Hello Disney Genie, Goodbye FastPass+

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The Disney Genie app was first teased in D23 over 2 years ago. And then a pandemic happened and things came to a halt. Now we finally have some details.

Not all the details, but at least some. But the biggest news is that parts of Disney Genie replace the free FastPass+ system that used to exist.

That’s right, no more FastPass! This was expected, but is bit news nonetheless.

We’re going to break down what we know so far about the Disney Genie. There are a lot of parts to it, but of course, everyone is most interested in Genie+ and Lightning Lanes. But we’ll get to that later…

Disney genie app announcement graphic

When is the Disney Genie Launch Date?

Disney themselves never gets more specific than saying “this fall”. However, I think we can all read between the lines and understand that Disney Genie should open by October 1, 2021.

With the massive crowds expected to descend for Disney World’s 50th Anniversary Celebration, they need a way to shorten the wait times.

What is Disney Genie?

Disney Genie is a new addition to the My Disney Experience app. The whole concept behind it is to allow guests to customize their day at Disney World or Disneyland.

Think of Disney Genie as your very own personal assistant and most of the functionality is FREE for all Disney guests.

Yes, the app will be part of both United States Disney Parks.

To get the best idea we have about Disney Genie so far, take a look at this video:

Again, lacking in specifics, but it gives the idea of overall functioning.

Think of Disney Genie as your AI guide through your days at Disney World and Disneyland.

Prior to your trip, you can identify your interests and priorities for your trip. Disney Genie then takes this information and provides you with real time suggestions.

As the video puts it, tell the Disney Genie your wishes, and it will help you make them come true.

This is your chance to identify favorite characters, movies, types of rides, etc. From there, Disney Genie does the rest.

Ride Wait Time Forecasting

One of the functions of Disney Genie is to provide not just real-time ride waits, but to predict what parts of the day the line will be shorter.

Clearly, the idea behind this is to allow guests to be a bit smarter about when they choose to get in line for certain rides.

This goes a step further by essentially helping you create your daily itinerary.

If you know which rides are musts for your family, you can go into Disney Genie and check off all those rides. Then, using their predictive ride forecasting technology, the app lets you know what rides to do when.

Alternately, if you can choose to have your day planned based more on your interests. You can pick themes such as Princesses, Star Wars, Pixar, etc.

It also has an area for dining integration (see below) and asks your dining preferences. All of these factors combined are used to evaluate thousands of itinerary options before it spits out your customized itinerary.

The AI also factors in the need for flexibility and suggestions could change based on what you actually end up doing that day. This accounts for any spontaneity in your day.

Disney Dining Integration

Again, we don’t have a ton of information other than the fact that dining information is accessible through Disney Genie, but here’s what we can tell from that video clip.

Guests can find both table service and quick service restaurants on Disney Genie. If you’re curious how long a walk up wait is at any given table service restaurant, it tells you.

The Disney Genie app also tells you when the next available dining reservation is.

This helps take some of the guess work out of the process, and allows guests to be a little more spontaneous in planning their meals.

They also mention that mobile ordering will be integrated into Disney Genie. It remains to be seen whether the current Disney mobile ordering functionality will simply move to Disney Genie, or if it will work differently.

Virtual Assistant

Disney Genie comes with a virtual assistant designed to answer any questions that pop up about Disney during your day.

Are you wondering if Epcot is open late enough to justify hopping over for the evening? Simply as the virtual assistant.

My Tip Board

My Tip Board is a section that brings together a bunch of information based on your stated preferences. They push this feature for people who want to maximize the spontaneity of their day.

My Tip Board takes all the forecasted wait times, along with next available reservation times, for both attractions and dining experiences, and puts it at your fingertips.

If there’s a ride you want to get on, you can check the current wait time and see what time you could book the Lightning Lane in case you want to go that route.

Within the current wait time you can see the forecasted wait times for the rest of the day as well. That way you can decide whether to get in line now, or later.

Disney’s Own Words

I wanted to highlight Disney’s own words in their press release about Disney Genie. It gives the most concise description of what we know so far:

  • Get Itinerary Updates from Morning to NightDisney Genie will continue to update your itinerary throughout your day, so you can be more spontaneous and go with the flow.
  • Find Your Favorites at a Glance: Create your very own personal tip board to instantly see your favorites. It will display current AND forecasted future wait times, helping you predict when you might experience quicker entry to attractions.
  • Enjoy More Flexibility and Fun: Disney Genie brings existing planning features together in one place. Join a virtual queue at certain attractions, make dining and experience reservations, mobile order food at many locations, get help from a virtual assistant and more.

