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by Military DIva

By now I’m sure many of you have heard of the new Disney Genie system that is being used at both Walt Disney World in Florida and Disneyland in California.  And I’m sure you’ve heard from guests that love the system, guests that hate it, and guests that have nailed down the best strategy to use it.

Disney Genie Service

Disney Genie, Genie+, and Individual Attraction Selections now available in Disney World and Disneyland

Our family visited Walt Disney World in early January and must say that we’re still on the fence.  We weren’t fond of being stuck on our phones. We had a bit of a struggle trying to use Genie+ at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. But then we had one of our best park days ever making a game of Genie+ at Disney’s Magic Kingdom. 

I’m certainly not an expert on using the new system (yet!).  I’m still trying to merge our traditional touring plans with the use of Genie. And as a family of 6 that typically has 5-day base tickets, Genie+ could add close to $500 to our travel expenses.

But I would love to share details on how we created the best Magic Kingdom evening by purchasing Lightning Lane and Individual Attraction Access.

Park Opening at Magic Kingdom

Photo credit to Soarin’ Diva

Let’s take a quick look at the Genie system so you can follow along on our Adventure!

Disney Genie

Disney Genie is a complimentary service available to all guests. Prior to travel, guests are invited to log into the “my Disney experience” app and list their park, attraction, and entertainment experiences.  The system then “Magically” creates your perfect park day.  


Make the most of your day with Genie!


On the day of your visit, the app will continually update, offering suggestions based on your selected preferences, crowd levels, and wait times.

Disney Genie+

Disney Genie+ is a paid service that offers access to Lightning Lane access (old Fast Pass, bypass stand-by lines). The cost of the service is $15/ticket/day.

Lightning Lane

Disney World Lightning Lane availability as of 02/2022

  • Guests can add the service in advance for the length of their ticket…5-day tickets would have 5 days of Genie+ at a cost of $75 plus tax per guest.  If tickets are in a package, each guest named on the reservation would need to add Genie+.
  • Guests can also add Genie+ on a day-by-day basis at midnight on the day of their visit.  The cost is $15 plus tax per day and per guest selected.  You don’t need to purchase for all guests visiting with your party.
  • Guests with Genie+ can select their first Lightning Lane attraction at 7 am on the day of their park visit.  If the attraction is scheduled within the first two hours of park opening guests will scan into their attraction and immediately be able to select their next Lightning Lane attraction.  If the first Lightning Lane attraction is scheduled for later than two hours after park opening the guest must wait until two hours after opening to select their next Lightning Lane. (Example: at 7 am guest selects Big Thunder Mountain. Genie+ next availability is 1 pm.  Disney’s Magic Kingdom opens at 9 am. Guest is holding a Lightning Lane for 2 hours after opening. They will be able to select a second LL two hours after opening, at 11 am).

Individual Attraction Selection

Individual Attraction Selection is also a paid service that allows guests to schedule Individual Lightning Lane Access for two attractions per day. The available attractions are the two most popular attractions in each park and are not included with the Genie+ Lightning Lane purchase. IAS is also a per person charge, based on daily crowd levels and popularity.  The prices average $5-15 per guest per attraction.

Individual Attraction Selection

Disney World Individual Lightning Lane as of 02/2022

  • Onsite Disney World Resort guests can pay for and book their Individual Attraction Selections at 7 am on the day of park entry.
  • Offsite and day guests can pay for and book their Individual Attraction Selections at the park opening on the day of park entry.
  • Guests can book both Individual Attraction Selections at once-these are not one-at-a-time bookings.
  • Guests that are park hopping can select an Individual Attraction Selection from multiple parks
    • Limited to two IAS purchases per day (not per park)
    • Guests must have a park reservation for their first park and must enter that park to hop.
    • Disney World Park Hopping begins at 2:00 pm. Individual Attraction Selections for the second park must be after 2:00 pm.


As I mentioned, our Genie+ day was a bit of a failure in Disney’s Hollywood Studios.  At 7 am we booked our first Genie+ Lightning Lane for Slinky Dog. The app was showing availability for 9:30. But in the few seconds it took us to confirm our party and confirm the lightning lane the time had jumped to 4:45.  While we were glad to have booked a Lightning Lane for this attraction booked, we weren’t thrilled with the late in the day time frame. It put quite a glitch into our plans to hop to Epcot by 3:00. And, it meant that we couldn’t schedule our next Lightning Lane attraction until 11:00 am, two hours after Disney’s Hollywood Studios opened.  

