Disney have announced that the FastPass+ system is no more! Coming this Fall Disney Genie will be a new system to help you plan your days at Disney World and skip the queue.
This news was met was confusion and disappointment. How will this new system work? Why will guests now have to pay to skip the queue? How much will this truly cost?
Now that the dust has settled we will take a deep dive into what exactly Disney Genie, Genie+ and Lightning Lane are and to see whether Disney Genie will improve, or ruin, your Disney World trip.
What Is Disney Genie, Genie+ and Lightning Lanes
Disney Genie will become part of the My Disney Experience app and will help you plan your day. Using algorithms Disney Genie can let you know the best time to ride attractions and dine.
You let the app know what you want to do in the day, by selecting which rides, restaurants and attractions you want to visit, and it will let you know the best times to do these.
Genie+ is a paid-for system where you can join the Lightning Lane for up to 40 attractions. The Lightening Lane is the new name for the FastPass lane.
For $15 per day, per ticket you can select one attraction at a time to skip the queue for. Once you have used your reservation you can then book your next pass.
The most popular rides, such as Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and Rise of the Resistance, will not be included in Genie+. Instead you can pay per ride to join the Lightning Lane for these attractions. The prices are yet to be released but will differ per ride and per day depending on how busy the parks are. This is similar to the Premier Access Pass at Disneyland Paris.
What Are The Benefits to Disney Genie, Genie+ and Lightning Lane?
Firstly let's look at the good! The Disney Genie aspect of these newly announced features coming to My Disney Experience will help plan an itinerary for you which can be helpful if you have never visited Disney or aren't super keen on planning your days ahead of time.
Disney Genie will be able to tell you the best times of the day to ride an attraction, see a show or dine. Disney Genie will look at tons of data to help make your plans, with the aim being you getting the most out of your park days. By spending less time in queues guests should be able to fit more into their day and experience more of what the Disney World Parks have to offer.
Disney Genie will also be clever at spreading the crowds throughout Disney World. People tend to follow the same route around the parks, which means areas tend to be crowded and queues long because everyone is there at the same time. Disney Genie will seek to balance this out by dispursing people throughout the parks, depending on what their interests are.
Genie+ and Lightning Lane will be new ways to skip the queue. Both of these new features are paid for.
Genie+ costs $15 a day, per ticket and will allow you to use the Lightning Lane to skip the queue for up to 40 attractions at Disney World. You can make one reservation at a time. As soon as you have entered the Lightning Lane for that reservation you can make your next one. This is a similar system to the now retired Max Pass in Disneyland.
Genie+ can be used across all four parks, unlike FastPass+ where you could only book FastPasses for one park per day. The new Genie+ system will enable you to book your reservation to skip the queue in any park, which is great for people who like to park hop.
A select number of the most popular rides and attractions won't be included in Genie+. For these rides you will be able to purchase an additional pass to enter the Lightening Lane, which are charged per person, per ride.
The cost for this has yet to be released but Disney have announced it will fluctuate depending on how busy the parks are on the day. You are able to purchase up to two Lightning Lane passes per day. Rides thought to be included in this are Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and Rise of the Resistance.
Genie+ or Lightning Lane passes will be optional to buy. You don't need to buy them to ride the attractions at Disney World and if the new system works as Disney predicts then wait times in the standard queues should be more manageable and you will spend less time waiting to ride.
You will still be able to wait in the standard queues and use the virtual queue system for rides like Rise of the Resistance and Remy's Ratatouille Adventure. Using the standard queue will just mean a longer wait than the Lightening Lane queue.
You will still be able to try to get your boarding passes for Rise of the Resistance and Remy's Ratatouille Adventure via their virtual queue systems at 7am and 1pm daily. People have been frustrated at how difficult it can be to score reservations using the virtual queue. The new Lightning Lane pass will allow you to guarantee your place to ride these super popular attractions, but for an additional cost.
This can be beneficial if there are rides you really want to enjoy but have not been able to get boarding passes for, or would have to have waited hours in the queues to ride. If you are doing a once in a lifetime trip, are travelling from overseas or are a big fan of a certain franchise or attraction, the Lightening Lane pass will guarantee you won't miss your chance to ride that attraction during your trip.
You will also be able to choose what days to use Genie+ or Lightning Lanes. You will not need to purchase them for the entirety of your trip (unless you want to of course!).
If you are visiting Disney World for 1, 2 or 3 weeks you don't need to pay every day of your trip. You can select which days you would like to buy these add ons. You may want to just do just 1 or 2 days with the Genie+ or 1 attraction with Lightning Lane during your entire trip. If you are visiting for a shorter period of time you might want to use Genie+ every day to get the most out of your visit. The flexibility to choose is a great benefit to this system.
