Thoughts on Disney Genie+ at this point?

Edited: September 6, 2023, 3:06 PM

When Disneyland Resort got rid of FastPass for Genie+/Lightning Lanes about 2 years ago, I and many others were scared and worried about what this new system would lead to. However, since then, I've made 4 visits to DLR, and I've purchased Genie+ for every trip.

As much as I hate to say it, I'm honestly a huge fan of the Genie+ system and I probably do prefer it to FastPass. I was always one of those people who was constantly running around the park in order to maximize how many FastPasses I could grab, so being able to do everything from the comfort of my phone is just so much nicer. In addition, many of the Genie+ policies make things a lot easier for more "try hard" Disney fans like me, such as allowing users to snag Lightning Lane access in real-time even if there's a wait and receiving a new Lightning Lane the second the previous one is used.

All in all, I think in the past I used FastPass on about 40% of the rides I rode, whereas now, I use Lightning Lanes on probably 80% of the rides I ride, which also just means I can ride more rides for shorter wait times. Yes, the paywall aspect of it sucks, but I just tend to view it as a necessary cost at this point (I'm already paying $30 for parking and $6 for water, so what's another $25?).

I'd love to here what y'all think though!

Replies (22)

September 6, 2023, 3:32 PM

I could not disagree more Juan. Genie+ is nothing but a cash grab. For those that only used FP/MaxPass in California, the upcharge for MaxPass was that convenience you claim Genie+ provides. However, when compared to MaxPass, Genie+ is a significant downgrade. Not only is Genie+ more expensive (I guess we could chalk that up to infation), but it is not as valuable as the prior system. MaxPass not only gave users access to the FP system on their phone, but it also gave guests access to Photopass. Now while Photopass in California is not nearly as valuable as it is in Florida, it was still a nice perk to help defray the upcharge. However, the biggest difference between MaxPass and Genie+ is that the new system only allows guests to experience an attraction through the FP/LL queue ONCE.

That's the biggest rub for me Genie+ on both coasts. Under FP+/MaxPass, you could ride the top attractions as many times as you could so long as reservations were still available. With Genie+ limiting you to one trip through the LL, it creates artificial demand for lesser attractions because guests purchasing the system want to get their money's worth.

For me, the only thing that has improved with Genie+ is that in Florida, guests no longer need to reserve attractions months in advance. Aside from that, Genie+ has been a significant downgrade for the guest experience on both coasts compared to the legacy systems that Genie+ replaced.

September 6, 2023, 11:58 PM

Disney's "queue management" systems always created a system of winners and losers, and the way I see it all Genie+ did was take Fastpass and make it so instead of the winners being people that did lots of research beforehand (and hardcore fans), now its the people that did lots of research beforehand (and hardcore fans) that also paid extra.

So basically I agree with Russell that its nothing more than a cash grab. The real crime against humanity though is the individual lightning lane, and if that wasn't bad enough they combined it with a mandatory virtual queue. That's just scummy business IMO.
"Where does the line start for this ride?"
"Well there is only a virtual queue, you need a reservation, and we are out of reservations."
"So there is no way for us to get on this ride?"
"Well there is one way...if you pay an additional $20 a person"


September 7, 2023, 12:45 AM

Sorry but I'm still for Fast Pass and my recent Disneyland trip showed what a headache Genie and LL are.

Edited: September 7, 2023, 7:12 PM

From a usage aspect, I used Genie+ for one day at Walt Disney World and didn't feel it was worth it. I've never felt the need to use it at Disneyland because the cost just doesn't seem worth it to skip perhaps two lines for attractions you really want to do. By comparison, with the old Fastpass system I had no difficulty grabbing four or five Fastpasses each day for headliners, and even though the advance reservations of Fastpass+ were a headache I was able to reserve at least one must ride for each day of my trip. Genie+ has no such guarantees, and the restriction of only one ride per attraction is an additional annoyance (though it doesn't bother me as much as does for some). Thus, the system is absolutely a nerf compared to the old model for those who utilize it, and I can't agree that it's a better system than FastPass.

