Magic Kingdom Genie+ Priorities & Lightning Lane Ride Ranks
Magic Kingdom is the best park for buying Walt Disney World’s Genie+ service. This 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 March 2, 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.
However, 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 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.
Additionally, see our Guide to Genie+ at Walt Disney World & Lightning Lane FAQ for 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.
Before we get started, we should note that this offers ride priorities for Lightning Lanes via Genie+ and not Individual Lightning Lanes (ILL), which are pay-per-ride. At present, the only ILL attraction in Magic Kingdom is Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. 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).
TRON Lightcycle Run will be Magic Kingdom’s other Individual Lightning Lane ride when it opens on April 4, 2023. What’s unknown as of right now is whether Seven Dwarfs Mine Train will be ‘downgraded’ to Genie+ when TRON Lightcycle Run debuts. We could see it going either way. Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is still incredibly popular, but with an entirely different demographic than TRON Lightcycle Run. On top of that, Magic Kingdom already has 23 Genie+ Lightning Lane attractions, which is more than any other park. So Disney might maintain its ILL status in order to capture more revenue.
Now, on with the show & ride rankings for Genie+ at Magic Kingdom…
The Best of Genie+ at Magic Kingdom
T1. 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. Through the first two months of 2023 it has, on average, the third-longest wait time in Magic Kingdom, behind only Peter Pan’s Flight and Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. Despite being behind Peter Pan’s Flight in average wait, Lightning Lane inventory goes faster for this. Hence the tie.
T1. 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 usually last until midday or later, but it’s still a savvy second (or even first) pick.
3. Meet Ariel at Her Grotto – The first of two recently-returning attractions, 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, and barely justifies ranking it #3.
Fair warning: if you pick something else first, you probably won’t be able to score an Ariel’s Grotto Lightning Lane. It goes that fast most days. Conversely, if you pick this first, there’s a good chance you won’t be able to score ride reservations for both Jungle Cruise and Peter Pan’s Flight. In our view, the opportunity cost of having to do those via standby is too high. As such, our strong recommendation is to do this meet & greet relatively early in the day and via the standby line. Reserve your Lightning Lanes for the attractions that’ll save you the most time.
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. If thrill rides are important to you, a strong case can be made for also moving this above the Ariel’s Grotto meet & greet. Once TRON Lightcycle Run opens, Space Mountain will likely be in even higher demand, as its next-door neighbor will draw 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. Enchanted Tales with Belle – The newest attraction to reopen at Walt Disney World, we’ve thus far seen limited Lightning Lane availability for Enchanted Tales with Belle. If this list were ranked solely on the basis of how quickly reservations fill up, Enchanted Tales with Belle would be much higher. What prevents that is the average posted wait time here, which is in the middle of the pack for all Magic Kingdom attractions. We’ll be watching this closely to see whether it should move up, but for now, it is not a high priority.
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. With party season over, this Lightning Lane ranking has plummeted. If you see it highly recommended elsewhere, that’s because it was a top pick from last August through December. As of March 2023, Magic Kingdom’s Mickey & Minnie Mouse meet & greet is only moderate priority.
10. Festival of Fantasy Parade – While all of these are obviously optional, this is even more situation dependent, for lack of a better term. You can easily watch Festival of Fantasy Parade without a Cinderella Castle-facing view. This doesn’t necessarily save any time, it offers a reserved viewing area that’s arguably better than alternatives.
Moreover, if you make all of the above selections, there’s a good chance Festival of Fantasy Parade will be gone. Basically, this option is for families with small children who won’t be able to do the Magic Kingdom Mountain Range, and perhaps won’t want to do some other attractions. (Personally, we never book the reserved parade viewing–it’s not worth it to us.)
11. Haunted Mansion – This one might come as a surprise, but Haunted Mansion’s average wait time since the launch of Genie+ has ranked it pretty highly! (And it’s even more popular during Halloween season.) We’ve moved it down a couple of spots since Haunted Mansion tends to have better Genie+ availability, but it should be a high priority.
12. Pirates of the Caribbean – Similar story to Haunted Mansion with Pirates of the Caribbean. Standby waits have been long, 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.
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. Most days thus far, Genie+ has had instant return times. We’ll revisit and re-rank Space Ranger Spin if that changes.
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 22 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.
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!
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!
OK, so why is Jungle Cruise NOT available during extended evening hours, given its great popularity currently???
@Christi for roller coasters, if you get there at the beginning of your return time window you could have 2 ride the coaster while the other 2 wait with the littles, and then switch. I’m in a similar situation for this next trip and trying to decide if it’s worth the money for my little that is only 41 inches and another kiddo who doesn’t like coasters or spinning rides. I’m thinking it will be worth it for rides like Jungle Cruise, Peter Pan, Haunted Mansion, etc. We are going during one of the busiest weeks of the year though (Thanksgiving week), so for me that weighs heavily into the decision as well.
Make an article on lines you should stand in, some lines are so immersive or give you the backstory to the ride that it is a must. I am sure there are many lines I have just flown through and never waited in but there has got to be a list for this as well.
