Disney Genie+ is a paid service for guests to skip the line at Disney Parks. By purchasing Genie+, guests will be able to use Lightning Lanes (formerly and affectionately known as FastPass) on select attractions allowing them to skip the majority of the line. In this post, we’ll review the system and compare it to a same day standby itinerary, discussing the value and necessity of Genie+.
Before we get into the actual review, it seems prominent to rundown some of Disney’s verbiage on these new additions. They are confusing, at best. I’ll do this in bullet hole form because that looks like a fancy chart without actually me having to make a fancy chart! Here’s some Disney words and then my definition for those.
- Disney Genie – This is a service inside of the Disneyland or Disney World app that gives guests recommendations and itineraries for their day. It will also try to upsell you on many things. We don’t recommend using it. If only there was a place to get itineraries (coughs loudly).
- Disney Genie+ – An add-on to Disney Genie, that will allow guests to skip the line on select rides. The cost is $15/guest for each day at Walt Disney World and $20/guest at Disneyland Resort.
- Lightning Lanes – The way guests will skip the line. Does it bother me that the service is called genie, referencing Aladdin in both logo and name, while the skipping the line references Cars? Yes. Am I an outlier here? I have to think so.
- Individual Lightning Lanes – Also known as a la carte Lightning Lanes if you want to sound fancy. Each park has one or two attractions that you can pay to skip the line on individually. They aren’t a part of Genie+ and guests will have to pay additional money (the pricing is dynamic dependent on the crowd levels for the day) to access the Lightning Lane at those select attractions. The attractions at each park are:
- Magic Kingdom: Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Space Mountain
- Epcot: Frozen Ever After, Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure
- Hollywood Studios: Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway, Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance
- Animal Kingdom: Avatar Flight of Passage
- Disneyland: Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance
- California Adventure: Radiator Springs Racers, WEB SLINGERS: A Spider-Man Adventure
- FastPass – Dead. Gone forever. RIP.
Using Genie+ is fairly straight forward, as the app does lay it out for you simply. You’ll select an attraction to use a Lightning Lane for and a time frame to arrive. Once an experience is selected, guests will show up, scan a barcode to get in and then enter the Lightning Lane. Only one experience can be held at a time but you will be able to select your next Lightning Lane once you’re in line and have scanned into the current one. The other rule is that you can’t repeat attractions but you can use it at multiple parks if you park hop.
There have been a few quirks with the system although it seems like Disney has been adjusting on the fly. As with using Disney Genie, the app is still constantly trying to upsell you even after you purchase Genie+. We were asked if we wanted to purchase a Lightning Lane for Rise of the Resistance multiple times throughout the day. We did not want to.
Hopping between the parks, at least at Disneyland Resort, also proved a little frustrating as you have to go back screens and switch parks manually. It’s a minor quibble but it’d be nice if the app would recognize where you are after scanning into the park. Otherwise, I don’t think there are many quirks to deal with inside of the app that will slow you down.
We tried to test the system in the most scientific way we could. That’s why they pay me the big bucks! We tested out Genie+ on a day at Disneyland Resort. We haven’t used it at Walt Disney World but by multiple accounts that I’ve read and a few I’ve talked to, the system is most effective at Disneyland. That might explain why it costs more on the west coast. Melissa used Genie+ while I went without. The goal was to hit as many attractions as we each could, focusing especially on the attractions that are a part of Genie+.
Obviously, there are things out of our control. Splash Mountain and it’s a small world, both of which are Genie+ attractions, were down for refurbishment. We also went on a weekend day in January that wasn’t especially busy but did draw some crowds. I’ll touch on this later, but the add-on is likely more effective on a slightly busier day than when we went but not on an extremely busy day where more people opt to use Genie+. Simply put, if a mass amount of people use the system then the arrival windows for attractions will keep getting later and later making it harder to fully utilize it.
As for how our day went, we arrived around 10:30 in the park and stayed until roughly 7 while taking an hour lunch break. We recommend a longer day at Disneyland, as the opening or closing is when guests could get the most done but thought that these hours were most representative of when people would be there. In other words, we were giving Genie+ the best chance possible to win. Going with stand-by lines, I was loosely following our Disneyland itinerary. I did alter it some due to arriving a little later. To the numbers!
Melissa rode 19 attractions, 17 of which were at Disneyland. She used a Lightning Lane on all of the available Disneyland attractions outside of Autopia because we all have to draw the line somewhere. She also hopped over to California Adventure and used Lightning Lane on Incredicoaster and Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT! That makes for a total of 11 Genie+ attractions. 9 of those Lightning Lane attractions had her in the preshow or on the ride within 6 minutes of scanning. The two outliers were Indiana Jones Adventure and Big Thunder, both with 14 minute waits.
I (hello, my name is Andrew) rode 14 attractions, all of which were at Disneyland. I did ride all of the Genie+ attractions that Melissa did aside from Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin, where I would have made it but the attraction went down in the latter part of the day when I was planning to go. I had one big outlier (which I’ll get to in a minute) but if I take that out then the average posted wait time was 23.5 minutes. My actual average wait time was 13.7 minutes. If we take that down to just the Genie+ capable attractions the average posted time was 30 minutes and actual wait was 18.2 minutes. I did utilize single rider at Matterhorn and Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run but didn’t factor them into calculations because they were both walk-ons. If you’re capable of riding via single-rider then this should be a big mark against Genie+ as my wait was actually shorter than Melissa’s on those attractions.
The huge issue I ran into was as soon as I got into the park: Space Mountain had a 30 minute wait so I went straight for it. I was in line for about 15 minutes when the attraction went down. Space was down for about 15 minutes and I stuck it out in line, thinking I’d made it that far. Once the attraction came up, the standby line moved at a snail’s pace. And not one of those fast snails like Turbo. Was Turbo a movie or did I dream it? Those were questions I might have pondered while standing in line for Space for 75(!) minutes.
