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All You Need to Know About Lightning Lane at Disneyland!


If you’ve been to Disneyland in the last 23 years, you might remember the wonderful “FastPass” program. The “FastPass” program began in 1999 and it was complimented by “MaxPass” in 2017 (which I loved) The programs offered a speedier way to get on some of your favorite rides, and all you had to do was go to a kiosk, or in more recent years, guests could select their MaxPass rides on the Disneyland app. We’ll share all you need to know about Lightning Lane at Disneyland.

Lightning lane at Disneyland

Overall, guests loved the FastPass and MaxPass systems because they allowed them and their parties the option to prioritize their favorite rides. It almost guaranteed that they would be able to ride the attraction that day in the park.

Additionally, the program was great because (initially) you held the tangible FastPass tickets in your hand. And, if you decided you wouldn’t be using it, you could pass it off to a stranger and give them the “gift” of a shorter line. MaxPass was not only utilized through the Disneyland app, but it also cost a fee, much like Genie+. 

Now, here we are in the first year of Disney’s release of their new, updated program, called “Lightning Lane” which is part of their larger program, Genie+. Of course, you might already know how Lightning Lane works and how to use it! But, how much do you know about Lightning Lane at Disneyland? 

We’re giving you all the info below:

Reserving Your Lightning Lane Arrival Windows at Disneyland

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Expanding upon the use of the Disneyland app to book MaxPass, Disney has updated the system and given it a new name, Genie +. But, at its core, it is still about skipping the long lines and having a much better shot at getting on some of your favorite rides while you are in the parks.

Step 1: Download the Disneyland App

The way that Genie+ works is that you must first download the Disneyland app. At the top of the app, there’s an option to “add Genie+ for the day.” You can even select only certain guests in your group if, for example, some of the guests in your party are not going to the same park that day, etc. 

Step 2: Enter the Park

The biggest thing to note is that in Disneyland, you cannot reserve any Lightning Lane spots in your app until you are physically standing inside the park. This can be confusing for guests who have been to Disney World, where the reservations for Genie+ become available for selection each morning at 7:00 am, regardless of where you are. 

Disneyland tips - take pictures in front of fun Disneyland Walls

But, at Disneyland, the rules for Genie+ require that guests be inside the park to use the service and reserve their Lightning Lane slots. From a crowd standpoint, this probably helps guests who are right around the corner from the ride to have more immediate priority than those who haven’t arrived at the park yet. However, it is something to keep in mind!

Step 3: Order Genie + and Book your Lightning Lane Lines

Once you select the guests on your app who will be using Genie+ for that day, you can look through the rides available at that park for that day and the timeslots available for each ride or attraction. From those options, you can select one attraction per guest and reserve a “Lightning Lane” reservation. As soon as you scan your Magic Band to enter the ride queue and walk through the Lightning Lane, you can automatically select your next attraction in the app.

The slots go super fast, so Disneyland pros try to book one ride at the very beginning of the day, and then as soon as they check in to that first ride, they book a second ride. It’s a very fast-paced and, at times, challenging service to use, simply due to all the other guests vying for the exact same rides. (As expected, the available time slots for the most popular rides go fast!) 

What’s Different About Lightning Lane?

With Genie+ and Lightning Lane, not only are the stakes high to reserve your time slots throughout the day, but you also have to pay for the service (and for whichever rides are the most popular for that day in your park of choice!) 

Lightning lane at Disneyland

Each day, there are designated attractions that are the most popular in both Disneyland Park and Disney’s California Adventure. The important thing to note about these highlighted attractions is that they are in such demand that guests must pay an extra fee to reserve a spot in the Lightning Lane for those attractions. It’s never a guarantee that guests will be able to get a spot in the Lightning Lane for any of the rides, but it’s even more difficult to get a spot for these “highly sought after” attractions. 

How Much Does Lightning Lane Cost at Disneyland? & Is It Worth It?

Now, with Lightning Lane, Disneyland guests must pay about $20 plus tax for the Genie+ service at Disneyland. This fee is per person and per day, meaning that if you and your family of four use Genie+ each day of your trip, then each day you will pay over $80 in the Disneyland app to use the Genie+ service.  This $20 fee also applies to the individual Lightning Lane arrival windows available for purchase for the more “in-demand” rides. 

What Else Do I Need To Know About Lightning Lane? 

According to the Disneyland app, guests will most likely be able to utilize the Genie+ service for about two or three attractions total, however we typically get 6-8 in a day.

This is, of course, if the guests begin reserving Lightning Lane spots early in the morning. If you have purchased the Park Hopper option, it is also possible to use Lightning Lane in more than one park on the same day.

Another detail about Lightning Lane at Disneyland is that at Disneyland when you purchase the Genie+ service, all of your PhotoPass photos for that day are included. This is a really nice perk to the Disneyland Genie+ service, and some guests don’t realize that you do not have to pay separately for PhotoPass. 

Has Lightning Lane Been Successful? 

As someone who used the Lightning Lane program recently, it was worth it overall to pay for the service, because it allowed my group and I to ride a few rides that we may not have been able to otherwise.

The lines were so long for Rise of The Resistance, for example, that had we not used Genie+ that morning and prioritized that Lightning Lane slot, we probably would have had to skip it in order to get to other things throughout the park. 

Disneyland Height Requirement Dumbo

Overall, having the service as an option was nice because, for some of the attractions that we used Genie+ for, we did not spend very much time in line at all. That being said, it is still a significant shift from the previous services, FastPass and MaxPass.

It’s an adjustment because of how the service works within the app. It has caused some guests confusion as far as how to operate the Genie+ service, and some guests feel that it’s overcomplicated.

The biggest hurdle for most Disneyland guests is that you might not get your spot in the Lightning Lane for your preferred attraction, even if you go through the steps of purchasing Genie+ early in the morning. Perhaps over time, Disney will find ways to develop and improve the system, as we are still in the first year of its existence.

Disneyland Mickey Balloons

Surprisingly, sometimes it is actually quicker to get in the regular Standby line for rides, depending on the day and time that you get in line. This has always been true, however, even during the days of FastPass and MaxPass. The wait times can always be affected by weather, ride delays, or unforeseen circumstances. 

Although the update and transition over to Lightning Lane has received mixed reactions from Disneyland guests, it has still been a fairly successful system that enables guests to skip long lines and wait times. After all, that is always a perk at a theme park. 

How Can I Prepare or Strategize When Using Lightning Lane?

We know that Lightning Lane can be overwhelming at first, starting with the fact that it has two parts to it, Genie+ (the overall service) and Lightning Lane (the actual queue at the ride or attraction.) Keep in mind that if you ever have issues with the program within your app during your stay, Disneyland Cast Members are always happy to assist you with the program.

Ask a Cast Member for help if needed! Be sure that you have an idea in your head of which rides at which parks you and your party want to prioritize. That way, as soon as you purchase Genie+ on the morning of your park days, you’ll be ready to select the exact attractions that you’re hoping for. 

We wish you the best in trying to reserve your spots in the Lightning Lane at your favorite attractions! (You’ll be so glad you used Genie+ when you’re speedily walking through the Lightning Lane, trust us!) Remember to plan out what rides you care most about, and above all, have a wonderful time riding rides at Disneyland. 

If you enjoyed our information about the lightning lane at Disneyland, you might also like:

LIGHTNING LANES AT DISNEY WORLD: EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW TO MAKE YOUR TRIP MAGICAL!

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