I will say, however, that there is one upside to Genie+ that applies solely to the Disneyland Resort, and that is the reduced usage compared to Fastpass resulting in more manageable standby lines. Unlike WDW, where half the visitors use Genie+, I'd estimate usage at DLR is probably more in the 20-30% range, so that combined with the once per attraction rule have resulted in generally shorter wait times on my more recent Disneyland visits. All skip the line systems are better for everyone if fewer individuals are using them, so I'd much rather have a system that isn't abused by locals and frequent visitors as it means I'm waiting 30 minutes for everything rather than skipping two or three waits but standing for 60-70 minutes elsewhere.

September 8, 2023, 10:05 AM

My thoughts:

The old paper Fastpass system drove us away from Disney World because it never worked for us, and degraded the experience. All of the Fastpasses were long gone by the time my wife and I would get to the park after a leisurely morning.

The electronic Fastpass+ was a game changer for us because we could reserve our Fastpasses, plan our day, and show up to the parks when we wanted to, and it brought us back more frequently to Disney World.

Genie+ and Lightning Lane are an abomination. We tried them once, and we got far less value than the free Fastpass+, and it felt like a complete ripoff. As a result, we haven't been back in several years.

September 8, 2023, 11:58 AM

Gotta agree with the guys ... FP+ was infinitely superior in every way.

And, as with Russell, it's a nogo for me until they allow me to use it more than once on any ride.

September 8, 2023, 12:48 PM

I agree with Russell at Tim...I particularly enjoyed the word abomination because that's what it is. Genie+ is a cash grab that is inferior in nearly every way. The single usage artificially inflates wait times on significantly inferior rides as people attempt to wring some perceived value out of a sunk cost. As a theme park veteran, I don't have this problem, but many novice or first time Disney visitors are confused by the G+ vs individual LL. The electronic Fast Pass rewarded people who did a little research and wanted to plan their day, Genie+ is a ripoff and one of many reasons why, after being a loyal Disney patron for decades, my family has switched to Universal.

September 8, 2023, 2:40 PM

Being able to book fastpass before visiting was a horrible idea clearly made by people who sit in offices all day and never actually worked in the parks, hence why it was doomed from the start and they ended up getting rid of it. So what happens when you start the ride up in the morning and it doesn't want to work...and it takes engineering hours to figure out what the problem is and then another few hours to fix it? Thousands of people already have FP booked, so when the ride actually does open it has a 30 minute-1 hour FP wait all night and 120+ minute standby. And you have a huge Fastpass line wrapping around BFE and there's absolutely nothing you can do about it other than stand there and get ****** out. "This is the Fastpass??" "The regular line is shorter than the Fastpass!!" "This should be called the slowpass!!"
..and that's the easy part compared to the poor people who has to work at the merge point while the standby line sees hundreds of Fastpass keep filing past them as they stand there for hours not moving at all. So many Cast Members were in tears on an almost daily basis that many of the big rides had unofficial cry rooms (which was usually a closet).

The day of Fastpass at least allows the operators to control the distribution day of. Although day of Fastpass still has the same problem when rides go down (hence why there's so many rules on what rides don't allow it) its not nearly as bad as when they had pre-booked Fastpass.

September 8, 2023, 6:09 PM

@the_man3 - From an operational point of view, I understand your point, but there's a workable solution to the situation you just described. Don't open the Standby line until the Fastpass+ line wait has dropped to a reasonable level. Post a sign at the entrance that says that all expired Fastpass+ times will be honored until a certain time later in the day. Doing that would allow the Fastpass+ holders to work the broken ride into their schedule for the day.

And if it was bad when Fastpass+ was free, what's it like now when people have paid for their Lightning Lane and Genie+ privileges? Paying for something gives people a sense of entitlement, and even though people can get a refund, they're not going to be happy about the hassle of missing their scheduled ride that they paid for and then having to request a refund.

