Our 1-day itinerary for Magic Kingdom using Genie+ and Lightning Lanes offers a step-by-step plan for the park. Its goal is to answer questions, illustrate the process of how paid FastPass works in practice at Walt Disney World, and address the best strategy for ride reservations. (Updated March 3, 2023.)
This is a theoretical day at Magic Kingdom since there are unknowns and the Lightning Lane return times here are not necessarily what you’ll get. That’ll vary considerably based on crowd levels, how many other guests buy the Genie+ service, and a variety of other variables. If you want to see an example of what we accomplished in the park, see My Day Using Genie+ at Magic Kingdom.
The good news is that Magic Kingdom is the “easiest” park for using Genie+ at Walt Disney World, so it’s not essentially that you follow a strict itinerary for accomplishing a lot via Lightning Lanes. There’s a lot of room for flexibility, which is important since your plans and priorities will differ from what’s here depending upon whether you’re eligible for Early Entry, characters are important to your party, you do sit-down or counter service dining, etc.
Another thing to know is that a lot has changed with Genie+ in the last few months. Some of these are across the board policy or rule changes that apply equally to all parks at Walt Disney World. Then there are those specific to Magic Kingdom due to the recent return of several character experiences, including Enchanted Tales with Belle and the Ariel’s Grotto meet & greet. As such, we’ve returned to refresh this itinerary once again.
In essence, this itinerary offers a run through of a normal day at Magic Kingdom using both Lightning Lanes and standby lines. If you’re a type A vacation planner, hopefully this gives you some peace of mind about how Genie+ works. With that said, keep in mind that there will likely be some fluidity with Genie+ and Lightning Lanes in the months to come as tweaks are made–a lot has already changed since the systems launched last fall.
This 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.
As discussed in the aforementioned FAQ, there is currently one attraction per park that sells individual Lightning Lane access and are not part of Genie+. In Magic Kingdom, this attraction is Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. (Previously, Space Mountain was an Individual Lightning Lane ride, but it has been moved over to Genie+ permanently.)
Anyway, on with our 1-Day Magic Kingdom Itinerary with Genie+ and Lightning Lanes…
7:00 am – Book Peter Pan’s Flight via Genie+ with a Lightning Lane return window of 9:00 am to 10:00 am.
8:30 am – Rope drop Space Mountain via standby during Early Entry. (If you’re not eligible for Early Entry, skip ahead to Jungle Cruise.)
If you don’t care about character meet & greets, you might actually want to read that list of rankings instead of this sample itinerary. This is going to involve a lot of character stops that many families might want to skip entirely. If so, you’ll free up a lot of time to do different things.
Parties uninterested in characters might also consider staying in Tomorrowland and taking a spin on the Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover. You’ll be able to have a much more leisurely day than those who are also trying to knock out meet & greets via the Lightning Lanes.
9:30 am – Do Peter Pan’s Flight via Lightning Lane (Genie+ ride reservation). Immediately upon tapping into the Lightning Lane, book Meet Ariel at Her Grotto via Genie+ with a Lightning Lane return window of 12:30 pm to 1:30 pm. (If you skipped Jungle Cruise before because you don’t care about characters, book that instead.)
9:45 am – Do the Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh via standby line.
10:00 am – Do Haunted Mansion via standby line.
10:30 am – Do Pirates of the Caribbean via standby line.
10:45 am – Free time or a buffer in case crowds are worse during your visit. If you’ve already accomplished all or most of this, consider rewarding yourself with one of the Best Magic Kingdom Snacks & Desserts List. (We’re going to leave some gaps in this itinerary so it doesn’t become too confusing or overwhelming–eating is always a great way to fill the void!)
11:00 am – Book Meet Mickey & Minnie at Town Square Theater via Genie+ with a Lightning Lane return window of 2:00 pm to 3:00 pm.
Note: 11:00 am is chosen because it’s 120 minutes after 9 am, which is consistent with the 120 minute rule. This means that you can select your next Genie+ ride reservation either after tapping into your previous one or after 120 minutes have passed, whichever is sooner. In this case, that’s 120 minutes.
12:30 pm – Recover from a feast of highly adventurous and unusual dishes such as “grilled steak” and “fried chicken” by a brief hibernation during Country Bear Jamboree. Marvel at its bear-rific brilliance. Further feast recovery with a showing of Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room. (In other words, this is about an hour of free time.)
1:00 pm – Book Big Thunder Mountain Railroad via Genie+ with a Lightning Lane return window of 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm. (If you skipped Space Mountain before, book that instead.)
1:25 pm – Meet Ariel at Her Grotto via Lightning Lane (Genie+ reservation).
1:40 pm – Do Enchanted Tales with Belle via the standby line.
2:10 pm – While walking to the front of the park, grab a snack from Gaston’s Tavern, Storybook Treats, or Friar’s Nook–all of which in Fantasyland and on the way to the next stop.
Alternatively, you can head towards the front of the park to refuel at Main Street Bakery, which is the Starbucks in Magic Kingdom. In addition to coffee, Main Street Bakery has a variety of snacks and, usually, a seasonal cupcake.
2:30 pm – Meet Mickey & Minnie at Town Square Theater via Lightning Lane (Genie+ reservation).
