What is Genie Plus: Genie+ vs Lightning Lanes vs Virtual Queue at Disney World

Genie+ and Lightning Lanes are probably one of the most confusing things about Disney World. I was certainly very confused when I tried to plan my trip to Disney World. In this post I will share everything I know about Genie+ and lightning lanes at Disney World, so you can walk away with a comprehensive understanding of how Genie+ and lightning lanes work!

I tried to procrastinate as much as I could when it came to planning our trip to Disney World, because it all seemed so overwhelming. As a travel blogger, I never get overwhelmed planning trips but Disney was an exception.

Like you, I was particularly confused on Genie+, lightning lanes, and Individual lightning lanes and the concept of them seemed so daunting. All I knew was that they were fast lanes that can help you avoid waiting in lines for hours at Disney World.

But after much research and using Genie+ lightning lanes multiple times during our trip, I am here to share what I’ve learned about Genie+ and lightning lanes and how they work to make your Disney World trip better and more enjoyable. In particular I will talk about:

  • Genie+
  • Lightning Lanes
  • Individual Lightning Lanes

What is Genie+ and Lightning Lanes at Disney World

Genie+ (not to be confused with Genie), is essentially an extra-cost service that allows you to use “lightning lanes” at Disney World’s 4 theme parks for certain rides, shows, and attractions.

Lightning Lanes are physical lanes that you walk through to board your ride. At most rides in Disney World, there are two lanes to enter a ride:

  • Stand by line
  • Lightning Lanes

Lightning Lane entrance at Disney World
Lightning Lane entrance for Star Wars

If you use Genie+ to book a Lightning Lane for the ride Barnstormers at Magic Kingdom, at the designated time, you can go to the lightning lane at Barnstormers, use your MagicBand+ or Disney World app or Key to the World card to tap in (sometimes twice), and board the ride within 15 minutes or less.

If you do not have Genie+ (or decide not to use Genie+ for that particular ride), you will go into the Stand-by line and wait (sometimes the wait is 5 minutes, sometimes it’s 60 minutes).

Besides allowing you to use lightning lanes, Genie+ also comes with many other benefits:

  • Download free images taken while you are on the ride (NOT photos taken by photographers in the park)
  • Unlock Disney PhotoPass lenses
  • Listen to Audio Tales

How Genie+ and Lightning Lanes Works at Disney World

Now that you know Genie+ is a “fast pass” service that lets you skip the long wait by using lightning lanes at a ride, let me tell you how Genie+ works based on our experience.

When to Buy Genie+

Genie+ is an optional service that you can purchase on the Disney World app for a particular day for a particular park (or two). You can decide the day of (starting at 12am) whether you want to purchase Genie+ for that day. But in order to buy Genie+, you will need to already have a valid Disney World park ticket.

We visited Disney World on April 20th, 22nd, 24th and 26th. We bought Genie+ for all four days. But we had to buy Genie+ four times (once on the 20th, once on the 22nd, once on the 24th and once on the 26th) because you cannot buy multi-day Genie+ at once.

So I bought my Disney World park ticket a few days before April 20th and linked the park tickets to our Disney World app and account. Then at midnight on April 20th, I could actually purchase Genie+ (either for myself or our entire party) for that day only. If I did not already have a valid theme park ticket for April 20th, I wouldn’t have been able to buy Genie+.

If you have a park hopper ticket (that allows you to visit multiple parks in one day), you should buy a Park Hopper Genie+, so you can use Genie+ on the same day at different parks.

Even though Genie+ becomes available at midnight, you do not have to buy it at midnight. Most people buy it between Midnight and 6:59am, because you can start using Genie+ to book your first ride at 7am. You can of course buy Genie+ after 7am, but it is more advantageous to book the first ride right at 7am.

I bought my Genie+ at 3am when I woke up randomly! But our friends bought their Genie+ at 6:45am with no problems. However there is always a risk that Genie+ may get sold out before you have a chance to buy it on really busy days (even though it’s very rare), I have only seen it once happening mid day. So I think buying it at 6:45am should be fine.

How to Buy Genie+ On the World Disney App

Disney World Genie+ cost

It is super easy to purchase Genie+ on the World Disney App. Assuming you are looking at the app after midnight or in the morning, as soon as you open the app, right on top (under your name) will see “Disney Genie+ Service” and you can click on Purchase.

If you don’t see that option, you can always click on the  at the bottom right of your app screen, go to “rides, shows & lightning Lane entry”, and under Genie+ click on “Purchase for Today”.

Once you click on Purchase, another screen will pop out for you to choose which park you want to purchase Genie+ for. If you are only going to Magic Kingdom, then select the Magic Kingdom one. But if you have a Park Hopper Ticket, you should select Park Hopper for Genie+.

