How to Use Disney Genie at Disney World

How to Use Disney Genie at Disney World

Disney World's Genie service is changing, and parents are expressing frustration with the challenges of using the app-based service to plan their vacations.  (Photo: Walt Disney World Resort; Courtney Kiefer, photographer)

Disney World’s Genie service is changing, and parents are expressing frustration with the challenges of using the app-based service to plan their vacations. (Photo: Walt Disney World Resort; Courtney Kiefer, photographer)

Remember when the most important part of your Walt Disney World vacation was making sure you packed sunscreen and comfortable shoes? As the company moves toward more technology-based scheduling tools, your phone — and more importantly the My Disney Experience mobile app — has proven more vital than ever.

After reopening amid the pandemic, Disney Parks ditched its longstanding FastPass, a way to reserve guaranteed times to ride different attractions, and offered guests only one option to visit attractions well- loved ones: good old-fashioned queues. Shortly after, it was announced that FastPass would never return and that a new ride time reservation system was in the works.

Launching in October 2021, Disney Genie is integrated directly into existing Disney Parks mobile apps and acts as a personal concierge, offering suggested itineraries personalized based on preferences and interests. The add-on, Disney Genie+ is a paid service, offering park visitors an additional $15 per person per day on top of the already pricey park tickets. Genie+ acts much like the defunct FastPass, allowing customers to book expedited access, via a “Lightning Lane”, to attractions on the day of their visit.

Walt Disney World attractions are now split into a queue and a

Walt Disney World attractions are now divided into a waiting line and a “lightning lane”, where those who have paid for Genie+ service (and often additional a la carte attraction fees) can bypass the lines. (Photo: Carly Caramanna)

Unlike FastPass, which offered attraction reservations up to 60 days in advance, the new system operates on a day-to-day basis. Attractions can be booked from 7:00 am on the day of your visit and every two hours or after scanning the current attraction. Some high-demand attractions are excluded from this system and must be purchased a la carte at an additional additional charge, which can vary, on average, between an additional $8-$12 per person per attraction.

The intention of the system is to add ease of planning and a level of spontaneity, but real-world practice has proven to be something else entirely. In its less than a year of existence, the system has been plagued with issues ranging from app glitches and ride outages to limited uptime. In the fine print of the paid service, Disney suggests that users should only be able to ride two or three attractions per day with the service: a far cry from the old free system that offered customers three guaranteed attractions in advance plus the option to ride. add several more on the day of their visit.

“I wasn’t initially concerned about the new Genie+ system,” says Michelle Bullas, an attorney who has visited Walt Disney World more than a dozen times. “I had no problem with them monetizing the old FastPass system, but I do have a problem with them charging you for a system that offers less value than the free system they used.”

Although she arrived at her vacation familiar with the new system, her experience with Disney Genie+ didn’t exactly go as planned as it was riddled with issues.

“What I discovered was that the system has terrible latency, which meant that I just didn’t get passes for the rides that were my priority,” says Bullas. “I was up at 7am every morning which meant I couldn’t sleep once during my vacation. The internet in the parks was letting me down, so when it was time to get the next pass, I had to refresh the app again and again and delay my next booking – wasting more time on vacation.”

One day using Disney Genie+, her group was unable to book attractions until the evening. She spent many hours serving customers with no help that could be offered. “They couldn’t do anything, they kept telling me, ‘It’s the app’.”

“It made me seriously rethink visiting the parks,” adds the longtime Disney Parks visitor.

The unreliable system adds unnecessary holiday stress to the parent or guest looking to create a structured schedule, given that the service can be purchased in advance but no attractions can be scheduled until the day of his visit.

Disney Genie+ works in direct contradiction to Walt Disney World’s dining system, which allows reservations to be made 60 days in advance. To complicate matters further, if an attraction time window booked through Disney Genie+ conflicts with their pre-determined restaurant reservations, guests will need to consult with Guest Relations to avoid the no-show fee, which quickly adds up to $10 per person.

Planning-day necessities become even more convoluted when considering not only Disney Genie+ reservations, but also virtual queues and pay-per-view attraction purchases. Despite constant criticism and backlash, Disney stuck to the system by implementing a number of changes during its relatively short lifespan.

