At the end of 2021, Mike and I went on an epic Walt Disney World trip that spanned our anniversary, Christmas and New Year’s. 🤯

We had four Magic Kingdom days, plus time at Epcot, Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom, not to mention more Disney date nights than we could’ve dreamed of. (We didn’t bother with park hopping because we had tons of time on the trip to play with.)

That’s a lot of Disney Genie Plus, and we weren’t thrilled about having to cough up an extra $30 a day after spending about a bajillion dollars on the trip.

We knew our time at Epcot, Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom was more limited than at MK. Plus, those parks make it harder to get away without Lightning Lanes if you don’t want to wait on lines.

But MK has so much to do. We asked ourselves, “Is Genie Plus worth it?” and decided to forgo the extra fees of Genie Plus and Individual Lightning Lanes.

Bonus: We gave ourselves a break from being glued to the phone for at least a day.

We’re going to tell you exactly how to skip Genie Plus and still have a great, fulfilling day.

Let’s go!

You may also like:

How to Skip Disney Genie Plus and Lightning Lanes for a Day

Is Disney Genie Plus worth it? Not always!

If you’re in the mood for a phone-free day, you want to avoid the extra expense, or you’ll be park hopping and don’t care about Genie Plus at both theme parks, skip the add-on.

Will you be able to hit up fan favorites like Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Peter Pan’s Flight, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and Space Mountain all in one day?

Probably not.

But honestly, you may not even snag all those LLs even with Genie Plus. And even without the upgrade, you can still use the free Disney Genie service to strategize.

1. Use the My Disney Experience app to see wait times.

While you can’t go to Disney theme parks phone-less, you will significantly cut down on how much you use My Disney Experience by forgoing Genie+.

Mainly, you’ll use your phone to check wait times. Here’s how to quickly see which attractions have the shortest waits:

In these examples, we’re looking at MK, but it won’t be different if you’re at Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, etc.

Open the app and click the Location icon on the bottom.

Click Filter on the top-left and make sure only the park you’re in is chosen. Then click Apply.

Click Show List on the top-right.

Now you’ll see a list of that park’s attractions and their wait times, in order from lowest to highest wait.

Now that you have this information at your fingertips, you can move on to step 2.

2. Don’t be picky about what to do next!

The idea is to fit a lot in without worrying too much about what it is that you’re doing. Pick the attraction or ride with the (1) lowest wait time that’s (2) closest to you and that (3) you haven’t done yet. Then go!

To make this work, you have to be flexible.

You may not be crazy about the Speedway, but if the wait is under 10 minutes and you’re already in Tomorrowland, hop on!

The rides in Disney World are made to be entertaining, so while it may not be your favorite, is it going to be a miserable experience? Probably not.

3. Be prepared to walk back and forth across the park a lot.

Ideally, there will be an attraction with a low wait time that you’re already near. However, there will probably be times when you’ll have to hoof it to a ride that’s farther away because everything near you is packed.

If you notice that a popular ride is down, like Big Thunder Mountain Railroad or Peter Pan’s Flight, head that way.

We found this out by accident when Pirates of the Caribbean went down when we were already in Adventureland.

Within a few minutes, the ride was running again, and there was no line because you’re not allowed to wait while the attraction’s closed. We camped out nearby and kept our eye on the queue, and when it reopened, we walked right onto the ride.

Is Genie Plus Worth It? Everything We Did Without It!

Here’s an example of what you can do without LLs or ILLs in the Magic Kingdom.

This is exactly what we were able to fit in, and we arrived around 12:30 p.m. (Check out our park strategy for late-sleepers here!)

We never arrive at park opening, but if you get to MK at rope drop or sometime in the morning, you’ll be able to do even more.

  • Quick-service lunch at Pinocchio Village Haus. Snagged a seat by the window that overlooks It’s a Small World. Appreciated the colorful paint job of the queue’s backdrop.
  • Mad Tea Party, which kept us safe from the 5-minute downpour we would’ve been stuck in otherwise.
  • Carousel of Progress
  • Transit Authority PeopleMover
  • Aloha Isle for Dole Whips 🍦
  • Tomorrowland Speedway — go at night when the view’s its best!
  • Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor — wildly underrated and very creative; they make the jokes up on the spot!
  • Pirates of the Caribbean
  • Gift shop outside of Pirates (called Plaza del Sol Caribe Bazaar). We chatted with a cast member and received anniversary celebration pins.
  • Crystal Palace for dinner
  • Relaxed in the gardens in front of the castle for a bit — can’t beat the view 😍
  • We even got to ride Space Mountain with no wait!
  • Main Street Confectionery to get goodies to take back to the hotel

4 Perks of Going Without Disney Genie+ for the Day

Lightning Lanes are great, pushing you further ahead in line so you can squeeze more into your day — in theory.

When we opted for an LL-free day, we actually did more than on some of our other park days.

Here’s why we like this tactic so much:

1. You don’t have to spend money on Genie+ for that day. (Duh.)

It can be expensive to get Lightning Lane access, so that means saving at least $15 per person.

