This guide to the Genie+ app feature and Lightning Lanes at Walt Disney World answers frequently asked questions with info & tips based on official details, plus our speculation & more about the new ride reservation, line-skipping, and itinerary planning tools coming to Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Animal Kingdom, and Hollywood Studios. (Updated October 10, 2021.)
In mid-August, Walt Disney World dropped bombshell news that the paid Genie+ and Lightning Lanes are replacing FastPass+ at Walt Disney World. The news was announced via standard press release, plus a video and supplementary information on other websites, social media, etc. A lot of details were not contained in the official announcement, which raised more questions than it answered.
After almost two months of waiting, Walt Disney World has finally released an official launch date and more details for Genie+ and Lightning Lanes. You can read that for an exhaustive look at the new info, but it might be fairly exhausting. Not that this post is any shorter, but at least it’s organized in a question and answer format that makes it easier to skim!
In addition to these official public announcements, Walt Disney World has held media presentations and tech demos of the Genie system. During these, additional questions have been answered, and clarifying details have been provided. For some odd reason, a lot of this official information has not yet made its way to DisneyWorld.com.
This guide to Genie+ includes all of those confirmed details that have yet to be posted to Disney’s official website. Additionally, we offer speculation based on how FastPass and MaxPass worked in the past. Throughout the FAQ, we’ll make clear what has been confirmed by Walt Disney World and what’s speculation on our part.
Unsurprisingly, there have been a lot of questions–even from seasoned Walt Disney World veterans. Our announcement post has almost 300 comments, many of which are diehard Walt Disney World fans venting and/or grieving. Understandably. For what it’s worth, we have no problem with you doing either–just please confine the complaints to that post and stick to questions in the comments here.
This is going to be a hot topic in the days, weeks, and months to come, and we want to be able to easily find and answer as many reader comments as possible. With that in mind, here’s our work-in-progress FAQ to Genie+ and Lightning Lanes at Walt Disney World…
When will Walt Disney World release more details and clarifying information about Genie+ and Lightning Lanes?
Our expectation is that the next Genie+ and Lightning Lanes update comes when the system goes live.
It’s possible that DisneyWorld.com pages will be updated with new info in the days leading up to launch, but don’t expect another press release.
When will the Genie system launch at Walt Disney World?
Walt Disney World has revealed that the Genie system will officially launch on October 19, 2021.
There’s always the possibility of a delay, or a ‘technical rehearsal’ for select guests. We are not expecting the former at this point, but the latter is a possibility. If you’re visiting Walt Disney World in the couple of days before the official launch, keep an eye on your email or in-app notifications.
Has anything changed around the parks to get ready?
Signage for FastPass lines at Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom has been replaced by Lightning Lane signs. Basically, this confirmed what we suspected–that all FastPass attractions would be converted to Lightning Lane attractions.
Additionally, Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance dropped its virtual queue. Read about this big change and the surprising result in our recent Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance Ride Report & Standby Strategy.
What are Lightning Lanes, the paid Genie+ service, free Genie feature, and individual or a la carte attraction selections?
This FAQ assumes you’re already familiar with the differences between the various components of the new Genie system. For a full breakdown and foundational knowledge, see Lighting Lanes v. Genie+ at Walt Disney World.
What does the introduction of Genie+ mean for the My Disney Experience app?
An update at some point and a fresh look coat of paint, so to speak.
Despite the original Disney Genie announcement two years ago calling it an app, it’s actually features within My Disney Experience. It remains to be seen whether the Disney Genie branding is featured more prominently, or if it just fades into the existing app.
What is the free Genie service in the My Disney Experience app?
The free Disney Genie service in the My Disney Experience app will “maximize your park time” via a personalized itinerary feature that will “quickly and seamlessly map out an entire day.”
It will also offer forecasted wait times throughout the day and attraction suggestions, so you can save time in line. In theory.
Why does that say in theory?