September 8, 2023, 6:54 PM

@Tim ... I see that all the time. We were at MK a while back, and Pan was down for a few hours. Once it opened back up, the LL was a continuous stream of people, and as some LL people got on the ride, even more arrived to take their place.

The standby line was posted at 90mins, was full to the point of bursting, and yet all the CM's did was shuffle LL's thru.

I see it on GotG as well, but that Peter Pan day was by far the worst I've ever seen it.

September 9, 2023, 1:16 AM

Disney has more safeguards (I guess you could call them) on this now. First they took away the ability for everybody to give Fastpasses away as compensation. Think of how many hotel rooms WDW has and think of how many complaints they get for dirty rooms, late reservations, late buses, broken down monorail/boat, and restaurants with food was cold, etc. Insane amounts of FP were going out for non ride related inconveniences every day. They also made it so a lot of the big or low capacity rides aren't included with recovery when there is a downtime (which has totally gone overboard now IMO now there are very few major attractions that accept them). Also of course they took away the whole booking in advance thing as well. And of course now they use a reservation system and dynamic pricing to limit the amount of people in the park as well.

So the problem now isn't as bad as it used to be, but it still does happen. It basically used to happen every day at every big ride.

September 9, 2023, 1:47 AM

I'll give you the poster child example, Buzz Lightyear is always a mess with FP.
-Its in the busiest park by far.
-No height requirement, slow, not scary, popular IP, so everyone wants to ride it. This includes all the disabled people that can't ride many other things so DAS is always backing up as there. I'm not just talking about the volume of DAS, but also for a lot of them if they have scooters/wheelchairs/severely disabled children so the ride is constantly stopping (NOTE this is not in any way a knock against disabled people, i'm just stating the reality of the situation at that ride).
-It's supposed to be extremely high capacity so industrial engineering is naturally going to be tempted to push as much FP there as possible.

Between the FP, DAS, and the ride constantly stopping you already put yourself into a hole where the standby line is going to move slowly. Now lets say an old person trips and falls getting onto the ride. It takes 10 minutes for the Reedy Creek Paramedics to get there, and another 10 minutes for them to cart the person away. Now the ride has been stopped for 20 minutes while hundreds of FP people are still coming up and your going to keep getting big crowds of FP coming all day and the rest of the rest of the night, and you're going to have lower capacity for the next two hours while also trying to fix the FP situation because so many disabled people have piled up in the FP line. So basically you're just screwed even though there was no ride related downtime.

Much to my surprise Disney actually did fix this situation during the pandemic, they got rid of FP all together. Of course this made the standby lines a lot visibly longer and take up more space (though the wait times were generally the same or shorter). But of course since they are a big sh*tty corporation just like every other big sh*tty corporation, the temptation to monetize everything put an end to that. This is why I was hoping the inevitable paid line skip program was going to be charging a lot of money and giving away relatively few, they decided to do the worst possible thing (in my opinion) and just brought back a slightly modified FP and charged for it.

It always seemed like Disney World are the masters are taking extremely high capacity attractions and making them have the slowest moving lines ever. I agree with AJ that (historically at least, I haven't been to DLR since before the pandemic) they have always been much better at managing the FP situation. [Historically] they have not pushed FP as much, are willing to run out earlier, and not use it on rides where it just screws everything up.

*semi related note but I think just in general DLRs executive leadership has always seemed to just be much more in tune with what's going on than WDWs. I think DLR being smaller and easier to keep a thumb on has a lot to do with it, also Team Disney being right next to the park helps as well. When an executive at WDW walks through the park its a whole operation where they put it on their calendar and everyone finds out so the operations team makes sure everything looks good everywhere they go and even have people follow them around to make sure, whereas at DLR they just walk out of the office and are in the park. (Also note I am not really talking about the park VPs, their offices are in the parks, and they don't have that much power to control their capital budgets. The president of DLR can walk to his office and see "oh that looks like crap we need to spend $ to fix that." Whereas the president of a park/hotel/transportation at WDW would need to go beg for the $).

