In October 2021, Walt Disney World released a new addition to the My Disney Experience app called Disney Genie. Disney Genie is a free feature within the app that allows Guests to see projected wait times throughout the Disney Park, entertainment schedules as well as set up a personalized touring plan. This is a great feature that can help Guests as they navigate the Disney Parks.
As part of Disney Genie, Walt Disney World also added two additional paid features. Genie+ costs $15/day/person and gives Guests access to the Lightning Lanes (think actual path to the attraction) to around 40 rides and attractions throughout the four Disney Parks. This is a way for Guests to bypass the lines and save time during their vacation.
The second feature is Individual Attraction Selections which are individual rides that aren’t included with the purchase of Genie+, but instead Guests can purchase al-a-carte in order to use the Lightning Lane. This cost ranges typically between $7 and $15 per ride depending on the crowd levels.
During our most recent trip to Walt Disney World, we were able to experience Genie+ for the first time. As this is such a new feature, we know that many Guests traveling to Walt Disney World haven’t experienced it yet and I wanted to spend time breaking down what we found to be the good, bad and ugly of this new system.
We hope by providing this information, Guests heading down to Walt Disney World soon will be able to determine if this new cost is something that would benefit their travel party or if it is something they can skip overall.
Let’s start by breaking down the cost for our family of four. I decided that we would add Genie+ to each day of our vacation. Because we had a park hopper ticket, I knew we would be in Magic Kingdom most evenings so I wanted to be able to use Genie+ there. With a seven day park ticket, the total with tax for Genie+ was right around $450 so keep that in mind as we walk through the good, bad and ugly of this new system.
The biggest positive to Genie+ is the ability to skip the standby lines and save that time in line doing other fun experiences throughout a Disney Park. We traveled during one of the busiest weeks Disney has seen so far this year and wait times quickly reached 60 minutes for most rides and sometimes those wait times reached a few hours.
With Genie+, our longest wait was for Space Mountain which was right under 15 minutes. Most rides such as Pirates of the Caribbean, Big Thunder Mountain, Splash Mountain, Toy Story Mania, Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway and more were able to walk right onto the ride.
This is one of the biggest advantages of Genie+ as it truly does save you hours of time waiting in line and allows you to enjoy other experiences in a Disney Park or at your Disney Resort that you might not otherwise be able to if needing to stand in the longer standby lines.
Another feature that we enjoyed was that we were able to “stack” Genie+ return times for the evenings. Most days, because of the crowds and the need to swim, we would head out of the Park and back to Resort around 1:00 pm. During that time back at the Resort, I would continue booking Genie+ return times every two hours.
By doing this, it allowed us to have a few rides (normally 3 to 4) scheduled with Genie+ before we even returned to our evening Disney Park. We really appreciated this feature as it allowed us to have a fun, ride-filled evening without having to wait in long lines.
We also did this when we visited Typhoon Lagoon one day. As we enjoyed the waterpark, we continued to book Genie+ reservations for our evening at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Every two hours we could get back on the app and see what was available to us.
Being able to skip the longer standby lines and having the opportunity to stack Genie+ reservations are two features we thought were good when it came to Genie+.
We are going to be honest in that there are a few things we think Disney should adjust when it comes to Genie+. Even though we are rope droppers, it was hard to have that alarm set every morning at 6:55 am to make sure we were ready to book our first Genie+ selection at 7:00am. Although we appreciate that Disney Resort Guests have this advantage, it does make it hard to have a true sleep-in morning and that is oftentimes needed mid-trip.
Another feature that we found difficult is that unlike the old fastpass+ system, with Genie+ you aren’t able to choose your return time. Guests are given the next available time slot and they can either take it or move on. This can be hard when you have dining reservations already or other plans such as shows or evening fireworks. By having to select the next available time slot, Guests really have to be flexible in their Park plans and be able to adjust on the fly.
Along the same lines, we didn’t like that there wasn’t a modification button. Sometimes we would choose a ride and time only to find later that a different time was now available and would fit better into our schedule. The issue was that by the time you would cancel your original time and then go back to book, this new time was often gone. With a modification button, Guests would be able to adjust their Genie+ selections to better fit into the touring plans for the day.
Finally, we wished that we could use Genie+ to ride a ride more than once throughout the day. We realize that Disney is trying to spread the selections out between Guests, but it would have been nice to have been able to ride our favorites multiple times during a day instead of having to choose rides that might not have been as interesting to us.
Those are some of the aspects we found to be bad when it came to using Genie+ during our Walt Disney World vacation.
Finally, there are two things that we found to be “ugly” about Genie+ during our vacation. The first is the cost. It is hard to adjust as a Disney veteran to the reality that we now have to pay for something that was once free. We know that most theme parks offer something similar (express pass at Universal); however, we like that Disney allowed all Guests to use fastpass+ if they wanted to at no cost to them. It is a huge additional cost for families when it comes to budgeting for a vacation.
And our last point that we found to be ugly when it came to Genie+ is that even with paying $15 per person each day, you are not guaranteed that you will be able to ride your favorite ride. We saw Genie+ selections for Slinky Dog Dash, Jungle Cruise and Peter Pan’s Flight book up within minutes of the 7am drop.
If we are paying so much, it would be nice to know that we would have the opportunity to ride our favorite rides using the system we paid for.
We know that Genie+ is still in the infant stage and realize that Disney is still adjusting and learning how to use the system the best for Guests and their experience in the Park. These were just our overall takeaways of the system during our most recent trip and we hope they will help you as you determine if you want to purchase Genie+ in the future.