Genie+ & Lightning Lane Tips & Strategy

Disney’s new Lightning Lanes and Genie+ have the potential to save you significant time in line, but are they worth the money? And how can you maximize their potential, so you get every last bit of value for your dollar? Our comprehensive Lightning Lane strategy guide will help you get more rides with less waiting!

There’s so much to cover about Genie+ and Lightning Lane that we split the information onto two pages:

  • This page has tips and strategy to help you maximize the value you get from purchasing Genie+ and/or Individual Lightning Lanes.
  • If you haven’t already, we suggest you also read our main Disney Genie & Lightning Lane page, which covers the basic rules and procedures for all these technologies.

Jump to:

Are Genie+ and Individual Lightning Lanes (aka Lightning Lane Multi Pass/Single Pass) Worth the Money?

This is a highly subjective question, and it greatly depends on how busy the parks are, how much you value your time, and your personal vacation style.

How Busy Are The Parks?

If you’re visiting on a very low-crowd day, like a weekday in mid-September, you may want to hold off on buying any kind of line-skipping upgrade until you see what the lines look like. Even on a slow day, there will be some lines, but you may feel like they’re totally reasonable, even for the big draws like Rise of the Resistance.

On a mid-crowd day, the lines will be starting to get more daunting, but with careful planning and getting to the park early, you can avoid many of them. That said, Genie+ will still save you time, and that’s time you could be spending trying on every kind of limited-edition Mickey ears.

On a high-crowd day, like spring break or Christmas, the lines get long early and stay long. Paying for Genie+ and Individual Lightning Lane reservations for your must-do rides should add significant value. Keep in mind that on a high-crowd day, you may only be able to get 2 or 3 Genie+ reservations before the most popular reservations are sold out. However, 2 or 3 well-chosen Lightning Lane reservations can absolutely save you multiple hours of waiting.

What’s Your Time Worth?

Here’s one way to think about it: if you look at what you’re spending to go to Walt Disney World, including transportation, tickets, food, etc., and then how many total minutes you’re spending in the park, most families are spending at least $1/minute (per family, not per person). That’s not true for everyone – locals with annual passes typically spend much less per minute, for example, while people who go VIP all the way might be spending $2 or more per minute. But it’s a nice round figure that’s not too far off, and makes it easy to make a ballpark estimate of what a particular amount of time saved is “worth”.

If you go with the $1/minute figure, then paying to skip rides is often going to be worth it. We’re a family of four, so buying Genie+ costs us $64-$92/day. It’s not hard to save 64 minutes of waiting by using Genie+, even on slower days, so that seems to pencil out. And while in busy seasons the price goes up, the amount of time you can save goes up as well.

With the Individual Lightning Lanes, you can do similar math. Four Lightning Lane reservations for Space Mountain cost around $30 (more or less depending on demand). Can you save 30 minutes with those reservations? Yes, on a busy day, but not so much on a low-crowd day. It’s not hard to save 60 minutes or more with a Rise of the Resistance Lightning Lane reservation, even during less busy days, so that’s going to pay off more often.

There are also, of course, intangible factors. If you just hate paying for add-ons in general, then the annoyance of spending additional money after you’ve already spent so much might loom really large. Or skipping line waits may feel great to you – so great that you’d pay even more to get that feeling of living like a VIP. If $1/minute feels wrong to you, substitute your own value, but make it a nice round number so you can calculate it in your head and answer questions like, “How much should I be willing to pay to skip a 1 hour wait?”

What Kind of Vacation Do You Want?

If you prefer to mostly wander and soak in the atmosphere, riding a favorite ride here and there or taking in a show or two, then buying Lightning Lane access might not offer you as much value. If you want to ride as many headliner rides as possible, paying for shorter lines should let you get more rides in with less stress.

Another factor is how much you value being able to sleep in longer. Everyone knows that getting to the parks early will save you a lot of waiting, but less than 25% of the guests actually arrive at opening. Clearly, lots of people feel like “sleeping in” is a key part of vacationing, and if you’re one of those people, you should embrace it and vacation the way you want. If you want to be able to roll into the parks at 11:00 am and still get a lot done, then Genie+ and Individual Lightning Lanes are going to help quite a bit! For a few of the very popular rides, you will probably want to wake up at 7:00 am to get them booked, but then you can go back to sleep.

The Bottom Line

We don’t really recommend buying Genie+ for every theme park day, unless you’re going at a peak time of year. Most of the time, it’s worth picking a few days and just paying for it on those days. It’s easy to just buy Genie+ on a morning where you know you’re going to try to hit a lot of popular rides. You can also wait until you get to the park and see how long the waits are and how much time you can save. Don’t wait too long — every hour that goes by reduces the value you can get from Genie+, but the price stays the same. The one situation where you really need to buy in advance is if you really want to get a Lightning Lane reservation for a super-popular Genie+ ride or a ride that just opened within the last year.