Because we’re highly skeptical that this will work as advertised. For one thing, Disney IT and a dynamic itinerary sounds a bit too good to be true.
For another thing, Disney has a vested interest in making suggestions that are most advantageous to it from an operational perspective. Among many other things, this means directing app users that are underutilizing their capacity. Great for guests with great taste who like Country Bear Jamboree, Carousel of Progress, Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room, and MuppetVision 3D. Perhaps not so stellar for the average visitor.
Since all of the details regarding the free version of Disney Genie are vague and theoretical, our attention here will be focused on the paid versions–which is what everyone has been asking about, anyway.
Which attractions will be available for a la carte Lightning Lane purchase?
Walt Disney World has now confirmed all individual Lightning Lane purchase options. Here’s the full official list:
- Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
- Space Mountain
- Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure
- Frozen Ever After
- Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance
- Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway
- Avatar Flight of Passage
- Expedition Everest
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, guests may purchase both.
If a guest purchases one a la carte Lightning Lane reservation at 7 am, does this interfere or prevent them from making Genie+ selections?
The system should allow both to be booked simultaneously, as they work independently of one another, and each have their own cost.
As a practical matter, we’d recommend making your first Lightning Lane reservation at least a couple of hours after park opening so it doesn’t (potentially) conflict with your first Genie+ selection–or doing rides via standby before crowds build.
Will this work with MagicBands?
Yes. It will also work with the upcoming MagicBand+, which will launch in 2022.
In addition to this, it’s also possible Cast Members will be able scan your My Disney Experience app, which is how MaxPass worked at Disneyland.
What happens to virtual queues?
Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance already stopped offering its virtual queue.
In its place, Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure now uses a virtual queue. This means the same 7 am “boarding pass dash” that occurs now. Those gaining access via the free virtual queue will use the attraction’s physical standby line.
Will joining the virtual queue for Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure become more difficult?
Although we don’t know how much capacity Disney will reallocate to Lightning Lane guests, it’ll be some–probably at least 25%. However much is set aside for Lightning Lane purchases means that’s how much more difficult the virtual queue will become.
What will change with standby lines?
Regular ole walk-up standby lines will still be available on all attractions–except Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure (for now).
Will standby wait times become longer or shorter?
It really depends upon the attraction and to when you’re comparing waits.
As compared to right now–with no ride reservation system in use, standby waits will be longer on average. If compared to the FastPass+ era, standby wait times should be lower and lines should move faster.
When can individual Lightning Lane attractions be booked?
Guests staying at a Walt Disney World resort hotel will be able to purchase and schedule the first individual Lightning Lane attraction at 7 am, ahead of off-site guests, who will be able to do so when the park opens.
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 Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance–or anything else–twice.)
What about “winning” the virtual queue for Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure and also buying individual attraction Lightning Lane access for the ride?
That’s not yet known.
Does this mean I need to attempt to enter the Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure virtual queue and book Lightning Lane reservations both RIGHT AT 7 AM?!
In theory, sure.
However, that assumes there’s going to be a lot of intense competition to buy Lightning Lane reservations–demand on par with free virtual queue or FastPass+ reservations. I suspect that is a very faulty assumption, with that viewpoint informed by years of using MaxPass at Disneyland and seeing how similar systems have worked at Disneyland Paris and Shanghai Disneyland. As a general principle, people don’t buy things that cost money as much as they use things that are free. Prioritize the free virtual queues–the rest can probably wait minutes or even hours.
What will individual Lightning Lane attractions cost at Walt Disney World?
Prices will start at $7 per attraction.
Beyond that, Walt Disney World has offered sample pricing: “the Lightning Lane entrance to Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure will be $9 per person on October 19 and $11 per person on October 23. As another example, on both those dates, Lightning Lane entrance to Expedition Everest – Legend of the Forbidden Mountain will be $7 per person, while Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance will be $15 per person.”
Throughout the year, prices may be lower on some days and higher on other days. This option may be purchased at up to 2 different attractions each day. Check the My Disney Experience app on the day of your visit for current prices and attraction availability.
