Is Disney’s Genie+ worth it? I took a look at whether or not it’s worth paying for Disney’s new feature:
If you have questions about what Genie+ is, how it works, and anything along those lines, check out my guide for everything you need to know with Genie+. In this article I’m going to focus mainly on “Is Disney’s Genie+ worth it” – or in other words, whether or not it’s “worth it” to purchase Genie+ for your upcoming Disney World trip.
The majority of this article is going to focus on the actual experience of using the Lightning Lanes with Genie+. However, I personally did have a number of technical difficulties when it came to using the app during the 3 days I was in the parks. I’m going to address the tech issues at the end of this post because the majority of people have been able to use Genie+ without any problems, so I want to try and take a more objective view on the actual quality of the service rather than the associated technical difficulties.
“Worth,” of course, is a difficult thing to define in a situation like this because it means something different for everyone. We all value different things, so whether or not Genie+ is worth it to you may vary. So when we ask Is Disney’s Genie+ worth it?, the answer may be different for different people. Here I’m going to try and hit on some of the major points and things that I think many Disney fans value and are looking for during their vacation, as well as just share a first hand experience with using the service.
Of course the first thing to consider when asking “is Disney’s Genie+ worth it?” is the cost. It is currently $15 per person per day. A family of 4 visiting the parks for 5 days is looking at an additional $300 for the trip. This doesn’t include if you want to purchase any “individual Lightning Lanes,” which are some of the most popular attractions and are a completely separate purchase.
Obviously the main objective of Genie+ and paying for it is to save you time waiting in line. We all know how tedious lines can be and how frustrating it feels when the lines are super long and you’re spending a large portion of your day standing around in a queue.
So did it feel like Genie+ saved me time? Yes and no. In some parks and certain situations, absolutely. It was great being able to use the Lightning Lanes at Hollywood Studios. There are a number of attractions there which use Lightning Lanes and can get pretty long waits. I used it 3 times at Hollywood Studios and all 3 times I bypassed waits there were 45-50 minutes. While I didn’t spend too much time in Magic Kingdom, there’s plenty to do there where it makes sense to have it. Animal Kingdom and Epcot were a bit more hit or miss.
And it was fast! Maybe this will change if more people start using it, but fastpass used to mean that you’d come back to a shorter wait, but you still might wait 15 minutes depending on the attraction. With Genie+ I pretty much walked right on to everything. For the nerds like me of course I kept some numbers:
|Attraction||Posted wait time||Time I arrived||Got to pre-show||On attraction||Total wait from entrance to pre-show||Total wait from entrance to ride|
|Rock N Roller Coaster||45 minutes||11:11am||11:14am||11:22am||3 minutes||11 minutes|
|Tower of Terror||50 minutes||11:36am||11:41am||11:46am||5 minutes||10 minutes|
|Toy Story Midway Mania||50 minutes||2:52pm||N/A||2:57pm||N/A||5 minutes|
|Splash Mountain||35 minutes||4:38pm||N/A||4:42pm||N/A||4 minutes|
|Pirates of the Caribbean||35 minutes||5:26pm||N/A||5:32pm||N/A||6 minutes|
|Kilimanjaro Safaris||15 minutes||9:28am||N/A||9:32am||N/A||4 minutes|
|Soarin’||15 minutes||1:37pm||1:41pm||1:43pm||4 minutes||6 minutes|
|Test Track||35 minutes||3:27pm||3:33pm||3:42pm||6 minutes||15 minutes|
I opted not to use Lightning Lanes to its potential the days I was in Animal Kingdom and Epcot – mostly because of the technical snafus I was dealing with and my personal touring preferences. If things had worked correctly for me I absolutely would have used them a lot more and I think gotten even more value out of it.
As it was, in Hollywood Studios I arrived at 8:30am and left to park hop to Magic Kingdom at 3:30pm. Despite the fact that I had tech issues that significantly slowed down the rate at which I could book Lightning Lanes from my phone, I still did all of the following within those seven hours by utilizing standby lines and Genie+ (NOT paying for individual lightning lanes):
- Rise of the Resistance
- Millennium Falcon: Smugger’s Run
- Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway
- Star Tours
- Rock n Roller Coaster
- Tower of Terror
- Frozen Sing-Along Show
- Toy Story Midway Mania
- Lunch at Hollywood Brown Derby
- Oga’s Cantina (2 drinks)
- Stopped for blue milk
- Two photopass stops
- Several visits with guest experiences
Upon park hopping to Magic Kingdom, where I was from 4:30pm-8:30pm, I had 4 hours in which I did:
- Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
- Splash Mountain
- Pirates of the Caribbean
- Hid from downpouring rain for about 15 minutes
- Monsters Inc Laugh Floor
- Pictures in front of the castle
- Fireworks Dessert party
- Disney Enchantment fireworks
I also arrived at the dessert party a bit before 6:30pm and didn’t do any other attractions after that. Overall this was all in one day and for $15 I feel like I was able to do a lot! I think I would have added several attractions if I’d been able to book the lightning lanes without tech issues. So for a day like this it totally feels worth it.
