Disneyland’s Genie+ Full Guide – Getting the Best out of Genie Plus at Disneyland California

In an effort to reduce waiting times, improve customer experience, and simplify and harmonize their offering over the US Parks, Disney decided to Retire their FastPass, FastPass+, And MaxPass Products across their parks. Instead replacing it with the New and Improved Genie System and the Upgraded Genie Plus and Lightning Lanes.

To say this caused a STINK in the Disney World Orlando Circles is a big understatement. Things are a little calmer over in California as the change is not so severe after all the MaxPass was always a Paid Product whereas Disney World Guests were used to the FastPass+ Being FREE! Naturally, we need to take a look at Genie Plus had how it works at the Disneyland parks. Our Disneyland’s Genie+ Full Guide is here to help you Get the best out of Genie Plus at Disneyland California and California Adventure Parks.

Disneyland's Genie+ Full Guide

Is Disney Killing the Magic?

In Our intro, we said Disney is implementing this to improve the park experience and standardize the way the Express entry systems work across its US portfolio. But you would have to have some pretty strong Disney blinkers in to not think, at least a little, that this is a Cash-Grab!

Especially over in Florida, where the Fastpass+ System was always free! Over in Cali the MaxPass has been a paid-for System for a while so it’s less of a shock, but it has still gone from $15 – $20 and now $25 per person per day and now does not even include the top tier rides that you have to pay even more for!

For Disney World, it has gone from FREE to $25 plus additional Individual Rides. It’s a hard pill to swallow, and despite the hype around Genie it’s hard to see how it will really improve the experience. Sure buying the individual lanes will get you on the Biggest rides really fast, but at $7-20 per go! Even the most affectionate Disney fans are looking at this pretty cynically!

But Disney is not going to reverse the decision, and the Genie+ is here to stay for the foreseeable so other than moaning there is very little we can do but get on with it. You can always vote with your feet and if attendances plummet over the changes then maybe there will be a change, but don’t bank on that happening.

Disney Genie, Genie+, and Individual Lightning Lanes Explained

Getting the best out of Genie Plus at Disneyland California

Disney Genie

Disney Genie is simply the name for an AI system integrated into the Disneyland (and World) App that automatically personalized your day, pointing you to the shortest queues and things that interest you most. This is Free and is fully integrated into the App, but its actual usefulness is debated!

This is a fantastic idea and one that had the promise to revolutionize your park experience. It is, however, junk. It’s free so always worth using but the suggestions are garbage, It takes no account of your current location, and probably sends you off to poor experiences when there are better ones closer that you should be taking advantage of.

Have a look, ignore it, and get on with your day. Maybe on the odd occasion, it will point something out that is worthwhile and of interest to you, but mainly it’s a waste of time.

Disney Genie+

Genie+ Is the paid upgrade that allows Users the chance to use the quicker Lightning Lanes for Select attractions. These cover most rides in the Parks that have large queues, although there are some annoying exclusions such as Jungle Cruise, Peter Pan, The Pixar Pal Around, and Pirates Of The Caribbean! This is Disney’s express pass or VIP lane, or whatever the alternative is at other parks. It basically allows you to bypass the main Queue or “Standby-line” as Disney calls it.

Genie+ is the replacement for MaxPass and operates on a very similar basis. It’s $5 more, and no longer includes some of the most popular attractions, but generally, it’s the same. You still get on-the-day reservations for top rides, one at a time. You still get access to Priority Lanes, now called Lightning Lanes, to access the rides at your return time. And You still get Disney’s PhotoPass Service. Of Course, if you are unfamiliar with the Old MaxPass this is little help so we go into detail about exactly what the Genie+ Service is Below.

Remember without Genie+ Your main option is the Standby Lines. These are the regular queues we are all used to at Themeparks. These range from 5-10 mins to over 2 hours per ride, and this is dependent on a whole load of different factors. There are also single-rider lines and Buddy Pass Lines that can help you skip some of the queues if you are willing to split up.

Individual Lightning Lanes

These are the simplest of the lot. These are additional fees to Skip the Queue on some of Disney’s hottest rides. Namely Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, Radiator Springs Racers, And Mickey And Minnie’s Runaway Railway. These vary from $7-$25 and also use daily SURGE pricing. There are limited numbers so the queue times should be limited. But $20 to skip one queue is pretty fierce and the alternative can simply be a 2-3 hour line!

These are limited in number and do sell out, this is to keep the lines short as people would be pretty annoyed if they paid $20 for an hour-long queue.

