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The Disney Genie Plus, Lightning Lane. Does it Work like Magic?

How to get the most out of your Disney vacation with the My Disney Experience app.

By victoria patricoloPublished 2 years ago Updated 2 years ago 10 min read
Cinderella's Castle - Magic Kingdom - Walt Disney World

We did it. We put the My Disney Experience app to the ultimate test. We were traveling with a group of people, 11 in total. It was a family trip, celebrating the college graduation of my niece and son with their closest friends. We had begun making arrangements months earlier. I think it was January or February. Far enough in advance to make dining reservations. The earliest for Disney Dining is 60 days prior to travel. Rule number one, planning your dates is crucial to getting into the restaurants you want.

The 2021 stats - Walt Disney World Resort Florida. This will give you an idea of what you’re up against before you plan your trip:

  • Area: 43 Square miles
  • 2021 visitors: 21,000,000
  • Employees: 77,000
  • Resorts: 36
  • Rooms: 34,500
  • Dining outlets: 300
  • Theme Parks: 4
  • Water Parks: 2
  • Transportation: 400 buses, 12 monorails, a fleet of water taxis and boats
  • High Season: Thanksgiving/Christmas-NewYears/4th of July/Easter

As you can see, Disney’s high season is narrowed down to holidays. They have managed to spread out their visitors throughout the year thus flattening out the curve of the high and low seasons. They have also created a theme park calendar and reservation system. Each park has a daily cap of visitors. This was put in place during the pandemic to ensure safe distancing and has become a permanent policy. Although the cap has increased, you will not be able to enter the parks without a Theme Park Reservation. Even if you have a valid ticket.

Disney Prework & Essential Terms:

By Kaleidico on Unsplash

Here are a few important terms you will need to absorb into your brain. Learn these and it will help you get the most out of the My Disney Experience application:

  • My Disney Experience -> The Disney App that holds your reservations and attraction times. Here you can link with friends and Family, and plan your trip. Displays all the photos taken by cast members that are available to purchase at a later date.

  • The Disney Genie Service -> A complimentary service that comes with every ticket and assists you with automatically planning your day in the park

  • The Disney Genie Plus -> This is an extra cost per day ticket that includes Lightning Lane attractions.

  • Lightning Lane (LL) -> Formerly the fast pass. Guests can only book 1 ride at a time and there is a 120 minutes time frame between reserving LL attractions. (if planned out correctly you can book up to 3 or 4 per day).

  • Individual Lightning Lane attractions -> Rise of the Resistance is an example. These rides are not part of the LL attractions with the Disney Genie Plus ticket, but if you want to get into these popular attractions, at a scheduled time, there is an additional cost per ride. (averaging $10.00 per person).

  • Virtual Queue -> This is used for new attractions and rides like the Guardians of the Galaxy. There is no additional charge. Guests are provided a time frame to show up online. These are also not LL attractions. (at the time of this post The Guardians of the Galaxy ride was the only Virtual Queue offered through the app).

If you are planning a trip to WDW Florida, I suggest making a list of attractions and dining experiences your group does not want to miss. You can add these on the app under the My Attractions Tab.

My Favorite Vloggers:

Months before our trip I started watching YouTube videos that specialize in Disney trip planning. I took notes on their advice for restaurants, how to use the app, and the best attractions.

These are my top four. Everything you need to know about Disney World is explained in great detail in these short videos. They will also get you excited about your trip.

DFB (Disney Food Blog) - A straightforward guide to the parks and restaurants. The most up-to-date information.

Mammoth Club - Former bloggers from AllEars.Net that branched out on their own. Entertaining and great content.

PagingMrMorrow - Educational and entertaining, takes you right to the parks and dining experiences. Will often run into people that watch his videos. Very cute and cheerful.

AllEars.Net - Educational videos about the parks, dining, and updates.