Slinky Dog Dash car at Hollywood Studios Toy Story Land

Slinky Dog Dash
photo courtesy of Soarin’ Diva

While we were disappointed, we weren’t counting the Genie + purchase as a loss just yet. We were excited to see what our 11 am scheduling would bring us. 

Since we were already awake, we took advantage of Hollywood Studios Early Morning Hours for resort guests and entered the park around 8:30.  We quickly headed to the Rise of the Resistance stand-by line, which was already a 90-minute wait.  We happily drank our coffee and enjoyed our pastries while waiting in line.

Rise of the Resistance

Storm Troopers in Rise of the Resistance in Hollywood Studios

After about 60 minutes we were able to join the resistance aboard this highly favored attraction. We took in the sights of Batuu then headed into Toy Story Land.   

As 11:00 approached, we attempted to book our second Lightning Lane attraction. Unfortunately, the only attraction with morning/early afternoon availability was the 12:00 Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Show Spectacular. Due to a large amount of seating, this isn’t typically a suggested Lightning Lane Attraction. But it was the only one available so we took it. Our scheduled arrival window was from 11:30-11:45.

As we strolled through Toy Story Land we noticed that we had time to ride Toy Story Mania, according to the posted wait times.  We were cutting it close, but as a family with older “kids” we knew we could hustle through the park and make our Lightning Lane window.  That was until a large group of 17 VIP guests was escorted to the front of the line. We lost valuable minutes as we watched 9 cars being filled in front of us.

Planning a 4 Day Trip to WDW

Entrance to Toy Story Midway Mania

We choose to keep our place in line and take our chance with our timeframe, and really thought we were successful.  We enjoyed Toy Story Mania (second place for me!) and hurried out of Toy Story Land into the Echo Lake area.  We arrived at the Lightning Lane entrance to Indiana Jones at 11:46.  Yes, 11:46-and we were denied access.  The Cast Member was very kind and apologetic, but he would not let us enter. He advised that the Lightning Lane would cancel itself out once the show began and we would be able to book our next attraction.

We laughed at our own mistake and adjusted our day, opting to sit for lunch while we scheduled our next Lightning Lane. Except we couldn’t.  

Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular / Disney's Hollywood Studios

Our Indiana Jones Lightning Lane did not cancel out. There was no way for us to cancel it in the app and no way to get around it. I tried the online chat feature and was told I needed to visit Guest Service (Blue Umbrella Line).  Our family enjoyed their meal while I waited for assistance. After 30 minutes I noticed the family had finished and was ready to move. The standby line for both “For the First Time In Forever” and “Beauty and the Beast Live on Stage” were both available so we opted to enjoy these attractions. I wasn’t willing to waste any more of our day waiting in the Blue Umbrella line.  We were able to enjoy our late afternoon Lightning Lane access for Slinky Dog and hopped to Epcot a little later than expected. Once there we were able to book a Lightning Lane for Soarin’ before our evening dinner reservation. We had used our LL on two of the top attractions,  but it was still hard to feel like I hadn’t thrown away at least part of the $90.

We realize we had made bad choices during our first use (and take responsibility for that!). But we also had little help to correct the situation.  We wished the Cast Member at Indiana Jones had been able to cancel the Lightning Lane for us or there were more cast members available at the Blue Umbrella. At the time, we were exceptionally frustrated and had a huge dislike for the system, especially when compared to the old Fast Pass System.

It was no surprise that our family was hesitant to spend any money on a second Genie+ attempt. Even more so when I suggested we try at Disney’s Magic Kingdon when we were hopping into the park at 5 pm.  We still needed to grab something to eat and the park was already very crowded.

Magic Kingdom Castle

I was able to persuade them with the knowledge that Magic Kingdom had more attraction opportunities and fewer shows to take chunks of time out of the day. And having already watched Enchantment earlier during the week, we could take advantage of the lower attraction crowds instead of watching the show again. We were aware that missing the fireworks would offer a huge bonus in overall crowds and lines. And our kids are always up for a good challenge!

