(Updated 5/4/22 – new updates are highlighted in blue boxes!) Everything we know about the new Disney Genie app being released:
Disney fans first heard about the Disney Genie app back in 2019, at the D23 Expo. Disney’s Genie (and Genie+) was officially introduced to Disney World in October 2021. This new Disney Genie app will change a lot regarding how people approach the theme parks, so it’s important to understand how it works.
Disney Genie is available in both Disney World and Disneyland, but for now in this post I’m only focusing on the Disney World aspects of it. While it’s the same general idea there are some fairly significant differences between the two coasts, so if you’re looking for information about the Disney Genie app in Disneyland I suggest you head over to my friend Mindy’s very informative post on This Fairytale Life!
What is Disney Genie?
Disney Genie is a “new digital service” in the theme parks to help you plan your day and get the most out of your Disney park experience. Disney has stated that their goal is to make planning and park time easier and to offer more flexibility.
It’s similar to how My Disney Experience already works but with some additional features. In fact, Disney Genie is going to be integrated into My Disney Experience so it won’t be a separate app, everything will be in one spot. There are free aspects of the app as well as additional components that you can pay for. Whether you use the paid features or not, it doesn’t require you to plan your visit super far head of time – most will be done in the app the morning of your visit.
One important thing to note is that the Disney Genie and Genie+ will ONLY be available on the My Disney Experience app – it will not be on the website or through a web browser.
There are three main components of the Disney Genie app which I will go over in more detail below – the basic Disney Genie, which is free, Disney Genie+, which is a paid feature, and Individual Lightning Lanes, which are an additional fee not included as part of Disney Genie+.
Make sense? Disney tells us their goal was to make things easier for guests! Joking aside, that’s why I’m here to try and wrap my head around everything and share it with all of you.
How much will Disney Genie cost?
The basic Disney Genie app is technically free. We’ll go over what that does below. But the main feature people have been talking about is Disney Genie+, which you do have to pay an extra fee for. That will be $15 per person per day, and there will also be the opportunity to pay a bit more for other certain experiences with Individual Lightning Lanes.
Basic Disney Genie
- Cost: Free
- Personalized itineraries and updates
- Tip Board
- Dining Tip Board
Personalized itineraries and updates
This is the main new component to the free aspect of Disney Genie. You will be able to tell the app your preferences for rides, entertainment, and food, and it will create a suggested itinerary for you telling you when to go where to maximize your time. If you are familiar with the Disney attractions you can check off specific experiences you’d like to do (like telling the app you definitely want to do Haunted Mansion, Space Mountain, and Big Thunder Mountain, for example and that you want to have lunch at Columbia Harbour House). If you don’t know about everything you can specify things like thrill rides or Princess experiences and Disney will make suggestions.
“From specific attractions, foodie experiences and entertainment, to general interests like Disney princesses, villains, Pixar, Star Wars, thrill rides and more – just tell Disney Genie what you want to do and it will do the planning for you.”Disney Parks Blog
Just remember that these are recommendations and NOT reservations. If the Genie recommends a restaurant you might like, you still have to make a reservation there (for table service) or mobile order (for quick service). If you are planning your itinerary in advance the app will let you know on what date you can start booking dining reservations and extras.
If you don’t like a suggestion that Disney Genie makes for you, you can replace it with something else. The itinerary will also update throughout the day based on changes in wait time, attraction closures, etc. For example, when you look at your itinerary in the morning the app might recommend you ride Haunted Mansion around 2pm because Disney’s data has shown the wait time is typically lower around then compared to other attractions. But if it starts pouring rain at 1:45pm and everyone rushes to nearby indoor attractions the wait may suddenly be a lot longer. Disney Genie will update your itinerary to tell you to perhaps hit Monsters Laugh Floor, an attraction also indoors but with a much higher capacity.
You can start using this customized itinerary as soon as you have linked park tickets to your account and made park pass reservations (starting on October 19th). You can begin playing around with this as early as you’d like, or you can wait until the day of. It’s all about what you prefer.
The Tip Board
This is where you’ll be able to access information on current wait times, as well as view forecasted wait times for the day. Right now in My Disney Experience you can see the current wait time for attractions in the app, but this will give you more information and suggestions about when the best time to ride it might be.
The Dining Tip Board
Again, this is a bit similar to the current dining and restaurant information available in My Disney Experience but it takes things to the next level. For table service restaurants it will tell you if there are any available reservations for that day, and if there is a walk up option you can join the walk up list. For counter service it will tell you how long mobile order will take and you can place your mobile orders from there.