What is the cost of Genie+ at Walt Disney World?
Genie+ will cost $15 per person per day.
Which attractions will be available via the Genie+ service?
Here’s the official Genie+ list of attractions:
- Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
- Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin
- Dumbo the Flying Elephant
- Haunted Mansion
- “it’s a small world”
- Jungle Cruise
- Mad Tea Party
- Magic Carpets of Aladdin
- Mickey’s PhilharMagic
- Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor
- Peter Pan’s Flight
- Pirates of the Caribbean
- Splash Mountain
- Goofy’s Barnstormer
- The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
- Tomorrowland Speedway
- Under the Sea ~ Journey of the Little Mermaid
- Disney & Pixar Short Film Festival
- Journey into Imagination with Figment
- Mission Space
- Soarin’ Around the World
- Spaceship Earth
- Test Track
- The Seas with Nemo & Friends
- Turtle Talk with Crush
- Alien Swirling Saucers
- Beauty and the Beast: Live on Stage
- Disney Jr. Play & Dance
- Frozen Sing-Along Celebration
- Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular
- Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run
- MuppetVision 3D
- Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith
- Slinky Dog Dash
- Star Tours – The Adventures Continue
- The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror
- Toy Story Mania
- A Celebration of Festival of the Lion King
- It’s Tough to Be a Bug
- Kali River Rapids
- Kilimanjaro Safaris
- Na’vi River Journey
- The Animation Experience at Conservation Station
- Feathered Friends in Flight
Can the same attraction be booked multiple times with the Genie+ service?
Walt Disney World has confirmed that this will not be an option at launch.
It’ll be only once per attraction. As with anything, this is subject to change as the system evolves.
How many ride reservations can be made at a time with the Genie+ service?
Per Walt Disney World, guests will be able to make one reservation at a time–with the ability to make a subsequent reservation immediately upon tapping into an attraction.
What if the return time for that selection is not until much later in the day?
Walt Disney World has confirmed that guests will be able to make another reservation 120 minutes after their first reservation even if they have not yet redeemed the first Genie+ selection.
In practice, this means that you might make a reservation at 7:05 am for Splash Mountain that has a return time of 10:00 am. At 9:05 am–before riding Splash Mountain, you’d be able to make another ride reservation.
How will groups be able to make Genie+ reservations?
Disney has not explained this, but we expect this to work the same way that FastPass+ did (or virtual queues do currently) with guests having the ability to select family and friends in My Disney Experience during the ride reservation process.
When can Genie+ be purchased?
Guests will be able to pre-purchase the Genie+ service as part of their ticket or vacation packages for the duration of their visit.
Those who want to choose specific days to use the Genie+ service will be able to buy it as an in-app purchase via the My Disney Experience app beginning at 12:00 am on the date of their visit/use.
When can Genie+ ride reservations be booked?
All guests will be able to make their first Genie+ selection at 7 am on the day of their visit, regardless of whether staying off-site or on-site.
Subsequent selections will follow the legacy FastPass “rules.”
What happens if we don’t book a Genie+ selection right at 7 am?
Guests who book their first Genie+ selection at or around 7 am will be at an advantage, but certainly not an insurmountable one. To the contrary, a guest who instead makes their first selection at 9 am (two hours later), will effectively only be at “disadvantage” of only one attraction.
What will Genie+ include at Walt Disney World?
Ride reservations and line-skipping via the Lightning Lane on the aforementioned attractions (unconfirmed and thus subject to change) plus AR filters for photos and guided audio tours of the parks.
While details have not been released about this augmented reality feature, let’s just say that if you’re one of the few fans of the infamous icon, you’re in for a treat!
Will Genie+ include PhotoPass downloads?
No. It will not include PhotoPass downloads at Walt Disney World–only at Disneyland.
I’m having trouble visualizing how Genie+ will work in practice, and insight?
