Sarah’s Day at Magic Kingdom Using Genie+
Walt Disney World’s new Genie+ line-skipping service has launched as the permanent replacement to free FastPass+ for select attractions in each park. This post walks you through my step-by-step day using Genie+ in Magic Kingdom, with selection & return times, screenshots, everything I accomplished, and thoughts at the end about whether Genie+ is worth the money.
It was a long day from rope drop until after park closing, so I’m not going to go over basics. For that, see our How to Buy Genie+ and Make Ride Reservations or Guide to Genie+ at Walt Disney World & Lightning Lane FAQ. Additional posts are coming soon with strategy, ride recommendations & priorities, and more.
The visit to Magic Kingdom began by waking up before 7 am, buying Genie+ for the day, and making my first ride selection (Jungle Cruise) at 7 am. Following that, we got ready and arrived at Magic Kingdom shortly before rope drop.
We were not staying on-site, so Early Theme Park Entry to access Tomorrowland or Fantasyland was not an option. Instead, we headed towards the left side of Magic Kingdom, with Jungle Cruise being the first attraction on the agenda.
Since Tom was not using Genie+ and instead seeing how many rides he could accomplish via standby only, this is where our days part ways. Here’s what I did…
Jungle Cruise was down upon arrival. Genie must have been sleeping-in because he didn’t let me know about my first attraction selection being down. I debated cancelling my Disney Genie+ selection since other headliners had return times before 11 am.
I worried I’d be behind the curve if I cancelled, so I opted to ride Pirates of the Caribbean via standby while I deliberated on my next move. It was a walk-on, so I wasn’t concerned about wasting any time.
My indecision paid off, as I received a pop-up notification from Disney Genie+, which altered me that Disney Genie+ changed my plans and gave me a “Lightning Lane– Select Experiences attraction redemption valid anytime on Oct 19” since Jungle Cruise was down.
The anytime pass doesn’t impact the Disney Genie+ attraction selection, so I booked Splash Mountain for my next attraction, with a return time of 10:25 am. By the time I was off Pirates, Jungle Cruise was open and had a posted 50 minute wait. I entered the Lightning Lane at 9:28 and was on a boat by 9:32.
I know a lot of Walt Disney World fans are worried about Genie+ availability if they sleep in, but don’t be.
Every single attraction in Magic Kingdom had ride reservations available before noon as of 9:19 am, after the park opened. I browsed around some of the other parks, and noticed only Slinky Dog Dash was progressing quickly.
I decided I wasn’t going to purchase the “Individual Lightning Lane” attraction passes, which meant riding Space Mountain via standby was a necessity. After Jungle Cruise, the posted wait for Space was 30 minutes. I queued up for Space (getting in line at 9:54) and ended up waiting 25 minutes.
Clearly I’m a huge fan of walking (I AM), so I crossed the park and headed to Frontierland to use my Splash Mountain ride reservation. I tapped into the Lightning Lane and boarded the attraction within 6 minutes (the posted wait for the standby line was 35 minutes). After I tapped into the second Disney Genie+ tap point in Splash Mountain, I booked Peter Pan’s Flight and the return time was 12:30.
After Splash, I got in the standby line for Little Mermaid. The posted wait was 5 minutes but I ended up waiting 10.
Following that I headed over to Barnstormer and almost walked onto the attraction via the standby line and said hello to Tron Lightcycle Run!
Next up, lunch. I mobile ordered from Columbia Harbour House. The return time was later than I desidered but I booked it anyway and luckily was able to modify my arrival window to the current time in the app. My order was ready within less than 8 minutes!
I ordered “The Doom Burger,” which is a plant based “crab cake” sandwich with a side. I enjoy eating healthy and trying new plant-based foods, but wasn’t personally interested in this. It was a “for research” sandwich and that research confirmed what I feared as the burger lived up to its name.
I was ready to ride Peter Pan’s Flight and I tapped into the Lightning Lane 5 minutes early. A Cast Member walked by the Lightning Lane and said everyone must be within their arrival window–not early or late. In the name of research, I opted to stay in line and was able to tap in without any issue.
Guests were talking to a Cast Member because they missed their hour return time by more than 15 minutes and the Cast Member said unfortunately, per the rules the attraction can’t accept late arrivals. While in line, before tapping into the next tap point, I attempted to secure another attraction reservation via Genie+.
I received the error message above. I tapped into the second Peter Pan’s Flight check point at 12:34 and by this time, the posted standby wait time was 80 minutes.
