Our guide to the Genie+ at Disneyland and Disney California Adventure answers frequently asked questions about the paid FastPass & MaxPass replacement, info & tips about the line-skipping Lightning Lanes, ride reservations, and itinerary tools. (Updated March 3, 2023.)
Genie+ and Lightning Lanes have now been in use at Disneyland and DCA for over a year, and the system has evolved during that time a little bit. Naturally, the update for the Florida parks have overshadowed the California ones, and questions about the former outnumber the latter by approximately 1,971 to 1. No surprise, since Walt Disney World planners are a lot more hardcore. There’s also the practical reality that Disneyland locals experienced a similar system with MaxPass. It also helps that, like almost everything else, Genie+ is easier to use at Disneyland Resort.
Nevertheless, there are some things worth addressing about the DLR incarnation. Even though it’s more straightforward and simpler at Disneyland, there’s still a learning curve. Going into your days at Disneyland and DCA armed with knowledge of the ins and outs of Genie+ and Lightning Lanes can make a huge difference, help you get more done, wait in lines less, and be able to re-ride your favorite attractions. With that in mind, here’s our FAQ to Genie+ at Disneyland…
Let’s start with some quick updates about Genie+ for Spring 2023. First, the base cost of the Genie+ add-on is now $25 per person per day at Disneyland Resort, which is up from last year’s cost of $20. In addition to this, Disneyland has introduced ‘surge pricing’ that means the service can be even more expensive on peak season days. Thus far, Genie+ has hit $30 on several occasions last holiday season and this year. We expect Genie+ to reach $30 per day with regularity during Spring Break 2023.
The final update is that Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway is now open in Mickey’s Toontown at Disneyland, and currently is selling Individual Lightning Lane access. The virtual queue for this new ride has already been retired, and we wouldn’t be surprised if it moves to Genie+ sometime in the next several months. Probably not before spring break, and maybe not before summer. But it’s not popular enough to sustain the Individual Lightning Lane status.
On a similar note, WEB SLINGERS: A Spider-Man Adventure was “downgraded” from Individual Lightning Lane status to the Genie+ service late last year. The following FAQ and Genie+ guide have been updated in March 2023 in light of the aforementioned changes.
One thing you might notice in perusing those posts: there’s nothing for Disneyland! This is not a conspicuous omission or us overlooking Genie+ at Disneyland and DCA. To the contrary, we’ve tested the paid FastPass service numerous times in 2023 already–including as recently as March 2023. It’s simply a matter of not many material differences at Disneyland.
Not much has changed, either via tweaks to the Genie+ service or its usefulness. We have noticed some minor things, but not enough to merit fully-fledged updates. That’s good news, as Genie+ has worked well from the start at Disneyland and DCA and that continues to be the case. The vast majority of the problems and complaints about Genie+ at Walt Disney World do not apply at Disneyland (save for UI issues).
With that said, we do have a few updates to share…
What happened to the free FastPass system?
Paper FastPass has been retired, and now resides in Yesterland alongside Superstar Limo. In addition to replacing the paid MaxPass, the free FastPass is also permanently retired at Disneyland. Genie+ is the permanent replacement for both.
What are Lightning Lanes, the paid Genie+ service, free Genie feature, and individual or a la carte attraction selections?
Disney Genie (Free) – A feature in the Disneyland app that’s basically a personalized itinerary feature. Think of it as Disney’s answer to Google Maps–if Google Maps told you to drive your car into a lake every 5 minutes–it tells you where to go, but doesn’t offer you any line-skipping.
Disney Genie+ (Paid)– This provides priority access to 19 attractions at Disneyland and DCA. You choose the next available time to arrive, and can make one selection at a time throughout the day. Genie+ costs $25 per day and also includes audio experiences and unlimited PhotoPass downloads from your day at Disneyland Resort.
Individual Lightning Lanes (a la carte purchases) – Choose a specific time to arrive at up to 2 different highly demanded attractions and bypass the standby line. There are 2 attractions at Disneyland Resort offering this, and they are not included in Genie+. Pricing for this option varies by date and attraction.
Lightning Lanes (real world infrastructure) – The name for former FastPass entrances. These are the physical queues in the park through which Genie+ or Individual Lightning Lane purchases can bypass standby lines.
Which attractions are available for Individual Lightning Lane (ILL) purchase?