What became clear was that when an attraction goes down, it hurts the standby line far more than it does the Lightning Lane. Standby is held up because the Lightning Lane gets backed up and then Cast Members are told to let those who have paid the upcharge to go in first. By my very unofficial count, Lightning Lane guests were getting in at roughly a 5:1 ratio compared to those in standby. The moral of the story here is that if you’re in a standby line of a Genie+ capable attraction and that ride goes down, get out of the line after 5 minutes of it being broken, otherwise it will get too backed up.
Without my snafu, I likely would have got to around 16 or 17 attractions on the day. The posted wait times at Disneyland and California Adventure are inflated to an extreme right now. I waited 34 minutes and 25 minutes less than what Indiana Jones Adventure and Haunted Mansion posted. I’d hazard a guess that Disney is doing this to negate the chance of lines slowing down dramatically for Lightning Lane and to nudge guests toward buying the add-on.
A few other things of note are that the Indy and Big Thunder Lightning Lanes skip the least amount of line. Indy only skips the outside portion. Big Thunder cuts off a chunk of the queue but still does a small loop. The biggest reason Big Thunder has had longer lines of late at Disneyland is because they’re running at a lower capacity than usual, likely due to COVID reasons. Haunted Mansion Lightning Lane moves pretty fast but doesn’t slow down the standby as much as others thanks to a natural merge point instead of Cast Member directing which line gets to come in first.
So, where does all of this data leave us? I was fully prepared to be disgruntled with Genie+ and wish it off the face of the planet. I do think there are some issues with the system and it slows down natural park flow. But to chide Disney over a ‘pay to skip the line’ system when practically every other theme park company in the world has been doing it for at least a decade seems a little tone deaf. If anything, I wish they charged more for the product so that less people would do it and the standby lines would be less affected.
It’s hard to ignore that Genie+ is effective. Melissa rode 11 of Disneyland Resort’s most popular attractions in about 4 hours of park time. That’s an amazing pace and if you’re looking at it from a strict value then, yes, being able to do that is worth $20. If you only have one day at Disneyland Resort and you have a park hopper ticket then you might actually be able to do every major attraction with Genie+ assuming the crowds are moderate. That said, that scenario is probably the only time we’d recommend getting Genie+.
What really holds the system back is not being able to re-ride attractions. While I couldn’t keep up with Melissa from a sheer quantity perspective, I was able to ride everything in Disneyland she was able to. Assuming I had another park day ticket then getting things done in California Adventure would be just as easy. Perhaps more importantly, I wasn’t there for park opening or closing and if I was then getting everything done would have been even easier. Yes, I would have stood in line less but I also wouldn’t have spent extra money.
Like almost everything these days, the decision on whether Genie+ is right for you comes down to how you value your time. If the attractions were re-rideable (which as a standby line fan, I’m glad they’re not) then Melissa could have kept up at a torrid pace. Instead, guests with Genie+ are kind of capped at how much they can accomplish unless they do park hop.
Another thing to consider is how many are in your party. If you’re only paying for yourself then $20 is easy to swallow. If you’re with a big group then the costs really add up for a service that is nice but unnecessary. Which is ultimately what Genie+ is, a nice and effective service but unnecessary for a productive park day. I definitely wouldn’t recommend this over the course of multiple days unless you’re simply looking to splurge.
Overall, we fall somewhere down the middle on Genie+. It’s not a service that I will recommend but if you’re looking for a little extra splurge on vacation, it’ll make for a fun day. Would I rather spend the 20 dollars on some food? Yeah, maybe. But I don’t think anyone will look at a day with Genie+ as a big disappointment. Instead it’s an unneeded but fun add-on to a trip.
Have you tried Disney Genie+? Let us know your thoughts on the add-on, along with any questions you might have, in the comments below! If you are planning a trip to Disneyland, then check out our planning guide. If you enjoy what you are reading here on Wandering in Disney please share this post with your friends, as well as like our social media pages. You can also subscribe to the blog via WordPress or email. You can do all of that on the right side of this page. Thank you for reading, we really appreciate it!
Categories: Attraction Reviews, Rumors and Commentary, Vacation Tips
The thing that irritates me the most about Genie+ is how Disney is prioritizing the Lightning Lane guests over the standby guests, negatively affecting the standby wait times. It’s like Disney would go to extreme lengths to make guests want to buy Genie+. It serves its purpose for one-day park goers (sometimes), but I’m still not a fan of the system. Thanks for the review!
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Yeah, that’s the biggest problem for me as well. I understand why they have to prioritize the guests who paid more but I’d like to see the ratio of how many guests they let through change. I think the best course of action would be to up the price significantly (to $50/day or more) and then limit the Lightning Lane windows. They could sell less than half of what they do now while making the same amount and having the system be more effective for everyone.
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Not a bad idea! I also like the part about limiting the Lightning Lane windows, so that the Lightning Lane people don’t outnumber the standby people. They could just get rid of the Genie+/Lightning Lane as well, but that’s unlikely to happen. As you’ve said before, other theme parks were doing paid fastpass systems before Disney jumped on the trend.
We were there during early January for a few days, was still Christmastime in Disneyland and my girlfriend was a first timer. We went standby as we wanted to be free to cruise at our own pace, see the parades, roving musicians, decorations, etc and wander the park. For the most part it was fine but wish I knew then if a ride goes down when you are in line, get out. You get treated like a second class citizen. If our goal was to ride as many attractions as possible I would definitely, at least one day, go Genie+. Wasn’t the 20 bucks so much, that’s just a snack at Disney, for us going standby was to have a relaxing time with no schedule.
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