Once I tapped into the second Peter Pan’s Flight checkpoint, I was able to book a Genie+ LL for Big Thunder Mountain Railroad with a return time of 12:55. After that, I headed directly to Frontierland and tapped into the Big Thunder Mountain LL queue entrance at 12:50 (5 mins early!) and the second tap point at 12:52. While waiting to board, I booked Genie+ for Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin for 1:05.
After getting off Big Thunder, I walked over to Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin and redeemed my Lightning Lane at 1:09. I booked my next lightning lane for Dumbo at 1:10 and then boarded Buzz at 1:11.
The posted wait time for Buzz was 25 minutes for standby. No matter what the photo evidence say, I did not fall asleep on the ride!
My Dumbo Lightning Lane arrival window began at 1:30. I tapped into Lightning Lane at 1:32, was on Dumbo at 1:41 and also booked a Lightning Lane return for Haunted Mansion (for 3:20) at the same time. After Dumbo, I entered the standby queue for Mad Tea Party. The posted wait was 20 minutes but I only waited 4 minutes.
At 1:59 I entered the standby line for Pooh. The posted wait was 35 minutes but I only waited 13 minutes. I walked over to “it’s a small world” and entered the standby queue at 2:20. The posted wait was 20 minutes but I waited 16 minutes to board. In desperate need of caffeine, I headed over to Starbucks! Found Tom, split a coffee, took pictures of ducks and then used the AR filters.
Next up I needed a break from the sun so I watched Carousel of Progress, did Tomorrowland Transit Authority Peoplemover, and then visited my favorite Bear Band at the Country Bear Theater.
Since I rode nearly everything I wanted to, I slowed down my pass booking ride reservations. If we weren’t doing this as a test, it would’ve made sense to park hop to Epcot since Test Track and Soarin’ Around the World both still had evening availability.
But we didn’t, so at 5:02, I booked a Genie+ reservation for Pirates of the Caribbean with a quick turnaround time even though the posted wait time was 45 minutes. I tapped into the Pirates Lightning Lane at 5:28 and at 5:35.
I then booked a Genie+ ride reservation for “it’s a small world” and tapped into the Lightning Lane queue at 6:07. The posted wait for standby was 15 minutes. At 6:15 I booked a lightning Lane for Pooh with a return time of 6:50. I arrived to the Lightning Lane at 6:52 and was on the attraction by 6:55.
During my day using Genie+ in Magic Kingdom, the first attraction to run out of Lightning Lane availability was Jungle Cruise. I’m not sure what time that happened, but I recall seeing it in the afternoon.
Even after 6 pm, only that and Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor (???) didn’t have availability. Everything else did.
There were several minor things about Genie+ that were confusing, and most of these actually were not issues Walt Disney World fans have raised in the months leading up to the feature’s release. For the most part, it’s very intuitive to use once you have the app in your hands and are browsing it.
One thing that could be easily fixed is that Genie+ still gave the option to “Book Experience” for rides I had already done (it would give an error message if I tried). The display is also not as simple and clean as MaxPass was, which is probably because of the regular Genie itinerary builder.
At around 7 pm, after I finished the Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, we met back up and played around with the AR filters some more. These were a lot of fun, but didn’t work perfectly once the hub was crowded.
Tom is covering this in his day without Lightning Lanes, so I won’t spend too much time on the end of our night. Here’s what we did:
- Around 7:30 pm, Tom and I got in the standby line for Astro Orbiter in Tomorrowland. We waited less than 15 minutes.
- First two-thirds of Disney Enchantment from the Tomorrowland waterfall.
- We hopped in the Seven Dwarf Mine Train line around 8:15 and nearly walked on the attraction!
- Our night ended with another ride (for me) on Peter Pan’s Flight. We entered the standby queue just before park closing and finished as Boo Bash was starting.
The lines for transportation as we left Magic Kingdom were very long due to there being no gap between the fireworks ending and park closing. Keep this in mind if you’re visiting on a night like this, and do some shopping or a last minute ride before leaving.
Overall, I had a blast using Genie+ to more efficiently tour Magic Kingdom. I’m sure we will have more tips soon, but here are a few quick tips in the meantime:
- After you’ve added Lightning Lane to your package or ticket(s), set an alarm for 6:58 am on your theme park arrival date to book your first lightning lane at 7:00 am.
- Don’t cancel your Lightning Lane reservation if the attraction is down.
- You can tap into Lightning Lanes 5 minutes prior to their scheduled arrival time and at least 5 minutes after the window closes as of right now.
