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Walt Disney World’s Genie+ vs Universal Orlando’s Express Pass – Highlights, Pitfalls, and Pro-Tips

Updated: May 18

If you loathe waiting in lines or simply want to make the most out of every minute of your time in the Orlando theme parks, then this blog post is for you! Both Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando offer “skip the regular line” options in the theme parks. Let’s outline the basics, the pros and cons, and some tips to help you maximize your experience.

Walt Disney World and Genie+

Genie+ is commonly referred to as “paid FastPass” but it is quite different than its complimentary FastPass predecessor. The price ranges anywhere from $15 to $40 per person, per day. Genie+ can’t be purchased in advance and the price is not revealed until you are able to make your purchase. You must wait to purchase Genie+ until the actual day you wish to use it, beginning at midnight. The price variability is dependent on the time of year with peak attendance dates seeing the highest prices. You will also have the option to purchase for a single park or multiple parks, resulting in additional price variability. Genie+ can sell out during peak seasons, but it is the exception and not the rule.

Genie+ is valid for select attractions in each of the four WDW theme parks, with some of the

newest and most popular attractions being excluded. You will need to go into the My Disney

Experience app, beginning at 7am, and reserve your first attraction and receive a window in

which to ride. What does that reservation get you? Entrance into the Lightning Lane queue vs the stand-by queue, resulting in a reduced wait time. The difference in wait time between the Lightning Lane and the stand-by queue is variable. For some popular attractions, it can save you an hour or more. For less popular attractions, it can be minimal. You may only use Genie+ once each day for each attraction. This is a bit of a hard pill to swallow at times if you have a kid who loves repetition.

The list of included attractions is extensive with a couple of exclusions in each park.  For those that are not included, you can still access those Lightning Lanes, but they are another separate purchase outside of the Genie+ price. In addition, there are a few rides in which you have the ability to "stand in" a virtual queue. When a ride is set to virtual queue, you can request to enjoy that attraction or experience later in the day and enjoy other experiences while you wait. At this time, a standby will not be available, and Guests must use the My Disney Experience app to enter the attraction or experience. Guests can request to join an attraction virtual queue at 7:00 AM or at 1:00 PM (Afternoon Guests must be inside the theme park where the virtual queue will be used to request). While the virtual queue does not require additional fees, joining the virtual queue does not guarantee a ride experience. See document below for a breakdown of what is included in Genie+ purchase and what you will cost an additional fee.

WDW Ride Breakdown
Download PDF • 4.15MB


Go in with a well-designed plan. Know which attractions are your top priorities and set an early alarm for 7am each day to snag your top picks. The system is a bit cumbersome and complicated, but the planning pays off when you are zooming through Lightning Lanes each day. If this whole process sounds overwhelming, it can be. This is where an experienced

Travel Advisor specializing in Disney destinations comes in handy. They can make recommendations and provide you with strategies to maximize your daily Genie+ investment.

Universal Orlando Express Pass and Express Pass Unlimited

Universal Orlando offers two options to avoid lengthy attraction wait times – Express Pass and Express Pass Unlimited. The price ranges anywhere from $85 to $250 per person, per day and can be purchased in advance as an add-on feature to park tickets. The price is dynamic, meaning it climbs up as trip dates approach. Express Pass allows you to use the Express Pass line, which is almost always notably shorter than the stand-by queue. There are single park and multi-park options for both Express Pass and Express Pass Unlimited. All options frequently sell out.

Express Pass allows you to use the Express Pass line for each attraction ONCE per day, while

Express Pass Unlimited allows you to use the line as many times as you wish. There are only a

couple of attractions that don’t have an Express Pass line, but this is all subject to change with the premier of Epic Universe Park, coming Summer 2025.

There is a way to get FREE Express Pass Unlimited and that is by staying at a premier level

resort – Portofino Bay, Hard Rock Hotel, or Royal Pacific. Express Pass Unlimited is included

with your resort stay. This is an awesome way to get guaranteed Express Pass Unlimited and

have an upgraded resort stay. You do not need to reserve your attractions for Express Pass or Express Pass Unlimited. Simply show up and enter the Express Pass line at any time.


Express Pass requires a bit of planning since you can only ride each attraction once

using the Express Pass line, but the Unlimited variation allows for much more fluidity and

spontaneity. The price difference between the two options is typically minimal, so spring for the Unlimited option or the upgraded premier resort stay to get this option included with your resort stay. This holds especially true if you are traveling with kids as they like to find their favorites and ride over and over. An experienced Travel Advisor can help you determine the best Express Pass options for your travel party and help you determine what is the better option – adding this to your ticket or upgrading your resort stay.

Sarah Goff - Travel Advisor


Connect with our travel advisors to plan your next Orlando theme park getaway.

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