Updated: 10/12/22 1:42 p.m. ET
Published: 8/11/22 4:20 p.m. ET
Readers, when it comes to utilizing Disney’s Genie+ and the Lightning Lane systems for your Disney Vacation, my advice is simply this: Don’t do it.
Sure, lines at Disney World can be insane. There is something satisfying about being able to skip the line in any respect, and we want to be able to sneak in as many rides and attractions in a day as possible. But, in my experience opinion, it is not worth it.
At the time of this article’s original publication, Disney Genie+ cost a consistent $15 per person per day. That means that for an extra $375, a family of five would be able to regain FastPass capabilities for most of the available attractions, as well as other perks involving PhotoPass, etc. Now, as this writer takes a moment to update this article, that budget-friendly $15 standard has been removed. Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Resort will now price each day of Disney Genie+ based on the expected crowd level. On Wednesday, October 12, the price of Disney Genie+ was officially raised for Walt Disney World Resort Guests to $20. The wildcard “optimization” now makes it impossible for Disney World-bound families who are unable to purchase Genie+ ahead of time to properly budget for this extra cost.
But my protest is about more than just the cost. Disney’s Genie+ takes the control and sense of adventure out of one’s Disney day.
Keep Control of Your Day, Live in the Magical Moment
Guests have to spend more time on their phones than ever before, and they are reliant on a still-developing AI to dictate where they go in the Parks and when they do it. The idea is that it optimizes one’s Disney day, but a Disney day should not be about optimization. On top of that, paying for that supposed optimization only increases the amount of expectations Guests have for their Disney day, which only increases the chances of Guests ending up frustrated and disappointed. The inevitable ride breakdowns and line build-ups alone are only going to be worse after having spent the extra money to be waiting with everyone else.
Contrary to popular belief, you will have enough time to do what you want to do at any Disney Theme Park–excluding, of course, cases where the virtual queues are only accessible to Guests with Park Passes for its Park, but that is another matter.
For example: In the past, I have argued that “Flight of Passage” in Pandora The World of Avatar at Disney’s Animal Kingdom is the only attraction in all of Orlando that is worth a 2-hour wait. Well, after spending my morning in that 1-2-hour long line, I still had plenty of time to have lunch at my favorite spot (Tiffin’s Nomad Lounge) and then experience my other favorites like Kilimanjaro Safaris and Expedition Everest before Park Hopping elsewhere during the crowded summer.
You Still Can’t Do Everything
But Disney Days are about quality over quantity. They are a time to break away from the order of real life to improvise and do what you want. But they are also about expectations. Expect the crowds and expect the lines. Expect that you might have to save some things for tomorrow or next time, and you will find increased patience and satisfaction with your day.
Will you get to do every single thing you want to do? Probably not. But according to vocal Guests, Genie+ is not changing that fact. So, you end up paying even more money for the same overall result. Either way, you are not supposed to be able to do everything at Disney World in one day or one trip. There is supposed to be some magic left untouched, waiting for you next time. Just ask any other blogger who attempted to complete any such Disney Park Challenges! Many will tell you they failed to do everything, but even the ones who succeed will tell you that their day was non-stop, stressful, and one they would never recommend to any one-off visitor who is planning his or her first Disney Park Day in years.
Possible Exception: One Individual Lightning Lane
Perhaps the only change that I would concede might be worth the money is purchasing a one-off Individual Lightning Lane pass for one attraction. Disney Parks is hellbent on creating a whole new definition of elite E-Ticket attractions based on the age of the ride and its popularity and defined by accessibility. The powers that be want you to tell which rides are best just by giving them virtual queues and a la carte Individual Lightning Lane access outside of the paid Genie+ coverage.
For example, I could justify spending the cash on Lightning Lane Passes for Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind. The virtual queue is only accessible to Guests with an EPCOT Theme Park Reservation, and unless you wanted to sleep in and have a late Park morning, why would you settle for that? Individual Lightning Lane purchases are the only other way to access the ride and do not require the Reservation, and it is, by far, one of the coolest attractions in Orlando. Plus, let’s be honest: You’re at EPCOT. Dropping $20+ per person to experience a cutting-edge attraction could be a welcomed restraint to a possibly otherwise over-funded drink budget.
But either way, this new system makes line-skipping unsustainable for many Guests, so be sure to make this just a one-time treat.
My Promise: Genie-Free Disney Parks Advice
As the rest of this year goes by, and I report on future adventures at The Walt Disney World Resort and the Disneyland Resort, I can promise you all that every perspective and piece of advice I give will come from someone who does not bend to use Disney Genie+.
We at Disney Fanatic will continue to update our readers on Disney Parks news and stories as more developments come to light.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s and may not reflect the sentiments of Disney Fanatic as a whole.