Just like on the website, the Disney Genie app will have a live chat feature so you can ask questions to a cast member. If you can’t easily find information on the app just pop it into the chat and someone will get back to you – things like “how late is the park open?” or “is the monorail running to Epcot?”
- Cost: $15 per person per day
- Lightning Lane access
- Photopass lenses
- Audio Tales
The main thing you are getting when you pay for Genie+ is the ability to use Lightning Lanes. This is what has replaced Fastpass+. You will be able to choose the next available Lightning Lane time for a variety of attractions – for example, in the morning at 7am you may want to ride Haunted Mansion and see that there is a Lightning Lane option for 10am-11am. You can select that, go ride other things, and then head to Haunted Mansion anytime in that one hour window to ride using the Lightning Lane queue with a shorter wait time.
Some important basics about using the Lightning Lanes with Genie+:
You will only be able to make one Lightning Lane selection at a time. In our example, after you use your Haunted Mansion Lightning Lane you can then make another one – perhaps you see Splash Mountain from 12:15pm-1:15pm so you grab that next.
Most attractions that had Fastpass+ will have the Lightning Lane. This makes sense, since the queues already exist. You can expect most things that used fastpass before to now use the Lightning Lane.
Your first Genie+ selection can be made at 7am on the day of your visit. This means that you can grab your first ride time before the park even opens from the comfort of your hotel room using the app.
You will have hour-long arrival windows to use your Lightning Lane selection. When you sign up for a Lightning Lane selection you will have an hour to use it (like between 2:30-3:30pm). That way you can plan around anything else you might have reservations for, like meals.
You can get Lightning Lane selections in different parks. Park hopping? No problem. If you start in Magic Kingdom and get your first few Lightning Lane selections there, you can do your last ride, check the app, and then grab and Lightning Lane selection for Test Track and head over to Epcot.
You can only get a Lightning Lane selection for each attraction once per day. After you’ve used Genie+ to get a Lightning Lane entrance to Haunted Mansion at 10am, you can’t use the Lightning Lane for Haunted Mansion again later in the day.
You cannot use the Lightning Lane without Genie+. If you don’t want to pay for Genie+ there is no free version of Lightning Lane. However, there will still be standby lines and virtual queues where applicable.
There are over 40 attractions that will have Lightning Lane availability. They are subject to change but are currently as follows:
If you’ve been going to Disney World for awhile, this is somewhat similar to how the old paper fastpass system worked. You don’t plan ahead – your fastpasses happened day-of. You could go to the machine at each ride and pull a ticket that would tell you to come back at a certain time and you’d have an hour to return. After you used that one you could get another fastpass. This is very similar but instead of running around to different machines and attractions you can do it right from your app. For people who have visited Disneyland recently, this is basically Maxpass.
Another aspect of Genie+ is the ability to use photopass lenses. Once again, I am frustrated with the terminology Disney chooses to use here because they include the word “photopass” – but you don’t get photopass with this. Basically these are filters that are “augmented reality” and will show 3D looking images of Mickey and other Disney characters in your photos. My understanding is that if you have Genie+ you have access to these photo lenses whether or not you have Memory Maker.
To be clear, at Disney World Genie+ does NOT include Memory Maker for the day, so if you want any of your other photopass photos you’d still need to pay for that. (Not to be confused with Disneyland, where your photopass photos are included with Genie+).
Disney is again advertising this as an “immersive experience” that will allow you to learn behind the scenes info about attractions or lands that you’re in through an audio experience.
So far they’ve said that this includes tips, info, and things like “Imagineering field guides.” The app will also detect if you’re nearby an attraction or something that has a related audio tale and alert you in case you are interested in listening.
Individual Lightning Lanes
- Cost: Dependent on season and attraction
- Reserve a time to ride select individual attractions
This is one more component of the new app that is technically separate from Genie+. With Individual Lightning Lanes (not the most catchy name – I have seen some people using ILL) you can pay extra to schedule a time to ride one or two attractions available through Individual Lightning Lanes with the Lightning Lane. This will be things like your big headliner rides things like Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Flight of Passage, and Rise of the Resistance. The current ILL attractions are below:
You can purchase up to 2 ILL per day. These attractions will not be available as regular Genie+ selections for using the Lightning Lane, so your only options for these rides will be IAS, standby, or virtual queue where applicable. It’s an extra fee that will vary based on the attraction and the season.
