Disney Genie has finally arrived in Walt Disney World introducing a ton of new planning tools and ways to “skip the lines” at popular attractions (at a price) through the My Disney Experience app.
From how to purchase Disney Genie+ and Individual Attraction Selections (which have both replaced FastPass+) to covering whether it’s really worth it to stay at a Disney World Resort with the new services, we’ve been bringing you EVERYTHING that you need to know before you head into the parks on your next trip. And, after a full day of testing out all the new features, we’re looking back at our biggest takeaways from the day!
Disney Genie+ is Worth it in Some Parks (but NOT Always Others)
Our reporters were out in the parks testing Disney Genie+ to the limit today and, while some of them had major success in riding A TON of rides, others found that it wasn’t as helpful as they expected.
In Magic Kingdom, one of our reports was able to ride over 20 (!!) different attractions before 5PM using a combination of Lightning Lanes with Genie+ and Individual Attraction Selections and wait time predictions from the free Genie service in the My Disney Experience app.
But, our reporter at Disney’s Hollywood Studios found that using Genie+ was a bit more difficult because return windows were booking up bright and early.
For example, when logging on at 7AM to make the first Genie+ Lightning Lane selection, the earliest return window available for Slinky Dog Dash wasn’t until 4PM. And, because of Disney’s new 120-Minute Rule (more on that later), they couldn’t select a Lightning Lane return time for another attraction until 2 hours after the park had opened at 11AM.
AND, by the time the clock struck 11AM, most of the Genie+ Lightning Lane return windows for attractions were booked out until later into the evening.
Note: Keep in mind that this 120-Minute Rule only applies to attractions that have Lightning Lane return windows that are more than 2 hours away when you book. Otherwise, you’ll be able to select your next Lightning Lane reservation immediately after you scan into the one you have booked (without having to wait 2 hours in between).
Over at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, our reporter was able to save a lot of time using Lightning Lanes at Genie+ and Individual Attraction Selection rides. However, they found that “skipping the line” wasn’t much of an advantage due to the low standby wait times across the park.
For example, they purchased an Individual Lightning Lane for Expedition Everest (which cost $7 per person today) and were able to walk right on during their return window. But, the standby wait time was only posted at 10 minutes.
Now, it’s important to note that we’re testing all of this on a Tuesday in October (which isn’t a peak time for crowds), so Genie+ may become more worth it at select parks as crowd levels increase. But, based on our experience today, it may be best to pick and choose which parks you want to purchase Genie+ for instead of purchasing for your entire vacation.
Book Your Genie+ Lightning Lanes as Early as Possible
All guests who have opted to purchase Disney Genie+ for the day of their trip (even if they’ve purchased it in advance) can make their first Lightning Lane selection at 7AM on the same day. And, that’s when our reporters were in the My Disney Experience app, seeing what strategy works best for making your selection!
The app will automatically pull up the earliest Lightning Lane return time for each attraction at the park that you have a Park Pass Reservation for and we suggest finding the earliest return time first (preferably right around park opening) rather than focusing on specific attractions that you want to ride.
This is because you can run into a similar situation to what we shared earlier about Lightning Lanes in Disney’s Hollywood Studios where your return time isn’t until much later in the day and you can’t select another Lighting Lane for another 2 hours after the park opens. So, if you want to maximize your ability to ride as much as you can, tackle the rides in order to return times rather than in order of what rides you really want to hop on.
Disney Resort Guests — Take Advantage of Early Theme Park Entry FIRST
Throughout the day, we found that the Individual Attraction Selection was a great way to tackle some of the most popular rides in the parks with virtually no wait at all. But, if you’re a Disney World Resort Hotel guest, you might be able to save some cash and opt to take advantage of another FREE perk — Early Theme Park Entry.
This new Disney Resort benefit allows guests staying at any Disney-owned hotel (and a few others) to head into any of the four theme parks 30 minutes before the park is set to open each day. And, that is a GREAT time to hop on the most popular rides with a short wait.
So, instead of shelling out $15 per person to ride Rise of the Resistance, first see if you can hop in the line with a short wait during Early Theme Park Entry. And, if you arrive late or find that that line is too long for you, you can then opt to purchase the Individual Attraction Selection later.
In our experience, almost all of the Individual Attraction Selection rides had return windows available for purchase throughout the entirety of the day. And, Rise of the Resistance was the first (and only) one to sell out around 10AM.
There’s a Whole New Set of Rules to Learn
Earlier we mentioned a new 120-Minute Rule that is being implemented as part of Disney Genie+. And, it’s a pretty important (and VERY confusing) one to understand — here’s a full breakdown!