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IIs Disney’s Genie+ worth it for every park?
Not necessarily – it really does depend on which attractions you want to do and how much time you have in the park. WIthout a doubt I think it’s worth it for Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios. In Animal Kingdom the only real attractions where you will see some value from it are Navi River Journey, Kilimanjaro Safaris, and Dinosaur. Epcot has a similar situation, where you’re really only going to have long lines that you can pass with Genie+ at Test Track, Soarin’, and possilby Mission: SPACE or Spaceship Earth depending on the time of year and how crowded those attractions are.
But if you have a park hopper pass you’ll see a lot more value in Genie+. Not only will you be able to use it at your second park, some of the more popular attractions (like Tower of Terror or Toy Story Mania) may have very long wait times by the afternoon.
If you’re debating whether to buy it morning of or get it for the length of your ticket ahead of time, if you feel like you’re probably going to use it most days I’d go ahead and buy it now. I really think it takes a little bit of extra stress off that way. It’s one less thing to worry about and have to remember to do when you’re actually on vacation. If you’d rather play it day by day you do have the option to do it day-of as well.
Will the lightning lane selections run out too quickly to make it worth it?
It’s hard to say if that could happen in the future during extremely busy times, but so far it has not been difficult to get a lightning lane selection throughout the day. Even if you want one for a more popular attraction that has a further off return time, you can book a second selection either after you use the first or 2 hours after you booked the first.
For example, I booked my first Lightning Lane in Epcot at 10:45am. I wanted to do Test Track and the return time was 2:25-3:25pm. I booked that and then was able to book a second one for Soarin at 12:45pm (which had a return time of 1:30-2:30pm).
Most things had availability throughout most of the day. Once you got later into the evening there were less choices but there were still options. I’ve had a few people ask me if it’s worth it to have to get up at 7am to book your first Genie+ selection. I actually think this is a great feature for someone who would rather sleep in because you don’t have to get there right at rope drop to have shorter wait times. If you really want to go hardcore and do as many rides as possible then yes, you’ll want to get up at 7am so you can have a selection and then be able to make second choice at 9am. But otherwise you can get up at 8:30, 9:00 and still have plenty of availability for return times in the 11am-2pm range (at least if things continue the way they were for me).
Should I get Genie+ and the individual Lightning Lane selections?
I will be the first to admit that these “individual Lightning Lanes” are one of the worst parts of Genie+ and potentially take away from the value of buying it. You’ve got two totally separate entities here which creates a lot of (confusing) options: you can choose to buy Genie+ and pay for the individual LL you’d like, you could buy Genie+ and not pay for any individual LL (that’s what I did), you could only buy individual LL and not Genie+, or you don’t have to buy any of it. Here’s brief overview of each of these scenarios:
This is how you’ll truly maximize your time and hit all the attractions with short waits and low stress. The downside of course is that it’s the most expensive option. You’re buying Genie+ for $15 and if you want to do both “individual Lightning Lane” choices you could be looking at an additional $15-25. So you could potentially be spending about $40 to know that you can skip the waits for pretty much everything.
Buying only Genie+:
You get to skip the waits for a majority of attractions, but not the “biggest ones” in each park. So in Hollywood Studios you can’t use it for Rise of the Resistance or Runaway Railway (you have to buy those separately). On the other hand it feels nicer to just pay one fee and not worry about whether each individual attraction is “worth” whatever they’re charging for it that day. Paying $15 to skip waits for a number of things feels more palatable. Thinking to myself “is riding Space Mountain without too long of a wait really worth $10 to me?” becomes more difficult. I still did everything I wanted to do by choosing Genie+ options that were later in the morning and doing standby for the other major ones right at park opening. I literally walked on to Rise of the Resistance by being there for early theme park entry right when it opened. I got a virtual queue to ride Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure.
Buying only Individual Lightning Lanes:
This could be a better approach if you’re mostly interested in experiencing what’s new and exciting. If your must-do list includes Rise of the Resistance, Runaway Railway, Remy’s, and Flight of Passage but you’d survive if you didn’t get to do Rock n Roller Coaster, Jungle Cruise, Millennium Falcon, or Test Track, then you may want to put the money just towards those individual lightning lanes.
Don’t forget that this is always an option. You can still potentially ride anything you’d like without having to pay for it, you just have to strategize a bit more and accept that you’ll have to wait a bit. You can use standby for every attraction right now except Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, where there are two times you can try to join the virtual queue to ride.
Will the free Genie service help me optimize my day?
You might be tempted to think that with the free Genie service, where it helps you build an itinerary for the day, you could avoid purchasing Genie+ and using the forecasted wait times to figure out when is best to hit each attraction. Theoretically this would be a great idea. As I feared though, the free Genie itinerary builder is frankly terrible.