In the morning you will be able to purchase ILL and select a time (it looks kind of like dining reservations). Guests at Disney resorts, the Swan and Dolphin, and Shades of Green will be able to make their first ILL selection at 7am. All other guests may do so at park opening.
Prices 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.
Is Disney getting rid of Fastpass?
Yes. Fastpass and Fastpass+ have been retired and everything will now be Genie+ and the Lightning Lane. The queues that were previously used for Fastpass+ will now be the Lightning Lanes. Fastpass will no longer be an option. One of the major differences between the Lightning Lanes and Fastpass+ (aside from the price) is that Lightning Lanes and Genie+ don’t require you to plan out your day 30-60 days ahead of time. With Fastpass+ you had to reserve a time to ride certain attractions up to 60 days in advance, which wasn’t always the best way to plan a vacation.
When does Disney Genie come out?
At Walt Disney World Disney Genie officially released on October 19th, 2021. It is now up and running at both Disney World and Disneyland.
When can I buy Genie+?
The ability to buy Genie+ or add it to a package is available now. You have the option to add it on ahead of time to a ticket or package, or you can purchase it day-of. If you purchase it ahead of time it will be for the length of your ticket – so if you have 4 day tickets you will have Genie+ for all 4 days. You cannot get it for just one or two days of a multi-day ticket. This is similar to the dining plan and how you have to get it for the length of your resort stay and can’t get it for just a few nights.
As of right now the cost is the same whether you buy it ahead of time for the length of your ticket or you do it day of, when you only have to buy one day at a time. I wouldn’t be surprised if Disney offered some sort of incentive or discount in the future for buying ahead of time like they do with Memory Maker – that’s $169 if you buy it in advance but $199 if you buy it after arrival. This is pure speculation but I could see Disney offering some sort of package incentive to add on Genie+, especially in the beginning.
Can I add Genie+ to a package or tickets I’ve already booked?
Yes, you can modify your package or tickets to add Genie+. Just contact your travel agent or call Disney to make the change.
Will this be easier to use than Fastpass+?
After my experiences using Genie+, I think it’s not a terrible system but the biggest downfall is that it can be confusing to use and takes some time and investment to understand it. So far the thing I find most confusing and difficult about Genie+ is the terminology they’ve used. The fact that Genie and Genie+ are two different things. Lightning Lanes are part of Genie+ but you can also get Individual Lightning Lanes to use the Lightning Lane. In Disney World Genie+ includes “Photopass AR Lenses” but not your actual photopass photos, but in Disneyland it includes all photopass photos. To me, this is is not a guest friendly approach.
You can read some of my more detailed thoughts over on my post Is Disney Genie+ worth it? I’m putting a lot of time and effort into learning all the ins and outs of this Disney Genie app – so just a good reminder the benefits than you can get from using a travel agent! If you book your Disney trip through a travel agent they are free to use and they will have the knowledge and understanding of these things and can help you out.
Feeling overwhelmed? A travel agent can help you book and plan your trip – and it doesn’t cost you anything! I’ve helped hundreds of people plan their magical vacations – contact me today to get started.
Will I need to pay for Genie+ to enjoy my Disney experience?
This, of course, is the big question on everyone’s minds – especially those who go on a bit of a budget. Disney’s official line on this is that they believe budget conscious families can still go to Disney and have a great experience without paying for Genie+. It’s not like you won’t be able to do the attractions without it, since standby lines and virtual queues will still be available.
Plus, the basic Disney Genie includes a lot of tools that should help all families, like the personalized itineraries. Before you get too worried I’d wait to see how things play out. Standby waits may be a little bit longer than Lightning Lanes, but it’s possible that they won’t be too bad. People worry because fastpass+ made standby waits a lot longer. One thing to keep in mind right now is that many people were using fastpass+ since it was free. Less people will use Genie+ since you have to pay for it. How many do so is something only time will tell.
Are the Individual Lightning Lanes also available as Lightning Lane choices on Genie+?
No. If an attraction has been designated as available for an ILL, you can only get on the Lightning Lane by purchasing an ILL for that ride. For example, if you want to do Rise of the Resistance it will not be an option as a Lightning Lane attraction through Genie+. You can either pay for it as an ILL or you can use the standby line.
What benefits do Disney resort guests get?
Guests staying at Disney resorts will be able to make Individual Lightning Lanes at 7am on the day of their visit. Off property guests will not be able to make Individual Lightning Lanes until park opening.
And yes, that’s it… in my opinion it’s not much of an incentive (which I discuss more below) but it may be more valuable than people realize.