Here’s the official list of ILL attractions at Disneyland Resort:
Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance
Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway
Disney California Adventure
Radiator Springs Racers
Again, these two attractions are not available via the Genie+ service. Guests can only buy Individual Lightning Lane selections for both per day.
Which attractions are available via the Genie+ service?
Here’s the official Genie+ list of attractions at Disneyland Resort:
Guardians of the Galaxy – Monsters After Dark (Halloween Season)
Monsters, Inc. Mike & Sulley to the Rescue!
Soarin’ Around the World
Soarin’ Over California (Spring Season)
Toy Story Midway Mania
WEB SLINGERS: A Spider-Man Adventure
Which Genie+ selections are the “best” ones?
After extensively Genie+ and Lightning Lanes extensively at Disneyland Resort, we’ve ranked the best Genie+ Lightning Lane picks for both parks based upon time saved and how quickly return times fill up and run out. This is helpful for choosing the order to book your ride reservations, especially on busier days at Disneyland. Here are the lists for each:
In addition to consulting these lists prior to making your Genie+ Lightning Lane selections, we’d recommend following a savvy rope drop strategy and good itinerary. There are a lot of great attractions at Disneyland Resort that do not have Lightning Lanes, and you’ll want to beat the crowds to enjoy low wait times at those.
Is Genie+ worth the money at Disneyland and/or DCA?
I’ve seen complaints about Genie+ online, what’s up with those?
There have been a lot of complaints, but mostly about Genie+ at Walt Disney World. In Florida, there have been issues with guests only being able to reserve 2-3 Lightning Lanes per day, or worse in some cases. This is for a number of reasons, but mostly that more tourists are buying Genie+ at Walt Disney World and 3 of the 4 parks there have far fewer rides. This creates an imbalance of supply and demand–more competition for fewer Lightning Lanes.
By contrast, more locals visit Disneyland and that audience is less likely to purchase Genie+ because they don’t have the same sense of urgency to repeat attractions. On top of that, both parks at Disneyland have greater attraction density. In other words, there’s less competition for more attractions. All told, that makes for a more laid back and easier experience with Genie+ at Disneyland.
That could change during the busy holiday season, but we doubt it. Genie+ debuted last Christmas at Disneyland, and there were no issues during peak tourist season dates. Despite this, the Disneyland app has pushed out a warning notification (see above) for some dates.
How do we incorporate Genie+ into our day with standby lines?
For step-by-step single day itineraries using Genie+ and standby at Disneyland Resort, see our step-by-step plans:
Like all of this, those sample itineraries might be overwhelming and discouraging. Just keep in mind that a normal touring plan might also be overwhelming and discouraging for first-timers. Walt Disney World is one of the most complicated and convoluted vacation destinations on the planet, and it only becomes “easy” with knowledge and experience.
Can we purchase both Genie+ and individual Lightning Lane access?
Since there is no overlap between what’s covered by Genie+ and by the individual or a la carte line-skipping, you may purchase both.
Can a time slot be selected for Individual Lightning Lane returns?
Unlike at Walt Disney World, Individual Lightning Lane purchases at Disneyland do not allow the selection of a time slot—it’s the next available time for those, just like Genie+ Lightning Lane selections.
When can we buy Genie+ or Individual Lightning Lanes?
At Disneyland Resort, you must purchase Genie+ and make your Lightning Lane reservations after you enter one of the parks. This is true for both Genie+ and Individual Lightning Lanes.
You can also purchase Genie+ prior to visiting as a length-of-visit ticket add-on. This is possible via Disneyland.com, authorized third party ticket sellers, or travel agents. See our Guide to Discount Disneyland Ticketsfor recommendations.
When can guests be able to make Genie+ or Individual Lightning Lane selections?
Disneyland guests are be able to make their first Genie+ selection or Individual Lightning Lane purchase upon entering the park. Unlike Walt Disney World, nothing can be booked at 7 am. It’s all once inside the park, and there’s no on-site advantage.
This works exactly how MaxPass worked, meaning that you can make reservations immediately upon scanning into the turnstiles. Even if the park is not yet officially open or you leave, you’ll be able to make reservations.
Can one person enter the park and make Lightning Lane reservations for everyone?
Unfortunately, each person needs to scan into the park for the system to view them as an “active” guest. On the plus side, there is no strong incentive to make Lightning Lane reservations ASAP upon entering Disneyland or DCA. To the contrary, it’s often strategically advantageous to do standby lines first and make your first Lightning Lane ride reservation around 10 am. (This depends on crowds, your priorities, etc.)
