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!
This post is super helpful. I was wondering in everyone’s experience if there was availability on attractions near each other. It sounds like everyone is making reservations for attractions that is quite a distance away and kind of criss crossing the park and wasn’t sure if that was just preference or was it that other reservations for attractions nearby weren’t available at the time you are in that area of the park so in order to use the benefits of this service you kind of are forced to make reservations at attractions far away from each other.
I’m glad your day went so well. Sorry if I scared you when I yelled “Bye Sarah!”, as you were making your way between Big Thunder and Buzz. You were so kind to return with a smile and a wave. It really was a cherry on top of an already great day.
My family and I also decided to splurge for Genie+ with it being our last day at the parks. Overall it went pretty well. It definitely felt like we had to walk a lot more as we bounced around from one Lightning Lane window to the next but with the time saved from avoiding lines we managed to slip in some visits with the Tiki Birds, Big Al and Rover, which we probably couldn’t have done otherwise.
If disabled, does one still get preferential treatment as before?
Can you explain how you “tap in”? Is it through your phone or your magic band?
I’m still confused about the 2 hour rule. Could someone explain or clarify? Does it only apply if your first Genie+ reserved ride is later in the day and you book another one in the meantime 2 hours after park opening and its return time is still 2 hours before the later ride?
Loved hearing Sarah’s perspective! We are DVC members that visit for a week every two or three years. We know the parks well but also value time over money (and thankfully have the luxury to do so at a cost of $15 per person). I think I would absolutely purchase this for my next trip, at least at Magic Kingdom and at Hollywood Studios.
Tom is great but love hearing from Sarah…Wish it was more often.
Very disappointed that you aren’t allowed to use genie+ for the same attraction on the same day. I hope that changes! Is Disney taking official feedback? We’ve used MaxPass to ride Star Tours at least ten times over the course of one day. My kids are not interested in thrill rides, what does Disney care if we ride the same thing over and over?
I’m a family of 4 who loves MaxPass and looking forward to Genie+. Our youngest doesn’t care for the Mountain rides, even though he’s tall enough. Question, can you easily swap your magic band with a partner and create your own parent swap for the older kid? We did this with phones for MaxPass with great results.
Great posts to Sarah & Tom! I’m sure others will have these questions too. If I have my husband in my planning party, can I buy Genuie+ for us both in the app? What about 2 friends we are traveling with that are in my Other Family & Friends group? Can I buy theirs too and make lightening lane reservations for all 4 of us? That might be easier than trying to coordinate on 2 phones.
Clarification please. On your screenshots I saw prices for some attractions. Are those on top of the $16 daily fee for Genie? Or were they the cost to use Genie “a la carte” for those attractions?
Thanks for a great report! I second/third the requests for testing Genie+ in a park hopping scenario. We definitely plan to do this and we’d love to see how it works in reality, not just in theory.
As an avid runner in my twenties I would have challenged Tom to see who could have garnered the most attractions. In my seventieth year I just want to relax and enjoy. As he has mentioned in other posts in MK on a moderate to a heavy traffic day G+ will be a necessity. Some posts give me ideas of exactly what I wish to do and others exactly what I do not wish to do. I do not wish to attempt to do Tom’s version. Thank you Tom and Sara for the enlightening information.
Thanks for the great post! I know you guys will continue to test out the new system and posts updates, but I had a few thoughts after reading both posts. First, there seemed to be a lot of availability for rides throughout the day, but you were going solo. I wonder if it wouldn’t be as easy to get so many return times so quickly with a larger party (even just 2 or 3 people). I would also imagine that as more people start to use it, there might be less availability. Second, while I don’t necessarily mind walking back and forth across the park it can get pretty tiring (both literally and figuratively). Does the system give you the ability to select things both in the area you are in as well as other areas of the park?
Could you clarify what you mean by “Genie+ must be prompted if you’re park hopping.”? Thanks!
Would appreciate a little more clarity on the Park Hopping feature… It sounds like if you buy for the day, it’s good at the park you’re at, but then does it show you availability at other parks after 2pm? So you could do Genie+ for your Hollywood Studios morning, and then have it also carry over to an Epcot evening Park Hopper? That to me sounds like it might just make it worth it.
Great, detailed report! I particularly appreciate the information about ride reservation availability; if at all possible, I’d rather be in standby lines until crowds build up around 10:30 or 11am.
Any idea if the individual Lightning Lanes prices are the same all day long? It’s not clear to me how variable the variable pricing is, and I’d like to know if it’s day-to-day or hour-to-hour.
Also I much prefer the spontaneity of booking same day. Other than a handful of rides (7 Dwarves, Sorain) we rarely stuck with the times we had booked 60 days out. Most were booked night before or day of with old Fast Pass.
Great report. We are walkers and the more steps the better! We just had a 27,000 step day and we tend to hop and criss cross all across the park. I definitely think my family would be up to the challenge.
I think I would approach it like we did DL for MK. Buy Genie + one day and do all the headliners. Then on our second MK day it’s Bears, Tiki birds, riverboat, Tom Sawyer island etc.
To everyone discussing about the cost of adding Genie+ for your whole trip I would just like to point out two things:
1) You do not have to buy it every day (and I believe Tom and Sarah’s strong recommendation is to only buy it on certain days/parks)
2) You do not “need” it at all. Even with small children. For decades there was not FastPass of any kind at WDW and people, including those with small children, just stood in line. And it was fine! I would wager many of you in these comments were the kids in those lines, and part of why you keep going back again and again is because you have such positive memories of those vacations despite all the waiting around. Is it objectively better to not have to wait in line? Of course! Can it be challenging to be in line for an hour with small children? Absolutely! But it *can* be done, and if the cost of adding Genie+ (which *does* add up quickly) is too much then don’t buy it.
I’m certainly not defending Disney’s choice to introduce another upcharge experience on top of the relentless price gouging of the past few years. But I also think we all need to take a step back and realize that even if we have a suboptimal vacation from an efficiency perspective, it can still be a great time as long as we focus on what we can do instead of what we can’t.