Especially with Rise of the Resistance available as an ILL, those often will sell out right at 7am before off property guests would even have the opportunity to buy them. Whether or not you’re interested in ILL might have some small bearing on whether or not it makes sense to stay on property for this advantage.
Do you get a discount for purchasing Genie+ in advance?
No, as of right now Genie+ is $15 per ticket per day, and that’s the same price if you buy it in advance or wait til you arrive. If you purchase in advance you have to buy it for the length of your ticket (so if you have a 4 day ticket, you need to buy it for all 4 days – just like how the dining plan worked, you can’t just get it for one or two days).
How does Genie+ work for Annual Passholders?
Disney World annual passholders “will be able to add Genie+ on the day of their visit.” So basically, just like any other guest. As of right now there are no discounts, packages, advantages, etc. for Annual Passholders. There is no “per year” deal to add on Genie+ for the length of your pass or anything like that, though it’s possible that something may come in the future as Disney continually evaluates the success of Genie+.
How does this impact Disability Access Service?
For this information it’s best to get the quote directly from Disney, who says “We are also making some enhancements our Disability Access Service (DAS) program, including a new option to enroll in the program pre-arrival and select return times for attractions directly in the app. This option will be available in addition to our existing, in-person DAS program. Visit our Services for Guests with Disabilities page on DisneyWorld.com for more details.”
Will Genie+ “sell out”?
No, currently Disney is telling us that Genie+ will not sell out – so it will be available to anyone who wants to purchase it.
Why are so many people upset about this Disney Genie app?
The most simple and obvious answer: people don’t like paying for something that they previously got for free. I certainly don’t blame this sentiment. Fastpass and Fastpass+ have been used at Disney World for a very long time and people have gotten used to it being included. So it’s hard to adapt. Especially for the many of us who need to stay on a budget – Genie+ may or may not be feasible and it’s frustrating to think we’ll be losing something.
I hate to be “that person,” but I do also think this could have been worse. I was a bit worried that they would make everything like the Individual Lightning Lanes, where you’d be paying for each specific ride you’d use with the Lightning Lane (that’s what they are doing at Disneyland Paris, and that can add up quickly). It also could have cost a lot more like at Universal Studios, where the Express pass can cost $70+ per day. That being said, they do include that for guests staying at their more expensive resorts.
There’s also the aspect of loyal Disney fans feeling a bit betrayed. I understand this too. People who visit the Disney theme parks often have invested a lot into it. They stay on Disney property at their resorts that are more expensive than off-property locations. These are the people who often buy annual passes and/or DVC. None of these groups are really getting any sort of discount or deal when it comes to Genie+. With fastpass+ resort guests got a really nice incentive of booking their fastpasses 60 days ahead of time instead of 30, which is a huge difference. So in some ways it does feel like Disney is saying they don’t care as much about rewarding these people who stay with them, and I think some of these guests are feeling like their loyalty to Disney isn’t being appreciated right now.
There is always going to be negativity when Disney announces something like this, and time will tell whether or not it’s warranted. It is pretty clear though that this is one of the most controversial moves Disney has made in a long time. At least at the time of writing this post 70% of people on Youtube had marked the video announcement as a “dislike” instead of a “like”. That’s a pretty big majority.
Becky, what do you think about the Disney Genie app?
Why, I’m so glad you asked! I’ve tried to provide information and facts above, but now I’m happy to share my personal take on it, some of my predictions, and whether this will ultimately be something I see myself using. Here are some of the things that have really stuck out to me about this announcement:
Will the free personalized itinerary really work well?
In terms of the free aspects of Disney Genie, I think this personalized itinerary is a pretty big fail. My husband is a software developer, so I know from him just how hard it is to develop something like this on such a big scale and really make it accurate and useful for people. I had him look over everything with Disney Genie to get his thoughts and I did find it enlightening.
For what it’s worth, Jason the software developer (who works on making apps and is very familiar with things like this) says that defining where you should be and when using an app like this is “almost impossible” in the world of computer science. His opinion: “My fear is this app is going to change its recommendations a lot and it’s going to super annoying and super unreliable.”
