Update: Oct 10, 2021 (scroll to bottom)
The Disney Genie was introduced in 2019 as a new mobile app service that was designed to make planning a Disney vacation easier. Expected to arrive in 2020, that obviously didn’t happen due to the global pandemic, but this week Disney confirmed that the Disney Genie will be available this fall. Disney agents and guests have been very vocal about their various opinions on the new app.
The Genie will be available at both Disneyland and Disney World. It will be built right into their current apps for those two parks. While most of the Disney Genie’s capabilities will be free for guests there will be two paid add-ons, one that appears to resemble Disneyland’s version of MaxPass, the mobile based FastPass option, and another that more closely resembles Disney World’s FastPass+. We’ll address the fastpass and plus options in a moment, but let’s take a look at the complimentary capabilities of the app first.
Here’s what Disney Parks has to say about it.
- Get Itinerary Updates from Morning to Night: Disney Genie will continue to update your itinerary throughout your day, so you can be more spontaneous and go with the flow.
Find Your Favorites at a Glance: Create your very own personal tip board to instantly see your favorites. It will display current AND forecasted future wait times, helping you predict when you might experience quicker entry to attractions.
- Enjoy More Flexibility and Fun: Disney Genie brings existing planning features together in one place. Join a virtual queue at certain attractions, make dining and experience reservations, mobile order food at many locations, get help from a virtual assistant and more.
The itinerary, in theory, seems pretty amazing. You can choose things you are interested in, such as “princesses” or “Star Wars” and it will build your itinerary around your interests. It will be a fluid itinerary that is flexible based on crowd levels in certain areas and wait times. It is meant to really maximize your time for the best day ever!
Now for the paid options…
First, you have the Genie+. For the price of $15 per ticket per day at Walt Disney World Resort and $20 per ticket per day at Disneyland Resort, choose the next available time to arrive at a variety of attractions and experiences using the Lightning Lane entrance. You can make one selection at a time, throughout the day – from classics like Haunted Mansion to thrill rides like Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and newer favorites like Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run (attractions subject to limited availability). This convenient option is the next evolution of the fan-favorite Disney MaxPass service from Disneyland Resort. Disney Genie+ will also include Disney parks-themed audio experiences and photo features to capture your memories – augmented reality lenses for those visiting Walt Disney World Resort and unlimited Disney PhotoPass downloads from your day if you are visiting Disneyland Resort.
You have a few options for adding the Genie+ to your Genie app. First option is to choose to add Genie+ to your vacation package at the time of purchase or before your vacation is paid in full. This will add it to every day of your vacation. It’s not specifically clear, but I suspect you will be charged for the amount of days you have tickets to the park times the amount of people in your party if you choose to do this. So if you have a 7 day trip with 4 park days, you would be charged for 4 days of Genie+.
But what if you don’t think you will need it for one of your days, for example, your Epcot park day? Every family is different, but I’ll use mine as an example. My husband and I don’t ride Mission:Space (If you know, you know). My husband works for General Motors, so we get automatic fast passes for Fast Track. Nemo and Spaceship Earth are omnimovers and therefore the lines move fairly quickly, if they are even long. Remy’s Ratatouille (confirmed) and the Guardians ride (speculation) will be virtual queue. And let’s face it…Journey into the Imagination and Living with the Land are never a long wait. That leaves Soarin’ and Frozen for potentially long lines. Even if we wanted to ride both of those, it wouldn’t take up our whole day or even close. So, really I may not want to pay for the lightning pass use on that day to save money. I can absolutely do that! But, it comes with a risk.
If I want to be able to choose which days I have it, I have to wait until my trip starts. At midnight (or any time after), I can choose to add the Genie+ for that day, day by day. But, Disney has made it clear that there will be limited capacity for the Genie+ each day. So you run the risk of it being sold out when you don’t purchase it ahead of time. Yikes. I suppose it depends on the time of year on whether it is worth the risk or not!
In addition to Genie+, Disney will also offer individual attraction selections. Guests can schedule a time to ride up to two of its most in-demand attractions each day. This includes attractions such as Seven Dwarfs Mine Train at Magic Kingdom and Radiator Springs Racers at Disney California Adventure. Pricing will vary by date, attraction and park, the company said. The price for these individual premium attrachtion lightning passes will vary based on park capacity. We don’t yet know what this pricing scale looks like, unfortunately.
