Comparing Disney’s Genie+ With Universal’s Express Pass

Disney World’s Genie feature launched in Fall 2021, and we’ve been learning and sharing all the tips and tricks for how to use it ever since.

Disney Genie!

The system includes the free Genie tool on the My Disney Experience app, the paid Genie+ (the replacement for FastPass+), and the Pay-Per-Ride (AKA Fancy Rides) feature. In this article, we’re going to look at the Genie+, which is probably the most talked-about (and controversial) part of the system.

Let’s see how Disney’s Genie+ compares to Universal Orlando’s Express Pass.

FastPass+ used to be free in Disney World, but that program was discontinued for over a year before it was replaced with the paid Genie+. The more expensive replacement has sparked some controversy, and many Disney World guests aren’t happy about this change. Universal Orlando also charges for a FastPass-type service (the Express Pass), so we’re going to compare the two and see which one is actually the better deal.

The Genie ©Disney

Let’s start with an overview of Disney’s Genie+.

Disney’s Genie+

If you want to buy the Genie+ you will need to purchase it day of, as Disney discontinued purchasing the service in advance.

Lightning Lane


The price of Genie+ fluctuates depending on the day, but we’ve seen it range from $15 to $35 per person per day. That means it would cost anywhere from $60-$140 for a family of four per day of their trip to use Genie+.

Is There Any Reason to Purchase Disney Genie+ at Midnight or Will Waiting Till the Morning Be OK?


Whether you buy Genie+, you can begin making reservations to skip the line on attractions starting at 7AM on the day of your visit to each park.

Lightning Lane for Jungle Cruise

Genie+ doesn’t allow guests to just hop in the Lightning Lane for attractions at any time — you must have a reservation for that attraction before you can get in line. We’ve noticed that reservations for some attractions (like Slinky Dog Dash and Jungle Cruise) start to fill up pretty quick at the beginning of the day.

Slinky Dog Dash

Sometimes the only available reservations for these rides is much later in the day. Since you can only make reservations one at a time (except in some circumstances), you might be stuck waiting for a late reservation, unable to make more reservations for a few hours in the meantime.

Click Here to Learn About the Exception to the One-Reservation-At-A-Time Rule

Usually, you will need to make a reservation for a ride at a certain time, and then once you’ve been on the ride (or the time has passed), you can make your next reservation.

Lightning Lane at Seven Dwarfs Mine Train

These reservations can be made at any ride with a Lightning Lane, so you can make as many as you can fit into your day.

Ride Repeats

However, you cannot re-ride the same attraction using Genie+.

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad

So if you make reservations at Big Thunder Mountain Railroad with Genie+ and then use the Lightning Lane to go on the ride, you’ll have to use the normal standby line if you want to ride it a second (or third…or fourth…) time that day.

What’s Included

Most of the Disney World rides are included in Genie+.

Click Here to See the Full List of Genie+ Rides

The most popular ride in each of the Disney World parks is part of the pay-per-ride system instead. These are:

  • Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and TRON Lightcycle / Run in Magic Kingdom
  • Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind in EPCOT
  • Flight of Passage in Disney’s Animal Kingdom
  • Rise of the Resistance in Disney’s Hollywood Studios
Rise of the Resistance is a Pay-Per-Ride attraction

You can’t reserve Lightning Lanes for these rides with Genie+. Instead, you’ll have to pay a separate fee if you want to skip the line there.

Click Here to See the Full List of Pay-Per-Ride Attractions

You can park-hop with Genie+. So if you’re in the Magic Kingdom in the morning, you can still make a Genie+ reservation for an attraction over in EPCOT for later in the day.

Magic Kingdom

We’ve done a lot of experiments with Genie+ to see how many rides you can actually get on in each park using Genie+. You can get through a lot of attractions if you plan it right and know how to work the system a little bit.


  • $15-$35/day per person
  • Book as many lightning lanes as you can fit in your day
  • Requires reservations for each attraction
  • Can only reserve attractions one at a time (unless the reservation is more than 2 hours away)
  • Guests begin making reservations at 7AM on the day of the visit
  • Includes most rides, not all (and not the most popular)  
  • Can’t re-reserve (one Genie+ ride on each attraction)
Lightning Lane Entrance

Now let’s take a look at Universal’s Express Pass.

Universal’s Express Pass

We’ll be comparing Genie+ with the Basic Express Pass since it’s the most similar to Genie+, but there are other options as well, such as the Unlimited Pass for $110 a day.


The basic Express Pass at Universal Orlando costs $89.99 per person per day.

Universal Orlando

The exception to this is that the Express Pass is free to guests at the premier-category Universal Orlando hotels. That includes Loews Royal Pacific Resort, Loews Portofino Bay, and the Hard Rock Hotel.


Guests who bought the Express Pass do not need reservations to skip the line on rides.

Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem

Instead, they can go up to any ride that’s eligible and just scan their pass to enter the Express Lane and skip the standby wait.

Ride Repeats

Much like Genie+, you cannot re-ride attractions with the basic Express Pass.

Revenge of the Mummy

The pass is good for one ride on each eligible attraction, and you’ll have to use the standby line if you want to go on a ride multiple times. If you would like to ride each attraction multiple times, you will need to upgrade to the Express Pass Unlimited (starts at $99.99).