Does entering include Early Entry for on-site guests?
This effectively gives on-site guests a half-hour head start to making Genie+ selections. See our Guide to Early Entry at Disneyland for more details about this perk for guests staying in the Hotels of Disneyland Resort.
When should guests actually start to make Genie+ ride reservations?
As a general matter, we’ve found that making Genie+ selections immediately upon entering the park at or around opening time gives us return times that are simply too soon. During the first couple hours of the day, standby times are short at Disneyland–you want return times that are later, so you actually are bypassing a high wait time and long standby line…not one that’s just as empty as the Lightning Lane!
How many Individual Lightning Lane attraction reservations can each guest book per day?
Two, and those reservations must be at different attractions. (In other words, no doing either attraction twice.)
What do Individual Lightning Lane attractions cost at Disneyland?
The starting price is $12 per attraction, with the highest price being $25–for now. Disneyland did not indicate that $25 is the ceiling for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance. To the contrary, the company indicated it would use “variable” date-based pricing, which means ILL costs could go even higher during peak season dates.
However, that did not happen during last year’s holiday season and it hasn’t occurred thus far in 2023. That could change during spring break or summer season, but we’re starting to see less demand for Individual Lightning Lane access, so we suspect that $25 is probably the peak price.
Can the same attraction be booked multiple times with the Genie+ service at Disneyland and DCA?
No, re-rides are not currently possible.
As with anything, this is subject to change as the system evolves. MaxPass did allow re-rides and had no issue, so we wouldn’t be surprised to see this policy quietly change in California.
How many ride reservations can be made at a time with the Genie+ service?
Guests are able to make one reservation at a time–with the ability to make a subsequent reservation immediately upon tapping into an attraction.
Is anything else included with Genie+ at Disneyland?
In addition to Lightning Lane access, purchasing Genie+ at Disneyland entitles you to the following:
Enjoy Unlimited Disney PhotoPass Digital Downloads from the Day – Download and share digital photos from select dining locations, attractions, iconic settings and more.
Enhance Your Photos with Disney PhotoPass Lenses – Unlock a special collection of Disney-themed lenses for your mobile device, allowing you to explore augmented reality effects.
Listen to Audio Tales – Discover the parks in cool new ways through fascinating fun facts and behind-the-scenes insights during your visit.
The PhotoPass Lenses and Audio Tales are taste-specific; some people will these to be nice additions to their day, but most guests will never use them. We’ve used these PhotoPass Lenses extensively at Walt Disney World, and they’re generally pretty fun as a value-add, but definitely not the primary or even secondary reason to buy Genie+ at Disneyland.
Additionally, augmented reality is a HUGE battery drainer. We found our phone batteries going from nearly-full to the red zone after around 30 minutes of use. Genie+ already entails a lot of screen time, so be sure to pack a portable battery charger regardless–but consider a bigger battery if you’ll be spending any amount of time using the PhotoPass Lenses or want to charge multiple devices.
By contrast, most people will find the PhotoPass image downloads to be a huge plus. We’ve heard from some families who have one person purchase in their party purchase Genie+ just for the sake of the on-ride photo downloads. Given that Disney PhotoPass+ One Week costs $78, you come out ahead by simply buying Genie+ for trips that are 3 days or fewer!
What if the return time for that selection is not until much later in the day?
Guests are able to make another reservation 120 minutes after their first reservation even if they have not yet redeemed the first Genie+ selection.
Does this mean I can actually hold multiple Genie+ selections simultaneously?
Yes, when using the 120 minute rule. Disneyland’s official wording is confusing, but it’s possible to stack Genie+ selections. In fact, there are quirks to the system that make it possible to accumulate Lightning Lane reservations via Genie+ later in the day.
What if the return times conflict with one another or other reservations?
Genie+ will not stop you from making overlapping plans, so you need to monitor this yourself and make sure it doesn’t happen. It will simply give you a ‘warning’ message that you have overlapping plans (see screenshot above).
If a specific attraction’s return time conflicts with your schedule, either select a different attraction with a return time that isn’t problematic, or wait 5-10 minutes until the clock moves forward on return times and eliminates the overlap.
How do groups make Genie+ reservations?
Guests can link tickets and select family and friends in the Disneyland app during the ride reservation process.
Do Genie+ and/or individual Lightning Lane attractions work with Park Hopping?