NOTE: You DO NOT need to purchase Genie+ To Use the Individual Lightning Lanes, these are totally separate and available to all.

What if I don’t have a Smartphone?

Use the Standby Lines! Sorry, it’s not our call, but Disney has gone headlong into the Digital Age and if you do not own or use a Spmetphone you are severely restricted as to how you experience Disney. You cannot utilize Genie+ Or Individual Lightning Lanes without using the Disneyland App!

How Much Does Disney Plus Cost?

Disney California Adventure

Disney Genie+ – $25 per person per day

The Service is a flat rate, $25 per person per day, however, during busy times the price does surcharge and can go up as high as $35! You do not need to buy the service every day and you do not need to add Genie+ To every day you are at the park. You do not even need to add it to every person in your party, but of course, anyone without it will not be able to access The Lightning Lanes.

This leads to one hack, if you are wanting the PhotoPass, then just one person having Genie+ Is enough to unlock the Pass and get all the photos you accrue. This can save some serious money. You can maybe all have Genie+ on some days but others just buy one and use it solely for the Photo Pass.

Individual Lightning Lanes – $7-$25

The Individual Lightning Lanes are priced separately and vary from $7-25. These prices are also variable and increase as the park’s attendance rises, also known as surge charging or price gouging!

Rise Of The Resistance is priced at a whopping $20 most of the time and queues can get up to $25 on busy days!

Radiator Springs Racers has a base price of $7 and this is often the case at quiet times, mid-week, and off-season. But it rises often, and you will rarely find the lowest end of the price range, and very busy times it can rise as far as $20.

Mickey and Minnies Runaway Railroad has a variable lightning lane price from $15- $20. This is quite a steep price, so here’s hoping the price will go down after a while as this is Disneyland’s newest ride.

WEB SLINGERS: A Spider-Man Adventure was on the lightning lanes but has now been added to Genie +

What you get with Genie+

Genie+ Lightning Lanes

The Genie+ Lightning Lanes are the main reason people will buy the Genie+ add-on. But there are a few extras thrown in that can really make an impact on your visit.

Disney Photo Pass

For some this is a great perk, for others, it’s less worthwhile. We visit a lot and as such we rarely use the PhotoPass. But for others, it really can make a family trip one to remember. In the Age of Smartphones, it’s less valuable than in the past, where the only memories were the Disney Professional images, but now you will take a million photos of your families day, and while the official images are great for meet and greet and ride photo’s it’s still not as essential as it was.

It’s a nice perk to have though, but we think it’s included as it probably would not sell well as a standalone item!

Audio Tales

Another Perk is the Audio Tales Feature which Provides a kind of audio guide to your trip to the park. On the whole, this is little more than a gimmick, and very few people really have time to explore this feature much. At best it’s a nice little toy, but very few people will be using this as a buying incentive.

What Rides are Included on Genie+

Big Thunder Mountain Railway on ride CA

Genie+ Lightning Lanes in Disneyland Park

Individual Purchase for Lightning Lane Entrance
Attractions include*:

Disney Genie+ Lightning Lane Entrance
Attractions include*:

Rides With Big Queues that are missing!

Genie + Lightning Lanes in Disney California Adventure Park

Individual Purchase for Lightning Lane Entrance
Attractions include*:

Disney Genie+ Lightning Lane Entrances
Attractions include*:

Rides With Big Queues that are missing!

How To Purchase Genie Plus

You can now purchase tickets with Genie+ included (at $25 more than without, so no saving), Or you can add it to your base ticket once in the park. There is no way at present to add it to tickets beforehand unless you purchase them with it added.

This is a little annoying as you will have to stand around in the park adding the service rather than getting on and booking the Lightning Lanes!

How To Purchase Lightning Lanes

Again these need to be purchased through the Disneyland App on the day once n the park. You can book Ride for Disney California Adventure when in Disneyland Park, and Vice Versa, but remember, you cannot Park Hop until 11 am, so do not book in a different park before you can hop!

How to Use Genie+ Lightning Lanes

All Genie+ Lightning Lanes are booked via the Disneyland App, available on both Android and Apple Phones.