- Book the next Lightning Lane reservation as soon as you’ve tapped into both attraction check-points.
- Cancelling Lightning Lane reservations is cumbersome.
- You can’t repeat attractions with Lightning Lane, but can do both standby and Lightning Lane for the same ride.
- If you miss your Lightning Lane attraction window, you can’t rebook the attraction.
- Genie+ must be prompted if you’re park hopping. After that, you’ll have the option to book available Lightning Lane attractions at your desired park.
- A powerful external battery is essential to keeping your phone powered throughout the day, especially if you use the AR filters, audio tours, or do anything else on your phone.
My preliminary reaction to Genie+ at Magic Kingdom is positive, but the jury is still out on the other parks with fewer attractions since I’ve yet to experience those with it. In Magic Kingdom, I managed to accomplish 22 attractions without breaking a sweat. That’s not many more than Tom accomplished with just standby lines, but I enjoyed the park at a leisurely pace and also did higher average wait attractions, so don’t let him fool you with the high number.
Just like anyone, I don’t enjoy waiting in long lines and felt like I accomplished a lot at a relatively relaxed pace. I really enjoyed my laid back day at Magic Kingdom, but I wish there little more flexibility built into the experience. Also, bugs here and there gave the impression that it would have benefitted from more testing and a soft launch.
Being present in the moment and enjoying a spontaneous day in the park are two of my priorities, and I feel Genie+ is mixed in those regards. Unlike FastPass+, it has more flexibility, allows for better spontaneity, and doesn’t require mapping out a day far in advance. However, it’s not as simple or straightforward as only standby lines at every attraction.
Obviously, there’s the issue of cost, which standby lines don’t have and FastPass+ did not have. The $15.98 per person per day price of Genie+ does add up and is another thing to budget for in an already expensive vacation. Also, the timing of its release is unfortunate alongside Walt Disney World’s many other nickel and diming moves over the last year. Unlike those other changes, Genie+ is beneficial to guests who buy it. In particular, Genie+ levels the playing field between off-site and on-site guests, as well as low and high knowledge Walt Disney World visitors.
As a local Annual Passholder, Genie+ is not something I feel I’ll need on a regular basis. Conversely, I cannot imagine taking an annual trip, let alone once in a lifetime, to Walt Disney World and not buying Genie+ for Magic Kingdom. If we had to trim our budget, we would do that elsewhere. Table service meals, souvenirs, and even more expensive hotel stays are things I would recommend skipping first. Just like MaxPass before it, Genie+ offers tremendous convenience and less time waiting in line for most vacationers. I think once Walt Disney World fans give it a chance, they come around on it, even if begrudgingly.
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!
Thoughts on my day in Magic Kingdom using the paid Genie+ service? Are you planning on buying Genie+ or skipping it? Do you agree or disagree with my assessment? 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!
Sarah, a big thanks to you and Tom for all you do!! I am a DVC member and therefore would have access to the extended magic hours in the morning and evening at MK as I would be staying at a DVC resort. Just wondering how you believe this would affect each of your experiences? Would you recommend purchasing Genie+ or not? It seems like you could easily rope drop a few rides, relax at the resort mid/most of the day and accomplish a ton later in the evening at a relaxed pace. Am I wrong? I have 3 adult kids so getting around the park with little ones is not a concern. I imagine a lot of DVC members are interested in this…
I agree with other commentators that this sounds absolutely miserable for people with younger kids or other mobility concerns. Is this actually going to provide value for a large segment of their guests?
Apologies to the lack of comment replies the last several days. Been a busy week and that continues today at DHS, Epcot, and wherever else the day takes us. Won’t have a chance to respond until tomorrow–will try to address many of these questions/concerns in follow up posts, too. Sorry and thanks for the understanding!
I would suggest the next time you do this, take along a couple of smaller children along with you. Running back and forth across the park does not work. In all this analyzing, does anyone pay attention to what it would cost a family of four to get Genie+ and add two Lightening Lane selections for just one day nevertheless for their entire stay?
great job sarah, a well rounded analysis of the pros and cons of Genie+ , i am definitely more comfortable now knowing im about to use it for first time in about 18hrs!
Thank you so much for this awesome series, Tom and Sarah! Hoping you’ll consider doing the same approach at other parks too (particularly HS!).
We have always broken down MK into 2 sides. Pushing those old blue double strollers was tough. You didn’t factor in the time you spent going from one ride to the next. That really is part of the wait time if you think about it. Stand in line or walk, for many it will be a toss up. One problem with buying Genie is you don’t know how busy it will be and if you really need it.