Edited: September 9, 2023, 2:25 AM

For years, I've said that the setup Six Flags uses for their skip the line system is (at least in theory) the best option I've experienced. For those unaware, here's how they do it: When you want to skip a line, you select the ride and are given a return time based on the actual wait time. There are usually three tiers: Regular ($50-80 per person, with a return time equal to the actual wait), Gold ($70-100 per person, with a return time equal to half of the actual wait), and Platinum ($100-200 per person, with a return time equal to 10% of the actual wait). Once the return time arrives, you go to the ride, enter through the Flash Pass queue, then scan in at the ride. After scanning in, you're immediately eligible to get another return time. There's no cutoff on return times, no cap on how many rides you can do, and no restriction on how many times you reserve the same ride, but you can't reserve another ride until you've either scanned in for your current return time or canceled it to make a new reservation. You also can only get a return time for something that is currently operating, so if a ride goes down it won't distribute any additional return times until it reopens (those who have one can keep them and use them when the ride reopens or cancel them if they don't want to wait and wish to reserve something else instead).

This solves a lot of the problems that most other skip the line systems have:

1. Because return times are based on an actual waiting time rather than a reservation window, they are dynamic and adjust to the operating conditions at present (provided wait times are kept accurate).
2. Because reservations cannot be stacked, it limits the active reservations to the number of users rather than having situations where there are more reservations in place than users, so situations where park capacity is overwhelmed are rare.
3. Because return times are individually assigned rather than given in blocks, guests tend to trickle in throughout the day rather than coming in large batches, making it easier to merge them in seamlessly and resulting in shorter pauses in the standby line.
4. Because the price is sufficiently high, the percentage of guests using the system is small enough that most attractions can absorb the capacity without significant increases in standby waiting time.
5. Because of the way times are assigned, it eliminates the situation where going to a ride and waiting in line is quicker than using the ride reservation system, hence ensuring there is value to its use.
6. Because there are no restrictions on which combination of attractions can be chosen, it allows guests to do whatever they're most interested in rather than forcing them toward certain attractions or restricting what they're able to use the system for.
7. Because return times never expire, it is impossible for a guest to miss a return time due to delays elsewhere in the park.

September 9, 2023, 7:46 AM

@Mako, the_man3, and AJ - Great information and analysis! Thanks!

September 9, 2023, 3:06 PM

@Russell: Didn't you report that during your last trip to the parks the day's Genie+ allotment sold out ... Or something like that?

September 10, 2023, 4:56 PM

If it’s a cash grab, it’s one that has made my experience much better every time I’ve purchased it!

September 10, 2023, 9:01 PM

Agree, Jacob. There is certainly a lot of frustration with Genie+ at WDW in Florida where it's sort of a necessary purchase due to how many other guests purchase it. But at DL in California where the majority of visitors are AP-holders who don't even bother with it, it makes for a much more relaxing visit.

Edited: September 11, 2023, 10:56 AM

I don't recall specifically stating that Genie+ was sold out during our most recent visit last fall, though EPCOT was the only park we went to during that trip. I would point out that because of the perception that Genie+ was "essential" for a successful WDW trip, guests bought it essentially sight unseen, and for the most part Genie+ does give guests an advantage over those who do not purchase the service. The problem is that because Genie+ is being compared to not having Genie+, not the previous queue avoidance system, FP+, which was "free" for guests (guests were technically paying for FP+ as part of their admission). Genie+ is significantly substandard when compared to FP+, and while it's probably better than not having Genie+ at all, it's debatable whether it is worth what Disney is charging for it.

My contention is that Disney could make Genie+ $50/day, and guests would still purchase it in large numbers because of the perception that it improves your visit, particularly among first time or infrequent guests, which make up significantly portion of daily WDW visitors. If Disney simply made Genie+ an upcharge of the formerly free FP+ system, it might be worth the $25-35 they're charging, but the fact of the matter is that because so many people are blinding purchasing the current product, it provides line-shortening privileges for somewhere around 3-4 rides over the course of an average day, which is pretty pathetic.

