is genie plus worth it

Is Genie plus worth it at Disneyland and California Adventure in 2022?

Planning to go to Disneyland and California Adventure in Anaheim, California for the first time or after many years? Being a Northern California resident, I have been to Disneyland and California Adventure several times with my family and most recently in September 2022. Things have changed so much after the pandemic at these theme parks.

You must have come across the terms Genie, Genie plus, Lightning Lanes, , Individual Lightning Lanes, Virtual queues. It can all be very confusing especially if you are hearing about them for the first time. After reading this post all of these Disney terms will become clear to you!

Genie plus is a paid add on service to your existing ticket. If you are wondering is Genie plus worth it for Disneyland or California Adventure, then it really depends on the number of days you are visiting the parks for and the age group of kids an adults in your group. Read on to find out more details and you will be able to decide if Disney Genie plus is worth it for your group.

What is Disney Genie Service?

Genie and Genie plus in Disneyland app
Genie and Genie plus service in Disneyland app

Disney Genie Service is a complimentary tool that is part of the Disneyland Resort app on your phone. Once you make a theme park entrance reservation for your ticket, you can use the Disney Genie service for making your daily itinerary, and also to make dining reservations in advance.

Not that Disney Genie service is free and different from Disney Genie plus service. Genie service is available to everyone and mainly used for booking dining reservations and placing mobile food orders. Genie plus is paid service and you have to pay extra for that. More on Genie plus is coming up below!

What is Disney Genie + Service?

Genie plus is a paid add on service to your Disneyland tickets and replaces the previous Fast pass system which was free. Genie plus allows you to book a ride time window called Lighting Lane for some popular attractions so that you can avoid the long regular standby lines.

Disney Genie plus
Disney Genie plus

Please note that you do not need Genie + to use the regular standby lines for all rides. You can still go on all the rides by waiting in the regular stand by lines. If you purchase Genie plus, then you have the option to use the fast lanes called Lightning lanes and reduce your wait time for rides.

While purchasing your Disneyland tickets you have the option of adding Genie plus service to your ticket. You can also add the Genie plus service later on from the Disneyland app on your phone.

How much does Disney Genie + cost?

Genie plus is offered at $20 per person per day. Some examples of the Genie plus cost for a group of 2 or 4:

  • Group of 2, 1 day in Disneyland = $20 * 2 people= $40 Genie plus cost per day
  • Group of 2, 1 day in Disneyland and 1 day in California Adventure = ($20 * 2 people) * 2 days= $80 Genie plus cost for 2 days.
  • Group of 4, 1 day in Disneyland = $20 * 4 people = $80 Genie plus cost per day
  • Group of 4, 1 day in Disneyland and 1 day in California Adventure = ($20 * 4 people) * 2 days = $160 Genie plus cost for 2 days.

There are no Genie plus discounts for kids or seniors. Its a fixed $20 per day charge for all.

How does Disney Genie plus work?

Popular rides have two paths at the entrance – Regular standby lanes and Lightning Lanes. Lightning Lanes are much faster than regular lines. For some popular rides regular standby lanes can have wait times of up to 2 hours, while with Lightning Lanes you can ride the attraction with only 10 to 20 minutes of wait time.

Lightning Lane vs Standby lanes at Disneyland
Lightning Lane vs Standby Lanes at Space Mountain attraction in Disneyland

You need either Genie plus or Individual Lightning Lane (ILL) purchases (more on ILL later) to use the faster Lightning Lane path.

Booking the Lightning Lane experience through Genie plus

Once you purchase the Genie plus service, you can go on the Disneyland app on your phone and book a Lightning Lane experience for an eligible ride. You do this by going to the Tip Board section of the Disney Genie Service app.

Booking Lightning Lane
Next available Lightning Lane time slots
Lightning Lane booking confirmation
Lightning Lane booking confirmation screen with redeem time slot

The app shows you the next available Lightning Lane window for all the rides that offer faster Lightning Lanes Disney Genie plus shown as LL Disney Genie + in the app screenshot above. You can book the experience for your group by clicking on “Book Experience” and it gives you a one hour time window to redeem.

You can select which members of your group want to ride for that booking and confirm. You have now booked your first Lightning Lane Genie + experience! Till your booking time window you can do other standby rides.

