Welcome Back to our New Blog Series: Jamie’s Destination “Do”s and “Don’t”s, where our favorite Travel Planning Aficionado shares her wealth of knowledge and experiences about traveling the world! After every trip to a new destination, Jamie gives us her perspective as both a traveler, and a travel advisor, through a quick but comprehensive list of what to do or not do at each vacation location!
Although sharing the “Do”s and “Don’t”s of Genie+ and Lightning Lane doesn’t require Jamie to “take a trip” per say, going to the Parks, even for a day, is often a trip in itself, even when you live close by, like Jamie! So after using Genie+ and Lightning Lane since they debuted over a year ago, Jamie wanted to share her Top Tips for Navigating Genie+ and Lightning Lane with you!
So Let’s Go to the Parks with Genie+ ! But First…
Jamie’s Destination “Do”s and “Don’t”s for Navigating Genie+ and Lightning Lane
Top Favorites and Jamie’s “Must-Do” Experiences
Prioritize, Prioritize, Prioritize!
One of the best ways to get your money’s worth out of your Genie+ purchase is to know what attractions are priorities for you and your family in advance (this is where lists come in handy, and I highly suggest making some old-fashioned pen and paper lists to refer to as you book your Lightning Lane Entrances, so you don’t have to click out of the My Disney Experience App on your phone). If you don’t know where to start organizing your priority lists, the following blogs can help you figure out what attractions to try to get first:
Genie+ Priorities – Magic Kingdom Attractions
Genie + Priorities – Hollywood Studios Attractions
Genie+ Priorities – EPCOT Attractions
Genie+ Priorities – Animal Kingdom Attractions
However, these lists are just suggestions based on the most popular attractions. If YOU and your family have your own favorite attractions in each park, those are the things you should prioritize getting at 7am when you first purchase Genie+.
Just make sure you’re not strolling into the park mid-afternoon, thinking you’ll book your first Lightning Lane Entrance when your child spots a ride they want to go on, because that will most likely lead meltdown central, for you and your child, when you can’t just walk onto the Lightning Lane right then and there. Prioritize and plan ahead from the start.
Be Flexible with Your Park Plan
Once you book your Lightning Lane Entrances (ideally the first one at 7am, and then your next one two hours after Park opening, or after checking in to your first LL Entrance, whichever comes first), you can start to figure out how to orient yourself around whatever Park you’re in. Old School Disney-Goers may remember days of traveling around Magic Kingdom from Land to Land to give the day some structure, or looping around World Showcase at EPCOT, visiting all the countries in order, but unless you’re not planning to get Genie+, or you have incredible luck when it comes to getting Lightning Lane Times, you’ll have to be flexible with how you cover ground in the Parks. Getting to your Lighting Lane Entrances may require a bit of doubling back sometimes, but as long as you’re flexible and have a good handle on where things are in the Parks, just think of it as getting some extra steps in!
Always Always Always Bring a Charger or Battery Back Up
These days, as much as we try to stay off screens and be present in the moment, many of us still use our phones enough to require a midday charge, and when you’re not home or at the office, charging your phone in the middle of the day requires some forethought. Bringing along a charger, and even better, a rechargeable battery as well, isn’t just a convenience, it’s a necessity.
You will be using the My Disney Experience App ALL DAY to check for available times, and to book your Lightning Lane Selections, in addition to taking tons of photos all day long, too. I suggest having one person in your family be in charge of the Genie+ Selections for the day, that way everyone isn’t draining their battery all day, and it makes things easier so that nothing gets booked wrong with multiple people trying to book things at once.
Top Tips that Jamie Learned Along the Way
Familiarize Yourself With Park Layouts
When you have to be at a certain attraction in the Park at a certain time, it’s very helpful to know where it is and how to get there from wherever you are. Maps of each Park are in the My Disney Experience App, and while you certainly don’t have to have them memorized, it’s definitely helpful to have some level of familiarity with the layout of each Park before you arrive. It’s also helpful to check exactly where the attractions are that you have Lightning Lane Entrance Times to, so that you’re not scrambling to find something last minute, or showing up in the wrong place by mistake.
Know the Genie+ Rules
The Genie+ System does take a bit of getting used to, but before you can start getting the hang of it, knowing what the system will or will not let you do can save you time and frustration. Understanding the rules of Genie+ will prevent you from thinking something is wrong with your My Disney Experience App when it doesn’t let you book two Lightning Lane Entrances at once (because you’re not allowed), and will save you from wasting time at Guest Services. For everything you need to know about the technicalities of Genie+, including how to get it and the rules of using it, check out our How To Use Genie+ Blog.
You DON’T Need Genie+ to Purchase INDIVIDUAL Lightning Lane Options
If the thought of spending money on Genie+ for the day for each person in your party, and then spending even more money on Individual Lightning Lane Options that are excluded from the Genie+ list just doesn’t sit right with you, you’re not alone. There are lots of people who are unhappy with many of Disney’s recent price increases, including the loss of the Magical Express and MagicBands that once came with your ticket purchase.
Disney is a business, after all, and I don’t pretend to know or understand their budget, but I do know that so many Cast Members, who were unable to work because of the state of the world in recent years, are now back in the Parks and Resorts. Whatever their behind-the-scenes reasoning, I ultimately have to trust that Disney is not just a company who puts their own profits above the happiness of their loyal devotees and clientele, and that they are doing the best they can to support their Cast Members and also provide the world with the Disney Magic so many of us know and love.