2:40 pm – Meet Snow White outside Town Square Theater
2:55 pm – Take PhotoPass family photos around Main Street
3:00 pm – Book Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin via Genie+ with a Lightning Lane return window of 4:00 pm to 5:00 pm.
~3:15 pm – What time is the 3 o’clock parade? On Main Street, it’s actually about 15-20 minutes after 3 pm, as it takes some time for Festival of Fantasy Parade to make its way to the front of the park. (If you don’t want to wait, you can walk towards the parade by heading to Liberty Square or Frontierland–but we recommend Main Street for the most “iconic” experience.)
4 pm – Do Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin via Lightning Lane (Genie+ ride reservation).
4:01 pm – Book Under the Sea ~ Journey of the Little Mermaid via Genie+ with a Lightning Lane return window of 5:00 pm to 6:00 pm.
Note: We discussed the 120 minute rule above, but you’re also able to book another Genie+ reservation after tapping into your previous one. That won’t be relevant if you’re going for all high-priority options, but grabbing some low-hanging fruit after booking all of your high-priority options can make afternoon touring easier. (Pretty much anything done via standby in the first couple hours could be moved to the afternoon via Genie+ if you so desire.)
4:15 pm – Embrace Walt Disney’s Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrowland via the Carousel of Progress and the PeopleMover. (Pretty wild that Magic Kingdom’s three most iconic attractions–these two plus Country Bear Jamboree–don’t use Genie+ or Lightning Lanes. That’s a pretty big oversight!)
5:30 pm – Do Under the Sea ~ Journey of the Little Mermaid via Lightning Lane (Genie+ ride reservation).
5:31 pm – Book another character meet & greet: either Cinderella or Tiana at Princess Fairytale Hall with a 7:30 pm return time. Alternatively, book a Lightning Lane for Pirates of the Caribbean, which is permissible since you did it via standby the previous time, if you’re not into princesses.
6 pm – Do Big Thunder Mountain Railroad via Lightning Lane (Genie+ ride reservation).
6:15 pm to 7:25 pm – Open time to accomplish any attractions that were not possible earlier due to crowd levels, plus dinner. Columbia Harbour House would be our recommendation for a quicker but quality meal.
We’d also recommend catching the last performance of Mickey’s Magical Friendship Faire at Cinderella Castle–check the times guide for showtimes.
7:30 pm – Meet Cinderella or Tiana and a Visiting Princess at Princess Fairytale Hall via the Lightning Lane.
8:00 pm – Do “it’s a small world” via standby line.
8:45 pm – Grab a last minute spot for Disney Enchantment in Fantasyland with a view of both Cinderella Castle and Beast’s Castle above Be Our Guest Restaurant. This is not a recommended “one and done” fireworks viewing location (check out our viewing location tips for Magic Kingdom fireworks), but you’ll be doing another night in Magic Kingdom later.
~9:30 pm to 10:45 pm – Open time to revisit favorite attractions, revisit rides that are better at night, or do things that were not feasible earlier in the day due to crowd levels.
~10:55 pm – Race to Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, jumping in line just before park closing.
This assumes Magic Kingdom closes at 11 pm and Disney Enchantment happens at 9 pm. These times should be adjusted if Magic Kingdom closes at an earlier hour. The salient point is that you are not paying for Individual Lightning Lane (ILL) access to Seven Dwarfs Mine Train by doing it at the end of the night. Moreover, no new ILL guests will be entering the queue once the park closes. It’s all standby at that point, which means a faster-moving queue!
Once again, this was a step-by-step day in Magic Kingdom using Genie+ based on assumptions about capacity allocation and demand. Some or all of these assumptions could be off and not reflect what you actually experience when you visit Walt Disney World–but the same could be said of any itinerary. We think this is probably ~75% accurate, and at the very least, should illustrate how a day could look using the Genie+ service.
The point here is to illustrate how Genie+ could prove advantageous for days you opt to purchase the add-on. Personally, I’d buy strategically, and likely only for one Magic Kingdom day plus one DHS day and maybe EPCOT now that Frozen Ever After and Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure are included. That’s just me, though, as someone who is relatively frugal but also recognizes that “vacation time is money.”
Finally, even with a lot of 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.
Ultimately, it should be relatively easy to use Genie+ at Magic Kingdom. We’ve already done so several times, and find it to be the best and most laid back park for the paid FastPass service, and that’s in large part due to its more robust ride roster and better Lightning Lane return times. With that said, we recognize Genie+ isn’t for everyone–particularly those who don’t being glued to their phones or are on a tight budget. As such, we have a great 1-Day Magic Kingdom Itinerary Without Genie+ and Lightning Lanesthat’ll help you have a great day without the upcharge!
Was this 1-Day Magic Kingdom Itinerary w/ Genie+ helpful to illustrate how paid FastPass works in Walt Disney World’s flagship park? If you’ve put this to practice, were you able to accomplish all of this in a single day at Magic Kingdom? Did you purchase Individual Lightning Lane access to Seven Dwarfs Mine Train or do it at the end of the night? Have any questions we didn’t answer with the above? Still confused by how Genie+ or Lightning Lanes 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!