For step-by-step single day itinerary using Genie+ and Lightning Lanes, see our new series of posts:
Like all of this, those theoretical 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–and no one has that with Genie+ and Lightning Lanes since it hasn’t launched yet and not all details are known.
Will Genie+ and/or individual Lightning Lane attractions work with Park Hopping?
You will be able to reserve attractions after 2 pm in a different park than the one where you started your day and have Disney Park Pass reservations. Park Hopping with Genie+ or individual Lightning Lane attraction purchases will follow all the normal rules of all three (Park Hopping, Genie+ and Lightning Lanes).
Can only certain guests within a party choose to purchase individual attraction Lightning Lane access?
It’s highly unlikely that Walt Disney World will make you buy a Space Mountain ride reservation even for kids who aren’t tall enough to ride. It’ll likely be a process that allows you to choose among linked guests in your My Disney Experience account.
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 or only purchasing Genie+ for the parks where it offers the biggest advantage (almost certainly Magic Kingdom and Disney’s Hollywood Studios). It’ll be interesting to see how strategy emerges to best save time and money by selectively utilizing Genie+.
Is there an on-site advantage with Genie+ or Lightning Lanes?
Not with Genie+, but those staying on-site will be able to purchase individual Lightning Lane access at 7 am instead of park opening time. (This would’ve been the better head-start for on-site guests, if you ask me.)
Whether this is an actual or illusory benefit remains to be seen. I’m highly skeptical that individual Lightning Lane access will ever sell out that quickly, but who knows. It just might happen with Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, especially given that guests will already be up at 7 am for the virtual queue.
Are other on-site perks possible down the road?
We would not bank on anything that’s not included in the announcement details occurring down the road.
With that said, Walt Disney World has on-site hotel occupancy targets that are incredibly important metrics. If bookings are low or cancellations continue, expect to see more incentives to stay on-site, including the potential for Genie+ included with select stays.
Will Annual Passholders be able to purchase Genie+ or individual Lightning Lane access?
Annual Passholders will be able to purchase Lightning Lane or add Genie+ on a per-day basis, just like regular theme park ticket holders.
At launch, there will not be a yearly add-on option for Genie+ for Walt Disney World APs. That seems likely to come at some point in the not-too-distant future, though.
Will there be Annual Passholder or DVC Member discounts?
Not at launch.
What will the yearly Genie+ access cost for APs?
MaxPass cost $125 for the year at Disneyland.
However, everything has gone up in price since then, so our guess for Genie+ is $149 to $199 for the year. It probably won’t debut until much later this year–or even early 2022, though.
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 FastPass+, it’s likely that those guests who refresh the app compulsively and are diligent about making reservations will be at an advantage.
What about guests without smartphones?
In the past, Walt Disney World has offered in-park kiosks and/or Guest Experience Teams to assist guests without smartphones. It remains to be seen whether that will continue with Genie+ and Lightning Lanes. Regardless, guests without this technology will be at a disadvantage.
Will there be multiple options for time slots when booking Genie+ ride reservations?
At launch, the only option will be the next available time slot.
This is unlike FastPass+, and we anticipate this evolving over time.
Will refreshing and rebooking ride reservations be possible with Genie+?
That was the case with FastPass+, but it’s our understanding that will not be the case with Genie+ at launch.
Generally speaking, expect features and functionality to be added to Genie+ over time. It sounds like a “dumbed down” version of the services will be available at first, and expanded in subsequent updates through the rest of the year and early 2022. That’s probably for the best in the near-term, as fewer moving parts means less potential problems.
How will this impact Single Rider or Rider Switch?
Recent changes were made to Rider Switch to better work with this system; those guests will use the Lightning Lane entrances for access to attractions that offer rider switch/swap.
What changes are coming to DAS?
Two new features are coming to Disability Access Service (DAS) in Fall 2021. Here are the full details, copied verbatim from DisneyWorld.com:
Pre-Arrival Registration and Planning via Live Video Chat
This fall, we’re introducing a new option to register virtually with a Cast Member via live video chat as early as 30 days in advance of a park visit.