Thank you for the update!
We will have DAS, which will allow us 2 advanced reservations per day, along with 1 return reservation at a time on the day of.
I was also considering purchasing Genie+ because we are going the week between Christmas and New Years.
Do you think we will need both?
Strategy-wise, the only thing I’m not super clear on is, whether it’s best to prioritize attractions or return times. For example, if I can get Jungle Cruise at 10:30am, or Pirates at 9:30am, should I go with pirates so I can unlock the next Genie+ reservation earlier? I’m thinking probably yes, but it’s hard if Jungle Cruise then gets pushed back super far. Generally we take a nap in the afternoon, so a time after about 2pm is a no-go.
I think your analysis is correct; it’ll typically be better to prioritize attractions, with the caveat of ‘situational needs’ (e.g. midday nap or pool time).
Kevin mentioned that LL users might miss out on fun elements of the queue on Peter Pan. I would love to see a post that discusses which rides have fun preshow elements and if those elements are compromised by using LL.
Thanks, Tom, for all your articles on this. You would think it’s intuitive after Fast Pass+, but we really appreciate you running through the scenarios so that we can make the most of our initial run-through.
i tried genie+ at AK and HS this past week. it was useless, only moderate wait times and low number of available attractions didnt justify it. at its worst, i waited between 45-55 min each for slinky dog, RotR, and toy story mania, and my play parks app helped pass the time. avatar flight of passage wait times are dipping into the 35-45 min range in the afternoon. thats compared to 120-180 in late 2019!
MAGIC KINGDOM IS ONLY PARK GENIE+ IS WORTH IT! Its not even a close contest. Tom’s top 5 of his list will easily buy you back 4 hours of the day not waiting in line.
In case it might be of use, Disney World has free wifi. The coverage is not perfect, but it is available in most locations.
Many thanks Tom,
Very helpful post. Would you please be willing to update it periodically as wait-times shift throught the year?
Tom, is there any info on how much mobile internet data usage is required during the day to use the apps??? It’s really annoying as I think I will have to pay an additional Â£6/day with my mobile network to use data internationally on top of the $60/day for a family of 4 to use the genie plus. If I could get more info on how much data this uses I may be able to find a better deal.
I keep running scenarios of my group using Genie plus and each time I’m left unsure- We have 4 roller coaster enthusiasts and 2 small ones that don’t meet the height requirement. If I get all of us Genie plus for some of the rides, the passes will be wasted on the small ones when we book a roller coaster. While convenient for those riding the big rides- is it worth it to shell out the money if the whole party can’t even use it? Considered not buying for the littles but then we’d be in a situation that since they’d have to ride standby for jungle cruise- we all would. Also considered only booking the no height requirement rides but then that would leave our riders standing in the longest lines for coasters which sort of defeats the purpose. Help!
Thanks for the suggestion, Looking forward to see the Lighting lane plan for the other parks.
I too don’t want to pay fot ILL. I think $15 extra is the most I am willing to spend per day.
That’s a great question. Let’s say it’s a really, really busy day – do return times spiral out of control for the most popular rides or run out completely? Tom kind of addresses it in the post -“On an awful day, it might be the top 5.” But what if it’s more like the top 3 and maybe a couple of attractions you would never normally use fastpass for? I’m very curious to see what happens as well.
If I book Jungle Cruise using Genie+, am I able to book Peter Pan’s Flight for two hours later? Or should I tap in line at Jungle Cruise and then select Peter Pan’s Flight?
In my opinion, you do NOT need Genie+ for 2 days at MK in January — you’ll do great without it.
I might actually knock Peter Pan down a few spots on the list. My rationale being: I think the new queue is almost as good as the ride and the Lightning Lane bypasses that. So if just doing PP once, I think it might be a good choice for end of the night when lines are shorter.
@amanda — Whether you’re doing Magic Kingdom for 3 hours or 3 days, isn’t the question. It’s a question of how you want to tour.
If your main concern is getting everything in at least 1 time, without spending “extra” money, then you can get everything done in 2 days without buying Genie+.
On the other hand, if you’re willing to spend $32 per person on Genie+ for the 2 days, you’ll get to spend considerably less time in line, get to repeat more of your favorite attractions, get everything in at a more relaxed pace.
So, if you follow a good touring plan, Genie+ is absolutely NOT necessary to get everything in. But, Genie+ will almost always give you a better touring experience.
Would you recommend buying Genie+ if you’re doing 2 days at MK as well? Or follow your 2 day MK guide instead? We’re going in January, if that makes a difference in your answer!
I’ve been following this with interest. I think there’s a big question that won’t be answered for another month: how much of the success of Genie+ is because few people are using it right now? What will happen during the holidays if many more people buy Genie+? I know people are scoffing at the idea but let’s be real – $16, while annoying and while a big add-on for a large group, is SO MUCH less than the skip the line passes at any other amusement park. I cannot imagine that it will not become hugely popular.