Walt Disney World Park Strategy: Genie+ and Lightning Lanes

Cornel Schalkwyk on 31 July 2022
Going to Walt Disney World soon? No doubt you’ll want to maximise your time there, going on as many rides and attractions as you can. But the queuing can be legendary, especially in high season, which might mean spending most of your time in queues. Not so much fun, especially with little ones. My top tip would be to plan your visit in advance.

When it comes to planning, you don’t need to go overboard and spreadsheet the heck out of your visit. Although, if you’re like me, you can do that ??. But it is perfectly possible to go with the flow and have no strategy at all, see what you fancy when you get there. You could note down the rides you absolutely want to go on and prioritise those. Or you could take advantage of Disney’s new queue busting, time saving Genie+.


Genie+ is a paid add on to your visit that allows you to enter a ride via a Lightning Lane (the new version of the FASTPASS), rather than the ‘normal’ standby queue. 99% of the experiences have a standby queue. You can just join the standby queue for any ride or attraction and wait until you get to the front and do the experience. With a Genie+ pass, you can book a Lightning Lane (LL) for around 95% of the attractions and avoid the standby queue completely.


You must have a smartphone with the Walt Disney World app (sometimes called My Disney Experience app). Your tickets and advance park reservations will be linked to this app, which you will also need to purchase a Genie + pass as well as make Lightning Lane reservations. Genie+ goes on sale on midnight of the day you’re visiting, and you can book your first Lightning Lane from 7am, so you need to have decided in advance which park you’ll be visiting and have a confirmed park reservation. Currently, the Genie+ pass costs $15 per person per day, although this might change in the future and the price might become date based as well.

Your strategy will be to book your first Genie+ experience for the most popular ride that’s included in your Genie+ service. And you want to get your first Genie+ experience slot for as early in the day as possible, after the park opens to the public.

Here’s an example using Animal Kingdom. When I was there, it opened at 8am with a 7.30am early entry for onsite hotel guests. So at 7am, we were at the gates queuing with all the other on site guests. At 7.30 the park opened and we ran for Avatar Flight of Passage first (not included in Genie+). I had already booked my Kilimanjaro Safaris Genie+ for just after 8am. With Genie+ you can’t select an exact time, you can only book the next available slot that the app shows you. So if you refresh your app and the next available slot for Kilimanjaro Safaris is only at 4pm, you can only book 4pm. And that’s why it’s important to be on time with your first selection.


Decide in advance which attractions and rides you would like to visit. Lightning Lane bookings are made via the app and you can only book one at a time. Book your first one as early in the day as possible so you can try and get several in. Disney reckons on average people can use 2 or 3 Lightning Lanes per day, but depending on the attractions you choose, it could be more than that. And the more times you use it, the more cost effective it becomes – so plan wisely!

You can only make a Lightning Lane reservation once every two hours or once you have finished the ride you have the reservation for, whichever comes first. And another important point is that you can only use Genie+ and Lightning Lane once a day per ride. So no booking on the same ride time after time.

The Lightning Lane slots also get booked up pretty quickly, within seconds of 7am. You will need to keep refreshing your app a few seconds before 7am to get in there first. If you are late and go on the app at 30 seconds after 7am, you won’t get a slot until the afternoon. They really go that quickly.


The moment you enter a Lightning Lane experience you’ve booked, or two hours after you’ve made your first Genie+ booking, you can make your next Lightning Lane reservation. It’s important to get your first Lightning Lane reservation early in the day so you can book as many as possible. If your first Lightning Lane isn’t until the afternoon, you will impact your park strategy and how many attractions you get to see.


In addition to Genie+, there are also Individual Lightning Lane (ILL) attractions, those not included in Genie+. So even if you've paid the $15 per person per day for Genie+, there are a handful of rides and attractions that are not included. These tend to be the most popular ones per park. For example, currently in the Magic Kingdom, the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is Individual Lightning Lane; at Epcot, it’s Guardians of the Galaxy; in Hollywood Studios it's Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance; and in Animal Kingdom it’s Avatar Flight of Passage. So even if you have Genie+ and you want to book a Lightning Lane, for these attractions you will have to purchase the Individual Lightning Lane as well. These rides may change over time so keep an eye on what is and isn’t included with Genie+.

Keep in mind just because you purchase Genie+ or Individual Lightning Lane, it doesn't mean you're going to get the slot you want. It is important to be on the app at the right time to book those things. If you're going to sleep until 8am and then try to do your first Genie+ selection for that day, you're going to be sorely disappointed because all the slots are going to be in the afternoon and you might use your Genie+ for just one ride.

Take a look at my Park Strategy blog for more detail and planning tips to maximise your time in Walt Disney World.