• Virtual Queues, Disney Genie, Genie+ and Lightning Lanes

    Virtual Queues, Disney Genie, Genie+ and Lightning Lanes

    Ben A.

    Created: Oct 31, 2023

    Last Updated: Apr 25, 2024

    Virtual Queues, Disney Genie, Genie+ and Lightning Lanes

    Anyone remember the good old times of physical fast passes at Disney Parks? You would walk up to a machine usually located next to a ride, press a button and get a small ticket telling you the exact time slot to come back to the fast pass queue. It was mostly easy to understand and intuitive, but there were a handful of problems with it too.

    First of all, on a packed day there was a good chance you would need to enter a line to try and grab a fast pass, to then use it to save time on another line. Crazy to think about it now, huh? You also needed to walk to each fast pass machine, which meant that you were losing valuable park time by just moving around in what many considered busywork. Let’s also not forget that Fast Passes were, for all purposes, a physical piece of paper, which meant that you could lose them and they cost Disney (and the environment) precious resources.

    Disney magic kingdom peter pan flight entrance.jpg

    With all that in mind, long gone is the age of physical Fast Passes. We have moved to a digital world, after all! Basically every perk you get at Disney parks is now done with the help of your cellphone and the touch of a button. Before anything else, you should definitely download the My Disney Experience app, through the Google Play Store or Apple Store. This app is used not only to link your park tickets to your account, but it’s also the way to pay for all the special perks you want to make your trip feel more special.

    Here is a brief rundown on what Virtual Queues, Disney Genie, Genie+ and Lightning Lanes mean.

    • Virtual Queues: used mostly for new attractions that lack a regular stand-by queue. Usually happens with attractions that have just been released or are only about one year old (like Tron Lightcycle Run at Magic Kingdom). You use your My Disney Experience App to request a spot in a virtual queue.
    • Disney Genie: a free tool available at the My Disney Experience app. Might help you and your party by guiding you through attractions.
    • Disney Genie+: a paid tool available through the My Disney Experience app. Resembles the old Fast Pass system, although this one is done digitally. Gives you the option to cut lines in some of the most popular attractions and shows in Disney Parks. Heads up: Disney Genie+ usually does not apply to the top two busiest rides in each theme park (like Guardians of the Galaxy: Rewind at Epcot and Rise of the Resistance at Hollywood Studios).
    • Lightning Lane: it’s the name of the special line used to bypass the regular standby queue. Lightning Lane is also a service “à la carte” that you can buy for specific rides and shows, which will give you priority access. Available for the most popular rides in each theme park. As we stated above, you can bypass the regular lane to Rise of the Resistance by using Disney Genie+, but you can buy a separate Lightning Lane to experience that ride as a one time use.
      Let’s dive deeper into each service now.

    Virtual Queues

    Virtual queues are very rare, and will usually happen for rides and shows that have just opened or during very busy days for specific rides. Virtual Queues started back in 2019 with the launch of Rise of the Resistance at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and proved to be a successful experiment. They are a good solution to reduce physical lines and save your time - after all, if you are in a Virtual Queue you can still enjoy the theme park and not stay stuck in a physical queue for hours.

    As the name implies, attractions with a Virtual Queue do not offer a traditional stand by queue. You won’t be able to ride them without entering a Virtual Queue beforehand or buying a Lightning Pass.

    I know, you are probably asking two questions, and I will answer them here.

    Question 1: So, how do I know which rides offer this service?

    Answer: Easy. Log in your My Disney Experience app, click the hamburger icon on the bottom right menu and then select the Virtual Queue tab. You can now check which attractions and shows offer this service. As I said before, Virtual Queues are very rare, but if a big, hyped attraction just launched, you bet it will make use of this system.

    At the time of this writing, only two rides offer a Virtual Queue at the Disney parks in Florida:

    . Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind at Epcot Studios
    . Tron Lightcycle Run at Magic Kingdom

    Remember that this list is always changing. Rise of the Resistance doesn’t use a Virtual Queue anymore, so you can just enter the regular standby queue or buy a Lightning Pass to get priority access. On the other hand, Tiana’s Bayou Adventure will launch in the Magic Kingdom sometime in 2024, so I’d say there is a good chance that it will use the Virtual Queue system.

    Question 2: How do I enter a Virtual Queue?

    Answer: Thank you for asking, young Padawan. This mini-guide should help you!

    1- Download the My Disney Experience app on your phone.

    2- Make sure your park tickets are linked to your account.

    3- Make sure you and your friends/family are in the same party. You want everyone together in the same group, so with a single click everyone will enter the Virtual Queue together.

    4- You can only apply to a Virtual Queue on the day of your visit. The Virtual Queues are only available during two specific times per day: 7am and 1pm. If you are staying in a Disney Hotel, you might get an extra slot at 6pm for selectable attractions at Magic Kingdom and Epcot.

    Disney Virtual Queue screen.png

    Wake up early and log in your My Disney Experience app a few minutes before 7am. Click the Virtual Queue tab and choose the ride you want to go. Now it’s a matter of being patient and having a little bit of luck. There is a good chance that you will get a message that the Virtual Queue isn’t available yet, or the page will just take a while to load since there are a lot of users hammering the same button.

    Don’t give up! Keep reloading the page and trying, and double your efforts the closer we get to 7am. Once you are in, you will receive a time slot for you and your party. For example, let’s say you successfully entered a Virtual Queue for Tron Lightcycle Run and received a timeslot from 9am to 9:30am. That’s when you should head to the ride entrance, show your ticket/magic band and make your way to the physical queue.

    5- Yes, even when you make it past the Virtual Queue, you will still need to face a physical queue. From my experience, they don’t take that long. Around thirty minutes or so? Of course, this will vary a lot from ride to ride and the day of your visit. At least now you just need to wait a little and enjoy the ride!