What’s Included

If you have the Express Pass, you can go on any and all of the attractions that are eligible. There are no limits to how many times you can use the pass in your day, except that you cannot go on the same ride twice (unless you have Express Pass Unlimited).

The Hogwarts Express

29 attractions total are included with the Express Pass in Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure. And, a few more rides in Universal’s Volcano Bay (the water park at Universal) also accept Express Pass.

Click Here to See Which Rides Are Included with the Express Pass

Like with Genie+, a few of the most popular rides do not accept Express Pass, however. For instance, you can’t use the pass on Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure.

Hagrid’s Hut at Universal Orlando

We’ve tested out the value of Express Pass in Universal, and we were able to get on a lot of rides in a single day. It’s especially useful since there are only two parks in Universal, which makes it easier to get on more rides in one day.


  • Starting at $89.99/day per person
  • Unlimited attractions per day
  • Don’t need reservations
  • Good for one ride on each (no ride repeats)
  • Good for most rides — includes 29 total
  • Not available for most popular rides 
Fast and Furious Supercharged

So how do the rides stack up against each other?

Which is More Worth the Cost?

In terms of cost, the Express Pass is quite a bit more expensive at around $90 per person per day and it includes fewer rides total than Genie+.

It’s Tough to Be a Bug Lightning Lane

However, you can get the Express Pass for free if you stay at a premier hotel at Universal Orlando, and so far there is no way to get Disney World’s Genie+ for free.

Hard Rock Hotel ©Universal

Universal also only has two parks, and it’s not difficult to get from one park to another in the same day. So, you’re likely to use the Express Pass more since you have access to more rides in one day. All in all, you can probably get more done with the Express Pass.

The Incredible Hulk Coaster

You can use Genie+ with Park Hopper in Disney World, but you may only get to two parks in one day. So that means you’ll actually need to buy the Genie+ for at least two days to get to all four parks, bringing the cost up to $30 (for the two days). This also doesn’t guarantee you a ride on every attraction that has a Lightning Lane.


In general, although the Express Pass will probably help guests get more done in a day, the Genie+ is significantly cheaper per day. Even buying Genie+ for four days (one day for each theme park) is still less expensive than the Express Pass for one day ($15-$35 for Genie+, $90 for Express Pass).

Winner: Genie+

Which is More User-Friendly?

Disney’s Genie+ is also more difficult to use, since you have to get up early to make reservations (at 7AM on the day of your trip), and then you have to continue to make reservations throughout the day. Since Express Pass doesn’t require any reservations, it’s a much easier “grab and go for it” situation.

The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man

You might have to get up even earlier than 7AM for Genie+ since you have to buy the feature on the day of your visit if you only want it for select days during your trip. Genie+ is available starting at 12AM, so you’ll have to purchase it before you make your 7AM reservations.

Winner: Universal Express Pass

Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey

Both systems exclude the most popular rides in the park, and both only allow guests to ride each attraction once. Universal has an Unlimited Express Pass that allows you to ride each attraction multiple times, but the cost starts at $100 per day instead of $90.

Jurassic Park River Adventure

Both systems are also technically unlimited, which means that you can reserve or go on as many attractions as you want (without repeats, of course) throughout the day.

Lightning Lane at Toy Story Mania

As a side note for this comparison, tickets for these parks cost the same right now, at about $109 per day.

Walt Disney World

Taking it all into consideration, Genie+ is the cheaper option, but the Express Pass is much easier to use. So, if you’re trying to save money, we recommend learning everything you can about using Genie+ before your vacation to help you get the best bang for your buck.

Click Here to Learn All About Genie+

Keep following AllEars for more tips and tricks so that you’re prepared for your Disney World or Universal Orlando vacation.

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Which pass do you think is more worth the money? Let us know in the comments.

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8 Replies to “Comparing Disney’s Genie+ With Universal’s Express Pass”

  1. I don’t need the Express Pass at universal. I usually go by myself and I can use the single rider line and get in almost as quickly as E the pass holders. And most of the rides that accept the Express pass have single rider lines/

  2. If I remember correctly, you get an Express Pass for each day you are at the fancy resorts, e.g. check in Wed, check out Friday, you will have an EP for those 3 days. Unless that changed.

    1. A good evaluation would’ve been to price out the cost per ride. The non-savvy Disney guest can get 2-3 LL per day (let’s face it, the majority are non-savvy). That’s $5-8 per ride. Assuming that non-savvy guest (it’s just as easy for them to use ExP as a savvy guest) uses ExP for all 27 rides, that’s $2.90 a ride. Of course if you’re savvy, reading blogs and following forums and a frequent user, who knows all the tricks, one can get significantly more than 3 with G+, which makes the per ride cost much lower than ExP. The 4 ILL rides that cost $12-15 per ride is another consideration. Those all have posted usually in the 60-120 min range. While Hagrid’s has those wait times, VC doesn’t. If Hagrid’s is open at RD, and you’re at RD early, those 2 rides can be done 1st thing with very short waits. With ILL, you’re forced to pay for all but 1, unless you’re doing one each day with RD (with the added hotel expense), if you don’t want a Looooong wait.

  3. You absolutely CAN re-ride with Universal express passes. There is no limit at all to the number of times you can scan into the express lane at an attraction. On a recent visit my husband and I rode Spider-Man 8 times in 2 days.