Hello all! I hope you’ve all been well and wondering when you might see me again! As I explained in one of my more recent posts, I recently re-did my entire blog and online persona. Part of that was due to the fact that there were so many changes to the Disney parks, it was hard to keep up. Not only that, but much of my previous content was now out of date! It’s part of why I have struggled so much to get back into Disney blogging – it’s like starting from scratch! I also did not get a chance to go back to the parks until recently, so I had no experience to go off of when it came to all the new changes.
Today we’ll be talking about Genie+ and Lightning Lane. I’ll be honest, I was originally going to do an article on all the changes at Disney. However, I ended up talking SO much about the new Lightning Lane system, I made a separate post for it! It’s complicated, a bit confusing, and can be frustrating and expensive. However, I also was able to work it and we experienced just about everything – even the high ticket rides – we wanted on our last trip.
Here’s the pros, cons, and everything in between about Genie+ and Lightning Lane at Walt Disney World!
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What Exactly IS Genie+?
Probably the biggest – and most controversial – change to the parks has been the elimination of the Fastpass+ system. Instead, we now have the Genie+ system and the Lightning Lane feature. There are many differences to this system, the biggest one being that Genie+ needs to be purchased, whereas Fastpass+ was free with admission. For $15 per person for day, you have access to the Lightning Lane (which is essentially the new Fastpass+ lane). For the high ticket attractions, like Rise of the Resistance, you need to pay an additional fee for use of the Lightning Lane. They are NOT included in Genie+. The prices on these attractions vary depending on the time of year. For example, when we went recently, it was $11 per person for Rise of the Resistance.
How does it work? Every morning at 7 AM EST, provided you have a ticket and park reservation, you can go online and book a Lightning Lane and purchase individual Lightning Lanes. You can only have one Genie+ Lightning Lane booked at a time – you may book an additional one after 2 hours have passed or after you redeem your first LL. So theoretically you CAN have more than one at a time if your first LL is for later in the day. Individually purchased Lightning Lanes do NOT count towards your total since they are individually purchased. You also do not have to buy Genie+ to purchase the individual Lightning Lanes.
My Experience with Genie+
I have tried Genie+ twice now as I am fortunate enough to be able to afford it for our trips. Both times we have been able to ride just about everything. However because you can only have one LL at a time, wait times are up considerably in the standby line. We didn’t do some of our go to “quick” rides like It’s a Small World because the wait was almost 50 minutes all day! We also did not get to ride some rides because the LL were booked up immediately. Right now, for example, at Magic Kingdom, the Jungle Cruise, Peter Pan, and Space Mountain book up within the first few hours of the day.
Our day at Hollywood Studios was probably the worst. Tower of Terror and Rock N Roller Coaster both filled up quickly, so I couldn’t wait the two hours to get a LL for the one I didn’t choose. We had to pick which one we would wait for in the standby line. We ended up waiting almost 2 hours for Tower of Terror!
The way the system is set up naturally means having to get up super early each day to grab your first LL of the day. I was frustrated some days because the app would glitch terribly. Everyone is doing the same thing at the same time! Additionally, the LL that you need to purchase often showed up as completely sold out seconds after it turned 7 AM. However, this was incorrect. I had to keep checking for almost 20 minutes to get it to show up. That was precious sleeping time I missed out on!
Reasons I Liked It
Now, I’m naturally a planner. I’ve always been planning our Disney vacations, so I didn’t mind a little bit of extra work. Despite having to wait for some of our favorite attractions, we were able to utilize Genie+ for just about every ride. Most of the LL for even the popular attractions are only about an hour or two ahead of the current time. For example, for Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin, we were able to book a LL for 2:50 at 2:45! We essentially walked right on, and since we just freed up a LL slot, we were able to book our next attraction immediately.
One benefit of the Individual LL is that you can pick the time you go. This made it easier to plan our day. I specifically purchased times for the larger attractions after our dining reservations. This way I knew I wouldn’t risk possibly being late to our reservations. Even though we had to purchase the individual LL’s to do the new attractions, it GUARANTEED we were able to get a chance to ride them with minimal wait. It freed up more of our day. This allowed us to hit up smaller attractions or simply take our time going to the next ride.
Reasons I Disliked It
I’ve seen a lot of very valid criticism about Genie+. First, it costs money, while previous Fastpass systems did not. The Genie+ doesn’t include all the rides, so if you want to do the popular rides, you have to wait or purchase them separately. Purchasing the additional LL often brings your total bill for the day up to at least $30 per person if not more. For large families this adds up quickly. That’s an extra cost that many families just simply cannot afford.
It also requires a lot more planning during the day. You’re on your phone constantly getting ready to snag that next LL as soon as you scan in. Getting a portable phone charger is almost a necessity now because you’ll spend so much of your battery battling the glitching My Disney Experience app!
Like I said about, Genie+ worked well for us in three out of the four parks. In Hollywood Studios, it was nearly impossible to utilize efficiently. The LL for the top attractions went extremely quickly in the day, so by the time you’re ready for your next LL, the rides you actually want to ride are already booked.
As I said above, the new LL system has caused wait times to spike. If you can only get one LL at a time, you have to wait for everything else. Most people are not going to waste their one LL on something like Dumbo or It’s a Small World. Instead they instead choose to wait in line for those rides. When everyone is doing the same thing, it’ll cause the wait times to go up. I couldn’t believe how long the wait was for some rides! For example, Haunted Mansion usually runs about a 45 minute wait most days. With Genie+, I was seeing wait times as high as almost 90 minutes!
Ever Changing System
Even since our most recent Disney trip, they’ve made changes to Genie+. You can no longer buy it in advance. You HAVE to purchase it the morning of, and that means getting up at 7 AM and taking time to let the transaction go through. This could mean wasting valuable seconds actually buying the product before you can pick your rides.
Genie+ has only been in play for a few months, and already changes are being made to the system. My biggest hope is that they’ll figure out a way to make it mimic the Fastpass+ system to help spread crowds around. With the way the system is now, it’s almost impossible to ride everything you want in one day. Be sure to keep updated with Disney Parks news so you can keep up to date on the newest changes to Genie+ before your vacation! Want more info? Be sure to check out the Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World! They update their guide yearly with all new tips and tricks.
Have you tried Genie+ yet? What are your thoughts? Let me know in the comments below!