Suggested Timeline for pre-planning your Disney vacation:

By Towfiqu barbhuiya on Unsplash
  1. Select your travel dates. Make sure are planning at least 60 days out.
  2. Reserve your accommodation
  3. Download the My Disney Experience App.
  4. Link your reservation to the My Disney Experience App (if staying on a Disney property link your hotel reservation to the App)
  5. Purchase Disney Theme Park tickets. You will be provided a Theme Park ticket reservation number. Keep these numbers in a safe place and easily accessible. Link them to the My Disney Experience app.,
  6. Connect with members of your party. On the My Disney Experience app go to -> My Profile -> Family & Friends List and connect reservations.
  7. Reserve your theme park days. Plan this out carefully. If you are staying at a Disney Resort you have the added bonus of extra magic hours. Make sure to plan around the extended hours each day at the parks. The later hours are a different park every day. However, you can enter any of the parks 30 minutes prior to opening on most days.
  8. Reserve dining. Exactly 60 days prior to the first day of your trip the Dining times will open up. If you are planning a special occasion at a sit-down restaurant get up early and start reserving. We had multiple people reserving multiple days and times. Since we were traveling with a large party we reserved multiple, smaller tables. When we showed up for our dining Disney graciously grouped our tables together.
  9. Dining Tips:

  • Stakeout (an app that notifies you when a selected dining time is available)
  • Mousewatcher (a website that texts you with alerts when a selected dining time is available)
  • Dining can be pricey. Split an entree to cut costs. The servings are large. Ask your server for advice.
  • For quick service dining. Use the Mobile Dining order function on the My Disney Experience app. Click the icon at the bottom of the screen.
  • To cut additional food costs, place an order with Instacart for snacks. They will deliver within 2 hours to your door. (avoid the annual membership fee).

When Your Vacation Begins:

By Catherine Hughes on Unsplash

Tips for using the My Disney Experience App when you arrive at Disney:

  1. 6:45 am the day you are visiting a Theme Park, get ready to select your first Lightening Lane attraction. Go to-> My Disney Day -> refresh -> refresh -> refresh until a time shows up and select. If you have linked your profile with everyone in your party, you can add them to the timeslot.
  2. Arrive at the Park anytime prior to your first LL attraction.
  3. 120 minutes after the park opens you can select another Lightening Lane attraction -> Add everyone in your party to the next LL -> 120 minutes until you can select another LL. (the app will display how long you have to choose another LL)
  4. During the 120 minutes, this is your opportunity to check the wait times for other attractions and hit as many as possible until your next Lightening Lane time frame. You will be surprised how many choices you will have. We went in the summer and the parks were full. We never waited more than 20 minutes for any ride. We shopped, watched impromptu parades, and saw a show. We took it slow. Went to those less visited attractions. Grabbed a bite to eat or took photos and enjoyed the atmosphere. If you have time you can even go back to the resort and relax.
  5. Repeat the next day.
  6. If you are experiencing an issue with the App, find Disney Guest Services. They are dressed in blue and located in multiple spots around the parks. We never had an issue finding Guest Services. There was always someone to assist immediately. They will help you on the spot with any issues you encounter. For instance, someone in our group didn’t get on the LL with the rest of our party. They fixed it on the spot. Don’t hesitate to ask them anything, that’s what they’re there for.
  7. By following the tips provided on the app and taking the time to learn the process, we benefited greatly and never experienced a long wait time for any attraction in all 4 parks. We got to see everything we wanted and more. The parks were busy and full. Yet, incredibly, we didn’t experience massive crowding. It just flowed. It was like thousands of people magically walking around a maze yet never running into each other. Of course, there were times that we did encounter large crowds, but only when expected and that was during the fireworks or watching a parade. Exiting and entering the parks

If used correctly the Disney Genie Plus system can work like magic. In fact, I even think, this system could be applied to large cities, in theory, it may even be able to curb the problems of over-tourism and encourage people to travel more sustainably. It could minimize the wait times to popular attractions and provide visitors with alternative, less visited sites, and activities to fill in between. Resulting in spreading out the tourist over a larger area of a destination. The reward will expose travelers to the unique culture of the destination and enrich small businesses with tourist dollars. For more information about Sustainable tourism see my article What is Sustainable Tourism and How to Find it.

