Skip the lines with Lightning Lane and Genie+
Among the most popular upgrades to Disney World theme park tickets are those allowing you to cut down the amount of time you have to wait in line for rides. These upgrades are sold either for individual rides or as a package deal. Both of these upgrades allow access with less wait through a special ride entrance called the Lightning Lane. You might have previously heard these entrances called the FastPass entrance. Lightning Lanes have now replaced the original FastPasses and FastPass+.
Genie+ Lightning Lane Entrance
Access to most of the Lightning Lane entrances in the park is sold bundled together as a package deal called Genie Plus. This should not be confused with Disney Genie, which is a free service offered to all Guests. What’s the difference between Genie and Genie+? Genie offers suggestions for what to ride and do in the park, based on your interests and what’s crowded. Genie+ allows you to avoid some of the wait times by purchasing expedited entry to some rides.
The best way to think of Genie+ is that it’s a way to be in two places at once. Genie+ is virtually waiting in line for you at one ride while you’re busy riding something else, visiting a character, watching a parade, or eating lunch.
It’s important to understand that Genie+ doesn’t guarantee that you’ll be able to ride everything at the park. Because you pick rides one-at-a-time (and then have to wait a while before you can pick the next one), it’s reasonable to expect that it will cut the wait time for you at about 2-3 rides on crowded days… maybe a few more on slower days. It’s also possible that the Lightning Lane for a particular ride will be “sold out” if you try to get a spot for it later in the day. If that happens, you’ll have to wait in the regular line if you want to ride it.
Genie+ can only be added on the day of your visit and is subject to availability. Adding Genie Plus to your theme park ticket costs about $15-$30 (varies by date/park/demand) per person, per day.
Individual Lightning Lane entrance
Access to the Lightning Lane at the most popular rides in each park is sold individually rather than as part of the Genie+ package. Prices vary by date and by ride popularity. We’ve found that they are usually under $20 per person, and are often less than $10 per person. You can’t purchase this upgrade in advance. Guests staying at Disney hotels can purchase the same-day upgrade in the MyDisneyExperience app as early as 7AM. Other Guests have to wait until the park opens.
Individual Lightning Lane entries have been known to sometimes sell out within just a few minutes. Make sure you’re ready to book as soon as you’re allowed. There are usually two rides at each park which offer this option, and you’re allowed to purchase it only once per day for each offered ride.
We maintain a comprehensive list of which rides and experiences are included under each of these two offerings along with the prices.
If you don’t get a photo of you and the kids in front of the castle, did you really go to Disney World? Photographs of your family having fun are an important part of your vacation memories. Yes, we all have our smartphone cameras, but it’s hard to beat using Disney’s on-site photographers so everyone can be in the picture. All of the photos taken by the official park photographers (and even a few surprising extras such as photos/videos taken while you’re on some rides) are collected into a single online gallery called PhotoPass. There’s no charge to take photos and to look at them online, but they’ll be automatically deleted in 45 days.
If you want to keep your Photo Pass photos forever, you’ll need to purchase them before they’re deleted. If you only want a handful of photos, you can pick your favorites and purchase them separately as digital downloads or physical prints (usually at a price point around $20). Alternatively, a service called MemoryMaker gives you access to all of your photos for a single price. Prices for Memory Maker in 2023 are $75 (for one day’s photos), $185 (for an entire trip’s photos with advance purchase), and $210 (for an entire trip’s photos when not purchased in advance).
Do You Need Reservations to Visit a Disney Park?
In addition to theme park tickets, Guests may also need a theme park reservation before entering the park. Luckily, there’s no additional cost for theme park reservations once you’ve purchased your theme park tickets. All reservations are made through a system called Disney Park Pass. This program originally began as a way of maintaining social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic, but has remained in place as a method to reduce crowds and better forecast attendance and park staffing. The number of available reservations for each day is limited, and requirements/availability may vary based on the type of ticket you have.
Generally speaking, you’ll need a reservation unless you fall into one of these categories:
- If you’ve purchased a single-day ticket that’s valid at just one park (no park hopping), your reservation is automatically made for you.
- Starting January 9, 2024, all date-based tickets will be exempt from needing a reservation.
- Annual passholders need reservations in some cases but not others; arriving after 2PM usually doesn’t require one.
- For Guests using a Park Hopper ticket, a Park Pass reservation is required only for the first park you’ll visit each day.
- Reservations are not needed for Disney Water Parks.
It is possible for all available reservations to be distributed, leaving you with fewer choices of which park to visit on a particular day of your trip. This is much less likely to happen if you plan further in advance.
How much are Disney water park tickets?
While many Guests receive water park admission as part of an upgrade to their theme park tickets, you don’t need theme park tickets to buy water park tickets. A 2023 one-day ticket to a Disney Water Park is $64-$74 before taxes for ages 10+, or $58-$68 for ages 3-9. Tickets are not needed for Guests under age 3. Park reservations are not currently required for Typhoon Lagoon or Blizzard Beach.
Do you need tickets for Disney Springs?
There’s no need for a ticket to visit Disney Springs. The shopping, dining, and entertainment district does not charge fees for admission or parking, and there’s no need to make a reservation ahead of time to visit Disney Springs.