Of course, I had to try out the new Genie and Genie+ option on my most recent trip. I have heard other people's experiences and know that some guests have had some issues. This is solely my experience and my opinion.
There are several aspects to the new offerings so I will take them one at a time.
This is the free planning tool that is now available. I gave it a try on my Animal Kingdom day.
You start your planning by selecting "My Genie Day" in your Disney app. You can only start planning on the actual day you are using it.
From there, you will select "Get started" and then go through a few screens where you can make selections. You can chose what attractions you would like to experience that day, where you may want to dine and if you have any height restrictions for anyone in your party.
When you are done you will get to the main screen where you have a choice at the top to look at "Tip Board" and "My Day." This was the part that I think can get tricky or confusing. You have to be sure you are looking at the right tab in order for it to make sense.
You can see from "My Day" that my first next recommended activity for this day was to see Kite Tails.
I completely followed what was suggested for my day at Animal Kingdom. To be fair, I was not interested in the two Pandora attractions and Everest is currently down so wait times for those rides were not a factor. I did want to ride the Safari and I waited to do so until the Genie suggested that it was a good time. I ended up waiting only 20 minutes on what was a busy day at the park.
Genie will make recommendations for mobile order of counter services meals and tell you when you should order based on current pick up window times.
I had a good experience with this Genie planned day. I do wish you could indicate somehow that you had done an attraction so it would know that was completed on your plan for the day.
This is the paid version of Genie. The current cost is $15 plus tax, per person. I used this a few times during my stay.
You can add Genie+ to your park ticket for the full length of your stay or you can add it one day at a time. Because I was using an annual pass, I had to add it each day that I wanted to use it. You can add it after midnight. I just did it the morning I wanted to use it.
You start off the same by selecting "My Genie Day." You will see an option to add Genie+ service. You select your party, pay and then you are all set. TIP: If you want to use Disney Gift Cards, make a note in your phone with the number and then copy and paste it into the pay screen.
With Genie+, you can make Lightning Lane reservations. Lightning Lane is the new term for FastPass. You make a reservation for a one hour window return time. When you arrive to the attraction, you use the Lightning Lane entrance and have a short, if any, wait time.
If you are a Disney Resort guest, you can make your first selection at 7 am. If you are not a Disney Resort guest, you can make your first selection at the official opening time of the park.
If you do want some popular attractions, like Rise or Slinky Dog, you need to be on the app and ready to go by 7 am. On my Studios day, Slinky Dog and Rise were both gone for the day by 7:01 am.
You can make your next selection either after you use your first selection OR two hours after you made a selection. So if you make a selection at 9 am for a return time of 5 pm for Slinky Dog, you can make a second selection at 11 am for another attraction even though you haven't used your first selection yet.
The one tricky aspect for Resort guests is that your two hours start at park open, not at 7 am. So if you book your first selection at 7 am and the park opens at 9 am. You can only make your second selection at 11 am (or after you have used your first selection).
So how did it work for me? Worked great! There is definitely a learning curve. You have to back and forth on the "Tip Board" and "My day" tabs to see what you have booked and what is available next.
Crowd levels definitely make a difference as well. It was fairly busy for most of the days that I was there. I would average about 3-4 Lightning Lane selections each day. There were usually more available but I either wasn't interested in the ride or the time was later in the day and I was heading out of the park to do something else. But I had one day at the Magic Kingdom where it was a light crowd day. I was able to do 3 LL attractions (Peter Pan, Haunted Mansion and Winnie the Pooh) all within 40 minutes. As soon as I scanned my Magic Band at the attraction, I would hop on the app and book my next one.
You can have overlapping plans so you can work that to your advantage (and also mess yourself up if you have a dining reservation so be careful). On my Epcot day, I booked Soarin' at 7am. Then when my two hour window had expired, I booked Living with the Land. I was able to go right from one attraction to the next. It was a rainy day so both attractions had a 40 minute stand by wait at the time so it worked out great to hop on both with no wait.
Individual Lightning Lanes
Another paid feature is the option to purchase individual Lightning lane reservations. There are two attractions in each park that have either the option for a purchased individual Lightning Lane reservation or a stand by wait. The price varies by attraction and by time of year (so it will cost more at busier times.)
This is going to be a personal decision for each guest. On this trip, I purchased one for Mickey and Minnie's Railway because I love it and I wanted to be sure to ride. The wait times were about 40-60 minutes throughout my stay and I ended up using stand by to ride it twice more. My husband and I also purchased one for Remy because he had not experienced that attraction yet and the waits had been 90 minutes or more.
We both love Rise of the Resistance but we have done it several times so we decided not to purchase a LL for that this trip. The waits were also 90 min or more and we chose not to wait for it. On another trip, we may decide differently but that was what we did this time.
Some Fun Add Ons
There are a few bonus features available with the Genie+ part of the app - Audio Tales and Photo Lenses.
The Audio Tales are little informational tidbits specific to the park that you are in. They are less than 2 minutes long. I listened to a few while I was waiting for one thing or another. They are good for some fun facts.
I had a lot of fun with the photo lenses. There are quite a few. Some you have to be in a certain area of the park to access - like Galaxy's Edge or in Remy's area of Epcot. Here are just a few of the ones I played with:
Summary and My Opinion
While there was definitely a learning curve, I thought adding Genie+ was worth it. It was pretty busy on my trip and it helped me do more attractions than I would have been able to do without it. I really don't purchase much for souvenirs anymore so I just considered the daily purchase what I wanted to do with my Disney gift cards. I have an annual pass right now, but if I didn't I would just add it right from the start of the booking process and have it just became part of my total trip cost.
I do wish you could select an attraction for a Lightning Lane more than once a day. There were time slots available for attractions late in the day but I couldn't book them because I had already used a LL already that day for the attraction. I think if they are available, you should be able to use them.
In my opinion, frustration from guests come from two sources - technology and unrealistic expectations. I am fully aware that Disney's app and technology are not always magical. I have never really had major problems myself but I know it happens. There are Guest Relation cast members by blue umbrellas throughout the parks. They are there to help with tech problems, if needed.
As far as expectations, after using the system, to me it is very similar to Fastpass except that you do it the day of instead of 60 days in advance. With the FastPass system you could select 3 attractions in advance and on my trips I would use those 3 and then MAYBE be able to get 1-2 more. With Genie+, I was averaging 3-4 attractions with LL per day so that is about the same. If you think that Genie+ will let you experience attractions back to back all day long with no waits, you are going to be disappointed and frustrated.
I hope I gave a good overview of the process and my experience. I am always happy to answer any questions.
I am always available to help you book your Walt Disney World vacation. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
I have been a huge Disney and travel fan since childhood. I love going to new places and, of course, heading to Disney as often as I can.