What Are The Downsides To Disney Genie, Genie+ and Lightning Lanes?
The major downside is you now need to pay for something that was previously free. Any additional costs on top of what is already an expensive trip is never welcome news for visitors.
The thought of having to pay to enter the parks and then pay extra to ensure you can ride what you want is a bugbear and a reason why there has been so much outcry over this news. Genie+ and Lightning Lane Passes have the possibility of making an already expensive Disney trip even more expensive.
With the new Genie+ and Lightning Lane passes costs can quickly spiral, particularly for families. At $15 a day, per ticket for Genie+ it would be an additional $60 per day for a family of four. And this doesn't even get you on the big ticket attractions. They will cost an additional fee per person, per ride of these with a price that fluctuates. You could very easily end up spending an extra $100 a day for a family of 4 if you use both Genie+ and Lightning Lane passes.
Although Disney is labelling Genie+ as a brand new system it is more of a reshaping of the FastPass system, just one that lets you have one pass at a time instead of three and now costs you.
Another big downside is that you cannot plan your days out in advance. This is particularly unhelpful for people visiting from overseas or people who cannot visit Disney World regularly. When paying a lot of money to visit you want to know you will be able to do everything you'd like. With this new system there are no guarantees of that, unless you want to pay more.
I love to plan (hence why I started a website all about planning Disney World and Orlando theme park trips!) so not being able to plan anything, apart from dining, in advance is a massive disadvantage in my eyes. If you are paying thousands to visit Disney World and have no idea if you are going to be able to get on the rides you most want to enjoy this is not desirable.
Feels more stressful. Before could plan out your day in as much or little deail as you wanted but had a rough idea of your daily structure (from fastpasses and dining reservation times). Had these at least a month in advance of your trip so you knew what your trip looked like.
Now have to book Park Pass Reservations and Dining in advance but then everything else on the day have to scramble to book and hope for the best. Not an enjoyable way to visit.
I feel like this new system has the potential to give less flexibility to your visit. For example, if you plan to ride Space Mountain early in the day so you can dine and snack later but the only Genie+ availability is 7pm you have to ride at that time. Of course you can still join the standard queue but there is the possibility of having to only use standby queues so spend a lot of your day queuing or paying for Genie+ but you don't have any flexibility over your day. You have to ride when the app allots you a time.
Something I enjoyed about being able to prebook FastPass+ reservations 60 or 30 days before your trip is that is helped you plan out your day. Now there is no loose structure to your day. You are at the whim of the app.
With the previous FastPass+ system guests staying at a Disney hotel could book up to three FastPasses a day 60 days in advance. For anyone else they could book up to three FastPasses 30 days in advance. This was a great way to give your trip a basic itinerary and to know you would definitely get to ride certain attractions during your trip.
With the new Genie+ system there is still no way to guarantee you will be able to ride what you want to because the passes for that ride for the day may sell out before you can book them.
Only having 1 reservation at a time with Genie+ could mean you may not get your monies worth if the rides you wish to ride don't have availability left.
You also can't book more Genie+ reservations until you've used your current selection. If your first available slot isn't until the afternoon you won't get as many rides done via Genie+ and therefore won't get monies worth.
Lightning Lane Passes are a better option to be able to guarantee you can ride an attraction, but these will be sold in limited amounts each day so if you don't manage to get one before they sell out this could be a problem.
You are unable to buy Genie+ or Lightning Lane passes until the day of your visit. This means there is no guarantee you will be able to get passes for the rides you wish to ride. Having to leave everything until the day of feels stressful to me.
The fact that everyone that wants Genie+ or Lightening Lane passes are going to be trying to book them at the same time each morning seem like a big feat for My Disney Experience to handle and has the possibility to lead to technical difficulties with the app being overloaded with visitors.
Something people are unhappy about is that Genie+ reservations can be booked from 7am daily. Up to two Lightening Lane Passes can be purchased at 7am daily for Disney Resort guests and when the parks open for day guests. Having to be awake at 7am whilst on vacation is not something people are super excited about.
At the moment there are few benefits to staying onsite at a Disney World hotel. Disney did state that with the introduction of the new passes resort guests will be able to buy Lightning Lane passes at 7am before day guests so will get the best chance of getting passes for rides like Rise Of The Resistance. This could be a benefit as it means you will be some of the first people to have access to Lightening Lane passes for the most popular attractions, therefore giving you a better opportunity of definitely being able to ride these.
But essentially Disney are allowing you to be the first people to pay more to ride rides. I think this actually benefits Disney more than it does guests as people may feel the need to pay more to stay onsite at a Disney hotel to get Lightening Lane passes and to be able to do everything they want at Disney World. We currently see this with dining. It is very difficult to get dining reservations at Disney World so people will pay more to stay at a Disney Resort so they can take advantage of booking up to 10 days of their trip at the 60 days mark, therefore giving them a better chance of getting hard to get reservations then people who can only book one day at a time. This is the same method whereby people can only maximise their trip and have a better chance of getting the reservations they want by staying at a Disney Resort.
