Magic Kingdom is the best park for buying Walt Disney World’s Genie+ service. The paid FastPass replacement offers Lightning Lane line-skipping access to 23 attractions and character sightings in Magic Kingdom, and our guide ranks the rides and entertainment in terms of time-saved and how quickly reservations fill up. (Updated September 4, 2023.)
The goal of this post is giving you the tools and info to build your own Magic Kingdom itinerary with Genie+, rather than relying on our 1-Day Magic Kingdom Genie+ and Lightning Lanes Plan. We’d recommend a best of both worlds approach, consulting that pre-made plan and the rankings here so you understand the why of it, and can make your own itinerary.
Since crowds, weather, attraction downtime, and more can all heavily impact how an actual day at Walt Disney World plays out, it’s almost certain that a sample itinerary cannot be replicated step-for-step with the exact same Lightning Lane time slots, etc. As such, this equips you to put together your own dynamic plan of attack for using Genie+ in Magic Kingdom…
Of course, this assumes that you want to ‘pay to play’ and will use Genie+ rather than simply doing standby lines. In Magic Kingdom, that’s typically our recommendation. Basically, it boils down to the ride count. With 23 attractions offering Genie+ at Magic Kingdom, it has almost double the number of attractions as other parks at Walt Disney World.
Additionally, see our Guide to Genie+ at Walt Disney World & Lightning Lane FAQfor all of the foundational need-to-know info about this paid FastPass+ replacement. This whole system is confusing and convoluted, so you might have a question or 17. That answers all of the most common ones we’ve been receiving from readers.
Another thing to know is that using Genie+ is not always necessary. This is especially true during the off-season, such as many dates prior to spring break season, as well as after that ends and summer starts. It’s also true during Party Season–from mid-August through December on days when Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party or Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party is held. Basically, whenever crowd levels drop below 4/10, you don’t need to pay extra for Lightning Lane access. It still can be nice to have, but it’s hardly essential.
Speaking of Party Season, another thing you should know is that it drives up demand for character meet & greets by, essentially, reducing supply. Since characters are a big component of the parties, performer schedules are scaled back during the daytime hours. This leads to longer wait times and, by extension, less Lightning Lane availability.
Accordingly, if you’re visiting between now and late December 2023 and have an interest in character meet & greets, you should move all of those up. Make them your first 4-5 Lightning Lane selections. The order of character experiences listed below does not change, their priority just increases.
Trust us on this one. You might be inclined to book Jungle Cruise or Peter Pan’s Flight first upon seeing Lightning Lane return times between 7 am and 9 am–characters will be almost immediate whereas those popular rides could be hours into the future–but that changes in a big way by around 10 am.
We are not keen on buying a la carte front of line access, so we recommend doing Seven Dwarfs Mine Train right before Magic Kingdom closes (or in the early evening, if you can’t stay until park closing). Unfortunately, TRON Lightcycle Run does not have a standby line, so you’ll want to consult our Virtual Queue Guide to TRON Lightcycle Run for tips & tricks on riding that, including our speed strategy.
One thing to consider with regard to TRON Lightcycle Run is that it’s a very different experience after the sun goes down, and you might want to do it in the evening as a result. To accomplish this, you can either gamble and try for the later virtual queue entry time, or join the 7 am VQ, and then purchase a Lightning Lane for the evening. (A best of both worlds approach is doing it via the VQ earlier, seeing how much you enjoy it, and then buying the ILL if you want to do it again.)
Now, on with the show & ride rankings for Genie+ at Magic Kingdom…
The Best of Genie+ at Magic Kingdom
1. Peter Pan’s Flight – Not a huge shock for those who booked FastPass+ reservations in the past! Peter Pan’s Flight is far and away the most popular of Magic Kingdom’s iconic Fantasyland dark rides, with wait times regularly exceeding 90 minutes. Its Lightning Lane reservations go fast early on, but there’s usually availability into the evening. Nevertheless, it’s a smart first pick. That’s especially true if you have small children who may not make it past 7 pm. (Or for anyone who wants to watch the fireworks.)
