Pros and Cons of Genie+ and A La Carte Lightning Lane

The new Genie+ unfortunately seems like a money grab.

The idea behind Genie is great! An adaptive program to help maximize your day tailored to your likes and dislikes. But Genie+ seems like a money grab. It doesn’t do anything other than pay-to-play like the most nefarious apps on your phone. The more money you have, the more fun you have. At least the Fastpass system was fair. Yes, they ran out pretty quickly of the best rides, but you could still wait in line if you had to. Is that much different than Genie+? Nope. Except with one exception. Now you have to pay for the privilege of getting a Fastpass – and there are still no guarantees.

What’s worse? The new “a la carte” Lightning Lane attractions aren’t even included in Genie+! So if you want to ride the “best” attractions you’ll have to pay ON TOP of the $15 per person / per day you are already shelling out for Genie+ ($20 at Disneyland which seems worse – a smaller park but you have to pay more?). Now, to be fair you don’t HAVE to buy Genie+ to purchase the “a la carte” options. But wait! It gets worse! The pricing on the “a la carte” Lightning Lane attractions ARE VARIABLE! Depending on day, time, and need Disney can raise or lower the price without you knowing it! And again, it’s on a per person basis.

To ride the best rides you may have to pay an additional $15/person or wait in 3 hour lines

Here’s the verbiage from the Walt Disney World website: “Prices (for “a la carte” attractions) will vary by date, attraction and park. For example, the Lightning Lane entrance to Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure will be $9 per person on October 19 and $11 per person on October 23. As another example, on both those dates, Lightning Lane entrance to Expedition Everest – Legend of the Forbidden Mountain will be $7 per person, while Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance will be $15 per person. Throughout the year, prices may be lower on some days and higher on other days. This option may be purchased at up to 2 different attractions each day.” Wow. For a family of four who have already shelled out at least $400-600 dollars on park tickets will now have to shell out another $60 just to ride Rise of the Resistance?

Back in the day when Fastpass was both a cool free souvenir AND a guarantee to get on an attraction

PROS: Because it’s so outrageously priced, odds are if you’re willing to pay it, you’ll have a pretty awesome day at the park! Also, since Genie+ and the “a la carte” attractions are separate, you can effectively have multiple Fastpasses at once. If you do it right, you can get on your favorite attractions twice in one day. And if you are staying on Disney property, you can use Genie+ before everyone else! Annual passholders can’t gobble up those slots before you have a chance to use them.

CONS: It used to be free. You have no idea how much it will cost since the “a la carte” is on a day / park / attraction basis. And if you don’t pay it, you’ll spend even more time in line than you would have before Genie+ existed. Talking to a cast member at Disneyland, he explained that was why Disneyland never instituted a Fastpass for Toy Story Mania (at first). Seeing how the system worked at Walt Disney World, the average guest at Disneyland waited about 30-45 minutes to get on the attraction, but if you didn’t have a Fastpass at WDW, it would take you upwards of 90-120 to get on the same attraction because the Fastpass effectively lengthened the line. That will happen again here.

Just an example of the types of photos they could include with your Genie+; they are great and would give some justification for the pricing

CONS: To add insult to injury, paying for Genie+ or the “a la carte” attractions doesn’t get you anything extra like a free photo on your attraction of choice at Walt Disney World. They are still pushing their Memory Maker program there. Although it will cost you $20 at Disneyland for Genie+, at least you get unlimited PhotoPass downloads which presumably includes any “a la carte” experiences. At Walt Disney World, Memory Maker for any one day is $69.99 or $199.99 for your whole vacation in addition to the cash you’re shelling out for Genie+ or the “a la carte” rides. At the very least, they could include your photo from these premium rides for the “a la carte” rides (presently that is not included but you do have access to “special Disney PhotoPass Lenses” – hopefully they will change since it literally costs them nothing to add it).

CONS: You can only select one attraction at a time. With the old Fastpass+ at WDW you could select three a day and THEN pick a new one after your first three were used. And with Disneyland’s MaxPass, because you couldn’t choose your time slot in advance they would let you get a new one either after your slot passed OR after 90 minutes whichever was sooner. With the new Genie+ if you are a resort guest you have a slight advantage – beginning at 7am you can make your first selection before you’re even in the park. But if you aren’t a resort guest, you need to wait until you enter before making your first selection. So if you enter at 8am but your first Genie+ time is noon, too bad. You’ll have to wait four hours to make another selection – and good luck as all the really good rides will likely be booked.

Love this attraction – but love it enough to spend an extra $7-15 per person?

If all of this sounds unnecessarily confusing, it is. I’m sure Genie will be a Godsend to many visitors – especially first time visitors. The adaptive programming sounds like it will help manage your day. But for those familiar with the parks and their peak wait times already, it’s just another way to spend your money. Disney strives to make guests happy so if they see how unhappy this new program is making us all, perhaps they’ll amend it and make it less expensive or find a way to incorporate those “a la carte” attractions into the Genie+.

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