You are able to reserve attractions after 11 am in a different park than the one where you started your day and have reservations. Park Hopping with Genie+ or individual Lightning Lane attraction purchases must follow all the normal rules of all three (Park Hopping, Genie+ and Lightning Lanes), meaning that you need to wait until the Lightning Lane return time window has advanced past 11 am for the park to which you’re hopping.
What if not everyone in our party wants to do a certain ride?
You can choose to only make Genie+ reservations for some guests within your party.
Alternatively, you can make the reservation for everyone, and some people in your group can ride multiple times by scanning the redemption belonging to someone else (keeping in mind that each one is valid once). Certain thrill rides are too intense for Sarah, so I scan her Genie+ Lightning Lane entry code after using mine.
Can only certain guests within a party choose to purchase Individual Lightning Lanes?
Yes–same idea. You can choose among linked guests in the Disneyland app from whom you want to purchase the ILLs.
Can guests choose to purchase Genie+ only on specific days?
Only buying on specific days will give you the option to have “commando touring” days and more laid back ones, instead of simply buying for the duration of a Disneyland ticket or vacation package–saving money in the process.
Are any virtual queues in use at Disneyland Resort?
At Disney California Adventure, World of Color – ONE uses a virtual queue. This is reserved viewing for the nighttime spectacular, and doesn’t work in quite the same way as prior virtual queues for attractions.
What’s up with the virtual queues for rides?
As of March 2023, no virtual queues are in use for rides at Disneyland or Disney California Adventure. The parks have shifted to standby lines for all attractions that previously used them, but has reserved the ability to use the virtual queues when demand is high.
Thus far, this has yet to happen. Given that it didn’t occur during the peak holiday weeks of Christmas and New Year’s Eve, we doubt that the virtual queues will ever be brought back. At least, until another new ride opens.
What changes with standby lines?
Regular ole walk-up standby lines are still available on all attractions.
Can Magic Key Passholders be able to purchase Genie+ or individual Lightning Lane access at Disneyland?
Magic Keyholders are able to purchase Lightning Lane or add Genie+ on a per-day basis, just like regular theme park ticket holders.
There’s now a 20% off discount on the Genie+ service on days when Magic Keyholders use their pass for park admission.
Is there an annual add-on for Magic Keymasters?
There is not a yearly add-on option for Genie+ for Disneyland Resort Magic Key Passholders. It’s possible one will be added down the road, but we wouldn’t expect that until pent-up demand fizzles out. So maybe 2023?
Is there a Disney Vacation Club Member discount?
Will these systems force me to be glued to my phone all day?
Using the Genie systems will definitely require phone use throughout the day–there’s no way around that. However, it could be as little as a couple of minutes every 90 to 120 minutes, or shortly after entering an attraction queue. It won’t be necessary to be constantly on your phone.
With that said, just as before with MaxPass, it’s likely that those guests who refresh the app compulsively and are diligent about making reservations will be at an advantage.
Are there multiple options for time slots when booking Genie+ ride reservations?
The only option is the next available time slot.
Does Genie+ work with MagicBands at Disneyland Resort?
With that said, MagicBands are not required. You can use your park tickets or phone instead if you don’t have MagicBands.
Is refreshing and rebooking ride reservations possible with Genie+?
That was the case with MaxPass, but it’s more challenging with Genie+ because there’s no modify button–this means you have to cancel and rebook, which is a cumbersome process.
Generally speaking, expect features and functionality to be added to Genie+ over time.
How does this impact Single Rider or Rider Switch?
Keep in mind that even though Genie+ and Lightning Lanes have now launched in California, the system is still in its infancy. Beyond that, Disney is clearly focused on the Walt Disney World version of the Genie system first as that’s the money-maker. Disneyland’s incarnation is on the backburner, and will likely evolve post-release based on the unique operational wrinkles of the California parks. Our expectation is that Genie+ and Lightning Lanes will continue to be tweaked in California.
This should answer most of the questions that readers have been asking about the Genie+ app feature and Lightning Lanes that are coming to Disneyland and Disney California Adventure. In some cases, those “answers” are simply our best guesses and speculation, but in a lot of cases that’s the best we can offer. There have been a lot of questions, so if we didn’t address yours, we apologize. Please post in the comments below and we’ll answer more as they’re asked!
Have any questions we didn’t answer with the above FAQ? Still confused by how Genie+ or Lightning Lanes work at Disneyland and DCA? Think this is an adequate replacement to the FastPass and MaxPass systems, or do you wish Disneyland would’ve just left those alone? 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!