There have been a LOT of changes at Disney since the parks reopened last year. The pandemic provided Disney with the perfect opportunity to restructure many aspects of its daily operations. This has left some guests frustrated by the loss of perks and magical extras. One of the biggest changes was the disappearance of Fastpass+ in exchange for the paid service Genie+. While Disney may believe this is the way of the future, we asked YOU to tell us what you thought! Check out the results!
Understanding All Things Genie
When Disney revealed the new Genie systems and Lightning Lanes, the poorly planned rollout left many guests very confused and upset. There are still a lot of kinks to fix, but Disney continues to make adjustments since the initial launch.
We here at Kenny the Pirate understand that this new system is incredibly confusing. That’s why we have created tons of content for our readers to help them better understand how to utilize Genie the best way possible. Also, be sure to check out our Master Guide to Genie+ and Lightning Lane HERE!
Because Disney decided to name everything so similarly, it can be a bit confusing to compartmentalize each separate feature. The Free Genie app is Disney’s new tool that is supposed to help guests plan their perfect day at Disney. Part of this app features wait times, suggested itineraries, dining reservations, virtual queues and tip boards to help you see everything in one app.
As expected, the free genie app is not as revolutionary as Disney boasted it would be. The app was supposed to be a smart planning tool to guide guests, help them avoid high wait times and maximize their fun.
In actuality, however, the Genie app is designed more to benefit Disney rather than park guests. It manipulates guests to go where Disney wants them to go at a specific time to help with crowd control.
If that really worked as planned, it wouldn’t be so bad for park guests, either. Unfortunately, this free planning tool will often push guests towards filler attractions such as the Swiss Family Treehouse or the Enchanted Tiki Room in order to keep them away from the big ticket attraction lines.
Another “glitch” in the free Genie app is that it sometimes suggests attractions that have higher wait times instead of other ones that might be lower. For guests who aren’t seasoned visitors, they can easily get played by the system.
Genie+ is the new paid service that essentially takes the place of the free Fastpass+ system. Guests can choose to pay $15 per person per day at Disney World and $20 per person per day at Disneyland to skip the standby lines at many popular attractions.
If you find yourself confused by Genie+ and Lightning Lane terminology, think of it this way:
Genie+ is the tool you pay for in your My Disney Experience app in order book Lightning Lane passes. Lightning Lane is essentially the new name for “Fastpass”. One thing that make the new Lightning Lane passes inferior to the old Fastpass System is unlike Fastpass+ guests cannot modify their ride selection.
Unwelcome Changes with Genie
Modifying was a great way to finagle earlier Fastpass return windows by continuously refreshing the page. Now, in order to try to get a different return window, guests will have to cancel their current ride selection and hope they can get find an earlier one.
Another negative feature with the new Genie+ app is that guests can only choose the next available time window to return to an attraction rather than choosing from a list of available time slots. We have a few tips on how to get the return time you want HERE. It is also important to be aware of a very common glitch in the system:
You may find a return time pop up that suits your party’s schedule, click on it and confirm only to find out that your time has been changed to hours into the future. This is a common problem that happens because guests are all pulling from the same pool. You might just have your time snatched right out from under you and not realize it.
Individual Lightning Lane Selections
If that all wasn’t confusing enough, there is yet another category of ride passes called Individual Lightning Lane Selections. In each park there are 2 attractions that will NOT be eligible to be booked via the Genie+ paid subscription.
Instead, guests will be required to pay an additional fee between $7-$15 per person to skip the lines at these Individual Lightning Lane attractions (or wait in the stand-by line):
- Space Mountain: $7 – currently included with Genie+ until August 7, 2022.
- Seven Dwarfs Mine Train: $10
- Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure: $8
- Frozen Ever After: $9 – currently included with Genie+ until August 7, 2022.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom
- Flight of Passage: $11
- Expedition Everest: $7
Disney’s Hollywood Studios:
- Rise of the Resistance: $15
- Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway $8 – currently included with Genie+ until August 7, 2022.