Note that you cannot book another Lightning Lane Genie plus experience till 2 hours after your last booking or till you redeem your booking, whichever happens first. The app shows when you can book the next Genie plus and makes it easy.

Redeeming the Lightning Lane experience through Genie plus

Once your redeem time window arrives, you go to the Lightning Lane entrance of the ride and redeem your booking. You find the Redeem feature by going to the “My Day” section of the Disney Genie Service app.

There will be barcode readers at the Lightning Lane entrance, you will hold your phone under the barcode reader and it will read the barcode for each member of your group. You can now enjoy the Lightning Lane and shorter wait time!

As soon as you redeem your Lightning Lane booking, you are eligible to book your next Lightning Lane experience. Do that while you are waiting in line.

Is Genie plus worth it at Disneyland CA?

Disneyland offers much more value for Genie plus as it has 11 Lightning Lane rides offered as compared to DCA which only offers 7 Lightning Lane rides.

Haunted Mansion Disneyland
Haunted Mansion Ride at Disneyland

Disneyland Genie + Lightning Lane attractions include:

  • Autopia
  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
  • Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters
  • Haunted Mansion
  • Indiana Jones Adventure
  • Its a small world
  • Matterhorn Bobsleds
  • Millenium Falcon: Smugglers Run
  • Space Mountain
  • Splash Mountain
  • Star Tours – The Adventure Continues

Most of the popular thrill rides like Space mountain, Splash Mountain, Matterhorn Bobsleds, Indiana Jones Adventure offer Genie plus Lightning Lane. Genie + is also offered for popular attractions like Haunted Mansion and Its a Small world.

Disney Genie plus makes its possible to visit all of the above popular attractions in 1 day. On weekends and school break days, the standby lines are between 60 to 120 minutes for each ride, and you can only do at most 5-6 of the popular rides in a day.

Not to forget that there are a lot of other rides in Disneyland like all the rides in Fantasyland (Except Its a Small World) that will take at least another 2-4 hours of your day.

If you have only 1 day in the Disneyland park or you do not like waiting in lines for hours, the Disney Genie plus is definitely worth it for Disneyland. Post pandemic, the parks have been really crowded and wait times have gone considerably up.

Be strategic about it, If you are planning to spend 2 days in Disneyland, take Genie plus for 1 day and sit on all the rides that offer Genie plus Lightning Lane attractions. Then the next day sit on all the other rides that offer only standby lanes.

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad Disneyland
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad at Disneyland

To Summarize: Genie plus is worth it at Disneyland if –

  • You have only 1 day in Disneyland and want to maximize your time
  • You plan to ride all or most attractions offered in Genie plus
  • You hate standing in lines for hours (I do!)
  • You plan to take a lot of photos with characters, at photo ops or want your ride photos

Unlimited Disney PhotoPass downloads with Genie plus

Disney Genie plus also offers unlimited PhotoPass downloads which include photos taken by the photographers throughout the park at photo op places or character meet and greets. It also includes photos of you taken during rides.

Previously each ride photo was like a $10 to $15 per picture. Seriously, just for the PhotoPass downloads alone, I think Disney Genie plus is totally worth it.

Is Genie plus worth it at Disney California Adventure?

Disney California Adventure only offers 7 rides with Genie + Lightning Lane, thus providing lesser value for the $20 per day, compared to Disneyland that offers 11 attractions with Genie + Lightning Lane.

Incredicoaster at Disney California Adventure
Incredicoaster at Disney California Adventure

Disney California Adventure Genie + Lightning Lane attractions include:

  • Goofy’s Sky School
  • Grizzly River Run
  • Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT!
  • Incredicoaster
  • Monsters, Inc. Mike & Sulley to the Rescue!
  • Soarin’ Around the World
  • Toy Story Midway Mania!

Two of the most popular rides – Radiator Spring Racers and Web Slingers: Spiderman Adventure are not included in the Genie + service. To use the Lightning Lane for these most popular rides you have to pay extra irrespective of whether you have Genie plus or not.