Keep in mind that Genie+ costs the sale for Park Hopper and Magic Kingdom, so even if you are not sure if you are actually gonna go to Magic Kingdom with your Park Hopper ticket, it’s always better to get the Park Hopper Genie+ anyway.

Assuming you have a valid park ticket for that day, the next step will be for you to pay for Genie+. Once paid, you are good to go for your first booking at 7am.

How Much Does Genie+ Cost at Disney World

There is not a set price for Genie+ but rather a range of costs, since pricing is dynamic and totally depends on the time of the year and forecasted crowd level. For example, you can expect a slightly higher cost for Genie+ during peak spring break and the week between Christmas and New Years but lower prices for low season such as middle of August.

Genie+ is also priced differently with different parks, with Magic Kingdom (and Park Hopper) the most expensive:

  • Magic Kingdom Genie+: $18 – $37 a person a day
  • Epcot Genie+: $15 – $34 a person a day
  • Hollywood Studios Genie+: $18 – $35 a person a day
  • Animal Kingdom Genie+: $15 – $32 a person a day

Read Next: How Much Does a Disney World Vacation Cost?

How Genie+ Works and How to Book Rides with Genie+

So now we are clear that Genie+ is a fast pass service that you need to pay additional for and can purchase starting at midnight. Let me break down how Genie+ actually works, and what you get with it.

A few things to keep in mind about Genie+:

  • You can buy Genie+ for yourself or for your entire party (if someone doesn’t have Genie+, they cannot use the lightning lanes even if you can)
  • You can only use Genie+ service once per ride. You cannot repeat rides with Genie+ (if you want to ride something twice, you will have to go wait in the stand-by line)
  • You can start using Genie+ at 7:00am to book a ride for later that day, even if you are not in a park or staying at a Disney World hotel
  • You cannot choose Genie+ return time for the rides you book, but you can modify and keep refreshing for an earlier (or later) time slot (This is KEY to make your day more smooth at Disney World)
  • You get one hour return window to the ride, but there is also a grace period (5 minutes before and 15 minutes after)
  • There is a waiting period before you can book your next Genie+ ride
  • Sometimes you get an “overlapping” Genie+ lightning lane (like one ride you booked has a return time of 2:05pm and another ride you booked has a return time of 2:45pm). This is ok! You can make it.

Genie+ Return Window & Grace Period

What is Disney World Genie+

Many rides, shows and attractions at Disney World have lightning lanes. Genie+ lets you pre-book these rides by giving you a “return” time that is a one hour window.

If your return time starts at 9:50am, you can go to the ride between 9:50am to 10:50am, walk through the Lightning Lane, see all the people miserably waiting in line in the Stand-By Lane, and quickly get on the ride.

There is a grace period of 5 minutes before and 15 minutes after your return window. So you can technically tap into your ride at 9:45am or 11am and still be ok.

You cannot choose your Genie+ return time, it automatically gives you the next available time. If you are unhappy with your return time, you can modify the return time in the app!

How to Modify Genie+ Return Window

How to modify Genie plus return times

I wish Genie+ let you choose your own desired return time, but unfortunately not. The next best thing they offer is to let you modify your return window.

On the Disney World app, in your tip board, it shows you the ride you booked with Genie+ and the return window. You can click on the 3 dots of your booked experience, click on “modify plan“, and it will show you a new return time. If you like it, you can select “change to this time“. If you do not like that return window, you can keep refreshing until you get what you want (sometimes you never get what you want).

You can modify it to a different Genie+ ride if you decide you don’t want to ride the one you booked.

You can modify a ride unlimited times before your 1 hour return period runs out. NEVER CANCEL A RIDE, ALWAYS MODIFY.

When Can You Book the Next Genie+ Ride

When you can book the next Genie+ lightning lane at Disney World

Genie+ is not unlimited as it has a waiting period and you are only allowed to book another ride at the earlier of:

  • 2 hours after you make a booking (if it’s in the morning, then it’s 2 hours after park opens)
  • When you redeem (tap in) to your most recently booked lightning lane (sometimes you need to tap in twice at specific rides)

This concept was super confusing to me, so let me give you some examples. But before I give you an example, your tip board in the Disney World app tells you when you can book your next Genie+ lightning lane. You do NOT need to set an alarm or do the mental calculation to figure out when you can book the next Genie+ lightning lane ride.

Example of using Genie+ to book and modify a ride

I purchase my Genie+ for a specific park (or Park hopper) before 7am the day I’m going to the park.

At 7am, I immediately refresh my tip board and book my first ride, which gives me a return time at 3:05pm. The park opens at 9am, so I can book my next Genie+ lightning lane 2 hours after park opening, so that is 11am.