2. Jungle Cruise – This one might come as a huge surprise, but Jungle Cruise has seen a huge resurgence in popularity since it’s recent reimagining. Thus far in 2023 it has, on average, the third-longest wait time in Magic Kingdom, behind only Peter Pan’s Flight and Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. (It would also be behind TRON Lightcycle Run, but that doesn’t post a wait time.)
3. Meet Ariel at Her Grotto – The Little Mermaid meet & greet has had extremely limited Lightning Lane availability on some dates in 2023. If going solely by how quickly reservations book up, this would be the #1 Genie+ Lightning Lane at Magic Kingdom, easily. However, the average wait time for the Princess Ariel meet & greet doesn’t even begin to justify giving it the top slot.
As noted above, the big exception to this is during Party Season (now through late December 2023). If you pick something else first on days when Magic Kingdom closes at 6 pm, you probably won’t be able to score an Ariel’s Grotto Lightning Lane. It goes that fast most days. Another relatively easy option is doing this meet & greet relatively early in the day and via the standby line. It typically opens a bit later than the rest of Fantasyland, so there’s not much of an opportunity cost in doing this around 10 am.
4. Space Mountain – The first of two consecutive Magic Kingdom Mountain Range rides, it should be unsurprising to see Space Mountain crack the top 5. Space Mountain has seen even higher demand thus far in 2023, as its next-door neighbor–TRON Lightcycle Run–draws crowds to this side of the park.
5. Big Thunder Mountain Railroad – Another Magic Kingdom Mountain Range entry, so this one probably doesn’t need much explanation. If anything, you might wonder why Big Thunder Mountain Railroad ranks this low. It’s all a matter of average wait times–which have been moderate–and Genie+ availability–which has been abundant. Both of those things could change, but for now, there’s no need to prioritize BTMRR any earlier.
6. Meet Cinderella and a Visiting Princess at Princess Fairytale Hall – Both of the next two princess meet & greets at Princess Fairytale Hall in Fantasyland rank higher for Halloween and Christmas due to staffing shortages. We won’t go too deep into how the sausage is made, so to speak, but more characters during the hard ticket parties means fewer for other shifts. Consequently, there are longer lines during normal hours.
7. Meet Princess Tiana and a Visiting Princess at Princess Fairytale Hall – Cinderella’s meet & greet has the slight edge on Tiana, with slightly higher wait time on average. In reality, prioritize whichever of these matters more to you. This really holds true for picks #6 through #9. All of these are character-centric entertainment that aren’t that far apart from one another in terms of priority.
8. Festival of Fantasy Parade – All of these are obviously optional, but this is even more circumstantial. You can easily watch Festival of Fantasy Parade without a Cinderella Castle-facing view. As such, this Lightning Lane doesn’t necessarily save any time–it offers a reserved viewing area, which can be valuable to families with small children. If you want to do this one, be mindful of showtimes for Festival of Fantasy Parade. You might need to move this one up a few spots depending upon crowd levels.
9. Meet Mickey & Minnie at Town Square Theater – Late last year, this climbed to #1 on our rankings. That was due to party season, which pulled meet & greet “resources” away from the Mickey Mouse meet & greet. During Party Season, this Lightning Lane spikes in popularity. If you’re visiting Magic Kingdom between January and July 2024, expect the Mickey & Minnie Mouse meet & greet to only have moderate popularity (and thus, priority).
10. Haunted Mansion – As of the 2023 Halloween season, Haunted Mansion has one of the top 5 average wait times in Magic Kingdom. That’s likely to get even worse once Hatbox Ghost debuts. However, Haunted Mansion also has perpetual Lightning Lane availability–until park closing on most days–so there’s really no sense of urgency here. Again, it could change once Hatbox Ghost materializes, so we’ll monitor the situation and update accordingly.
11. Pirates of the Caribbean – Similar story to Haunted Mansion with Pirates of the Caribbean. Standby waits have been long due to regular downtime, so you’re potentially bypassing a lengthy line when using the Lightning Lane for PotC. On the plus side, it seldom runs out of reservation availability in Genie+, except during the busier seasons.