  • You can Book one Lightning Lane at once and get the next available time
  • Return Times are 1 Hour Windows
  • Each Window has a 5 Min Grace period before the return time
  • Each Window has a 15 Min Grace period after the return time
  • You can Book Another Lightning Lane entrance after One Hour, as long as the Return time is Less than <1hour
  • You can book Another Lightning Lane as soon as you Scan your current one
  • If Your return time is over 2 hours, you have to wait at least 2 hours before booking another Return time.
  • But Lightning Lane Return Times CAN be stacked, so you can build up Multiple throughout the day
  • Selections cover BOTH parks if Park Hopping, but you can only park-hop after 11am.
  • You can only use Genie+ once Per attraction each day.
  • You can cancel any booking at any point and this will release the app to allow you to book again if you are canceling the last booked attraction, releasing stacked attractions will not.

Just looking at that is confusing and mind-blowing, some rules seem to contradict each other others are just confused and bewildering. The simplest way to understand is to walk you through a day.

You wake up in the hotel and you can not access Genie+ Reservations. The App only works in the Parks. Once through the gate at Disneyland at 8 am sharp, the App magically comes to life and you can start booking Return times.

You notice Queue times are low in Adventure land and you can reserve a ride on Big Thunder at 9 am, You reserve by the Genie+ App. You can no longer make any reservations.

You head over to Adventure land and jump on Pirates which has a <10min queue at this time.

After 9 pm you head over to Big Thunder and scan into the ride. The app now allows you to Book again in the Lightning Lane Queue. You notice Indiana Jones at 9:30…booked. You Ride Big Thunder, and head over to Indiana Jones.

As soon as you scan to enter the Ride Queue, you are again free to book another Ride. You notice two things, Rise Of Resistance a 2.5 Hour Queue, and Guardians Of The Galaxy’s earliest return time is 6 pm!

You are planning on Park Hopping so book Guardians Of The Galaxy. and purchase an Individual Lighting Lane for Rise Of The Resistance at 11 pm. The Individual Lightning Lane costs $20 but has NO Bearing on Genie+ Selections I.e it doesn’t lock you out of making further selections on Genie+. The 6 pm Booking or Guardians Of The Galaxy Locks you out of further Genie+ Selections for 2 hours. which is around 12 pm

You head over to Galaxies Edge and Join the Standby Queue for Smuggler Run, this is 45mins. and after the ride, you use your individual Lightning lane for Rise Of The Resistance.

It is around 11:40 and you queue up for a ride on Jungle Cruise. After this, your 2-hour window has expired and you can bag a 12:30 return time for Space Mountain. You decide to break for lunch and after 1 hour you can choose another attraction, you choose Soarin at 16:00.

You now have 3 attractions stacked. Soarin, Space Mountain, and Guardians Of The Galaxy, You Ride Space Mountain and hop over to California Adventure. 2 hours after booking Soarin the window opens back up. And you can book another attraction, You book Incredicoaster, taking your stack back up to 3.

You can simply keep doing this over and over until all return times have been booked and the park is closing.

It is better to choose close return times as you can pack more in but as the parks get busier the next available pushes out to later in the day so you need to start booking later attractions and getting stuck by the 2-hour rule.

The Annoying thing is it takes a little practice to get used to, and very few people visit that often they ever get the hang of it. It really is pretty hard to explain so let’s TRY and crystalize it into two scenarios, the One Hour rule is a little confusing so let’s just stick to two options.

1 – The Return time is OVER two hours…You need to wait a minimum of two hours before you can book another Return Time.

2 – The Return Time is Less than Two Hours…You can book another Return time as soon as you scan into the Ride.

As long as you follow those two rules you can ride and stack as many times as possible.

The one-hour rule is there as basically once you hit the one-hour mark your window will be open and you could just go and ride the booked attraction. But you may be stuck in a queue or having lunch, so it allows you to book another one at this point. It’s a rule that can largely be ignored as most of the time, but if you are now able to get to a ride and the hour is up, you should be good to pick out your next attraction.

Is Genie+ Worth It?

This is a really tough question to answer as so many people visit the parks differently. The reality is that Genie+ Works, and it will get you on a lot more rides and in far fewer queues than visiting without. If you are looking at a short visit where you want to pack as much in as possible, without you will be lucky to hit 5-6 headline rides in a day, make the 10-12 With Genie+

If your visit is more casual and you just want to enjoy the Park, well you will still get the advantage of skipping long queues giving you longer to explore the Park, meet some characters and take in the Magic without standing in line for several hours for the few rides you do hit.

We really can see why the Disney World Crowd is so angry about this, the change over there is huge, they have lost a free system that was arguably much better than Genie+ that they now have to pay for. It can add $hundreds onto their trip and feels very cynical.

But over in Disneyland, it’s a small price hike and a few marginal alterations. Honestly, Genie+ is still really good and really helps you pack your day out.