However, that doesn’t mean you need to shell out for every add-on service they offer. If the only attractions you really care about not waiting in a super long line for are the ones NOT included in Genie+, but are Individual Lightning Lane Purchases, go with the Individual Lightning Lane Purchases and skip getting Genie+. The key is knowing your own priorities first, then checking if your priority attractions are available with Genie+ or Individual Lightning Lane, and then making an informed decision that will be the best for your family’s needs for whichever Park you’re visiting on that particular day.
Top “Must-Don’t”s, or Things Jamie Would Do Differently
Don’t Assume you NEED Genie+ for Every Day OR Every Park
If you will be at Disney during Peak Seasons, such as the Holidays or school vacations, Genie+ will probably be something you’ll want to budget for. However, if your vacation falls in some of the Off Season times, such as September or January or any other relatively “quiet” months, you may not even need Genie+! It’s definitely worth tracking some of the wait times through the My Disney Experience App for a few weeks before your trip to gauge the crowd level, and be able to make a more informed decision once you get there and have to make a choice every morning at 7am.
You may decide that you only want Genie+ for Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios, but not for EPCOT or Animal Kingdom. Typically, Animal Kingdom is usually the least crowded Park, and if you’re planning to taste your way around the World Showcase at EPCOT, you may not need or want to invest in Genie+ for those parks. Or, if you’re not a Star Wars person, you may choose not to get Genie+ for Hollywood Studios. Again, the key with Genie+, as with many things, is to know your priorities, and make an informed choice that will best suit the experience you want at the Parks.
If You Want Genie+, Don’t Sleep On It, Literally
If you do choose to invest in Genie+ for the day, don’t make that decision mid-afternoon, because you probably won’t get your money’s worth at that point. If you’re not an early riser or rope-dropper (if you know, you know), set your alarm to be ready to purchase Genie+ at 7am, and make your first Lightning Lane Selection as soon as you purchase. That way, you can make your next Genie+ selection two hours after the Park opens (or as soon as you use your first LL Entrance, whichever comes first), and you can keep going with that two-hour/LL Entrance time frame all day to use your Genie+ investment on as many attractions as possible.
Don’t Waste Genie+ Selections on Attractions with Short Wait Times
While it’s rare to come across an attraction with no wait time, there are definitely attractions that typically have longer wait times than others, and this is something that you should try to factor in as you make your Lightning Lane Entrance Selections. This is also where those Genie+ Priority Lists for each Park come in very handy, so if you have not checked those out, scroll back up for the links to each of those Blogs. For example, if you love the Peter Pan Ride (who doesn’t?), you’ll want to try to get that first when making your Genie+ selections, and while you’re waiting for your LL Entrance Time, you can get on some of the rides that usually have shorter wait times, such as The Magic Carpets of Aladdin or the Mad Tea Party, without needing to be in the Lightning Lane Entrance.
Don’t Assume Genie+ Gets You Lightning Lane Access for Every Attraction
A common misconception of many people who purchase Genie+ is that they think Genie+ allows them to just walk into the Lightning Lane Entrance for every attraction. This is not the case at all. Not only do you have to book your Lightning Lane Entrance times in order to utilize your Genie+ purchase, but also, Genie+ does NOT guarantee you a Lightning Lane Entrance to every attraction you wish to experience. Disney even states on their website that, “on average, guests can enter 2 to 3 attractions or experiences per day using Lightning Lane entrances, if the first selection is made early in the day.” This is why it’s imperative to know your priorities and to purchase Genie+ early in order to get the most out of it.
Don’t Give Up on Genie+ After the First Day
The Genie+ and Individual Lightning Lane system is tricky, but you can definitely master using the system if you give it some time. The first day with it may be frustrating, and you may be visiting Guest Services or the blue umbrella stands of Guest Relations a few times for help, but you will get the hang of it after a day or two. Or maybe you’ll decide that the time you’re using trying to figure it out isn’t saving you enough wait time to be worth it, and that’s fine too; that may actually be a silver lining of not being able to purchase Genie+ for your whole trip before getting there, and getting to decide the next morning not to purchase again. But if you really want to have a few shorter wait times, I’d give it at least two days to get used to, because once you figure it out, you’ll enjoy reaping the benefits of your investment.
And…That’s a Wrap on Jamie’s “Do”s and “Don’t”s for Navigating Genie+ and Lightning Lane in the Disney World Parks!
Ready to Plan?
Now that you have all of Jamie’s suggestions for how to get the most out of Genie+, are you ready to plan your next Disney Vacation? Contact your Love of the Magic Vacations Travel Advisor today or email hello@LOTMV.com
Looking for more of Jamie’s Destination “Do”s and “Don’t”s?
So far, we have:
Jamie’s Destination “Do”s and “Don’t”s: Paris and Disneyland Paris
Jamie’s Destination “Do”s and “Don’t”s: Italy
Jamie’s Destination “Do”s and “Don’t”s: The Disney Wish
Jamie’s Destination “Do”s and “Don’t”s: Grenada
Jamie’s Destination “Do”s and “Don’t”s: Disney’s D23 Expo
Jamie and The Love of the Magic Vacations Team’s “Do”s and “Don’t”s: Virgin Voyages
Jamie’s Destination “Do”s and “Don’t”s: The Exumas
Jamie’s Destination “Do”s and “Don’t”s: Halloween in the Orlando Theme Parks
Jamie’s Destination “Do”s and “Don’t”s: Holiday Travel
A new list comes out the Friday after Jamie returns from her latest trip!
And don’t forget to check out our Inspiring Itineraries as well, featuring a Perfect Plan for your next vacation, and highlighting a new destination each month!
Contact your favorite Love of the Magic Travel Advisor or email hello@LOTMV.com to start planning today!