Lightning Lane vs. Genie+

In addition to some fun in-app features, Genie+ includes Lightning Lane access on most rides.
Carissa Rawson
By Carissa Rawson 
Edited by Meghan Coyle

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Are you heading to Disney any time soon? If so, you may have heard of Disney's newest offering, Genie+. Together with Genie and Individual Lightning Lanes, Genie+ promises to maximize your visit to the theme parks, whether at Disneyland or Walt Disney World. 

But what do these services provide — and how do they compare against each other? First, let's look at Genie+ versus Lightning Lane and the included benefits. 

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The main differences

Honestly, it's not so much that there are differences between Lightning Lane and Genie+, but that one is the subset of the other. 

Genie+ is something that you purchase for each member of your family. It includes access to specialized photo filters and audio guides and the ability to use Lightning Lanes on most rides. 

Lightning Lanes, then, are accessible to you when you purchase Genie+. This is true for all rides except those featuring Individual Lightning Lanes. These rides will charge a separate fee to bypass the main queue (more on this below).

What is Genie?

Disney has done a lot to encourage its guests to use its apps. This is evident across the parks, where mobile ordering signs abound and free Wi-Fi keeps everyone connected. Nowhere is this more evident than with Genie, a free service that'll help you choose which attractions you'll visit during the day. 

To use Disney Genie, you'll need a valid theme park ticket and reservation linked to your account. Then, you'll want to log on to your Disney app. Once there, you'll be able to select the service, which will ask you questions about what you'd like to do during your day. 

Disney's Genie will then present you with a personalized tip board recommending where and when you should go during the day. The aim is to fit in as many activities as you'd like to do while minimizing the amount of time you spend in line. Of course, you don't need to use all the recommendations, but it can give you a good idea of how to spend your time. 

What is Genie+?

Genie+ is a different beast than Genie. It's a paid service whose costs will vary depending on the park you visit and when. In addition, price and availability vary by date, starting at $25 per ticket per day.

If you used the old FastPass and FastPass+ systems, Genie+ would likely look pretty familiar to you. Once you've paid for the day, you'll be able to select rides and attractions for which you'd like to skip the line. 

It's important to note that, unlike the old FastPass+ system, you cannot buy Genie+ and select rides in advance of your trip; its purchase only becomes available at 7 a.m. on the day you intend to visit. 

What is Lightning Lane?

Lightning Lanes have replaced the FastPass lines at Disney theme parks. These work as expedited queues for rides, allowing guests to surpass the standard line in favor of a faster option. 

Lightning Lane access isn't free. It comes as a perk when you purchase Genie+. And if you're wondering about Genie versus Lightning Lane, Disney Genie only provides tips to help you avoid lines. Lightning Lane grants you access to entirely separate queues. 

Be aware that Genie+ doesn't provide instant, unlimited access to Lightning Lanes. Instead, once you've made your purchase, you'll be able to select return times one at a time. 

Once you've made your first selection, you'll need to redeem it before making another. The only exception is if your ride return time is more than two hours away; if this is the case, you'll be able to make another selection once two hours have passed. 

What is Individual Lightning Lane?

We've talked about Lightning Lane, a perk of Genie+ that will allow you to jump the line for most rides at Disney theme parks. However, there are a handful of rides for which standard Genie+ purchases don't include Lightning Lane access. These are usually the most desirable or popular rides within the park. So instead, guests can choose to purchase Individual Lightning Lane passes. Like Genie+, the cost varies depending on demand and the attraction you're looking to visit. 

Individual Lightning Lane passes are limited and can run out throughout the day, especially if a ride is very popular. And no matter how many theme parks you visit, you can only purchase two Individual Lightning Lane passes per day. In addition, like standard Genie+ rides, you can't buy passes more than once for the same ride.

Disney resort guests (and some limited other hotels) have a leg up when it comes to Individual Lightning Lane purchases. They can begin making reservations at 7 a.m. on the day they're visiting. All other guests must wait until the park opens. 

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Guests of Marriott properties, The Walt Disney World Swan and The Walt Disney World Dolphin, can also take advantage of early Individual Lightning Lane access. 

Note that you don't need to purchase Genie+ to buy Individual Lightning Lane passes. These two services are entirely separate. 

If you're considering Lightning Lane or Genie+

Understanding Disney Genie+ and Lightning Lane can be a bit confusing. If this is the case for you, remember that Genie+ is something you buy that'll give you access to Lightning Lane. Lightning Lane is an expedited queue service available for most rides within Disney theme parks. There are some exceptions to this for which you'll need to purchase Individual Lightning Lane access; this is generally the case for the most popular rides. 

Genie+ can be a great service for those who don't want to wait in line. Although costs will vary and may reach as much as $30 per person per day, the amount of time you'll save standing around can be substantial. If this option doesn't seem right for you, don't worry — there's always the standby line.

(Featured photo courtesy of Walt Disney World)

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