Really, the goal of Disney Genie is to help guests maximize their time in the parks, while experiencing less stress in the process.

Disney Genie+ Replaces FastPass and MaxPass

As I mentioned, the writing has been on the wall for years that the FastPass+ system would be replaced. Let’s face it, Disney World was the only place left that DIDN’T upcharge for fast access to rides.

We all suspected that Disney Genie would contain the replacement, and we were right. The replacement comes in two separate parts: Disney Genie+ and Lightning Lane.

Disney Genie+ (Available for Purchase)

That’s right, access to Disney Genie+ is available for purchase. If you don’t want to spend any extra money on your trip, you don’t have to. But it’s there should you want it.

At Disney World, Disney Genie+ costs $15 per ticket per day, while at Disneyland it costs $20 per ticket per day.

What does Disney Genie+ allow you to do?

Disney Genie+ allows guests to access next available ride times and book their very own appointment to use the Lightning Lane entrance, AKA the old FastPass lane.

Sound familiar? It should as it’s pretty similar to Disney MaxPass at Disneyland, and what FastPass booking looked like after you used your initial 3 FastPasses.

You can only make one selection at a time, so you can’t just fill up your whole day with ride appointments right off the bat. However, there’s no limit on how many times you can make these reservations.

We know there will likely be a limit on how soon you can book your next ride. With MaxPass, you had to wait 90 minutes in between booking. There’s some speculation that Disney World will have a 120 minute wait requirement.

You can also book them at multiple parks throughout the day. I’m sure there will be some rules to this, but we don’t know them yet.

An important thing to note: Disney Genie+ works on MOST rides at the park, but not all. The most popular rides in each of the parks are separate from the rides available in Genie+.

Disney Genie+ also provides Disney parks themed audio experiences. It also gives access to some extra photo features, like augmented reality lenses.

What rides are available with Disney Genie+?

We’re just going with straight speculation here, but this list should be pretty close. As of this point, Disney hasn’t officially announced the rides.

What we do know is that there are 40 rides in all which are available through Disney Genie+.

Magic Kingdom
  • “it’s a small world”
  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
  • Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin
  • Dumbo the Flying Elephant
  • Enchanted Tales with Belle
  • Haunted Mansion
  • Jungle Cruise
  • Mad Tea Party
  • Mickey’s PhilharMagic
  • Monster’s Inc Laugh Floor
  • Peter Pan’s Flight
  • Pirates of the Caribbean
  • Splash Mountain
  • The Barnstormer
  • The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
  • Tomorrowland Speedway
  • Under the Sea ~ Journey of the Little Mermaid
Epcot
  • Disney and Pixar Short Film Festival
  • Frozen Ever After
  • Journey Into Imagination with Figment
  • Living with the Land
  • Soarin’ Around the World
  • Spaceship Earth
  • The Seas with Nemo & Friends
  • Turtle Talk with Crush
Hollywood Studios
  • Alien Swirling Saucers
  • Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway
  • Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run
  • MuppetVision 3D
  • Rock n Roller Coaster
  • Star Tours
  • The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror
  • Toy Story Mania!
Animal Kingdom
  • DINOSAUR
  • Expedition Everest
  • It’s Tough to be a Bug!
  • Kali River Rapids
  • Na’vi River Journey
  • The Animation Experience at Conservation Station

Again, for now this is all speculation. But the prevailing wisdom is that if it was eligible for a

Lightning Lane a la Carte

Wondering how you can get on the most popular rides not included in Disney Genie+? Guests have the option of paying for Lightning Lane access for those rides on an a la carte basis.

This structure was just implemented over in Disneyland Paris, so it’s no surprise that it shows up here.

Basically, this allows people who are desperate to get on a certain ride to have the ability to “pay to play”.

At this time we don’t even have an estimated price range, but Disney does say that prices vary based on ride, day, etc.

It’s important to note that all rides continue to offer stand-by lines, and if a ride already has a virtual queue, like Rise of the Resistance, it still will.

What rides are included for Lightning Lane purchase?