A perk for resort guests is that they can book these Individual Lightning Lane rides beginning at 7am. Guests who are staying off-site will have to wait until the park officially opens to book an Individual Lightning Lane pass. All guests will be limited to purchasing only 2 Individual Lightning Lane rides per day, but they do not have to be in the same park.
You do not have to buy Genie+ in order to buy an Individual Lightning Lane Selection, nor do you have to physically be in the park to book your selected attraction.
Keep in mind, Individual Lightning Lane attractions are NOT refundable. Once you book your time window, you are LOCKED into that time – no modifications or cancellations. (think of it like booking a ticket to a specific movie time).
All of this is 1000 times more confusing than the previous Fastpass+ system. It seems to be more of a benefit for Disney than its guests, but we wanted to hear from YOU.
What Do Disney Guests Think?
We polled our Crew on several different aspects of Genie, Genie+ and Individual Lightning Lanes to see what they thought about the systems.
Question #1. – Do you find the FREE Genie app useful in planning your day?
The results were a resounding “NO”. Over 85% of our readers said that they did not find the free Genie app useful when navigating the parks. This is because the free Genie app is not designed with the guests’ experience in mind. It could have been something pretty revolutionary. Instead, it is just a marketing tactic to manipulate guests who don’t know any better to stay away from big ticket attractions and control wait times.
Question #2. – Have you/or would you purchase the Genie+ upgrade on any day of your stay?
This was a much tighter race, but over 58% of our readers said they have purchased Genie+ in the parks or would consider purchasing it on an upcoming trip. Some of our commenters mentioned they purchased Genie+ because they felt pressured to do so. The expense of their Disney vacation was too great to get to the parks and feel as if they missed out.
Question # 3. – In what park did you/or are most likely to purchase the Genie+ feature?
With over 65% of the votes, the number one park that guests said they used, or would choose to use, the Genie+ service in was Magic Kingdom. This isn’t super surprising since Magic Kingdom has 22 attractions currently available to use on Genie+. Also, a special Festival of Fantasy viewing area has just been added as a Genie+ selection.
Most guests who feel the need to purchase Genie+ see the value of using it at Magic Kingdom more than any other park because they feel they will have a better chance at scoring some bigger ticket attractions.
The next park guests said they would purchase Genie+ at is Hollywood Studios. While the votes were almost half of the votes for Magic Kingdom, this is a logical next choice. Hollywood Studios is one park that got hit the hardest by all of the pandemic changes.
There are so many E ticket attractions at this park and not a lot of filler attractions to do in between. That means that most guests are flocking to the same 7 attraction, which causes the wait times to skyrocket. For guests who want to see and do it all, they would rather pay the extra money than wait in hours–long lines all day.
Question #4. – Have you/or would you ever purchase an Individual Lightning Lane pass?
The introduction of Individual Lightning Lane passes was the hot button subject that encompassed the new system rollouts. Many guests were outraged at the idea that they had to pay hundreds of dollars to get into the park and then extra money to ride some of the most desirable attractions.
That being said, almost 57% of our readers said they had, or plan to purchase, an Individual Lightning Lane pass on their vacation.
Question #5. – What attraction have you/ or would you purchase an Individual Lightning Lane pass for?
That does not mean they were willing to pay the extra costs for every attraction on the Individual Lightning Lane attractions list. There were a select few rides for which guests were willing to shell out the extra cash.
The number one attraction, with over 61% of the votes, was Rise of the Resistance. To call this ride an attraction really isn’t fair. It’s a fully immersive experience. However, due to its popularity, Rise of the Resistance frequently sees standby lines that can vary between 2-4 hours in length. Especially since this ride is so advanced, it can breakdown quite frequently. That only adds to the already lengthy wait times.