For Disney California Adventure Genie plus is worth it only if you are planning to sit on all or at least most of the rides listed above, and if you only have 1 day in California Adventure park. If you have very young kids in the group who might not sit in Incredicoaster or Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT! then you can choose to not buy Genie + for them.

The free PhotoPass downloads with Genie plus also work at Disney California Adventure similarly to Disneyland.

To Summarize: Genie plus is worth it at Disney California Adventure if –

  • You have only 1 day in Disney California Adventure and want to maximize your time
  • You plan to ride all or most attractions offered in Genie plus
  • You hate standing in lines for hours (I do!)
  • You plan to take a lot of photos with characters, at photo ops or want your ride photos

When is Genie plus not worth it

There might be some situations in which Purchasing Genie plus might not be totally worth it. Remember, you can pick and choose who you want the Genie plus for in your group. You do not need to buy it for everyone for all days.

Younger kids – If you have toddlers or kids under five, purchasing Genie plus for them might not be worth it as most of the rides offered under Genie plus are thrill rides which might be not for the youngest kids.

Seniors – Same for seniors in your group who are not going to sit on the thrill rides. Genie plus for them might not be worth it.

If you or someone in your group are not planning to sit on most of the rides offered by Genie plus then buying Genie plus for them is not worth it.

Multiple days in the park – If you are planning to spend more than one day in Disneyland and California adventure, then buying Genie plus for all days might not be worth it. But Genie plus for one day in each park and ride the Genie plus attractions. For the remainder days ride the attractions that only offer standby lines.

Visiting in off season – If you are visiting the parks in off season when schools are in session, or middle of the week days like on a Wednesday, then the standby lines are not so bad, and buying Genie plus might not be worth it, as you can still accomplish all the thrill rides using standby lanes.

What are Lightning Lanes, Individual Lighting Lanes and Virtual Queues

This app screen shows I have booked my Lightning Lane Genie plus for Goofy’s Sky School ride, Paid Individual Lightning Lane for Radiators Springs Racers and a Virtual queue booking for World of Color

What are Lightning Lanes?

Lightning Lanes are faster queues at each ride entrance and you need to buy Genie plus service to be able to use them. All the rides/attractions are listed above that offer Lightning Lane Genie plus service at both Disneyland and California Adventure.

Once you purchase Genie plus, you can book the Lightning Lane experience for the eligible attractions. You will be given a 1 hour window to return. You can then redeem your experience at the Lightning Lane entrance of the attraction anytime during your return window.

What are Individual Lighting Lanes?

The Lightning Lanes for few of the most popular attractions are offered as a paid service irrespective of Genie plus. These a la carte paid lightning lanes are called Individual lightning lanes. Confusing, isn’t it? Anyone can pay extra for these rides and get in the Lightning Lanes. This can come in handy if the standby lines are 2+ hours and you are short on time.

Disneyland offers Individual Lightning Lane for only one ride currently priced at $12-$20 per person depending on the day:

  • Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance
Star Wars Resistance ride Disneyland
Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance ride Disneyland

Disney California Adventure offers Individual Lightning Lane for two rides currently priced at $15-$20 per person per ride depending on the day:

  • Radiator Springs Racers
  • Web Slingers: A Spider-Man adventure.

What are Virtual Queues at Disneyland?

Wait, there’s more? Yes! Just one more thing to be aware of before you are all set with Genie and Genie plus. There is currently one attraction in Disney California Adventure ‘World of Color’ that offers Virtual Queues. World of Color, is the night show at California Adventure which is water, light and music spectacular and a must see.

Virtual Queue for World of Color
Virtual Queue for World of Color
World of Color Virtual Queue Booking
World of Color Virtual Queue Booking Confirmation Screen

Virtual Queue is free and can be booked through the Genie service in the app. You do not need Genie Plus to book Virtual queues, anyone with a theme park reservation can book it through the Disneyland app starting 12 PM after entering the park. If you have a Park Hopper ticket, you can also book it while you are in Disneyland park.

World of Color occurs at 9 PM and 10:30 PM above the waters on Paradise Pier in California Adventure, and gets very crowded. The frontline areas near the Pier are blocked for people who have reserved spots in Virtual Queue. Everyday around 12 PM you can go into the app and request to Join virtual Queue. You will be allotted one of the two showtimes 1 (9 PM) and 2(10:30 PM).

