If you are a Disney parks fan, or just someone who is planning a vacation, you have probably heard about the new app feature Disney is rolling out on October 19th. Like most fans, I have opinions. And questions. Lots and lots of questions.
The Genie+ system replaces Fastpass+ In a way, it’s an electronic throwback to the original Fastpass. When Disney first introduced the idea of being able to reserve a place in line, it was a hassle. You had to go to the ride, find the Fastpass machines, stand in line, feed in the ticket cards for every single person in your group, with all the hiccups and hassles that came with that, and then the machine would spit out a paper slip giving you your return time.
The biggest drawbacks, though, were that you had to go to the ride, then if the return time wasn’t that far ahead, you had to lurk in the area because you didn’t have time to get on another ride. Great for the gift shops, not great for time management. You couldn’t get a new one until you used your old one.
Still, it had its good points, too. Everybody got their passes that day, so people couldn’t fill all the slots months ahead. It allowed for more spontaneity than Fastpass+, because you didn’t have to try to set a ride schedule weeks before the trip.
Fastpass+ made a big change. You could pick three rides per day, though all in the same park. Hotel guests got to get their passes before anyone else, so for new popular rides, Annual Passholders and day guests had very little chance of being able to snag one. It was done by computer or app, not shoe leather. It was a pretty good system though far from perfect.
BUT… it helped edge people into a mindset where they felt they had to preplan every aspect of their vacation. Pick what parks for each day, your must-do rides, your restaurant reservations… months in advance. People felt they had to. So I completely understand why a lot of guests didn’t like it. “I snagged a reservation for Cinderella’s Royal Table! Wait, we were planning to be in Animal Kingdom that day. I’ll have to redo everything.”
So, how does Genie+ work? First of all, you have to pay for it. Bye bye free ride passes. At Disney World it will be $15 a day per person. Just like the original Fastpass, you can only get them on that day and you can only hold one at a time. It does have the advantage of being on the app so that you don’t have to make that trip across the park. You can only use it once per ride, so no going on the Haunted Mansion thirteen times in a row. Well, you can, but you will have to stand in the regular standby line. Which is still free, by the way. The only things with a charge are the advanced reservations.
Here’s the big kicker – Genie+ doesn’t work for the most popular rides. Instead, they have (drumroll please) Lightning Lanes. What are those? Well, those are reservations, too. Only, you have to pay for them individually, and you can only buy two a day. Per person. Never forget all the prices you see are per person.
How much do these special passes cost? Darned if I know. Disney has released a few ‘base prices’, but they plan to use a surge system so if demand is high the price goes up. Pity the Christmas vacationers! At least you don’t have to pay the $15 Genie+ fee to use Lightning Lanes, so if there is just one ride that you absolutely have to go on, you can do that without buying the day-long service.
The Genie part (no plus sign) alone offers some free functions like trying to generate an itinerary based on your preferences. I plan to use it within the next few weeks to give my opinion. And I will pick out a day to try Genie+ and the Disability Access Service in a head to head challenge once the DAS is included in the app. If you have someone in your group with particular needs, you can decide which to try.
“But Poor Gail,” I hear you think, “there are dozens of Disney blogs that will be there the very first day with hoards of staffers who can give me a review. Why should I come back here?” Here’s why – I won’t pull any punches. That goes for everything in this blog. Have you ever notices that the Big Blogs never come right out and say somethings sucks? “We didn’t care for this dish, but if you like (insert criticism here) it might be to your taste.” They will never ever say, “Wow, this is awful.” That’s because they like getting perks from Disney. They get invited to special preview events, for example, because Disney knows that they function as free advertising.
So I’ll come back to this topic. Honestly, I can’t give a true opinion until I have the app in my hand and a park under my feet. See you then!