Genie+ selections work by allowing guests to book one at a time. This means that you can either book another Genie+ Lightning Lane once the initial Genie+ selection is used or after two hours if your next Lightning Lane isn’t until later in the day (whichever comes first).
But, if you’re making a Lightning Lane selection at 7AM with a return window that is more than 2 hours after the park opens, the 120-minute clock doesn’t start counting down until the park actually opens.
So, if EPCOT doesn’t open until 10AM and you make your first Lightning Lane selection at 7AM for a return window at 2PM that day, you won’t be able to book your second Lightning Lane until 12PM — a full 5 hours after you made your initial selection.
Standby Wait Times Are Still Pretty Average
One of the biggest questions that Disney fans had when Genie+ and Individual Attraction Selections were originally announced was — how will this impact standby wait times at the rides? And, based on our experience today, it hasn’t really!
Scroll through the tip board to see current standby times and the next Genie+ Lightning Lane time slot pic.twitter.com/q4yiiyCdth
— AllEars.Net (@AllEarsNet) October 19, 2021
For example, at Disney’s Animal Kingdom we waited only 24 minutes for Kilimanjaro Safaris (though the posted wait time was 50 minutes), at Magic Kingdom we waited 18 minutes for Space Mountain (with a posted wait time of 30 minutes), and at EPCOT we waited only 28 minutes for Frozen Ever After (with a posted wait time of 70 minutes).
Now, this could just be Disney working out a few kinks in the process and learning exactly how Lightning Lanes will impact the standby line, but, in our experience, your wait in line won’t be dramatically longer if you’re opting not to purchase Lightning Lanes.
You DO Still Need to Plan Ahead
While much of Disney Genie is created to be used on the day of your trip, we noticed that it was much easier to navigate the parks with the new planning tools if we input our preferences before heading into the park — even if you aren’t paying to “skip the lines.”
The FREE Genie is packed with unique features that are made to help you maximize your time in the park, but it will only be a big help if you provide it with your preferences.
So, before you head into the parks, open up your My Disney Experience app and navigate to the “My Day” tab in the new Genie feature. From there, you can input which attractions, entertainment, and dining experiences are important to you, add in any height restrictions for those in your party, and even let the app know when you plan to park hop that day.
Disney Genie will then create a completely personalized itinerary for you that will ensure that you tackle everything that you’d like to before the end of the day (and it will even update throughout the day depending on what you do!).
The Free Disney Genie is Smart…But Not THAT Smart
As with any new technology, Disney Genie isn’t perfect just yet. Throughout the day, we noticed a few glitches in the free planning tool.
For example, Genie was developed to be smart enough to track your phone’s Bluetooth and eliminate any ride suggestions that you’ve already ridden. And, while this worked for the most part, there were a few cases where it suggested that we ride something that we had already been on earlier in the day.
And, Genie is only pulling data from the wait times that are posted at each attraction. So, if the actual wait is shorter than what’s posted, it won’t know that.
We Want More From the Free Disney Genie
Even without the few glitches in the free Disney Genie, there were still a few things that we thought were missing from the app that is made to help maximize your time.
While the tool was very helpful in recommending what we did want to do, we really wish that there was a way to tell Genie what we don’t want to do without having to go through the suggested schedule and remove each individually. And, to overcome the issue of Genie suggesting that we ride something that we’ve already been on, it would be great to have an “already rode” button.
So, ready or not, Disney Genie is here! We hope that these takeaways have helped you gain a better understanding of how to take advantage of the newest features (and whether they’re for you). And, of course, we’ll continue to cover all of the latest updates that you need to know before your next trip so be sure to stay tuned to AllEars!
Disney Genie News
- 5 Small Changes That Would Make Disney Genie SO Much Better
- How Everyone Wastes Money on Disney World Tickets
- How Disney Genie Defines the Bob Chapek Era
- 4 Disney Experts Weigh in on Genie+
- VIDEOS: What We’ve Learned Using Genie+ in Disney World This Past Month
- 10 Times Disney World Changed for the Better
- There’s Been an Update on the Disney Genie+ Loophole
- 14 Times You Should Consider Buying Genie+ in Disney World
- Why You Keep Seeing Disney in Your Trending Topics
- How Disney’s Disability Access Service Changed With Genie
Join the AllEars.net Newsletter to stay on top of ALL the breaking Disney News! You'll also get access to AllEars tips, reviews, trivia, and MORE! Click here to Subscribe!
Are you planning on using Disney Genie on your next trip? Let us know in the comments!