    Disney Genie and Genie+

    So, you’d expect that with such similar names, Disney Genie and Genie+ would be very similar, right? Well, that’s certainly not the case. They are, in fact, very much different. One is free, the other is paid. One isn’t that much useful, the other can change your whole day and experience. Let’s check them out, starting with Disney Genie.

    Disney Genie is a free tool offered by the My Disney Experience app. It’s basically an AI system that tries to help you organize your day and select rides based on your personal preference and queue times. You select the day of your visit, choose a theme park, click on attractions you want to go and done. Disney Genie will try and organize an itinerary based on whatever you choose.

    I’m not a big fan of Disney Genie, honestly. The main problem is that the AI tries to organize an itinerary based on a mix of the attractions you chose with the ones that don’t have long queue times. The problem? Every popular attraction will have long queue times, or at least longer queue times when compared to older, meh rides. This means that Disney Genie will often send you to rides that aren’t really that interesting because, you guessed it, the popular ones are always packed.

    My advice? Forget about Disney Genie. You are better of doing your own itinerary, or following one of the many ones you can find online, like the *cough* amazing ones here on Famvia. Disney Genie might not be that good, but Genie+? Now we are talking.

    Disney Genie+ is a paid service which acts in a similar way to the old Fast Pass used at Disney Parks. This means that you can use Genie+ to bypass the regular standby queue for a number of rides, entering the Lightning Lane instead, which will make it easier for you to experience everything a theme park has to offer. Depending on how crowded a park is, you can definitely save a lot of time. Let’s say the standby queue for Peter Pan’s Flight is 70min, I would say that you would only take about 10min by using Genie+ and heading to the Lightning Lane. Not bad at all.

    The price for Genie+ varies a lot, and you need to buy it individually per guest. It can go from $15 all the way to $35, depending not only on your chosen theme park, but also the selected date. Animal Kingdom usually offers the cheapest Genie+ at around $16, while Magic Kingdom costs something like $30. As you can see, prices do vary a lot and will only change with each passing year, so check the My Disney Experience App for updates.

    Disney genie purchase.jpg

    You can start using Genie+ at 7am on your date of visit. Just remember two things:

    One, you can only set up one Genie+ ride at a time. To make use of Genie+ again, you must:

    • Redeem your Genie+ timeslot by attending the ride.
    • Let the Genie+ timeslot expire.
    • Two hours have passed since your initial selection.

    As you can see, it’s important to make use of Genie+ as early as possible to maximize its efficiency. Oh, you should also know that you can only make use of Genie+ once per attraction. This means you can’t use Genie+ to ride the Tower of Terror billions of times. Only once, then you must go to the standard standby queue.

    Here is another thing to keep in mind: Genie+ isn’t available for some of the most popular attractions. You must either enter a Virtual Queue or buy individual Lightning Lanes for them. At the time of this writing, these are the attractions that are NOT included with Genie+:

    • Avatar Flight of Passage at Animal Kingdom
    • Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind at Epcot
    • Tron Lightcycle Run at Magic Kingdom
    • Seven Dwarfs Mine Train at Magic Kingdom
    • Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance at Hollywood Studios

    As you can see, Genie+ isn't perfect, but it’s still incredibly useful, even more so for theme parks that are usually packed like Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios. 

    Lightning Lane

    If you pay close attention, you can see that most rides at Disney World have two types of lines: a standard standby queue and a Lightning Lane queue. The standby queue is the default line where you just walk in and pray to the Gods that it won’t take you two hours to see It’s a Small World. The Lightning Lane is the priority access line, and you can access it in two different ways: through the Disney Genie+ service as described on the previous topic, or by buying Lightning Lane access individually for each ride.

    You probably saw the small list of rides not available with Disney Genie+, right? Guess what, you can buy Lightning Lane access to them separately by using your My Disney Experience app! This is what Disney calls “à la carte”, giving you the choice of having priority access to a single ride.

    Disney Hollywood studios rise resistance entrance.jpg

    As it happens with Disney Genie+, prices vary a lot per day and per attraction. It can start at $12 and go all the way up to $25. Each Lightning Lane is also an individual buy and work for one attraction only - this means only one guest can attend the selected ride and only once. So, let’s say a family of four wants to go to Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind on a busy day, which the Lightning Lane pass for it costs $20. This means that this family would have to pay an extra $80 in Lightning Passes to experience the ride once during a time slot offered by Disney.

    Lightning Lane can get expensive, yes, especially since we are talking about paying a similar price to Disney Genie+ to experience a single ride that lasts three minutes, sometimes less than that. I would definitely recommend Disney Genie+ since it applies to multiple attractions, but I do see the value of individual Lightning Lane passes on a case-by-case basis.

    Here is what you can do: always try the Virtual Queue for the busiest attractions, so you can ride them without paying any extras. If you enjoyed them a lot, then consider buying a Lightning Pass for it. For example, I probably wouldn’t pay extra to go to Tron Lightcycle Run again, but I’ve paid an extra Lightning Lane just to go to Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind a second time. I mean, that is one of the best indoor roller coasters in the world.

    Just one more thing: you can only buy an individual Lightning Lane for each ride once per day. Star Wars fans, forget about stacking Lightning Lane passes to visit Rise of the Resistance over and over again.

    There we have it, folks. We hope you had an awesome time reading more about Virtual Queues, Disney Genie and Lightning Lanes. Yes, it's a lot to remember, but you can always come back to this guide and use it as a dictionary whenever you want. Until next time, and say goodbye to Peter Pan's Flight 75 min queues now that you have Disney Genie+. 

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