A one-day park ticket for the Magic Kingdom can cost more than $160. Then, you’ll pay for food and souvenirs.

Being asked to pay more for VIP ride access feels insulting. 😤 Having to stand in an extra-long line because you didn’t pay for Genie+ feels insulting, too — especially since lines are longer now due to Lightning Lane backup.

But if you can avoid paying and avoid lines, it feels like a winner of a Disney day.

2. You’ll escape tech overload.

The My Disney Experience app has some great features, but refreshing and scrolling all day is exhausting for your brain. Plus, it pulls you out of your surroundings, forcing you to look down instead of taking in the atmosphere.

Is Disney Genie Plus worth it when the price you pay is constant tech dependency?

No. Way.

You paid good money for that Walt Disney World atmosphere — enjoy it!

Without Disney Genie Plus, there’s no reason to constantly check the app, set alarms for the next booking window, or obsess about whether or not your battery’s going to hold up. You can also leave the bulky power bank at home since you won’t have to recharge while you’re at the park. 🙌

3. You won’t waste Genie Plus on low-wait attractions.

If you’re not experienced with Genie+ or you’re booking without thinking, you could waste an entire time slot on a ride or attraction that has a crazy-low wait.

Look at this example — you could get a Lightning Lane for Mad Tea Party or you could … wait on a 5-minute line.

This doesn’t just happen with rides that often have low waits. Plenty of popular rides will have a short line now and then, so you just have to catch it at the right time.

If you can live without seeing the fireworks, this is the best time to run around the park and go on everything that usually has a long wait.

4. You’ll do things you don’t usually do.

When you’re selecting things to do based on wait times and location, you’ll end up on Disney World rides and at shows that you usually skip.

This is a good thing!

You’ll remember how cute certain attractions are, make a mental note of which shows have the AC turned up extra high for when you need a break from the heat, and check some to-dos off your list that you don’t have to revisit for another year or so. 🥳

How does Genie Plus work?

Genie Plus is a paid add-on to the free Disney Genie service.

With Genie+, you can make Lightning Lane bookings for a number of rides and attractions. Lightning Lane is similar to the old FastPass, except FastPass was free and Disney Genie Plus requires payment. 👎

When can you make Lightning Lane reservations?

You can start making LL reservations at 7 a.m. Since that’s before park opening, you can make the first one from your hotel, but you’ll need to be in the park to book the rest.

How many Lightning Lane reservations can I make at one time?

You can only make one LL reservation at a time.

After you make one, you have to wait either 2 hours from the last Lightning Lane selection or until you use the last one you booked.

Can I get more than one Lightning Lane for the same ride?

Nope! Not on the same day, at least.

This is possibly my biggest gripe with the service and what makes me often question, “Is Disney’s Genie Plus worth it at all???”

You can only make one LL per ride per day. So, even if there’s a Haunted Mansion LL available, for example, if you already booked one for that day, you can’t book another.

You can go on the ride again by waiting in the regular line, of course, but you can’t get a second LL for the same attraction.

Is every park ride and attraction included in Genie Plus?


There is typically one popular attraction per park that’s not included in Genie+. When we were there, it was the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. (Tron Lightcycle Run hadn’t opened yet.)

For the excluded attraction, you’ll have to wait on the regular standby line or buy a separate Individual Lightning Lane.

You don’t need to have paid for Genie+ to reserve Individual Lightning Lane attractions.

What’s the difference between the free Genie service and Genie Plus?

The regular Disney Genie is free, and it’s built into the My Disney Experience app.

Basically, it’s a system that helps you better plan your day. You can enter what you’re most interested in, and the app will populate with those events and attractions. This makes it easier to figure out what to do next by glancing at your phone.

Genie Plus is a paid service that starts at $15 per person per day, and it gives you access to the Lightning Lane reservation system for a number of rides.

Do you need Genie Plus to use Lightning Lane?

Yes. For Lightning Lane access in Disney World, you’ll need to purchase Genie Plus. However, each park usually has one Individual Lightning Lane ride, which is separate from Genie Plus. It’s an extra cost, whether or not you’ve paid for Genie+ for that day.

Does it matter when you purchase Disney Genie Plus?

The earlier you buy Genie+, the earlier you can start using it. If you wait until later in the day, you may find that all of the LL times are either booked up (and therefore unavailable) or for much later in the day. 😰

Is Disney Genie Plus Worth It? Final Thoughts

The Magic Kingdom in Disney World has plenty to choose from.

If you’re not nitpicky about what you like to do, you can continually experience attractions without baking in the sun while waiting in line.

And on your other MK days, you’ll be able to get the most out of Disney Genie Plus and Individual Lightning Lane.

Our Genie-free Magic Kingdom day turned out to be one of our favorite Disney World days, period. We hopped on rides we usually skip, we never waited in line, and being able to (mostly) disconnect from the phone let us feel more immersed in the park.

Heading to MK on your Disney for couples trip? Here’s a grownups-only guide to the utterly charming Main Street, U.S.A.