A Theoretical Day at Magic Kingdom with Lightning Lanes & Genie+

This hypothetical 1-day itinerary for Magic Kingdom offers a step-by-step speculative day in the park using Genie+ and Lightning Lanes. Its goal is to answer questions, illustrate the process of how paid FastPass will work in practice at Walt Disney World, and address some of the many unknowns.

This Walt Disney World Genie+ sample plan for Magic Kingdom is an academic exercise, making assumptions about how Genie+ and Lightning Lanes will work. However, it is predicated upon our many firsthand experiences with MaxPass at Disneyland (the inspiration for Genie+) as well as years of using paper FastPasses at Walt Disney World and elsewhere.

While the Genie+ system is more convoluted–and not free–it should work in largely the same ways as both legacy FastPass and digital MaxPass. In other words, this is a theoretical day at Magic Kingdom since there are still plenty of unknowns, but that’s true of literally any itinerary. Just like a normal touring plan, there’s a lot here that we can pull from past precedent, historical wait time data, and extensive experience with very similar systems at Magic Kingdom…

This is intended to supplement our Lightning Lane and Genie+ at Walt Disney World FAQ. A lot of you have had questions, and we’ve tried to answer most of the common ones there. However, many are about specific scenarios and that FAQ would be as long as a Tolstoy novel if we addressed each one there.

Instead, we’re going to explain by showing via a hypothetical day at Magic Kingdom, which will hopefully address a lot of concerns/questions/etc. in the process. If you’re a type A vacation planner, hopefully this will give you some peace of mind about how Genie+ and Lightning Lanes will work on your vacation coming up in October through December, since Walt Disney World still hasn’t provided a ton of details.

Of course, there are unknowns about Genie+ and Lightning Lanes that will not be addressed until the new system drops. Even then, there will likely be some fluidity as tweaks are made over the course of the coming months. That’s simply the reality of it–not everything will be known or knowable until rollout.

There’s a lot of valid anger about paid FastPass, and we agree with that in principle. Disney is charging money for something that used to be free, which is unfortunate and upsetting. There’s no getting around that. However, we’d recommend separating your anger over the cost from your apprehensions about the unknowns.

Even when taking into account Disney’s dubious record with and implementation of technology, Genie+ and Lightning Lanes will likely be a pretty smooth and user friendly process (after the inevitable early hiccups). It should also improve the guest experience and satisfaction of those who opt to purchase it. Again, the system is a known quantity and was used at Disneyland pre-closure, where it was incredibly popular.

Beyond that, utilization of Genie+ will be significantly lower than FastPass+ and more akin to MaxPass. If you’re still skeptical, just remember that Walt Disney World has a vested financial incentive to make Genie+ successful and work as advertised. Word of mouth travels fast, and people won’t buy Genie+ if it’s truly an unmitigated disaster.

Finally, as discussed in the aforementioned FAQ, there will be up to 2 attractions per park that sell individual Lightning Lane access and are not part of Genie+. Magic Kingdom is the one park where Walt Disney World has tipped its hand as to what both attractions will be: Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and Space Mountain. While that’s subject to change down the road, we’re going to assume that’s accurate for launch.

Anyway, on with our theoretical 1-Day Magic Kingdom Itinerary with Genie+ and Lightning Lanes…

7:01 am – Book Peter Pan’s Flight via Genie+ with a Lightning Lane return window of 10:10 am to 11:10 am.

8:30 am – Rope drop Space Mountain via standby.

9:01 am – Finish Space Mountain and attempt to book Big Thunder Mountain Railroad via Genie+ with a Lightning Lane return window of 11:00 am to 12:00 pm, but fail because it overlaps with unused Peter Pan’s Flight ride reservation.

Instead, book Jungle Cruise via Genie+ with a Lightning Lane return window of 11:20 am to 12:20 pm.

Note: 9:01 am chosen because it’s 120 minutes after 7:01 am, which is consistent with legacy FastPass redemption or 120 minute rule. MaxPass used a 90 minute rule. Although unofficial, it’s our understanding Genie+ will use the 120 minute rule, not the 90 minute one.

9:05 am – Do Astro Orbiter via standby line.

9:30 am – Do Haunted Mansion via standby line.

9:55 am – Do the Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh via standby line.

10:10 am – Do Peter Pan’s Flight via Lightning Lane (Genie+ ride reservation).

10:20 am – Do “it’s a small world” via standby line.

10:40 am – Do Pirates of the Caribbean via standby line.

11:01 am – While in line for PotC, book Splash Mountain via Genie+ with a Lightning Lane return window of 2:30 pm to 3:30 pm.

11:20 am – Do Jungle Cruise via Lightning Lane (Genie+ ride reservation).

11:40 am – Score immediate Walk-Up Waitlist availability at Skipper Canteen, an underrated dining gem (and arguably the park’s best restaurant) that many Magic Kingdom guests are afraid to try because it’s “too exotic.”

12:40 pm – Recover from a feast of highly adventurous and unusual dishes such as “grilled steak” and “fried chicken” by a brief hibernation during Country Bear Jamboree. Marvel at its bear-rific brilliance.

1:01 pm – Book Big Thunder Mountain Railroad via Genie+ with a Lightning Lane return window of 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm.

1:15 pm – Further feast recovery with a showing of Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room.

1:40 pm – Wander over to Sunshine Tree Terrace, and have a life changing experience when trying your first Citrus Swirl.

From this point forward, dedicate all of your free time to eating the other Best Magic Kingdom Snacks & Desserts List in search of other transformative treats. (In other words, we’re going to leave some gaps in this itinerary so it doesn’t become too confusing or overwhelming–but perhaps the ship has already sailed on that!)