Sarah – I am guessing the photo evidence shows you on your phone during Buzz Lightyear.
Which brings up a point – how much time was spent on the phone vs Tom’s day?
Looking back at my last trip to Walt Disney Sept – Oct 2020 we did use the phone which looking back did take away from the Disney experience. I feel, the required phone use takes away from the magic and interaction that makes Disney – Disney. Last trip all quick service was done by phone no interaction except to pick up the food. We check in through the phone, tickets, restaurant reversation – all small interactions with various cast members that added to the Disney experiance. Now appears the phone is now being required even more – the App is now what people rely for much of their Disney magic. In my eyes – not a good thing.
I agree. We love you Tom, but it’s neat to have something in Sarah’s voice.
Is it as discouraging as it sounds? First it adds $525 on top of the ticket price for our family’s upcoming trip. Second I’m going on vacation to get off my phone. This sounds like a job not a vacation. Also, last time we were there the cell coverage was not 100%. Has that been improved? I find this all unnecessarily confusing and far too structured for a vacation. Sounds like all spontaneity is gone and with it, some of the magic.
Very interesting analyses from both you and Tom. Since I am a once every 5 years visitor to Walt Disney World, I know that I will be buying Genie+ to be able to experience the attractions that are important to me. My question is this: I am assuming that the number of people purchasing Genie+ is low right now as the system rolls out and becomes more familiar to people. As the benefits are recognized and more people buy it, how will that impact the usefulness of Genie+? With more people using it, will the availability of times be so reduced that it won’t have the value that it had for your day?
I am traveling with my husband and 2 year! Do i have to book for the entire party or do we do it separately?
This is a little confusing for me and we are staying on site
Thanks for sharing your experience! I’m definitely excited to give it a try on at least one day of my next trip.
From reading your experience, it looks like you would need to travel back and forth the park. Go from Splash Mountain to Buzz Lightyear than back to another side of the park. This going back and forth all over the park to best use Genie+ can be very difficult for most vacationers.
Thanks Sarah! That’s good to know about not cancelling if a ride is down. I don’t mind getting an ‘anytime’ pass in exchange because that could come in handy later in the day if things get hectic.
It probably seems small to Disney but I really hope they fix the app so that attractions that have already been done via LL no longer show as an option. That kind of stuff drives me nuts.
Sarah, great article and well written !! Not sure if you guys noticed the “My plans” was removed from its spot. You can go to my Genie+ day and change day, but calendar comes up and if annual pass holder ALL days are highlighted as if you have plans. You need to go to “search” type in MY PLANS and hit search. It shows up four or five rows down and can be accessed that way. Not sure many figured this trick out. It was added after uproar from guests. Hope to read more of your articles and insights in the future. Give Tom a run for his money !!
Thanks for all the important information. Very helpful. Looking forward to our special trip coming up next week. Good to hear from you Sarah. Keep them coming.
Thanks Sarah for your great report. I noticed as I read your article that you crisscrossed the park a number of times. I am 64 years old now and unable to walk as much as you did. Were your selections based on only rides available or can one do rides in one area of the park and then moving on to the nextarea of the park.. I realize some rides would be stand by while waiting on next reservation but wondering if app only allows rides on the other side of the park each time. Thanks
I’m a little confused by the times you’re reporting in your article. Like this paragraph:
“Once I tapped into the second Peter Pan’s Flight checkpoint, I was able to book a Genie+ LL for Big Thunder Mountain Railroad with a return time of 12:55. After that, I headed directly to Frontierland and tapped into the Big Thunder Mountain LL queue entrance at 12:50 (5 mins early!) and the second tap point at 12:52. While waiting to board, I booked Genie+ for Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin for 1:05.”
I had thought from previous articles/stories from places like Touring Plans that you ALWAYS had to wait 120 minutes in between grabbing Genie+ LLs… Which would stink, because with a park hour timeframe like 9am – 9 pm, that means you can only book at 7 am, 11 am, 1 pm, 3 pm, 5 pm, 7 pm. That’s only 6 LLs!
But based on what you reported, it looks like it’s the old rule from MaxPass/FastPass days: you can book another one either 120 mins from when you booked the first one OR once you’ve redeemed the first one – whichever comes first.
Is that accurate?
Thank you for the research and the companion posts! I’m sure you have a lot of input into Tom’s posts, but it is nice to read one in your voice, Sarah!
It sounds like it would work well at Disneyland as well, since those parks are ride-dense. I hope they remove the 1-per-attraction cap, however.