And, as we approach the busy first summer season with Disney Genie+ indeed, Walt Disney World has once again changed the rules. Announced on May 18, the paid service will no longer be available for pre-purchase, with the company highlighting the terminology that the service is “subject to availability.”

What does this mean for the planning parent? Disney Genie+ purchases begin at 12:00 p.m. on the day of the visit. The planner in charge of the reservation will have to buy the service late at night, to avoid a possible sale. A few hours later, they will be responsible for preparing the 7:00 a.m. booking window to open and begin booking attractions. At the time of this article’s publication, the same changes have not been announced for the Disneyland Resort version of the Genie service.

With recent news, Micah Goldsberry and his wife, both former Disney Parks employees and longtime regular visitors to the parks, are feeling concerned about the upcoming two-week family vacation with their young children, aged 5 and 7. .

“Until the announcement, we were playing day to day with Genie+ and getting it some days and not some days,” Goldsberry told Yahoo Life. “I don’t mind getting up early and getting it on the days we want it, but will it be available then? Or do we have to get up at midnight? Is the price increasing? Disney Vacation Club guest, could we be kicked out?

The questions continue to rain down on the couple, who are familiar with visiting Disney parks. “We’re definitely seasoned veterans, and that frustrates us,” Goldsberry shares. “I can’t imagine how people feel going to Walt Disney World for the first time.”

Many have taken to social media to voice their concerns, with infrequent visitors feeling completely overwhelmed.

Those planning the next Disney vacation have sought out trip planners to help them navigate the complex system. Experienced Travel Agent, Jenn Greenshared that his company has gone so far as to create how-to guides with step-by-step instructions to help their customers use Disney Genie+.

“Overall, my clients didn’t find it a worthwhile experience,” Greene told Yahoo Life. “I had a handful, maybe 10 customers, book it, and they all hate it. They hate that you now have to pay for FastPasses, which were free before the pandemic, they hate that you can’t book attractions before 7 a.m. on the day of.”

Paid services for online access are not new to the theme park industry. Universal Orlando Resort has long used a system, called the Express Pass, which allows expedited access to almost any attraction. Although more expensive than the new Disney World counterpart, starting at $79.99, it has long been lauded for its ease of use. Universal’s single wholesale price covers nearly all attractions, including most high-demand attractions. Instead of reserving time slots, customers can freely access the express line whenever they want. Plus, Universal Orlando Resort guests staying at their upper-tier resorts receive the service for free.

As someone who visits the Disney parks several times a month, I’m well versed in navigating Genie+, glitches and all. If you’re headed to Disney World and worried about the changes, here’s what I learned about navigating the system and the best experience possible.

  • When the 7:00 a.m. booking window opens for booking, use one device to book standard Disney Genie+ attractions and use another device if you’re also looking to book high-demand attractions, like Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and Avatar : Flight of Passage, which are only available as separate pay-per-view purchases.

  • Take advantage of the service’s ability to book attractions every two hours by “stacking” your return times for later in the day. Since it’s common to see attractions book up quickly for morning and early afternoon time slots, stack attractions from late afternoon to evening. For example: When the booking window opens in the morning, choose times for late afternoon and evening. Keep stacking those times every two hours when you have access to book more. (It’s not widely understood that you can make more than one in-app reservation as long as you follow these guidelines.)

  • If you plan to park in a loop (a term used to describe starting at one Walt Disney World park early in the day and then moving to another in the afternoon or evening), stack the rides for the second park when the 7am reservation window opens and use queues to wait at the first park. It can be useful to set an alarm every couple of hours to make sure you are taking advantage of the reservation times.

  • A well-known issue in the app often occurs when customers see a pay-per-view attraction time that works for them, only to find they’ve been scheduled for a later time once they’ve paid. If this happens, visiting the customer service areas (marked with blue umbrellas) in each park can sometimes help, as the employees there have the option to adjust the time limit for you.

  • Disney Genie+ proves most useful in Disney’s Magic Kingdom Park and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. If you’re on a budget, consider foregoing the service when visiting Epcot and Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

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