Even though you can input your top priority attractions and what you’d like to do, the Genie mostly just ignores that. When it was first announced I had joked that it was just going to tell you to go to Mickey’s Philharmagic all the time, just like when paper fastpasses existed and you’d often get a “bonus” fastpass… but it was always for Mickey’s Philharmagic. Turns out I actually wasn’t too off base. Despite the fact that I didn’t check off any of these as my preferences, the Genie still recommended I start off my morning in Hollywood Studios with Vacation Fun (An Original Animated Short), Muppet Vision 3D, and Lightning McQueen’s Racing Academy.
This is basically the worst strategy you could use for Hollywood Studios, as during that time I actually did Rise of the Resistance, Millennium Falcon, and Runaway Railway all with pretty low waits. I wouldn’t even both using this free feature, at least not right now. If you want a detailed itinerary you’re going to have to do it the old-fashioned way and come up with one yourself (I’ve got some advice here if this is the sort of thing you’re into!).
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I’d recommend you purchase Genie+ if:
You have park hoppers
You’re significantly increasing the amount of ways you can use Genie+ when you’re park hopping.
You’re spending less than 4 days in the parks
2 or 3 days in the parks definitely isn’t enough time to do everything, but Genie+ will help you get a lot more done in the limited time you have.
You don’t want to worry about waiting in lines
Some people really can’t stand waiting in lines – I get it! The Genie+ is perfect for you.
You’d rather sleep in a little
At least right now, I found it was nice to know that I didn’t have to get to the park right at rope drop to hit some of the biggest rides before they got crowded. Knowing I had Genie+ and could use that to do those later in the day meant I could relax a little more.
You like to do as many rides as possible
If you’re all about the rides and attractions and like to do as much as possible, Genie+ is all about maximizing your time.
You might want to pass on buying Genie+ if:
You’re going during a lower crowd time
Though honestly, there are so many times now that are more crowded than they used to be this may only be during September or other random slower weeks throughout the year.
You have a smaller budget
At the end of the day it’s an extra expense, so if you’re trying to be very budget-conscious you may want to skip paying for it – technically all of the rides can be done without paying, you just might wait a little longer.
You don’t do a lot of attractions
There’s plenty to do in Disney besides rides (like shows, food, watching random entertainment, parades, and fireworks). If you don’t do a lot of attractions you won’t see the value.
You’re mainly visiting Animal Kingdom and/or Epcot (and not park hopping)
This could definitely change in the future, but right now these are the places where I saw the least value in Disney Genie+.
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It would really be remiss of me not to discuss the (pretty massive) technical issue I had while using Genie+. In the most simple terms, I could not book or select my Lightning Lane times from the app on my phone – every time I tried to click one I got an error message that said “Something’s gone wrong.” The only way I was able to book my next ride using the Lightning Lane was either to talk to a guest experiences cast member or talk to someone in the chat feature on the app.
Obviously this was hugely frustrating. If things worked correctly I would have been able to get in a Lightning Lane for an attraction and then make another reservation from my phone. Instead I had to wait until I was off the attraction and could find a cast member. So this added some time to my day. Luckily Disney has stationed “guest experiences” cast members around the parks so you don’t have to trek all the way up to the front of the park to guest relations. I also had some luck with the chat feature and a cast member responding and being able to book one for me – sometimes they responded pretty quickly, within 5 minutes, but at other times it was 45 minutes or more so that wasn’t a super reliable option.
I’m trying to be optimistic that IT will figure out the issue and fix it, because I really think if I didn’t have the technical difficulties I would be raving about Genie+. The majority of people I saw were able to use it without a problem and seemed to really enjoy it. But the whole point of Genie+ is to save time waiting in lines, and I ended up spending time waiting to talk to cast members every time I needed to do something.
And being Disney, they did their best to try and make it right in the time being (because guest relations has no control over IT issues). After the first day they offered it for free to me for the second day (and ultimately the third). I think if I’d asked for a refund they would have given it, but one of my goals of the trip was to test Genie+ so I wanted to stick with it.
Is Disney’s Genie+ worth it for me? Would I get Genie+ again?
Yes – as long as I know the technical issues I had wouldn’t be occurring anymore. As long as everything works the way it was supposed to I’d absolutely get it again. Since I go to Disney so often and have an annual pass it’s not necessarily something I would get every trip, but depending on the situation I would. My next trip is in January with my parents, and I’m already thinking we’ll do it for that trip since they don’t visit very often and it will be a good way to make sure they see a lot in a shorter amount of time. But on trips when I go solo and tend to spend a lot more time trying new foods, practicing my photography, or watching entertainment I’d probably pass on it for that.
This is still too confusing!
If you’re still confused or finding all of the Disney planning to be a bit much, reach out to a travel agent. I’m happy to help people plan their Disney vacations. If you book your trip through me it’s no extra cost to you (I get paid on commission by Disney so my services are free for you!) and I can help advise you and provide up to date information on everything going on, including Genie+. Feel free to contact me today if you’re ready to book your trip.
What do you think – Is Disney’s Genie+ worth it? Will you be trying it on your next trip?