There’s simply not enough time in the world to do everything you want to do in Disney World.
When you’re trying to squeeze in dining reservations, rides, Genie+ Lightning Lanes, shopping, and more – there are bound to be slow-downs and time conflicts. But there’s also a BIG problem that can happen very easily and Disney has yet to fix it.
Dining reservations are one of the first things you can do as part of planning your Disney World trip. You can make dining reservations up to 60 days before your Disney World visit, although you can also make dining reservations (if available) the day of your visit.
When you make a dining reservation, you can typically select from a variety of available times, although you can’t make more than one reservation in the same time window. You can modify or cancel your reservation without fees up to 2 hours before your reservation time (at most Disney restaurants). But note that availability at many Disney restaurants fills up quickly and stays pretty full, so it may be difficult to get a last-minute reservation during your trip.
Basically, if you make a number of dining reservations, your day is somewhat restricted around those times, which can limit your visit. But while you can schedule your dining plans in advance, rides are another story entirely.
Genie+ is the new paid version of FastPass+, costing $15-$22 per person, per day (those prices could vary in the future), and your purchase lets you use the much faster Lightning Lanes instead of standby lines. When used correctly, you can save a ton of time by avoiding long wait times.
If you decide to use Genie+, you must know that it’s a daily system, which means that you can’t buy Genie+ in advance like you can with Disney World tickets. You must purchase Genie+ for each person in your party on the day of your visit (Genie+ becomes available each day beginning at midnight), and you can start booking your Lightning Lanes as early as 7AM each day.
When Genie+ Lightning Lanes open at 7AM, some of the more popular rides can end up with available time windows later in the day. Basically, booking your Lightning Lane in the morning doesn’t mean you’ll only get morning availability. You might get time windows for later in the day, so it could still impact your lunch or dinner reservation.
When booking your Lightning Lane, you’re allowed to book one lane at a time, and the available times depend on how many other people are also booking that same ride. That means that you can’t always get the Lightning Lane time you want, and you might end up with a time you don’t like or one that conflicts with something else you had planned (although note that you can now modify Genie+ reservations without canceling them, thanks to a recent change). So what happens then? We’ll explain further in a moment.
Okay, so let’s say you end up snagging that popular Lightning Lane reservation, but then you realize it’s at the same time as the dining reservation you made 60 days ago! What do you do? Don’t worry – we have suggestions!
Cast Members have always told us to prioritize dining reservations over rides. It’s much easier to keep your dining reservation and instead opt to speak to Cast Members about your Lightning Lane reservation at either the location of the ride or at Guest Relations. Keep in mind that they might not be able to change your Lightning Lane time, but it can be worth the ask.
We’ve also been told by some Cast Members that they generally wait about 15 minutes past your reservation before giving your table away. Keep in mind, however, that your mileage may vary, so don’t count on this being absolutely always the case. It’s just good to know if you run into a situation in which your Lightning Lane wait time is running slightly long.
You could also try finding a different dining reservation time or Lightning Lane. You can stop by the restaurant to find out if you can get in earlier or later, or you can keep checking the My Disney Experience app for a different Lightning Lane time and modify your existing reservation. If you’re in a pinch, you can always cancel your dining reservation without a cancelation fee as long as it’s at least 2 hours before the reservation time.
We also recommend keeping in mind what you prefer to do in each park. If you want your day to be ride-heavy, it might be a good day to stick with quick service rather than table service restaurants. If you have a dining reservation you can’t (or won’t) move, consider which rides you’d be willing to skip or try the standby lines first thing in the morning or during fireworks for typically shorter wait times.
On the flip side, if you’re visiting quite a few table service restaurants during your trip, you might want to skip using Genie+ to avoid the stress of time conflicts. You could also consider only making breakfast reservations, in which case you probably wouldn’t have issues with Lightning Lane time conflicts.
BEWARE of the dining and Lightning Lane reservation time conflict!! If you have dining reservations, make sure you know what time they are before booking those Lightning Lanes, and do your best to have a backup system! Your mileage may vary but you can always try speaking to Cast Members or Guest Relations to help smooth out your situation. Just remember to be kind and patient!
Keep following DFB for more Disney World news, tips, and more!
When’s your next Disney World visit? Tell us in the comments!