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 April 12, 2022.)
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 a recent example of what we accomplished in the park, see My Day Using Genie+ Lightning Lanes for Spring Break 2022 at Magic Kingdom.
While Magic Kingdom has added Lightning Lane options since the paid FastPass system went live, all of these are minor additions that are either low priority (e.g. character meet & greets) or low capacity (Festival of Fantasy Parade). At the same time, many more guests are now buying Genie+, meaning that be able to book fewer Lightning Lane reservations than last fall.
Nevertheless, we’re going to try to explain by showing via a day at Magic Kingdom. If you’re a type A vacation planner, hopefully this gives you some peace of mind about how Genie+ and Lightning Lanes work. 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+ through at least August 7, 2022–probably 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.
8:45 am – Do Astro Orbiter via standby line.
9:00 am – Do Peter Pan’s Flight via Lightning Lane (Genie+ ride reservation). Immediately upon tapping into the Lightning Lane, book Jungle Cruise via Genie+ with a Lightning Lane return window of 11:20 am to 12:20 pm.
9:15 am – Do the Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh via standby line.
9:45 am – Do Haunted Mansion via standby line.
10:20 am – Do “it’s a small world” via standby line.
10:40 am – Do Pirates of the Caribbean via standby line.
11:00 am – While in line for PotC, book Splash Mountain via Genie+ with a Lightning Lane return window of 2:00 pm to 3:00 pm.
Note: 11 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.
11:20 am – Do Jungle Cruise via Lightning Lane (Genie+ ride reservation).
12:40 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.
1:21 pm – Book Big Thunder Mountain Railroad via Genie+ with a Lightning Lane return window of 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm.
1:15 pm – Further feast recovery with a showing of Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room.
1:40 pm – Wander over to Sunshine Tree Terrace, and have a life changing experience when trying your first Citrus Swirl.
From this point forward, dedicate all of your free time to eating the other Best Magic Kingdom Snacks & Desserts Listin search of other transformative treats. (In other words, we’re going to leave some gaps in this itinerary so it doesn’t become too confusing or overwhelming–but perhaps the ship has already sailed on that!)
2:00 pm – Do Splash Mountain via Lightning Lane (Genie+ ride reservation).
~2:30 pm – What time is the 3 o’clock parade? In Frontierland, it’s literally 3 pm, as that’s where Festival of Fantasy steps off. Catch it in this area for easier viewing. (Although we recommend Main Street for the most “iconic” experience.)
3:21 pm – Book Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin via Genie+ with a Lightning Lane return window of 4:00 pm to 5:00 pm.
3:30 pm – Meet Mickey Mouse in his festive finest at Town Square Theater via the standby line.
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 also should be 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 – Plot twist: the high temperature on the day you’re visiting Magic Kingdom is 57º. Since you’re a tough and/or foolish Midwesterner who considers that a “warm front” and/or “shorts weather,” you are unfazed. Regardless, none of the Southerners in the park agree with you, and thus seasonal demand for water rides is low.
Accordingly, there’s still availability for Splash Mountain via Genie+ with a Lightning Lane return window of 7:30 pm to 8:30 pm. Unfortunately, you cannot book it due to the no re-rides rule. You instead book another water ride–Pirates of the Caribbean–which is permissible since you did it via standby the previous time.
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 – Do Pirates of the Caribbean via Lightning Lane (Genie+ ride reservation).
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 rather than length-of-stay, and likely only for one Magic Kingdom day and one DHS day. Probably not at all for Epcot, Animal Kingdom, or a potential bonus day at Magic Kingdom (or anywhere else). 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!