For most people, they would rather pay the extra money than waste hours of their vacation standing in a ride queue. I can’t say I blame them. I would also opt for the Lighting Lane on this ride rather than waste my precious vacation time.
The next attraction that guests said they have or would pay for is Flight of Passage, though that only received 15% of the vote. With a good touring plan, you can save your money and still ride Flight of Passage with a lower wait by going at rope drop or right before park close.
Question #6. – Having purchased an Individual Light Lane pass (at any of the parks), would you consider doing it again or recommending it to a friend/family?
Surprisingly, almost 55% of our readers said that they would NOT purchase or recommend Lightning Lane again for any attraction. There could be many reasons for this and every guest’s experience is different. If you paid $44 for your family of 4 to ride Flight of Passage and the standby wait wasn’t outrageous, you might feel it wasn’t worth the cost. However, if you paid $60 for Rise of the Resistance and saved your family 4 hours of standing in line, well you might feel it was worth every penny.
Question #7. – What system would you prefer?
Our final question to our readers was to find out “Which line skipping system they preferred”:
- Genie+ and Individual Lightning Lane
- Just Genie+ for all rides and no Individual Lighting Lane
- Maxpass (Disneyland)
- No system – standby lines for everyone
Over 77% of our readers said that they preferred the Fastpass+ system. I have to agree, Fastpass+ was 1000 times better than any other line skipping system I have encountered. First, it was free. Secondly, it was fair. All guests could have an equal opportunity to access popular attractions. Whether they chose to take the time to learn the best ways to utilize the system was completely on them.
The next ranking choice guests voted for was no line skipping system for anyone. However, there are pros and cons to this method, as well. By far, the lowest ranking choice, with just over 1% of the vote, was for Genie+ and Individual Lighting Lanes. Guests DO NOT like being taken advantage of or feeling like they do not have control of their own Disney vacation destiny.
Comments from Disney Guests
An overwhelming amount of guests have expressed their deep frustration with all things Genie. Some of the most common complaints of the Genie+ and Individual Lightning Lane systems include: the inability to choose different time windows or modify current selections, the overall cost for the product and not being able to book three passes ahead of time.
One reader commented that:
Disney executives have taken away the purpose of visiting their parks – TO HAVE FUN! If it’s necessary to read instructions on how to get on rides, and continously be looking at your phone to see where to go next – ITS NOT VACATION – its now a job with stress. People are willing to spend money to have fun – not to become a robot.
Another reader said:
I hate that you have to wake-up and plan at 7am. We make dining reservations 60 days in advance but then make ride plans on the day-of. You never know what time you’re actually going to get until you’re almost done booking a lightning lane and if it isn’t a time that you want and/or that works for you, then you’re stuck.
Is Genie the Way of the Future?
Because of these frustrations, many guests have said they feel that the fun is being drained from their vacations. The worry of paying extravagant park fees (and still not be able to ride the attractions they want), the lack of availability of certain attraction selections, the stress of not being able to plan ahead and the feeling that they must shell out the additional money (or miss out) has many of our readers rethinking how Disney factors into their family vacations in the future.
There is a split among our followers regarding the controversy of a paid service. Some flat out refuse to pay the extra cost for Genie+ and Individual Lightning Lanes. Others have expressed willingness to pay for the ability to skip the lines under different terms. These include: pre-booking multiple passes and more time window options in addition to a modification feature.
Many have said that after using the Genie+ system or paying for Individual Lightning Lane attractions they would NOT do it again. Disney has boasted that these new up-charges have increased their profits from $3.6 billion to $7.2 billion just in the first quarter earnings alone. However, if fans continue to feel they are being ripped off, they won’t continue to pay for an inferior service.
Only time will tell whether Genie+ is a sustainable park tool or if it will end up costing Disney more in the long-run once the pent up hype for post-covid vacationing dies down.
What do you think of the new systems? Do you agree with the polls above? Let us know in the comments below and on Facebook!