Disney is constantly changing their systems, and the line-skipping service previously known as Fastpass is no exception. Though this service used to be free and available to any park guests, visitors must now choose between having no line-skipping privileges and paying about $20 per person per day to access the perk. This article will provide you with some basic information on whether the paid service is worth it and strategies on how to utilize it most effectively and if it makes sense for you.
What is the Difference Between Genie Plus and Lightning Lane?
It is very confusing terminology, but here is the difference: buying Disney Genie Plus grants you access to make selections for regular Lightning Lanes, similar to what used to be granted via Fastpass. Genie Plus also contains a few other in-app perks, but they’re not too beneficial. The term “Lightning Lane” refers to the specific line at an attraction that skips the standby queue and gets you on the ride with little to no wait.
On the contrary, the term “Individual Lightning Lane” refers to an add-on, a la carte options which are available for each park’s premier attraction. For these rides, the only way to gain the line-skipping privilege is to buy your way in at a rate of around $15 to $25 per person, depending on the time of year. That means you can spend $100 for your family of four just to ensure a ride on Disney’s new roller coasters like Tron: Lightcycle/Run or Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind.
Are Genie Plus and Lightning Lane Worth It?
When considering whether it’s worth the money, there are two major differences to think about. First, you should consider how busy the parks will be at the time of your visit. If you are visiting Disney World on a weekday in early October, for example, the crowds should be at one of their lowest points throughout the year. This means that you can likely experience all of the attractions you want in most of the parks (especially the ones with less rides such as Animal Kingdom and EPCOT) even without skipping lines.
The second major factor to consider is how much you value the time. Even if you can cover all of the rides in a park in a day, would you rather pay the money to save yourself from waiting a couple of hours in line? Maybe with that amount of time saved, you could take a break in the middle of the afternoon to relax back at your hotel. It could also save enough time that you won’t have to arrive at the parks bright and early at opening.
Overall, for most Disney World visitors, Lightning Lane picks from Genie Plus are worth it, while I advise against paying for individual Lightning Lanes. Instead, I always recommend arriving at the park first thing in the morning to ride that attraction when it won’t have a line!
How Do I Use Genie Plus/Lightning Lanes to Save Time?
There are two general strategies to using Lightning Lanes effectively. Before we get into the nitty gritty, you need to know a couple of specifics about how selections are made. Each day at 7:00 am, guests can purchase Genie Plus or Lightning Lane for the day, and make their first selection for a ride. When you make a selection, you reserve a one hour window for when you can arrive at the attraction and join the Lightning Lane to skip the standby queue. After using the selection OR two hours after making the selection, you are allowed to make another reservation.
As a general rule, you want to use your Lightning Lane reservations on the rides with the longest wait times to avoid wasting your time standing around. This means snagging the best reservations regardless of distance. Even if a ride is far away from where you are in the park, saving 80 minutes of wait time for Space Mountain is well worth a 10-minute walk over to the ride.
The first strategy for Lightning Lane Reservations is to get them and use them as quickly as possible in order to gain access to new reservation windows as quickly as possible. This means selecting ride return windows that are as close to the current time as possible. If you plan on arriving at the park early, this strategy might be the most effective for you.
The second strategy is to reserve them later in the day and utilize the 2-hour recharge time to your full benefit. Since you can make a new reservation two hours after your last one, you can stack up a bunch of reservations later on in your day. During the afternoon hours in particular, the parks get very busy. This strategy is effective in getting you on the most rides and saving a lot of time, though the options available to select from (both the rides and the time windows available) can be limited as other guests constantly book options you might want.
Regardless of which strategy you choose to utilize, the important thing is to book a new reservation as quickly as possible every time you are allowed. Disney won’t bother reminding you when you are allowed to make a new selection, so it is on you to keep track of the time and make new selections. If using the first strategy, you can make a new reservation while you’re spending the 5 minutes in line just after scanning into a ride inside the Lightning Lane. If using the second strategy, set a timer on your phone for one hour and 59 minutes – that way you will be alerted every time you can make a new pick.
Priorities For Lightning Lane in Each Disney World Park
As part of your plan, you need to decide which rides, shows, or experiences are most worthy of your Lightning Lane selections. These priorities are different for every visitor. More thrilling attractions like Expedition Everest and the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror are great picks because they typically have long lines, but they’re not for everyone. Maybe instead of a roller coaster, you want to save time in line waiting to meet the princesses. Take a look at all of the park’s attractions to decide which experiences are at the top of your to-do list.
Genie Plus and Lightning Lane are the most effective in Magic Kingdom because there are so many different rides and experiences. The Individual Lightning Lane Selection is sure to be Tron: Lightcycle/Run when it opens in April, but for now it remains Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. Overall, Space Mountain in Tomorrowland, Peter Pan’s Flight in Fantasyland, Big Thunder Mountain in Frontierland, and the Jungle Cruise in Adventureland are top-tier picks. Meeting Princesses at Princess Fairytale Hall, the Haunted Mansion, Meeting Mickey Mouse, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin are also great options.
Since EPCOT doesn’t have too many rides, you might not need to pay for Lightning Lane. The Individual Lightning Lane Selection is the new Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind roller coaster. The best selections in the park for the regular Genie Plus/Lightning Lane are Test Track, Frozen, and Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure. Soarin’ Around the World and Mission: Space are among the backup tier of reservations. Since the only rides left in the park are Spaceship Earth, Living with the Land, Finding Nemo, and Journey Into Your Imagination with Figment, nailing down the other selections are tantamount. Keep in mind that EPCOT is the largest Disney Park, so backtracking to make a reservation window can be difficult.
Hollywood Studios does not have a high number of rides, but all of the ones it does have are extremely popular. This is due to many of their top attractions being thrill rides. The Individual Lightning Lane Selection in the park is Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance. The best selections for the regular Genie Plus/Lightning Lane are Slinky Dog Dash, Rockin’ Roller Coaster, and the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. Other good picks are Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway and Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run.
Of all of the Disney World parks, purchasing Genie Plus and Lightning Lanes is least useful in Animal Kingdom. For the most part, especially if you arrive at park opening, you can easily see and do everything in the park before it closes. If you decide that the time saved is worth the money, make your selections based on the timing of your day to make things a bit easier. The Individual Lightning Lane Selection is Avatar: Flight of Passage. Kilimanjaro Safaris, Expedition Everest, and Dinosaur are the top picks for your Lightning Lanes. Kali River Rapids should also be considered if you are visiting on a summer day, since the water ride can draw in long lines during the heat.
About the Author:As a local and former Disney Cast Member, I know EVERYTHING there is to know about Disney World and the company. I have a masters degree and frequently write within my full-time job. I write articles for fun and to ensure people get the best information or opinions they can on all things Disney!