But I am unhappy with this, I want to get on the ride ASAP, not wait till 3:05pm. So I try to modify and keep refreshing and lucky me, the return time for that ride somehow becomes 10:30am instead of 3:05pm (this is for illustration purposes only), so I quickly confirm the modification.

Now my ride is at 10:30am instead of the original 3:05pm, so I can go to the lightning lane for that ride at 10:25am, tap my MagicBand (or app or key card) and immediately book another Genie+ lightning lane ride, bypassing the 2 hour rule.

Again, you can save the brainpower and forget the calculation and just check your Tip Board on the app to see when you can book the next Genie+ lightning lane.

Can You Book Genie+ For Multiple People At the Same Time (or Separately)

Family member plan for Genie plus
I didn’t have the same rides booked as my friends

Rarely does someone go to Disney World solo (I mean good for them if they do). Most likely you are traveling with family and friends, so you are probably wondering how Genie+ works when you have more than one person.

Disney does an amazing job of allowing you to link to other people. Aside from the technical glitch that always happens with linking, once you are linked, you can purchase and book Genie+ lightning lanes as well as Individual lightning lanes for everyone you are linked to.

Using our example, we traveled with 3 other people (and a baby). Before our trip, I made sure to have linked to their Disney Account, so we can book everything together (Genie+, dining, etc).

When it comes to Genie+, we bought our own Genie+ the morning of. Then at 7am when I booked our first ride, Genie+ asked me to confirm who’s in my party that should be booked on this ride, and I could select/ unselect people.

If I know there is a ride someone does not want to get on, I will not select them as my party for this Genie+ LL booking. If they are not booked on our group’s Genie+ lightning lane ride, they can book a separate ride for themselves.

What is Individual Lightning Lanes at Disney World

What is individual lightning lanes at Disney World

Now to make things more confusing, there is a separate service at Disney World called Individual Lightning Lanes. The keyword here is individual. This service costs money also and it is different from Genie+.

There are a few “premium” rides at Disney World that let you purchase an individual lightning lanes for:

  • Seven Dwarfs Mine Train (Magic Kingdom): $10 – $12
  • TRON Lightcycle / Run (Magic Kingdom): $20
  • Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind (Epcot): $14 – $17
  • Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance (Hollywood Studios): $20 – $25
  • Avatar Flight of Passage (Animal Kingdom): $14 – $16

There are no Genie+ for these premium rides, so if you want to ride them, you either have to get into a Virtual Queue (more on that later), a Stand-by line or purchase an Individual Lightning Lane to skip the wait.

You can only purchase Individual Lightning Lanes at 7am if you are staying at a Disney World hotel. If you are staying at an Airbnb or a non-Disney hotel, you can buy your Individual Lightning Lane when the park opens (even if you are not physically in the park).

You can buy Individual Lightning lanes for other people in your party, and you can choose the return time (unlike Genie+). The return window is also one hour. You cannot modify Individual Lightning Lane once you purchase it.

What is Virtue Queue at Disney World

At Disney World, for most rides, if you do not have Genie+ booked for that ride, you have to physically stand in a “stand-by” line and line up for the ride.

For 2 of the “Premium” rides at Disney World (Tron and Guardian of the Galaxy), there is no stand-by line, instead there is a Virtue Queue.

How virtual queue works is that:

  • Before 7am (or 1pm), open your Disney World app and go to “Join Virtual Queue”
  • At 7am (or 1pm) you refresh the page and join virtual queue
  • If you successfully join a virtual queue, you will be given a “boarding group” number
  • Check your app to see when your “boarding group” is called and walk to the attraction
  • You still have to wait 30 min to an hour to get on the ride

Virtual queues are free and they get sold out within seconds (especially at 7am). They are extremely popular since not everyone wants to pay $20-$25 for a ride on top of the park tickets and Genie+. When we went to Magic Kingdom twice, we paid for Tron the first day, then we did a virtual queue the second day since we didn’t want to pay for Tron again but we liked the ride.

Having a virtual queue also means you can potentially ride these premium rides twice, once with Virtual Queue and once with Individual Lightning Lane if you want to pay.