I am not super keen on an app planning my day out for me. As someone who loves to plan, and has spent years learning all the awesome tricks and tips to get the most out of a Disney World visit, I know what I like to do so want to be able to get on and enjoy my day without having to keep looking at my mobile phone.
A lot of people have mentioned that don't like the fact they will need to spend more time on their phone during their park visits. Not only does this detract away from your day will also drain the battery on your device.
Also no benefits for Annual Passholders. At the moment Disney haven't announced that Genie+ will be included in certain annual passes. This means annual passholders will need to pay like everyone else to skip the queue or to purchase Lightening Lane Passes.
People don't like that it is so hard to get a boarding pass for ROTR. Going to be even harder now unless you pay. ROTR can only handle a certain amount of people per day. Will now be fewer free boarding passes as the Lightening Lane paid for passes will take away some of those. Will be harder than ever to get a boarding pass through the virtual line system. Almost forcing people to pay. People don't like virtual lane for ROTR because of this and it seems this new system will be the same but on a much bigger scale.
Created a tiered system where people willing to pay more, receive more instead of Disney's original ethos of everyone should be able to enjoy.
WIll It Ruin Your Trip?
Disney have created this new system with the aim to improve ride wait times and reduce the amount of time people spend queuing whilst at Disney World. Whether this happens or not remains to be seen.
If Disney Genie, Genie+ and Lightning Lane works as promised then standby wait times should decrease and should stay a similar level as to what we have seen recently in the parks. If this happens then your visit should be improved.
Depends on how to you like to visit Disney.
If you don't like to plan then the Genie app will help you maximise your day.
If you are visiting Disney for the first time or don't know lots about the parks the Genie app will help you get a good plan of how to visit the park to maximise your day.
If you don't plan on skipping the queue then this may help as it it promised to reduce standard queue times.
If you are happy to pay more to get to the front of the queue then this system will benefit you.
If you want to ensure you get to ride everything you want to it may mean now having to pay to do this. My advice would be visit the park to see wait times and then only purchase for a few days / per ride if needed. Feel like people doing once in lifetime trips or from overseas will be pushed into paying to do everything they want to.
Also making it more complicated. One factor that turns people off visiting Disney World is how much planning or how many things you need to learn about. Now you need to learn a new system, be on your phone all day and pay more. Super complicated for first time visitors and can turn people off visiting.
Disney now offering much less for significant amounts of money and then charging extra on top is terrible. Disney claiming this new system will improve guests experience when in actual fact it is replacing an already free system with a paid for system. Guest experience will only be better if you are now willing to pay for it.
Will This Make Money For Disney?
Doing it to recoup money lost from the pandemic. Worst possible time to do this to guests, who also suffered losses during the pandemic. Many people had to postpone their trips many times and now have to contend with do I go and get significantly less than I originally would have and now have to pay extra or do I cancel.
Disney stating doing this to benefit guests. Has been overwhelmingly badly received. Not something anyone wanted. People not happy about it. People already cancelling trip.
Disney may end up losing money if people chose not to go, not to stay on site and not to pay to get onto rides.
Disney shares had improved due to increased attendance in parks but once this news way announced they plummeted. If people avoid Disney because of this now it will have been a massive own goal as they will lose money from people avoiding and not paying for Genie+ and Lightning Lanes.
Disney now more money, less benefits.
Customer satisfaction was key and what set Disney apart. Now it is about profit.
Most other theme parks do have paid for queue skipping passes. So Disney are just doing the same as everyone else. But what stood Disney apart from its competitors is offering value for money and not being like everyone else. Yes prices were high but you got value and bang for your buck. Now not getting this in the parks or resorts. Losing the magic and what Disney was so famous for.
Universal Orlando have Express Pass, which is significantly more expensive but gets you onto almost all the rides. Also get free Express Passes if staying at Premier hotels. Disney offering no benefits to resort guests apart from buying up to 2 Lightening Lane passes at 7am, whereas day guests have to wait until parks open. Universal hotels also far cheaper to stay in, includes free transport, have a variety of hotels for all budgets. Even value resorts at Disney World are expensive.
Also a big own goal as many people to choose to do a Universal Resort stay and focus their holiday at Disney's competitor rather than stay at Disney and spend most time there. Tickets are cheaper at Universal (if purchasing multiple days), dining is cheaper, resorts cheaper, more benefits to resort guests. Will be a cheaper holiday to stay at Universal and just visit Disney then the other way around which was the most popular way to visit Orlando.