Whether to buy a single Individual Lightning Lane reservation is probably a simpler decision. For most of the rides, you can wait and see in the app how many minutes of waiting you can skip and how much it costs and do your own time/money tradeoff analysis. However, the Individual Lightning Lanes for the 1-2 hottest, newest rides sell out pretty quickly, so you need to figure out whether those rides are worth it to you in advance, preferably at least a day before. 

In the end, it’s a personal decision. If you like to splurge on your Disney trip and go first-class all the way, then definitely get Genie+ and all the Individual Lightning Lane reservations for rides you want to experience. You only live once! On the other hand, if you like to “beat the system,” you can definitely get on all of these rides with fairly reasonable waits by going early or late in the day, going to the parks at low season, or both. It’s your call.

Basic Strategy Tips

These are all simple techniques that will help optimize your usage of Genie+ and Individual Lightning Lanes, with minimal extra work. You do not need a degree in Advanced Genie-ology to use these.

Please note: These strategies are not all documented, and were worked out via extensive testing. Disney can change them without warning, though we have no reason to think they will. If you notice a discrepancy between what we say about the way Genie+ works and your experience in the parks, please let us know.

Before Your Trip

During Your Trip

Advanced Strategy Tips

These are strategies aimed at the hard-core optimizer who wants to get on as many headline rides as possible with the smallest wait times. If these strategies make your eyes glaze over, don’t worry about them. You don’t need them to have a great day in the parks. Keep in mind that not everyone in your group has to understand them, just the person managing your Lightning Lanes.

Jump to:

Refreshing To Get Earlier Times

Sometimes you can get an earlier reservation than usual if your luck holds up. People can now cancel their Genie+ reservations, which they couldn’t with FastPass. Those cancelled reservations get put back into the booking pool, and can be booked by you! This section is about maximizing your ability to get those earlier reservations.

Stacking Multiple Reservations

This whole section is about strategies that make use of building “stacks” of Lightning Lane reservations by using the 120-minute rule.

Using Grace Periods

As mentioned in our overall guide to the rules of Genie+, there is some flexibility in when you arrive to your Lightning Lane reservation. Our tests indicate that you can tap in up to 5 minutes before the beginning of your arrival window or 15 minutes after the end of your arrival window. For example, if your window is 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm you could tap in as early as 1:55 or as late as 3:15. The strategies that took advantage of the late grace period have all been removed by Disney (as we expected), but there are still some points worth noting:

Top Picks For Genie+ & Individual Lightning Lanes

Listed below are our suggestions for attractions that will give you the biggest bang for the buck, so to speak, from Genie+ and/or Individual Lightning Lanes. They’re in priority order, mostly based on the maximum line waits we typically see and how quickly they tend to hit their maximum wait. 

Abbreviations guide

Our Top Selections

Genie+ rides marked MP are ones where Lightning Lane times are likely to get claimed very quickly. The next available return time could be hours in the future fairly early, possibly even before the park opens. A few of them could be completely sold out, maybe even before park opening on a busy day. If it’s super important to you to get a Genie+ Lightning Lane reservation for one of them early in the day, it’s a good idea to be up and ready by 6:45 am so you can buy Genie+ and be ready to snag a reservation right when they become available at 7:00 am. 

Similarly, if an Individual Lightning Lane reservation has MP next to it, get it as early as you can. If you qualify for 7:00 am Individual Lightning Lane reservations, be ready by 6:58 am. If you don’t qualify for 7:00 am Individual Lightning Lane reservations, be ready a few minutes before the official opening time of the park the ride is in.

For Hollywood Studios in particular, both Rise of the Resistance and Slinky Dog Dash can sell out very quickly on a busy day. It may be worth designating two people to be ready at 7:00 am – one of them can book Slinky Dog Dash and the other can book Rise of the Resistance. If you don’t have two people willing to wake up that early, get Slinky Dog Dash first, then Rise of the Resistance.

If you’re not interested in the rides we’ve marked as morning priorities, it’s not a terrible idea to book one of the other rides bright and early, but unless it’s Christmas or Spring Break, you almost certainly will be able to wait until opening and see how things look before committing.

All the rides in the list generate longer lines fairly quickly, and are good choices to save you a bunch of waiting time. Once you’re in the park and ready for a new Genie+ Lightning Lane reservation, choosing the next ride on the list is a good rule of thumb. We’ve organized these into priority order based on how long their lines get and how quickly they get long, so start at the top and work your way down. If you don’t want to ride one, skip it and get the next one.

If a ride has a Single Rider queue, that’s a good alternative to Lightning Lane if you want to save your Genie+ reservations for other rides. Everyone in your party will be called individually to fill in a single space, so you won’t be riding together, but you’ll be on and off the ride at almost the same time. On busy days, the single rider line can still have a significant wait, but almost always much less so than the main standby line.

All the other rides that aren’t on our list could be perfectly fine choices for Genie+ or Individual Lightning Lanes, but depending on how busy the parks are, you can probably ride many of them standby while you’re waiting for your next Lightning Lane reservation to come up. If you knock off all your high-priority reservations early in the day, well, the rest of the day is gravy! At that point just grab any Lightning Lane reservation that looks like it would save you some time.