The new Genie+ – incredibly useful AND a waste of money.
The idea behind Genie is great! An adaptive program to help maximize your day tailored to your likes and dislikes. But Genie+ is hit or miss. Like the most nefarious apps on your phone, it turns the park into a giant pay-to-play game. The more money you have, the more fun you have. Disney isn’t offering Genie+ to make the experience better for guests, but as an underhanded way to make more money off its guests who are already paying an arm and a leg to get in. Genie+ is simply a paid Fastpass system. Walt was always looking to “plus” the experience for guests, but this is a “minus.”
What’s worse? The new Individual Lightning Lane (ILL – because that’s what it feels like when you pay it?) attractions aren’t included in Genie+! WDW took the best two rides from each park and decided to charge even MORE for them. So ON TOP of the $15 per person / day for Genie+ you ALSO have to pay for the BEST rides. But wait! It gets worse! The pricing on the Individual 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.
Here’s the verbiage from the Walt Disney World website: “Prices (for ILL) 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? By the way, that price is cheap. It’s $20 per person / day at Disneyland.
PROS: It’s a time-saver. And if you’re pressed for time, this can really speed up your day. We tried Genie+ on a holiday weekend at Disneyland and it was GREAT! We walked on to Millennium Falcon Smuggler’s Run when the stand-by line was 70 minutes, walked on to Space Mountain (40 min), Matterhorn (40 min), and even Haunted Mansion (60 min). It gave us more freedom to wait in line for those rides that didn’t have a Lightning Lane without feeling like we were missing out. PLUS, at Disneyland, you get PhotoPass included so all those pics in front of the castle, posing with your favorite characters, or at the end of Space Mountain were absolutely free. And even though you can only have one Lightning Lane at a time, they were easier to get than FastPass used to be. Of course, as more people utilize the system, that may change. 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’s another expense added to your already expensive day. And it stinks that they take the best rides and make you pay even more. I know Disney will say you have the option not to pay, but you sacrifice an awful lot of time that way. For Rise of the Resistance, you might be waiting 2+ hours or pay $20 each (EACH!). Plus, there seems something wrong with variable pricing for the ILL. If they are going to make you pay more, at least you should be able to plan for the added expense in advance. 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.
CONS: To add insult to injury, paying for Genie+ or the ILL 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 Genie+ will cost you at $5 more at Disneyland, at least you get unlimited PhotoPass downloads. 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 ILL rides.
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. This wasn’t a problem for us at Disneyland, but reports out of WDW show attractions like Rise of the Resistance routinely run out VERY early in the day.
If all of this sounds unnecessarily confusing, it is. I’m sure Genie will be a Godsend to many visitors – especially first time visitors. And if the park is packed, you might want to make the investment to make the most of your day. But for Annual Passholders and those familiar with the parks, it’s just not worth it unless you’re going when it is super busy like a holiday. Save your money and instead go buy a Mickey pretzel AND a Dole Whip (or popcorn or churro or…well you get the picture).