This gets filled really fast! I had kept an alarm for 11:55 AM, submitted a request to join exactly at noon and at 12:01 PM I got allotted the second showtime. It was crazy! it got filled up in a minute! And this was on a Monday during a regular school week! Talk about crazy crowds everywhere since the reopening.

Tips to make the most out of Genie plus

Strategize your morning and do stand by lines in the first hour of park opening. If you are at the park at rope drop, that is right when the park opens, the stand by lines have really short wait times like 5-10 minutes. Don’t block your Genie plus window in that morning first hour. Use that time to quickly finish as much rides that do not offer Lightning lane first.

Choose Genie plus rides with the closest time window first. For example if Pirates of the Caribbean has a time of 11 am and Splash Mountain has a return time of 10 am, book Splash Mountain first. Then as soon as you redeem Splash Mountain you can book Pirates of the Caribbean next. This way you will be able to book more Genie plus rides during the day. The app shows when you can book next Genie + ride so that you don’t have to do the math!

Its a small world Disneyland ride
Its a small world ride at Disneyland

You can redeem your Genie plus Lightning Lane experience 5 minutes before your time window starts and up to 5 minutes after the window ends. This is great because than you can enter early and book the next one immediately.

Buy Genie plus only for people who will ride the thrill attractions. You can pick and choose who you want the Genie plus for in your group. You do not need to buy it for everyone in your group. For example, toddlers and very young kids might not sit on most of the thrill rides offered with Genie plus.

You can choose which days to buy Genie plus. You do not need to buy it for everyone for all days.

Frequently asked questions about Genie +

Is Genie plus worth it for toddlers?

Most of the rides offered by Genie plus are thrill rides and not worth buying Genie plus for kids under 5. You can still buy it for the older kids in your party and for the adults. While you book the Genie plus Lightning Lane experience, it will only show the people who you have purchased Genie plus for.

Mickey Mouse at Disneyland

💡 Tip: Get Genie plus for at least one adult in your group, so that you can get free PhotoPass downloads for everyone in your group. With younger kids you will be taking a lot of photos with characters, if you have one Disney Genie plus, you can link everyone’s photos to that and download for free!

Is Genie plus worth it for adults?

Genie plus is totally worth it for adults who love thrill rides, who have only 1 day in the park, or for people like me who hate standing in lines for hours.

Is it better to buy Genie Plus in advance?

For the Disneyland Resort in California, you can buy Genie plus when you buy your Disneyland Tickets. If you know that you are visiting on a weekend or holidays when the park is going to be crowded, or if you only have one day in the park, it might be a good idea to buy Genie plus in advance when you buy your ticket.

What is included in Genie plus at Disneyland?

As stated above, 11 attractions are included in Genie plus at Disneyland – Autopia, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters, Haunted Mansion, Indiana Jones Adventure,
Its a small world, Matterhorn Bobsleds, Millenium Falcon: Smugglers Run, Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, Star Tours – The Adventure Continues

You can also download unlimited PhotoPass pictures which includes photos taken by photographers throughout the parks and even ride photos.

Disneyland railroad station

What is included in Genie plus at California Adventure?

7 attractions are included in Genie plus at California Adventure – Goofy’s Sky School, Grizzly River Run, Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT!, Incredicoaster, Monsters, Inc. Mike & Sulley to the Rescue!, Soarin’ Around the World, Toy Story Midway Mania!. You can also download unlimited PhotoPass pictures with Genie plus just like at Disneyland.

What is the difference between Lightning lane and Genie plus?

Lightning Lane is the faster ride queue and is at the entrance right next to the Standby lanes. Genie plus is a paid add on service to your ticket, that allows you to use the Lightning Lanes so that you do not have to wait in the long standby lines.

In Conclusion: Is Disney Genie + worth it for Disneyland and California Adventure?

We spent a day in Disneyland and a day in California adventure and everyone in my group were able to ride all the attractions offered by Genie plus. That would not have been possible without Genie plus as the lines were crazy long with 60-90 minutes wait times for the popular rides.

Disney Genie plus is so worth it and a great add on to maximize your time in the park. Buy it for your first day in each park and have fun!

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