At this point, we only know of three confirmed rides for Lightning Lane purchase. Everything else at this point is rumor and speculation. I’ll update this section as we get more information, but for now, let’s look at the rumors and speculations.

Magic Kingdom
  • Seven Dwarfs Mine Train (confirmed)
  • Space Mountain
Epcot
  • Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure (confirmed)
  • Test Track
Hollywood Studios
  • Rise of the Resistance (confirmed)
  • Slinky Dog Dash
Animal Kingdom
  • Flight of Passage
  • Kilimanjaro Safari

Remember, these rides can also be ridden via either a standby line or a virtual queue. You do not have to purchase Lightning Lane in order to ride them.

I think the guesses for the second rides at Magic Kingdom, Epcot, and Hollywood Studios are pretty accurate. Animal Kingdom is a bit more of a wild card.

I have no doubts that Flight of Passage is a Lightning Lane option. It’s the best ride in the whole resort, so it should be. The second one at Animal Kingdom is a bit harder to guess.

When can I start making my Genie+ and Lightning Lane selections?

This is a really valid question, especially since we are all used to booking things so far in advance for a Disney trip. However, Disney Genie+ is all about day of visit planning.

The Genie+ selection window opens up for all Disney World guests at 7am. At that time, resort guests can book their first reservation for Lightning Lane access through Genie+.

There is a slight advantage available for Disney resort guests with the a la carte Lightning Lane rides. Disney resort guests can book those starting at 7:00a.

All other guests going to the park have to wait to make those first selections until the park opens.

This slight head start does bring back a little bit of a lost benefit of staying at a Disney World resort. It’s not huge, but at least it’s something.

Clearly, once the park opens it levels the playing field entirely, but at least Disney resort guests have a small window to jump to the front of the line.

Remember, you can only choose one at a time!

For Disneyland, it’s a little different. Disneyland guests can start making their bookings for everything once they are physically in the park.

Disney Genie+, Lightning Lane, & Early Theme Park Entry

Don’t forget, Disney is also unveiling Early Theme Park Entry for Disney resort guests on October 1. Using Early Theme Park Entry to ride the Lightning Lane rides is a good way to get on the rides with minimal wait, for free.

If you don’t know the details yet, read my Early Theme Park Entry guide. It includes strategies for how to use that time at each park.

Disney Genie and the Disability Access Service

In what I think is a brilliant move, Disability Access Services, or the DAS pass as it’s known, will be integrated into Disney Genie.

For those that don’t know, the DAS pass is available to people who have medical or emotional issues which prevent them from being able to wait in standby lines.

You can’t use the DAS to cut the line, but you use it to get yourself a virtual place in line and then sit somewhere else while you wait your turn.

This will now happen through Disney Genie+, essentially allowing guests with DAS to select attractions through the app instead of physically needing to go to the ride.

But of utmost importance, guests can now enroll in the DAS program prior to arrival within the app, instead of needing to go to guest services.

Commentary on Disney Genie

Now that we know a bit more about the service itself, let’s analyze it. Let’s go directly to the huge, polarizing elephant in the room: no more free FastPass.

Disney superfans are going to react pretty violently to this one, in either direction. I mean, let’s face it, a Disney trip is expensive to begin with, who wants an added cost? Especially when fans feel like they’re being upcharged to death.

Listen, I’m not happy at the prospect of shelling out even more money, but honestly, this announcement isn’t nearly as bad as I thought it would be.

I thought it was going to cost A LOT more to skip the standby line. In that sense, I’m pleasantly surprised. I think that $15 or $20 per person for one day is fairly reasonable.

When we went to Busch Gardens Tampa a couple years back, their ride pass to cut the line would have cost us $80 per person during that time of year.

With this as my frame of reference, you can probably understand why I’m cautiously optimistic about Disney Genie+.

What I’m waiting to find out is whether they force you to add it on to either all of your park days, or none of your park days.

Since they are touting how flexible this system is supposed to be for people, I’m hoping guests can pick and choose if they only want to use it one day.

As a former FastPass ninja, I am mourning the loss of a system I knew how to leverage like there was no tomorrow. My family never waited more than 20 minutes for anything. Ever.

I’m sure there are ways to leverage Disney Genie+ to get the most out of it too, we just need to learn them first.