In the simplest terms, the Disney Genie Plus system lets the visitor reserve a time slot to guarantee their favorite attraction, with no or minimal wait time. The best part is between these attractions visitors use the opportunity to fill in the gap with those less popular attractions. By using the app you get a constant update of the current wait times on all the attractions.

That's the key to unlocking the Disney Genie Plus System and using it to its fullest potential.

But wait! There is so much more to WDW beyond the parks and that is their Deluxe resorts. They all have themes and each is worth a visit.

Highlights Beyond the Parks:

Grand Floridian Resort, Lobby

  • Visit a Disney Deluxe Resort: **You do not have to be a guest on the property to enjoy their ambiance or restaurants.
  • The Polynesian -> Hawaiian-themed resort -> Ohana (a restaurant great for breakfast).
  • The Contemporary Resort -> Take the monorail through the atrium -> Dine at the California Grill. Our favorite. Located on the top floor and overlooks the Magic Kingdom. Plan your dinner during the fireworks and watch while dining.
  • The Grand Floridian- Modeled after the famous Hotel Del Coronado, near San Diego. -> Dine at any one of these restaurants -> Grand Floridian Cafe, 1900 Park Fare - character dining, Victoria and Albert (fine dining), Garden View Tea Room, Enchanted Rose (best cocktail bar).
  • Animal Kingdom Lodge -> Walk out to the Savanna from the lobby and watch the animals -> Restaurants with African flavors -> Boma & Sanaa - Restaurant with a view of the Savanna.
  • The Yacht & Beach Club (resorts are next to each other and walkable from Epcot) -> Cape May Cafe (great for breakfast), and Yachtsman Steakhouse.
  • The Boardwalk -> Modeled after the oldest seashore resorts of my home state, New Jersey. Quaint Shops, takeout Dining, Ice Cream, and desserts (walkable from Epcot) -> Jellyrolls Piano Bar.
  • Riviera Resort - European design near Epcot. (a stop on the Disney Skyline)->Topolino’s Terrace restaurant.

Highlights of Disney Springs:

Disney Springs Shopping and Restaurants

103 Shops & 67 dining choices. There are activities for the kids and lounges and bars for the adults. Disney Springs is open to the public, there is no entry fee. (Disney transportation is available, Uber, Lyft services).

  • Get a cookie from Gideons.
  • Go to the Jock Lindsey’s Hanger Bar
  • Watch live entertainment
  • Visit The World of Disney shop.
  • The Boathouse - Waterfront dining
  • Local artists and vendors
  • The Lego Store.
  • Rainforest Cafe

Shopping in Disney

Shopping just got incredibly easy with Disney's Mobile Checkout. This is a service available at most Disney shops throughout the parks and in Disney Springs. NO LINE. You simply use the My Disney Experience App and follow the directions.

  1. From the app -> Mobile Checkout -> Choose the shop location.,
  2. Gather your purchases and scan the bar codes with the app.
  3. Pay for the items through the app
  4. Approach the cast member at the door, Show them the QR code displayed after the purchase is finalized. This will verify the purchase and you will be provided with a bag.
  5. Exit shop.

Planning a Disney vacation can certainly become stressful. The key is to be prepared but don’t sweat it if you miss something. Make sure to schedule downtime!! You need a day of rest or a morning at the pool. Otherwise, you’ll be exhausted.

If you enjoyed this article, follow me on social media and subscribe to my blog. Let’s Connect!


Disney & Sustainability: Linking this great article on the steps Disney is taking towards a more sustainable destination.

Source: Disney World Statistics

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About the Creator

victoria patricolo

In April, 2020. I launched ConsciousTraveler.CO. A travel blog focused on sustainable luxury tourism, unique experiences, travel tips and trends. I hope to inspire people to travel again...so much depends on it.

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