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My Disney Experience app: is it worth it?

The My Disney Experience app is a one-stop shop for all things Disney World. Should you download it for your next trip?

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The Cinderella castle at Magic Kingdom.

Is the My Experience Disney app worth it?


The new My Disney Experience app is a one-stop shop for all things Disney World. 

If a trip to Orlando is coming up, mastering this new app is a must. Fast thumbs and knowing your way around this app is the only way to experience all the most popular rides and attractions.

Walt Disney World has some exciting, jaw-dropping new rides and buying a theme park ticket is no guarantee a parkgoer will get to experience them. It takes strategy, serious planning and determined family members and friends who will play along for maximum fun.

My Disney Experience app: the breakdown

The My Disney Experience app is headquarters for all plans. The minute guests buy tickets or a vacation package, they should create an app account or link the app to the account they made on the web. The next step is to create a family and friends list which shares all hotel, ticket or dining plans with everyone in the group in the Future Plans section. Adults will need to manage accounts for anyone under the age of 13.

The Disney Genie+ service is free and guests use it within the app to create a personalized itinerary. Once guests buy tickets and make the required reservations for which park they will visit at the beginning of each day, they can designate which attractions, dining and entertainment are most important. Doing this will save time later and eliminate a lot of scrolling.

Lightning Lane

This fall, Disney theme parks unveiled a new Lightning Lane concept, available through Genie+. Guests formerly used FastPass to schedule a time to visit a ride and bypass the long line. It’s now called Genie+ and is no longer free. Guests can purchase Genie+ for $15 per person per day to skip the normal stand-by line and schedule times to get to more than 40 rides via Lightning Lanes. People can add Genie+ in advance if they plan to purchase it for all days of a vacation or ticket package.

But if guests only want to use Genie+ on a portion of their visit, they will need to buy it on the day of their visit as early as midnight. Guests can make their first Lightning Lane selection at 7 a.m. and can continue to make them every two hours after the park opens or after they redeem one. The app’s Tip Board lets users know right up top whether they are eligible to book another Lightning Lane and when.

Users can scroll through the rides and attractions on the app to see wait times and when Lightning Lanes are available. Just like the FastPass of yore, these Lightning Lane opportunities can run out as the day goes on. If guests are park hopping, they can book Lightning Lanes for the park they plan to visit later in the day as long as the time slot is after 2 p.m. Everyone must have a reservation for the park they will visit first and are not allowed to enter a different park until 2 p.m.

Genie+ doesn’t work for every ride

But Genie+ doesn’t currently work for the hottest rides at Disney World and each one of the four parks has one. Right now, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train in Magic Kingdom, Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance in Hollywood Studios and Avatar Flight of Passage in Animal Kingdom only have two options.

You can wait in the long, long standby line or buy an individual Lightning Lane for the ride. The price for these à la carte Lightning Lanes can vary by day or hour, but average between $7 and $17 per person per ride. Guests may only purchase two of these each day and only once per ride. Guests staying at a Disney Resort Hotel are able to make these selections at 7 a.m., while everyone else must wait until the park opens.

Virtual queues

The newest ride, Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind at Epcot is unique in that there is no standby line available for it at all. Yes, guests can purchase an individual Lightning Lane for it, but the only other option is to use the app to get in a virtual queue. Disney says these virtual queues may be used for various rides at select times, but currently Guardians is the only one.

Again, at 7 a.m., users tap on the Virtual Queue button to snag a time when they are allowed to get in line for the ride. If guests aren’t lucky enough to get a time in the morning, more opportunities pop up at 1 p.m., but guests must be inside Epcot to join the virtual queue in the afternoon. If guests aren’t quick enough on the draw to gain access to the virtual queue, their only other option is to pay the individual Lightning Lane fee to ride. Be mindful that those can sell out as well.

Other features

The app has other great features. Mobile food orders allows guests to order and select a time to pick up food instead of standing in line. Merchandise mobile checkout lets users scan whatever they want to buy in stores, pay for it in the app and show a QR code to a cast member as they leave. And all those fun photos guests normally wait to view at monitors at ride exits show up in the Photos section within moments.

The app does it all. Guests should download it far ahead of time and experiment. It’s the only way they’ll know how to do it all when the time comes if they want the complete Walt Disney World experience.