During your chat with a Cast Member, you’ll also have the opportunity to select up to 2 experiences per day (subject to availability) using our new DAS Advance planning option. Please keep in mind that DAS Advance selections must be booked at least 2 days prior to the day you plan to redeem them, and you will not be able to make selections on the day of your visit.
If the experience you want is available, you’ll be given a one-hour return window to redeem during the day of your visit. Any selections you make will appear as plans on the My Disney Experience app or on this website. Please note: at this time, live chat will be offered in English only.
Same-Day DAS Return Time Self-Selection Tool
A new way to request return times is also debuting this fall. In lieu of having to physically go to an experience or to a kiosk to obtain a return time from a Cast Member, Guests registered in the DAS program (and their party members) will be able to make return time selections right from the My Disney Experience app during the day of a park visit.
Stay tuned for more details!
How could this “have been so much worse”?
Several of you caught our “this could have been so much worse” line in the announcement post and questioned how that could possibly be true. For starters, recognizing this requires acknowledging that paid FastPass was an inevitability. Don’t cry because free FastPass is over, smile because it didn’t happen 3 years ago when first planned. 😉
Rumored versions of the paid FastPass replacement were all worse than this, either in terms of cost or policies. The version that was incredibly close to coming to fruition was entirely a la carte. Take a look at the pricing for Premier Access at Disneyland Paris and you’ll see what we mean. Moreover, all of the paid FastPass “pilot programs” at Walt Disney World cost more than this and offered less.
Walt Disney World probably opted for the most confusing option, but it’ll make a lot more sense in practice (or for anyone who has already used MaxPass). We don’t love Genie+ or Lightning Lanes and certainly aren’t trying to “sell” you on them–just pointing out that this is pretty far from the worst case scenario.
Disney said: “We’ve been listening to your feedback – you want planning to be easier, you want more flexibility and you want better tools to help you make the most of your visit – and that’s exactly what Disney Genie is here to do.” Is it really, though?!?
You just read 4,000+ words about this “easier” and “better” tool and there’s a good chance you still have questions. What do you think? 😉
How can we provide feedback to Walt Disney World about Genie+ or Lightning Lanes?
We recommend respectfully expressing your opinions as to how Genie+ or Lightning Lane will impact your vacations or business with Walt Disney World by email firstname.lastname@example.org.
This is far superior to complaining in comments, social media, forums, etc. (Although Disney sees all of that, too.) Rather than starting petitions, which are largely ineffectual, share feedback in guest satisfaction surveys, bring it up if you speak with managers or others in park leadership, or even contact Guest Relations.
Keep in mind that Genie+ and Lightning Lanes were just announced, and there’s still a lot of uncertainty and unknowns. (Also keep in mind that I’ve been writing nonstop for hours, so apologies for more typos or sloppier sentences than normal–or any errors/omissions.)
Answers should come in a few phases. First, when Walt Disney World makes additional announcements about pricing, ride details, and system mechanics–that should happen at some point in early to mid-October 2021. Second, when Genie+ and Lightning Lanes officially debut–that should happen by early November 2021. Finally, a few weeks after the official debut, when we can see how things ‘settle’ into place and actually operate once the system has allowed for test and adjust.
In other words, we should know more later in October 2021, then again during the Christmas season, and even more in early 2022 as the system continues to evolve. If you’re traveling before the middle of this month, don’t worry about Genie+ or Lightning Lanes–they won’t impact your trip. If you’re visiting in the last two months of this year or any time in 2022, we’ll continue to keep you posted, updating this FAQ as we learn more.
This should answer most of the questions that readers have been asking about the Genie+ app feature and Lightning Lanes that are coming to Walt Disney World. 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!
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!
Have any questions we didn’t answer with the above FAQ? Still confused by how Genie+ or Lightning Lanes will 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!