It’s all a bit confusing, but hopefully this helps clear some of it up for you. I’m just starting to grasp it myself, and there are still many questions. Many are upset about the cost. Overall, I’m not surprised. It was widely speculated that with the absence of a fast pass option since the parks reopened post covid closing that when fast pass returned, it would not be free like before. And the previous system was clearly flawed. I don’t think the cost is unreasonable, but can understand it would be quite pricey for a large family. Really, it comes down to value and what’s important to you. Many of the complimentary features look amazing. If saving time is important to you, then you will find a way to make it work based on it’s value.
The app is due to release “this fall in time for the 50th anniversary.” We are 40 days from the beginning of the 50th. I have a trip planned to be there for the celebration, so I’m eagerly awaiting an official release date to try it out.
Overall, I think the biggest concern is the elephant in the room: Disney IT. It’s notoriously flawed. There’s a big release of new merch? Website crash. There’s a new attraction or restaraunt that everyone needs to reserve right at 7 a.m.? Crash. Trying to place a mobile order? Crash. The list goes on, and even though the problems continue, Disney is also continuously silent about the issues. They seem confident the Genie app will work and work well….but only time will tell.
Update October 10, 2021
On Friday, Disney announced an official release date for the Disney Genie – October 19th! They also released the list of which rides will be included in which category, but we’ll get to that in a moment. The following is details from Disney:
“Be sure to download the latest version of the My Disney Experience app, so you can take advantage of all of these features:
- Tailored Recommendations – You’ll receive attraction and dining recommendations inspired in part by what you told Disney Genie service you’re most interested in doing. It even displays a good time to go to an experience and an idea of the forecasted wait. Need to swap a recommendation out? No problem. Like many popular navigation apps, Disney Genie will continue to offer new suggestions throughout the day, so you can make the most of your time during your visit.
- A Personalized Daily Itinerary – Your “My Day” tab is where you’ll find Disney Genie recommendations and any plans you’ve made, including dining reservations, Disney Resort hotel reservations and activity bookings. You’ll also be able to virtually chat with a Cast Member who can help answer any questions that arise.
- A Custom Tip Board – This new feature will let you see estimated wait times for your top attractions, entertainment and dining. You’ll also be able to order food, make dining reservations, check into a restaurant, request to join an available virtual queue (currently at Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure), and even book arrival times for our new Lightning Lane entrance at select experiences if you’ve purchased Disney Genie+ service.
In addition to getting all of the great features that come with upgrading to the complimentary version of Disney Genie service, purchasing Disney Genie+ service will offer even more convenience and flexibility, for $15 per ticket per day. It’s the very best way to get the absolute most out of your visit—so you can spend more time enjoying the magic with family and friends.
- Enjoy the Magic You Want with Less Wait – Save time waiting in line by purchasing Disney Genie+ service! This new service at more than 40 attractions and experiences throughout the Walt Disney World theme parks lets you select the next available arrival window for the new Lightning Lane entrances. You can make one selection at a time throughout the day—from classics like Haunted Mansion and thrill rides like Big Thunder Mountain Railroad to newer favorites like Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run (experiences subject to limited availability). With Disney Genie+, you can select Lightning Lane arrival windows across multiple theme parks for those who have the Park Hopper option.
Beginning at 7:00 AM on the day of your visit, you’ll have the opportunity to secure your first arrival time.
Plus, you’ll also enjoy these additional features:
- Disney PhotoPass Lenses – Access special Disney PhotoPass Lenses for your mobile device, allowing you to explore magical new augmented reality effects.
- Audio Tales – Discover the parks in cool new ways through fascinating fun facts and behind-the-scenes insights you can listen to during your visit.
Starting October 19th, you’ll be able to purchase Disney Genie+ service on the day of your visit or purchase as an add-on to a theme park ticket by modifying your existing ticket prior to arrival. You can also purchase new tickets that include Disney Genie+ before your visit.”
One questions I’ve been asked commonly is do I have to puchase Genie+ for the entire lenth of my trip? Not necessarily! If purchased as part of a vacation package ahead of your visit, Genie+ is purchased for the entire length of the stay at $15 per ticket per day. If not purchased ahead of time, Genie+ can be added on a day-by-day basis. This purchase can be made at 12:00 AM on the day you are purchasing. This does not mean it HAS to be purchased at 12:00 AM, but keep in mind there is limited availability, so waiting could mean missing out.
Now, as promised, here is the list of attraction categories:
Some of these were expected, but there are definitely a few surprises there!
If this is all overwhelming, no worries! When you use a travel agent, like me, we will help get it set up for you and guide you through it all! There are still a few unknowns, but I think all will be revealed on the 19th!