12. Enchanted Tales with Belle – When it reopened earlier this year, Lightning Lane availability for Enchanted Tales with Belle was extremely limited. That has changed in a big way over the course of the last few months, and even as of Party Season, Enchanted Tales with Belle is NOT a high or even moderate priority Lightning Lane. (Meaning that this is not one of the character experiences to move up. It remains low-priority for now through late December 2023.)
13. Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin – Lines can fluctuate dramatically for Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin, with waits some days exceeding 60 minutes and it being a near walk-on other days. If you’re visiting when it’s busier, scoring a Lightning Lane reservation here will be important–especially since the overflow queue is outdoors and offers minimal shade. Fortunately, Genie+ often has almost instant return times and it almost always has Lightning Lane availability right up until park closing.
14. The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh – The argument could be made that Winnie the Pooh’s Fantasyland dark ride should be in the top 5. Its average wait time puts it there and, subjectively, the wait in the standby line is excruciating (I speak from experience). However, Genie+ availability has been abundant, and the Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh is more skippable due to its quality (or lack thereof) than the attractions above it.
15. “it’s a small world” – This famous–or infamous, depending upon your perspective–Fantasyland boat ride has not had long wait times historically, but they’ve spiked in recent months. Some days, using the Lightning Lane entrance will bypass a 45 minute (or more) wait, making this a potentially strong Genie+ ride reservation. (Other days, it’ll save you no time at all.)
16. Under the Sea ~ Journey of the Little Mermaid – It’s a very similar story here. If the standby line for the Little Mermaid dark ride spills out into the walkway, this can be a 45 to 60 minute wait. Most of the time, this ‘people-eater’ attraction will have pretty short waits, though. Still, it’s easy to grab a nearly-immediate return time via Genie+, and the potential savings make it a recommended pick for late afternoon.
17. Dumbo the Flying Elephant – Another iconic Magic Kingdom rite-of-passage attraction that’s a real wildcard. Standby waits here can be long, but so too can Lightning Lane waits if you get unlucky. Nevertheless, we’d recommend using Genie+ for it on busier days, as there’s solid time-savings potential.
The Rest of Genie+ at Magic Kingdom
Barnstormer – This kiddie coaster can have long waits on the busiest days of the year, but so far, we’ve found Genie+ to offer almost no advantage here. Get it if you can, but don’t sweat standby.
Mad Tea Party – The iconic spinning teacup is fun, but averages wait times under 15 minutes. Again, use Genie+ if you can (because why not), but it’s not a huge deal otherwise.
Magic Carpets of Aladdin – This is like a knock-off county fair version of Dumbo. We don’t recommend doing it at all–we’d wait in a longer standby line for Astro Orbiter if truly needing our spinner fix.
Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor – Using Genie+ here on busier days might get you in one show earlier than you otherwise would’ve making this a potential ‘sleeper pick’ for the Lightning Lane.
Tomorrowland Speedway – Unless vehicle exhaust-induced cognitive impairment and the loud putter of engines is your thing, you’ll want to be in and out of line as quickly as possible here. That also makes it a good sleeper pick for use of Genie+ and the Lightning Lane. Right now, that’s not necessary, but on a busier day, this could sneak into the top 10.
Ultimately, you should be able to knock out all 23 attractions via Genie+ using Lightning Lanes on a good day in Magic Kingdom. On a bad day, you might only be able to do the top 10. On an awful day, it might be the top 5. So plan accordingly based on the crowds when you’ll be visiting, and also give yourself as many other advantages as possible–like Early Entry, rope drop, or Extended Evening Hours.
Regardless of when you’re visiting, Genie+ will save you more time at Magic Kingdom–and allow you to have a more leisurely day–than at any other Walt Disney World park. This is what makes buying it our recommendation for most people and on most days of the year. Even if it requires a bit of a splurge, cut the cost out of your Walt Disney World vacation budget somewhere else.
How would you rank your ride priorities using Genie+ and Lightning Lanes in Magic Kingdom? Surprised to see Jungle Cruise at #1? Are you planning on buying Genie+ or skipping it? Do you agree or disagree with our rankings? 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!