2:30 pm – Do Splash Mountain via Lightning Lane (Genie+ ride reservation).

3:01 pm – Book Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin via Genie+ with a Lightning Lane return window of 4:00 pm to 5:00 pm.

4 pm – Do Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin via Lightning Lane (Genie+ ride reservation).

4:01 pm – Book Under the Sea ~ Journey of the Little Mermaid via Genie+ with a Lightning Lane return window of 5:00 pm to 6:00 pm.

Note: We discussed the 120 minute rule above, but you also should be able to book another Genie+ reservation after tapping into your previous one. That won’t be relevant if you’re going for all high-priority options, but grabbing some low-hanging fruit after booking all of your high-priority options can make afternoon touring easier. (Pretty much anything done via standby in the first couple hours could be moved to the afternoon via Genie+ if you so desire.)

4:15 pm – Embrace Walt Disney’s Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrowland via the Carousel of Progress and the PeopleMover. (Pretty wild that Magic Kingdom’s three most iconic attractions–these two plus Country Bear Jamboree–don’t use Genie+ or Lightning Lanes. That’s a pretty big oversight!)

5:30 pm – Do Under the Sea ~ Journey of the Little Mermaid via Lightning Lane (Genie+ ride reservation).

5:31 pm Plot twist: the high temperature on the December day you’re visiting Magic Kingdom is 47º. Since you’re a tough and/or foolish Midwesterner who considers that a “warm front” and/or “shorts weather,” you are unfazed. Regardless, none of the Southerners in the park agree with you, and thus seasonal demand for water rides is low. 

Accordingly, you book a second ride on Splash Mountain via Genie+ with a Lightning Lane return window of 7:30 pm to 8:30 pm.

6 pm – Do Big Thunder Mountain Railroad via Lightning Lane (Genie+ ride reservation).

6:15 pm to 7:25 pm – Loop Country Bear Jamboree repeatedly.

7:30 pm – Do Splash Mountain via Lightning Lane (Genie+ ride reservation).

Plot twist #2: Splash Mountain was a near walk-on because no one in their right mind wanted to ride it after sunset on a frigid day, so this “rare find” ended up being a wasted Genie+ selection that ended up costing you time, rather than saving it. Oh well, live and learn. 

8:00 pm – Grab a last minute spot for Disney Enchantment in Fantasyland with a view of both Cinderella Castle and Beast’s Castle above Be Our Guest Restaurant. This is not a recommended “one and done” fireworks viewing location (check out our viewing location tips for Magic Kingdom fireworks), but you’ll be doing another night in Magic Kingdom later.

~8:35 pm – Race to Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, beating the post-fireworks rush.

This assumes Magic Kingdom closes at 9 pm and Disney Enchantment happens at 8:15 pm. Neither are necessarily safe assumptions–we hope Magic Kingdom has 10 pm closings by December. Our preferred strategy with a longer gap between the fireworks and park closing is jumping into line for Seven Dwarfs Mine Train 1 minute before park closing. You can figure it out based on hours and circumstances. The salient point is that you are not paying for individual attraction access to Seven Dwarfs Mine Train or Space Mountain by doing one at the very beginning of the day and the other at the end of the night.

Once again, this was a theoretical day in Magic Kingdom based on assumptions about some “rules” of Genie+, capacity allocation, and demand. Some or all of these assumptions could be off and not reflect what you actually experience come October–but the same could be said of any itinerary. We think this is probably ~75% accurate, and at the very least, should illustrate how a day could look using Genie+ for those who never used paper FastPass or MaxPass.

The point here is to illustrate how Genie+ could prove advantageous for days you opt to purchase the add-on. Personally, I’d buy strategically rather than length-of-stay, and likely only for one Magic Kingdom day and one DHS day. Probably not at all for Epcot, Animal Kingdom, or a potential bonus day at Magic Kingdom (or anywhere else). That’s just me, though, as someone who is relatively frugal but also recognizes that “vacation time is money.”

Finally, even with a lot of things you’d be able to accomplish during the middle of the day removed for the sake of simplicity, this itinerary might look overwhelming. Just keep in mind that your past itinerary with FastPass+ or current one also might look pretty intimidating to the uninitiated. Like all things Walt Disney World, it’ll become simpler and more intuitive once put into practice.

For what it’s worth, we loved MaxPass at Disneyland and found it to be better than FastPass+ at Walt Disney World. In practice, it was a breeze to use for more laid back visitors who don’t meticulously plan everything in advance down to the minute. Although the Genie system is a diluted version of MaxPass that attempts to squeeze more money out of guests, it is still a version of that. In terms of putting our money where our mouths are, we’ll be buying the yearly Genie+ add-on for Annual Passes once it’s released.

Planning a Walt Disney World trip? Learn about hotels on our Walt Disney World Hotels Reviews page. For where to eat, read our Walt Disney World Restaurant Reviews. To save money on tickets or determine which type to buy, read our Tips for Saving Money on Walt Disney World Tickets post. Our What to Pack for Disney Trips post takes a unique look at clever items to take. For what to do and when to do it, our Walt Disney World Ride Guides will help. For comprehensive advice, the best place to start is our Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide for everything you need to know!


Was this theoretical 1-Day Magic Kingdom Itinerary w/ Genie+ helpful to illustrate how paid FastPass might work? Think we could accomplish all of this in a single day at Magic Kingdom without purchasing individual attraction access to Space Mountain or Seven Dwarfs Mine Train? Would you like to see sample step-by-step plans for the other theme parks at Walt Disney World? Have any questions we didn’t answer with the above? Still confused by how Genie+ or Lightning Lanes will work? Do you agree or disagree with our assessments? Other thoughts or concerns? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback—even when you disagree with us—is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!