I’m a little less sanguine about the a la carte Lightning Lane. I’ll reserve judgement until we have an idea of prices. For a family of four or more, that could potentially add up.

But will I likely use it in certain situations? Yes. As I mentioned, my goal is to get on Remy’s opening weekend. The standby line will be ridiculous. And it’s just me going on that trip. Would it be worth it to pay extra to save hours of my day? Yes.

Thoughts on Disney Genie as a Whole

Now that we’ve dissected the biggest issue, let’s take a look at the overall functionality of Disney Genie.

Again, I’m fairly optimistic about this one. I love the idea of making a Disney trip as stress free as possible. I know that so many people simply stressed themselves out to the max with all of the advanced planning required with the old system.

Dining 180 days in advance, FastPasses either 30 or 60 days in advance. Not to mention the stress on the mornings that your booking windows opened.

If Disney Genie can fix some of this, I’m all for it.

But there’s the rub: IF.

Disney’s IT department doesn’t exactly have a stellar reputation for putting out functional products. My Disney Experience can be very clunky and glitchy at times.

Hopefully, the framework for Disney Genie is built on a better platform than My Disney Experience.

Overall, I’m intrigued to see how Disney Genie works in real time. I’m looking forward to the release and the day we can start playing around with it in My Disney Experience.

I don’t know if it will be as wonderful as Disney is making it sound, but I’m sure game to giving it a go.

Confusing Disney Genie, Genie+, and Lightning Lane

I’m surprised that Disney chose the language that they did for things, because man it gets a tad confusing. As I sift through all of the information available, it’s sometimes hard to distinguish between what they are actually talking about.

All of the various services are just so similarly named. Some of this will start to become clearer once it opens and we can all start using it.

I also suspect that some of the language might change a little to make things more clear.

The Differences Between Disney Genie Services

Here’s a really quick breakdown of some of the language just to help you keep things straight as we all start to navigate this new system together.

  • Disney Genie: The overall app which is free for all Disney guests to use. Access the tip board, your preferences, and the AI that helps you plan out your day on the fly
  • Disney Genie+: The upcharge service which allows Disney guests to make Lightning Lane reservations for MOST of the rides and attractions (i.e. book a time slot to skip the line)
  • Lightning Lane: Can refer to the physical lane you enter, but typically the language used to describe the rides not included with Disney Genie+ which you can purchase access to on an a la carte basis. We don’t know for sure which rides are included under this category yet.

Disney Genie for the Disney Guest on a Budget

As we see all of these upcharges, it’s easy to get bogged down in the fact that the trip could be even more expensive. Part of what I like is that the free version of Disney Genie still gives all guests access to a lot of data and planning tools.

Sure, the free version won’t give you the ability to skip the line, but in theory, it should allow ALL guests to be able to strategically go through their day to experience everything they want with less wait.

Again, this is in theory. We’ll see what actually happens.

Will Lightning Lanes make Standby Lines Even Longer?

Frankly, I think this is the biggest question I have about Disney Genie+. For those that don’t know, the FastPass system was actually the main culprit in why the standby lines got so long in the first place.

If you think about it, all the guest in standby were forced to stop and wait for the guests in the FastPass lane to board before they could.

This slowed down the overall progress of the standby line. It’s one of the main reasons that FastPass hasn’t returned during the reopening, and the difference is startling.

Without FastPass, the standby lines are constantly moving. And mean constantly moving. You rarely ever stop moving in line. That makes the wait feel like it’s going by much faster. And it actually is going by faster.

It remains to be seen if Lightning Lane access in either form with gum up the works of the standby line again.

In theory it shouldn’t be as bad. There are people who will refuse to use Genie+ and Lightning Lane because they won’t spend extra money on principle.

But with the price actually being so affordable, I think most people will take the plunge. This puts more and more people in Lightning Lane and starts to slow down the standby line.

I don’t think it will ever get as bad as it did with FastPass, but time will tell.

My hope is that Disney has already thought of this and they’ve built some sort of safeguard into the system that is controlling some of the crowd flow.

We already know that they attempt to manipulate crowds by inflating posted ride wait times, so I imagine they’ll do that again in the forecasted wait times in Disney Genie.

Your Thoughts

Well, what do you think about this big announcement? Are you boiling mad that FastPasses are gone? Or are you game for a little pay to play flexibility? Let me know in the comments below.

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