September 19, 2023, 6:27 AM

I think Genie+ is elitist in as much that the added costs will be just too much for some budgets. I recognise that it's supposedly designed to control the crowds but feel that this is a convenient by-product of a clever revenue stream.
If it was purely for reasons of herding crowds then Disney could lower the gate price and make up the shortfall on genie + purchases.
The old FastPass worked very well imho. We would probably get 2 or3 during the day with no problem and with no added charge.
Another concern has to be the control of Genie+ sales. If everyone entering the Parks buys into it they will have to have another more expensive level of Genie+ to control the crowds. What a money spinner this system is proving to be ?

Edited: September 27, 2023, 6:33 AM

From a value perspective, FP+ was a compelling point to park visitors - you are guaranteedyou're going to be able to hit your big 3, despite wait times.

But as I said before, Genie plus isn't bad value, when you compare it to similar systems in Merlin parks for instance, a one fastrack per ride for 13 rides at Alton Towers will cost you £70... four (merlin selected) rides is a still £30. At Thorpe park you're looking at £40 for 6 non coasters, or £50 for 6 coasters (thats £90 if you want all 12). £1 is buying $1.21 right now.

Admittedly its not a full like for like comparison - there are no timeslots for Merlin, but Genie Plus still a good bargain in comparison.

Edited: September 27, 2023, 10:50 AM

@Chad H - I think that's a decent comparison in terms of value, but it's still like comparing apples to oranges because there's definitely a learning curve when it comes to Genie+ versus FasTrack. The Merlin system operates pretty much as one would expect with a separate queue that guests walk through to reach the ride platform, which doesn't necessitate any interface with a phone app or any other product - just walk up, bypass the standby line, and ride. Genie+ not only has to be purchased through the clunky Disney Parks App, but requires guests to sign up for their given attractions one at a time with specified return times.

The problem with Genie+ is that the actual value of the product is highly variable depending on how you use it. Experienced, savvy users can probably get decent value from it by getting somewhere between 4-6 LLs (occasionally a couple more depending on the park and crowd levels), but if you don't know what you're doing, you can easily get shut out of the system to the point where you only get 1-2 mid-level attraction LLs. If you're a guest wanting to hit all of the highlights of MK (Space Mountain, Big Thunder, Pirates, Haunted Mansion, Jungle Cruise, Peter Pan, Small World, Winnie the Pooh, Buzz Lightyear, and one of the spinners - Dumbo, Aladdin, or Astro Orbiters), you're going to need a strong understanding of how to maximize Genie+ along with a very good touring plan, some luck, and you'll still need to pony up another $50 for ILLs for Tron and 7DMT. I still have yet to purchase Genie+, but from all my reading and my direct experience in the parks without using the product, an average guest using Genie+ might get on 2-3 more bottom tier attractions that I can over the course of an average day. If riding Dumbo and Tomorrowland Speedway are worth $20 (and another $50 for ILLs), then I guess it's a good value for you, but for me, I'll save that for a bite to eat or save it for something else.

That's the big difference beyond how you use Genie+, because at Merlin, FasTrack is pretty much limited to the top attritions/coasters, so the difference between a guest buying the product versus going without is 2 main attractions (Thirteen, Wicker Man, and/or Rita at Alton Towers or Saw, Walking Dead, and/or Nemesis Inferno at Thorpe Park). With Genie+, the difference between the haves and the have-nots is a couple of lesser attractions. Again, if riding those lesser attractions is important to you, then it might be worth the cost, but for most guests, especially those that have visited more than a handful of times, it's probably not worth it. That's kind of the Catch-22 of Genie+, because it's more valuable if you have a better awareness of the parks and the system, but the benefit you receive out of the service is pretty minimal in the form a few extra rides on lower tier attractions.

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