Personally what I’ve found is that even though you tell it what attractions you want to ride, it keeps suggesting things you may not be interested in because they have a shorter wait time. And then even if you do it, it will suggest it again later in the day. I wouldn’t use their itinerary feature because you’ll just be going between Mickey’s Philharmagic and Mad Tea Party all day…
I think it’s important to keep in mind that at the end of the day Disney is a company and since this feature is free you know it’s going to be to their benefit whether that’s obvious or not. The use of this sort of updating itinerary helps them disperse crowds to other areas. Arguably it might be a win-win… guests don’t have to wait in long lines, and Disney benefits because people who aren’t waiting in long lines are typically spending money on other things like food and souvenirs.
The functionality of Genie+ is better than Fastpass+
If you disregard the price aspect, in some ways I like the functionality of Genie+ better than Fastpass+. I was never a big fan of having to select the attractions I wanted to ride two months ahead of time. Even as an intensive planner I found it off-putting that I had to decide which rides I wanted to do that far in advance. If I was visiting in February it could be anywhere from 50 degrees to 80 degrees – would I want to ride Splash Mountain or not? While this will require some advance planning it happens day-of which feels much more manageable.
And I actually think the price is somewhat reasonable. The other thing I don’t love is that you can (and arguably “have to” if you want to maximize Genie+) make your first Lightning Lane selection at 7am. I’m not a morning person and when I’m vacation I’d prefer to not get up that early. I already do it for Disney trips now to try and join the Rise of the Resistance / Remy / Guardians of the Galaxy virtual queue (or whatever the current virtual queue attraction is), and I wouldn’t want to pay $15 to feel like I have to wake up before 7am every morning.
I hate the terminology they’ve used
Overall the thing that bothers me the most about the Disney Genie app and Genie+ is that the wording they’ve used makes it overly confusing. Genie vs. Genie+, Lightning Lanes vs. Individual Lightning Lanes, Photopass AR lenses vs. photopass included at Disneyland. It just all feels overly confusing and I don’t think that it needs to be. It’s not user friendly, which feels a bit underhanded. If they make it confusing to figure out what’s free and what isn’t, guests may find it’s easier to just pay for everything, even if it’s not actually what they need or want.
Disney needs to offer more incentive for resort guests
I really think Disney is shooting themselves in the foot a bit with their lack of attention to resort guests. Right now Disney is looking a huge boom in bookings, thanks to revenge travel and people ready to get back out there and the big events of the 50th anniversary attracting a lot of people. They aren’t having trouble filling the resorts right now, but eventually demand will die down.
As a travel agent I’ve already seen an uptick in people asking about off property options ever since they announced that Magical Express would no longer be offered in 2022. Take away the advantage of being able to book fastpass+ 60 days ahead of time vs. 30 days ahead of time and there are less tangible reasons to stay at a Disney resort.
I do think Disney will probably start offering discounts or including Genie+ for free as part of packages at some point if they feel like they need to. Just like the free dining promotion, I could see a free Genie+ promotion. This is actually a pretty smart business move, since they’ll get people accustomed to using Genie+. Give someone something for free and they’ll use it, and then they’ll get used to using it and will be more willing to actually pay for it the next time they visit.
Will I pay for it?
I’m in a bit of a weird position thanks to being an Annual Passholder. Since I go often, that $15 per day can add up quickly. On the other hand I don’t have to commit to using Genie+ all the time, so I can do it on a day by day basis. I will probably use it for certain trips and circumstances and not others. A lot of the time it depends on who I’m visiting the parks with. If it’s people who don’t go very often I think it will be worth the extra money, and I have a feeling that’s the camp a lot of people will fall into who are planning their trips. But when I go solo or with friends who prefer to take it easy I may not bother with it.
I do worry a little bit about this Disney Genie app and my anxiety – I know I’m going to have the inclination to feel like I’m getting my money’s worth. Will I be at a point where I’m feeling pressured to do a certain amount of attractions with the Lightning Lane? I know those are my tendencies but the last thing I want to do these days is give myself any extra stress. There may also be added anxiety in trying to get a good return time, or not being able to book something I want, feeling like I made the wrong choice with my first selection, etc.
That’s my thought right now at least, but once I see how it really works and what wait times look like I might change my mind on how often I’ll pay for it. If I’m going during a more crowded time it may be worth it, but if it’s slow then I won’t bother. I also like to plan days with downtime, so if I’m thinking I’ll just spend a few hours in a park and then spend some time relaxing at my resort obviously I won’t pay for Genie+.
Disney Genie app updates
So that kind of sums up everything we know about Disney Genie so far! If you have any questions about anything please post in the comments – if I can’t answer it myself given what we know so far I will pass the question along to Disney and update this post as we get more information.
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What questions and thoughts do you have about the Disney Genie app right now?
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