Quick Summary of Genie+ vs. Individual Lightning Lanes vs. Virtual Queue at Disney World

Genie+ Lightning LanesIndividual Lightning LanesVirtual Queue
CostMagic Kingdom : $18 – $37
Epcot: $15 – $34
Hollywood Studios: $18 – $35
Animal Kingdom: $15 – $32
Seven Dwarfs: $10 – $12
TRON: $20
Guardians of the Galaxy: $14 – $17
Rise of the Resistance: $20 – $25
Avatar Flight of Passage: $14 – $16
Free for 2 premium rides:

– Tron
– Guardian of the Galaxy
What’s IncludedMost rides, shows and attractions at Disney World’s 4 parksOnly the rides listed aboveOnly the rides listed above
Can you pick the return time?NoYesNo
Can you modify the return time?YesNoNo
Time to book first ride7am for everyone with a valid park ticketDisney hotel guests with a valid park ticket: 7am

Non-Disney Hotel guests: when the park opens
7am for everyone with a valid park ticket
Can you repeat rides?NoNoNo
Waiting time to get on the ride5 – 20 minutes5 to 20 minutes30 minutes to 1 hour

Disney World Genie+ FAQ

Does everyone need to buy Genie+ lightning lane at Disney World

Everyone (except kids under 3) needs to get Genie+ lightning lanes if you want to book and ride together.

Can I book Genie+ Lightning Lanes for multiple people

Yes, you can book Genie+ for your entire party for up to 12 people (assuming you are all linked on the Disney World app).

Can you pick your Genie+ return time

No, you cannot pick Genie+ return time, as the app gives you the next available time. But you can keep modifying the return time and you can modify to change to a different ride.

What if I miss my Genie+ return window

You can always ask a cast member at the ride to see what they can do. If they are nice about it they may still let you on. But if they don’t let you get on because you are late, then you miss out on that ride and it counts as if you rode it.

How many rides can you do with Genie+ at Disney World

The Disney World website says you can do 2 to 3 rides with Genie+ at Disney World. When we visited mid April we were able to use Genie+ for 8+ rides at Magic Kingdom, 8 rides and attractions at Hollywood Studios, and 7 rides at Animal Kingdom.

Depending on when you go and how you use Genie+, you can potentially do more or fewer rides than us.

Can you repeat a ride on Genie+

No, you can only use Genie+ once per ride. If you want to ride the same ride again, you will need to wait in the Stand-by line.

Can you book more than one Genie+ ride at the same time?

Disney World Genie+ overlapping plans

You can only book one Genie+ experience at a time but if you happen to have multiple Genie+ rides booked for the afternoon, that’s ok. You can have overlapping plans and this often happens if you “stacked” your rides.

For example, at 7am, I book Peter Pan for a 3pm return time. Then 2 hours after park opens (at 11am), I book my second Genie+ attraction for meeting Cinderella at 3:45pm, then at 1pm I book my third Genie+ attraction for Space mountain for 4:30pm, then effectively I have 3 Genie+ rides “stack” for the afternoon and that’s ok.

Does Genie+ sell out? Do I need to buy it at midnight?

You do not need to buy Genie+ at midnight as it rarely sells out before 7am. Even on the busiest days (peak Spring Break this year), I tracked Genie+ prices and only one park sold out during the day.

However, the lightning lanes for specific rides can sell out! Super popular rides such as Slinky Dog Dash (at Hollywood Studios) can sell out by 10am (or even 8:30am) on a crowded day, so you should book either book that Genie+ first or rope drop that ride.

You can easily find out when specific rides sell out of Genie+ from Thrill-data.

Should I Book Genie+ with Wifi or Cellular Signal?

If you are staying at a hotel, then I would suggest you turn off wifi and use your phone’s reception (assuming you have decent reception) to book Genie+, Virtual Queue and ILL. Literally a second can make a difference in your return time for Genie+ and your boarding group for virtual Queue.

Is Genie Plus Worth It?

Whether Genie+ is worth it for Disney World is one of the most debatable questions. The easy answer is that if you are visiting Disney World during peak busy season, then you absolutely should get Genie+. I was tracking the wait times during peak Spring Break and it was absolutely insane (like a 90 minute wait for It’s a small world and over 2 hours wait for Slinky Dog Dash).

If you are already spending $180 on a park ticket, the last thing you want to do is stand in line for over an hour in the heat and only manage to do 3-4 rides a day.

If you are traveling with children, it’s best to book Genie+ to minimize the wait. Kids and waits do not go well together.

Another thing I would say is that you should probably get Genie+ if you are visiting Hollywood Studios. There are a few popular rides with 1 hour+ wait and getting Genie+ and ILL can help you cut that wait time down.

Personally I don’t think Genie+ was that worth it for Animal Kingdom. While I was there, only the Safari had a long wait (and Avatar), everything else was a 5-10 minute wait for the most part. We could’ve done it without Genie+ but obviously we utilized our Genie+ so we didn’t need to wait at all.

If you are visiting during a pretty quiet day, then you probably don’t need Genie+, especially if you have access to Early Entry and/or Extended Evening Hours.

Hope this Genie+ and Lightning Lane guide can help you better plan your Disney World vacation!

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