Read here how we used Genie+ on our last trip – We bagged 16 rides in one day, including Rise of the Resistance without using the LL. Infact we did SO much with Genie+ We didn’t even need it the second day!

Are the Individual Lightning Lanes Worth it?

This is a much simpler question, which do you value more, the Individual Lightning Lane Fee ($7-20) or the length of time you will spend in the Standby Queue?

While The Genie+ Price hike is a hard pill to Swallow the introduction of the Extra Lightning lanes was a bigger kick to the nuts. $20 to skip a queue is a bitter pill to swallow when it used to be included in the MaxPass* price.

It all just feels like a nasty Cash Grab, but when faced with 2-3 hours stuck in a queue, we tend to reach for the Wallet…which is just what Disney wanted.

Tip and Tricks to Getting the Best Out of Genie+

Genie+ is still new so we are still learning the intricacies of the System, we expect this section to increase wildly, as we work out exactly how to get the best out of the system.

You can’t beat the Surge-Pricing

As Disneyland currently requires reservations, Disney knows exactly how many people are coming each day and can see their surge price gouging ahead of time, they are really good at estimating the queue lengths and if the park is going to be packed then the price will head up. This is a good guide that you should not delay, as when the prices are high the queues will be huge and Individual Lanes will sell out FAST, so you may be stuck with a 3-hour wait to ride the top attractions.

Only Buy for the days you need.

If you are heading to the Park for multiple days then you may not need to use the service every day. You do not really save anything by buying your tickets with the service attached so just buy base tickets and add the service as and when you need it. Last time out we did so much on the first day that we just didn’t need it on the second.

Remember only one person needs the service to access the PhotoPass.

Try and bag close-by rides as early as possible

Whenever possible look to book rides that are nearby in the next few minutes. If you can grab a return time and head straight to the ride you will pack so much more in. Or if you have a little wait you can ride something else while you wait.

Also as soon as you scan at the Genie+ Entrance, you can instantly book your next. If rides are 2+hours out you have to wait the full 2 hours until you can book again.

If a ride is really important and the Return times start pushing the end of the day, bite the bullet and get it locked in.

Despite the annoyance of having to wait 2+ hours, the popular rides DO sell out. And when they do then you can bet the queues will be monstrous. So if it’s 11 am and Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run is showing 6 pm return times, get it snagged as it’s likely to disappear really soon.

Keep Checking

If something does sell out or the time sucks, do not give up. keep checking and quite often the ride will become available again or nearer times will open up. Spend time in queues refreshing the times to snag that golden ticket.

Use the Queues

Queuing is really boring and this is the perfect time to make your next plans and look for rides opening back up. And remember if you have just scanned your Genie+ then you can book the next one straight away before the ride.

Bring a Back-UP

Disney is now ULTRA Smartphone heavy. What with the constant Genie+ use, using the digital map to check times, ordering food, taking a million photos, and updating the socials. It is going to hammer the battery. If you make it to 4-5 pm you will be lucky.

Ensure you have a Power bank to re-juice your phone so you can keep the magic going.

Use the Wifi!

Just a quick one for anyone from out of the country or with limited Data, Disneyland has Complimentary Wifi throughout the park so you can log on and use it without any roaming charges!

Lift Your Head up

With this reliance on Smartphones that is now all but essential to the Park experience, it’s easy to spend the day with your head down looking at your brick the whole day. Don’t! only use it at select points to fulfill a specific task, then look up and enjoy the park!

Lift Your Head up

With this reliance on Smartphones that is now all but essential to the Park experience, it’s easy to spend the day with your head down looking at your brick the whole day. Don’t! only use it at select points to fulfill a specific task, then look up and enjoy the park!

Lift Your Head UP!

With this reliance on Smartphones that is now all but essential to the Park experience, it’s easy to spend the day with your head down looking at your brick the whole day. Don’t! only use it at select points to fulfill a specific task, then look up and enjoy the park!

Yes, we wrote the same tip three times exactly the same…WE REALLY MEAN IT!

Have Your Say

Let’s open the floodgates! We love Disney, but we are not fitted with Disney blinkers and feel the company deserves some criticism for the new system, and if you would like to vent that criticism in our comments we would LOVE to hear it.

We would also love to hear if you are more amenable to these new changes and think they offer good value and an acceptable cost.

Really whatever your thoughts fire away. We are particularly open to hearing about any real-world experience, how did your experience go, did the service help, or was it a total nightmare? Again just fire away. And we are SURE some of you will have some questions, we think we still do and we will definitely treat this article as evolving for now!

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