If you’re anything like me, as you find yourselves in the parks at Walt Disney World a lot, you typically don’t purchase Genie+. Although the relatively young service is a great way to skip those pesky lines, unlike Disney World’s old fast pass system, it feels more like a way for Disney to squeeze a few extra bucks from your wallet.
Making the jump from Fast Pass to Lightning Lane has been a problem, oftentimes an expensive one, for guests at Walt Disney World. Although created to heighten the Disney experience for those visiting Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, EPCOT, and Hollywood Studios, most have been opposed to the change.
In an era where it feels as if Disney does everything it can to milk your last dime, asking guests to purchase Genie+, as well as Individual Lightning Lanes for rides like Rise of the Resistance and Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind just seems to be too much.
Genie+ Has a Problematic Birth
In 2021, coming in hot off the tail end of a global pandemic, Disney went live with their new personal park assistant, Genie+. To loud moaning and grumbling, Genie+ almost immediately presented new challenges to guests at Walt Disney World.
As the replacement for the highly competitive but much-appreciated fast pass system, Genie+ was confusing and created issues as guests wandered Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Animal Kingdom, and Hollywood Studios starring down at their smartphones.
Although the planning tool was a great addition (at least I think it was), allowing guests to utilize a tip board based on pre-filled-out questions regarding what they hoped to accomplish during their Disney park day, the dashboard for Genie+, which has yet to change, was complicated.
Even finding it in the My Disney Experience app is a problem, especially for guests who aren’t tech-savvy or have vision issues. It also makes getting highly sought-after Genie+ reservations more difficult, as guests routinely report that Individual Lightning Lanes for popular rides like Star Wars attractions or Slink Dog Dash are hard to come by.
How it Works
In theory, Genie+ makes sense. However, upon its debut, it was quickly realized that its platform is more strategic for Disney compared to its guests. Instead of revolutionizing how guests experience theme parks at Walt Disney World, it revolutionized how Disney moves crowds and tracks where guests are and what they’re doing.
The idea behind Genie+ was solid; however, the execution was definitely lacking. Still, guests can access My Disney Genie from their My Disney Experience app. Once they navigate their way to the self-help platform, they can then plan out their day at Magic Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, Animal Kingdom, or EPCOT.
After they’ve completed their tip board selections, guests to Walt Disney World can choose to purchase Genie+. The price is not promised each and every day. It will shift depending on park availability through Disney World’s reservation system. Typically, costs hover around $25 a day. So, a family of four can expect to spend $100 on Genie+ in hopes of skipping those pesky wait times.
Once you’ve completed your purchase, you can then start selecting Lightning Lane reservations if or when they’re available. There are not an infinite amount of Lightning Lane reservations to be had; they do run out daily. Typically, rides included are popular attractions such as Peter Pan’s Flight at Magic Kingdom, Expedition Everest at Animal Kingdom, or Toy Story Mania at Hollywood Studios.
Once guests have reserved their Lightning Lane, they can head over to the Lightning Lane entrance for whatever ride they’ve chosen. Scan in using your magicband, card, or smartphone, and you’re in the ride’s queue system without standing in line for hours. It’s important to note that once a guest has made a Lightning Lane reservation, they must wait until it has been claimed or two hours until they can make another one.
Individual Lightning Lanes and Virtual Queues
You’re probably very much aware of how Genie+ works. However, for those who aren’t familiar with the program, this is where things can get a little hairy. Not all rides and attractions are included in your Genie+ for the day of purchase. In fact, many of your must-dos, like Star Wars Rise of the Resistance at Hollywood Studios and Tron: Lightcycle Run at Magic Kingdom, can’t be reserved just by purchasing Genie+ for the day. Instead, you’ll need an Individual Lightning Lane.
On top of what you’ve already paid to use the service to skip lines for those other attractions, skipping the lines at newer, more popular ones will cost you even more. Within the Genie+ section of your My Disney Experience app, you’ll be able to find and purchase Individual Lightning Lanes for high-profile rides at Walt Disney World.
Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, Tron Lightcycle Run, Star Wars Rise of the Resistance, and Avatar Flight of Passage all require an Individual Lightning Lane to skip the standby lines. The cost for these rides is individually based, meaning if you buy one, you’ll have to pay again to reserve another. They can range anywhere between $10-$27 a person.
For two attractions on that list, Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind at EPCOT and Tron Lightcycle Run, there is another option to ride without shelling out extra cash, but it’s going to cost you some sleep. Guest with valid theme park reservations can get up early and attempt to grab a boarding group from one of the virtual queues at 7 a.m. each day. There’s a lot of luck involved as these two rides are in high demand and fill up quickly. You can also give it another try from inside their respective parks at 1 p.m.
Why Annual Passholders Don’t Use Genie+
Genie+ is a good option for someone visiting Walt Disney World for the first time or once a year. Despite its complexity, it does afford guests the opportunity to fill their day with as much magic as possible for a price.
However, for someone who’s frequently in the parks, Genie+ doesn’t really make sense. It’s simply too expensive for most to shell out hundreds of dollars a week to skip lines, especially when you’re most likely more experienced with navigating wait times within Disney World’s theme parks.
For this reason, Annual Passholders don’t typically purchase Genie+ on a daily basis. Often, they’re just popping in for a quick ride and to grab a bite to eat anyhow. However, we can consider that there is, in fact, a more advantageous way for Disney to get Passholders on board with purchasing Genie+.
Maybe having APs not utilize your Genie+ and Individual Lightning Lanes is a good thing for Disney World. It keeps the reservation systems cleared up for first-time guests. However, I’d imagine that if money were king, which we all know it is, Disney could swing a subscription service to Geni+ geared towards Annual Passholders and frequent visitors; that would be a rewarding relationship for both.
A Genie+ Subscription Service is Needed
Annual Passholders already have a ton of perks. They get exclusive access to events, discounts on merchandise, free parking, and so on. Some levels of Disney World Annual Passes even come with access to Disney Photopass.
As on a normal day, APs typically show up to Magic Kingdom for a quick ride on Space Mountain before their boarding group is called from the virtual queue they claimed earlier, grab a Mickey pretzel, and call it a day, Disney could do more to keep them in the parks for longer periods of time.
Annual Passholders love spending money on merchandise, so why not give them a reason to hang around longer? For this reason, providing a subscription-based approach to Genie+ could work wonders for Annual Passholders. Building in a flat rate that they could pay monthly, much like the way certain Florida-resident Annual Passes are set up, these guests would have access to more rides and shorter wait times.
Let’s say a group of Orlando-based Annual Passholders is looking to blow off some steam on a Thursday evening after work; allowing them to experience more during their short time at Magic Kingdom while offering them access to more attractions throughout the different parklands will keep them glued in place, wandering around through shops and quick services spots along the way.
In terms of how much a subscription service for Genie+ should cost, that’s for the Disney bigwigs to figure out. I’m sure there’s some complicated algorithm out there that would dictate how much the service should be to keep Walt Disney World operating in the green. But something like $99.99 a month could work.
Now that I say it out loud, although this would be an excellent perk for Annual Passholders, Disney would be wise to make it available to all who’ve set up an account in their My Disney Experience app. The nature of something exciting like this would see an influx of subscriptions right off the bat, even from those who don’t have immediate access to the parks. Many would also subscribe right before their Walt Disney World vacation, figuring it cheaper than buying Genie+ each day, locking themselves into twelve months of paying for the service.
This is only an idea based on one writer, there’s nothing official about it. Disney has not mentioned anything close to a subscription-based Genie+ service, but its fun to imagine, right? It’s a very rough idea, but one I hoped to share with our readers to get their thoughts. So, would you use a Genie+ subscription service? Does it make sense? Am I missing anything?