Early Entry and/or Extended Evening Hours, plan on Park Hopping, and how you feel about backtracking.
Finally, even with some things you’d be able to accomplish during the middle of the day removed for the sake of simplicity, this itinerary might look overwhelming. Just keep in mind that your past itinerary with FastPass+ or current one also might look pretty intimidating to the uninitiated. Like all things Walt Disney World, it’ll become simpler and more intuitive once put into practice.
Planning a Walt Disney World trip? Learn about hotels on our Walt Disney World Hotels Reviews page. For where to eat, read our Walt Disney World Restaurant Reviews. To save money on tickets or determine which type to buy, read our Tips for Saving Money on Walt Disney World Tickets post. Our What to Pack for Disney Trips post takes a unique look at clever items to take. For what to do and when to do it, our Walt Disney World Ride Guides will help. For comprehensive advice, the best place to start is our Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide for everything you need to know!
Was this theoretical 1-Day Epcot Itinerary w/ Genie+ helpful to illustrate how paid FastPass works? Think we could accomplish all of this in a single day at Epcot? Would you like to see a combined Epcot/Animal Kingdom day? Have any questions we didn’t answer with the above? Still confused by how Genie+ or Lightning Lanes will work? Do you agree or disagree with our assessments? Other thoughts or concerns? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback–even when you disagree with us–is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!
I would love to see a genie+ itinerary for AK/EP. I am planning those parks for 6/27 and am currently researching how I could stack LL for Epcot after rope-dropping AK. I plan to attempt the 6 pm virtual queue for GOG and I am not necessarily opposed to purchasing individual LL for FOP or GOG, but of course, I’d rather not.
“Note: This is when you’re eligible to book anything ride reservation because it’s 2 hours after 11:31 am, which is consistent with the 120 minute rule.”
This is a very confusing sentence, and I think you meant 9:31 am…
I read all your blog posts, and jot down little summary notes for myself in a Google Doc. I just realized I have – sourcing you – completely contradicted myself: in one place I wrote “zig when others zag, Do Frozen first THEN do Remy”, and in another place I wrote “absolutely start with Remy and decent shot after at Frozen”. But don’t think you are contradicting yourself. Realizing your “1-day no Genie + Epcot” vs. “1 day with genie + Epcot” vs “Early Entry at Epcot” are all distinctly different. I just wanted to run this by you to ensure I am understanding your insights,
In all cases, start at International Gateway:
1. (disregarding Early Entry) WITH Genie +, do whichever of Frozen or Remy you don’t have a Genie + pass for. Then go do the other, obtaining Test Track pass as soon as tapped in. (Your post assumes we would have a 9AMish Remy pass, but I imagine that may not be easy, and Frozen 9 Mish maybe more achievable and it would work largely same in reverse?)
2. AT Early Entry, definitely just do Remy first, then Frozen, in ‘geographic’ order.
3. If not early entry and no Genie +,”zig when others zag”: do Frozen first ,then backtrack to Remy (via Canada route)
Is this about right? Sorry, overthinking. Operation Overlord level planning like this is insane for a vacation, though I enjoy it personally. I would like to pass along that in my Disney Vacation planning documents I always have this as a footnote, and recommend everyone always keeps this in mind at all times: (*Remember: this is about fun and family. No matter what happens, you are in a place that is much more charming, fun and enjoyable than home. If the kids want to stay in the pool and you miss that impossible to obtain Fastpass you snagged, or we are all tired and getting room service and “vegging” feels more appealing than making that impossible to obtain ADR ,the kids are right about the pool and room service is the best choice.)
All of that is correct! The different starting attractions are due to differences in arrival times and use of Genie+ (or not).
As of right now, getting an early return time for Frozen Ever After is slightly easier than Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure.
“(*Remember: this is about fun and family. No matter what happens, you are in a place that is much more charming, fun and enjoyable than home. If the kids want to stay in the pool and you miss that impossible to obtain Fastpass you snagged, or we are all tired and getting room service and “vegging” feels more appealing than making that impossible to obtain ADR ,the kids are right about the pool and room service is the best choice.)”
I love this and you are absolutely right! I am also an obsessive planner and often remind myself of the same thing.
I would love to see a combined DAK/Epcot one day itinerary!! You have been so helpful in trying to get up to speed in all the important info that is required before going to WDW! Thank you so much!!
The big assumption is that your first Lightning Lane pass will be in the morning. There is a very good possibility, just like fast passes, you get an assigned time in the afternoon. And by the time you’ve done your first, there are no others available that day. So you’ve spent $15 pp to do one ride when you could have just waited on line. No thanks! I think if Genie+ would allow for 3 Lightning Lane passes at a time, just like the old fp system, it might be worth it.
Hi Tom, We used to be very savvy and understood the fast past perfectly. We loved planning the rides in advance to minimize having to walk all over the park. We have a multiply handicapped adult daughter and she can only tolerate 2-4 hrs max at the parks. We have to extend our stay to 10 to 11 days just to be able to get the most out of our vacation, and we still don’t get to see half of the parks. We cannot hopper pass nor can we rope drop. We use the DAS card for our daughter. With genie+ and lightening lanes starting, do you know if it would impact the DAS? Would you recommend the genie+ and lightening lanes for us? That’s if we can ever understand them lol. We would appreciate any insight or advice you may have. There are several popular rides we can’t do as well as they are not appropriate for our daughter. We sincerely read your column and follow your advice !!!!