I’m not a huge fan of Genie+. I remember the days of paper Fast Pass, running from station to station with my cousin to grab tickets throughout the day.

Those tickets littered the ground, but otherwise, the idea was brilliant.

Person holding a paper Fast Pass at Disney for Tower of Terror.

If you were willing to be slightly inconvenienced by walking to whatever attraction you wanted a ticket for, and if you were organized enough to stay on top of timing so you could return during your window, you were rewarded with an expedited queue.

For free.

Later on, that turned into a headache-inducing online system that required you to book up to three Fast Passes long before leaving for your trip. You’d have to decide well ahead of time what you’d be in the mood for on your vacation days, select your top choices, and hope they were available.

Still worth it, though. Because: free.

That wasn’t that long ago, but the free system has become a paid one. A handsomely paid one at that.


Genie+ costs $15 per person on a good day, and that gets you limited access to some of the operating attractions. Plus, you have to be glued to your phone no matter what’s happening when it’s time to book again, because if you’re not, you could miss your chance to ride something you love.

On top of that, Individual Lightning Lanes can cost $20+ per person, and that’s to get on one ride.

Sometimes I feel this pricing is insulting. And yet … we’ve paid for it many times. It’s hard to call the charges “worth it,” but when you’re walking past a two-hour line for Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, that $15 doesn’t seem so bad.

It’s not that I won’t pay the “Snob Fee,” as my brother calls it — it’s that I wish I weren’t asked to.

That said, since we’re Lightning Lane users most trip days, we’ve found a few ways to ease the burden with these Genie Plus tips. Where you can’t save money, you can save time and energy by being smart about how to book your Lightning Lane reservations, ride whatever makes you happy and actually enjoy your day without staring at your phone the whole time.

P.S. If you’re wondering how to get through a day (or an entire vacation) without paying for Genie+, check out everything we did at the Magic Kingdom without Lightning Lane access.

Wake up to make that first reservation, even if you fall right back asleep


Girl waking up early to make the first Genie Plus reservation of the day.

We’re late arrivers on park days, usually heading in somewhere between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. But I still always wake up to snag that first Lightning Lane slot of the day.

Regardless of where you’re staying (on or off property), you can make your first Lightning Lane reservation at 7 a.m.

Since we arrive late, we grab one of the hard-to-get-on rides with later time windows. First, this means we don’t have to get to the park earlier than we want. Second, it means that those LLs are being scooped up fast, so we know we could miss out if we don’t book ASAP.

Stay on top of timing, but make it stupid-easy to do so


Person checking their smartwatch to see if it's time to book another Genie Plus.

I’ve gotten the most out of my Disney Genie strategy when I’ve been very on top of timing. Booking the second that two-hour window has passed has let us squeeze in a ton of Lightning Lanes, even considering how late we arrive.

I don’t check my phone’s clock a million times, though. Instead, I set my Fitbit alarm, which vibrates on my wrist at the designated time.

As soon as I book a Lightning Lane, I set my alarm for two hours from then to book the next Lightning Lane. On top of not having to watch the time, I also don’t have to keep checking the My Disney Experience app if I forget when I’m able to book again. I set it and forget it.

This sounds like the simplest and most obvious of Genie Plus tips. However, I didn’t do this at first, before I learned Disney Genie Plus tips and tricks the hard way. I would get really bogged down by having to have my phone in my hand the whole day.

Get familiar with the attractions that rarely have long waits


The exterior of the Nemo ride at Epcot.

Sometimes, an attraction that almost always has a short wait will also have a Lightning Lane available. We never find it worth it to use up an entire LL slot for one of these rides.

Also, even if one of these attractions doesn’t offer a Lightning Lane entrance, we suggest skipping the line if it’s over 20 minutes, because there’s going to be a chance to get on much faster.

Short lines at Magic Kingdom include:

  • Carousel of Progress
  • Country Bear Jamboree
  • Enchanted Tiki Room
  • Hall of Presidents
  • Mickey’s PhilharMagic
  • Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor

Short lines at Epcot include:

  • Gran Fiesta Tour Starring the Three Caballeros
  • Journey Into Imagination with Figment
  • Living with the Land
  • The Seas with Nemo and Friends

It’s also easy to find a time when Spaceship Earth has a short wait or is a walk-on.

Short lines at Hollywood Studios include:

  • Star Tours
  • Muppet Vision 3D
  • Vacation Fun Animated Short

I didn’t list Animal Kingdom because I couldn’t cross-reference my personal experience with the app’s wait times. I’ll add it at some point!

Remember this: Sometimes, you’ll be waiting a little “long” (say, 10 minutes) to get into a show. That’s not because the line is long; it’s because you’re waiting for the show to end so the next group can load in.

The theaters in Walt Disney World usually are large enough to fit whatever group has formed outside; it’s rare that you won’t be let in and will have to wait through another showing.

When you can’t book a LL or ILL, skip the nighttime show and head to the rides you missed


Main Street at the Magic Kingdom filled up for a nighttime show.

A lot of people attend the nighttime shows. If you don’t mind missing it, this is the best chance to get on the rides you missed or ride your favorites again. We walked right onto Rise of the Resistance during a Fantasmic show. 🙌

Here’s a great example from a Sunday in March:

Magic Kingdom’s current fireworks show, Disney Enchantment, was scheduled for 9 p.m. People claim their spots super early for the MK show, way earlier than at the other Disney parks. (At Epcot, you can practically walk up to the lagoon when the show starts and get a decent viewing location.)

At 8 p.m., these were the wait times:

  • 5 minutes for It’s a Small World and Mad Tea Party
  • 10 minutes for Barnstormer and Dumbo (I realize these are very childish rides, but we go on everything)
  • 15 minutes for Tomorrowland Speedway and Journey of the Little Mermaid
  • 20 minutes for Pirates of the Caribbean
  • 25 minutes for Haunted Mansion
  • 40 minutes for Big Thunder Mountain

And that’s before the show started.

At 9 p.m., we’ve walked right onto Space Mountain and then had time to get on another ride or two before the lands filled up again. One time, we had an Individual Lightning Lane reservation for Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and got on after people in the regular queue because there was no wait.

Let’s recap these Disney Genie Plus tips

It’s annoying that Lightning Lanes cost a lot, but not having to wait on line means beating the heat and getting more done with your time. To create a more agreeable Genie Plus strategy, try the following:

  • Get the first reservation of the day, and book a ride with availability later in the day so you don’t miss it.
  • Set an alarm to remind you when you can book again.
  • Don’t waste Lightning Lanes on attractions that often have low (or no) waits.
  • Skip the nighttime show and ride, ride, ride.

Gearing up for a Walt Disney World vacation? Here are 19 items we couldn’t live without during our one-month stay.