Challenge Accepted

Our family is exceptionally competitive. We try to keep a grip on this trait by offering personal challenges instead of focusing on outside competition. Our 13 and 15-year-old boys are kept active and focused on personal challenges.

But at their ages, the Magic Kingdom rides are a little juvenile for their style. It was very easy to bring them to my side with a simple “Genie+ is showing 10 available attractions and 1 Individual Attraction Selection right now. How many do you think we can ride between 5:30 and 9:00 if I pay for them right now?”

It only took a second for their eyes to sparkle and their grins to shift. Our 13 year old quickly tightened his shoelaces while the 15-year-old asked if he was allowed to run (NO!). I knew our evening was about to go down as one for the memory books!

Rules of the Challenge

  • Fast walking only, no running
  • Safety first-you have to be aware of people, strollers, and scooters around you
  • Each attraction is picked based on proximity and closest time availability-no haggling or negotiating. We grab the next closest location at the closest time, no questions!
  • No complaining about which attraction is scheduled next. Focus on the goal and enjoy what we book!
Individual Attraction Selection

Individual Lightning Lane purchased for $5 each for Space Mountain


Believe it or not, between 5:30 and 9:00 pm we were able to eat and enjoy 9 out of the 10 Lightning Lane attractions. We were also able to see the fireworks from the back of the castle! Here’s how it went-

  • On the bus from Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge to Disney’s Magic Kingdom at 5:00 pm
  • Organize mobile food orders while riding
  • Enter Magic Kingdom at 5:30 and click “I’m here” for Mobile food orders
  • Head directly to Sleepy Hollow to grab food
  • As we ate, I scheduled our first Lightning Lane for Pirates of the Caribbean and purchased a Space Mountain Individual Attraction Selection for 6:45
  • Finished eating around 6:15
  • Scanned into Pirates of the Caribbean (you must scan into both Mickey Heads before scheduling the next Lightning Lane) then selected Lightning Lane for Dumbo
  • Quickly walked to Space Mountain and entered Lightning Lane Line. We were buckled into our ship by 6:50.
  • Scanned into Dumbo (again must scan at both Mickey Heads) the scheduled Lightning Lane for Mad Tea Party
  • Scanned into Mad Tea Party, scheduled Tomorrowland Speedway Lightning Lane as we boarded our Tea Cup.
  • Scanned into Tomorrowland Speedway, scheduled Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin as we waited for our car
  • Double scanned into Buzz Lightyear. There was only a short wait. We boarded before I was able to schedule our next attraction. Our youngest chose to enhance the challenge by spinning our cart, in the dark, as I tried to confirm our next Lightning Lane. I somehow managed to confirm Under the Sea! 
  • Scanned into Under the Sea Journey of the Little Mermaid, scheduled Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
  • Enjoyed the lovely Enchantment Fireworks as we skipped from Fantasyland to Frontierland-no running!!
  • Double scanned into Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, scheduled Its a Small World
  • Enjoyed It’s a Small World before exiting the park
  • And of course, because we were full of sugar and hyped from our challenge we jumped on the ferry for the Ticket and Transportation Center, transferred to the Epcot Monorail, and soared off to enjoy our Deluxe Extended Evening Hours in Epcot.

Of course, this isn’t necessarily a “best use” guide to Genie, Genie+, or Individual Attraction Selections. We are a family that is fortunate to visit Disney World at least once a year.  Our children are very familiar with the parks, we don’t have strollers or bags, and the teens are quick to move.  Our experience certainly isn’t for everyone or meant to be used as a guide for your Genie/Genie+ use.

Cinderella Castle

Military Diva and her family at Disney’s Magic Kingdom

But this experience did provide one of the best nights I have ever had with our teen boys!  Their laughter and giggles were infectious. The memories of them extending the challenge into…how fast can we spin the teacups, how long can you keep your hands up on Space Mountain, or how long can you keep your eyes closed on Big Thunder Mountain (not recommended if you have a weak stomach!) are ingrained into my soul.

I encourage any Disney guest that visits frequently to try to make new memories with your family by creating your own challenges.  And we always welcome your comments and stories of how you enhance your Disney Day or make the best of the new Genie System.

If you are interested in learning more about Disney Properties, Disney Genie, or would like help creating your own challenges, contact Patricia Payne with All for Dreams Travel.  She is our sponsored travel agent and is an independent agent working with Gateway to Magic Travel, an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner.