Disney have made a pretty huge announcement regarding queues at Walt Disney World and Disneyland, and judging from the confusion around the announcement, a lot of guests are struggling to understand the details and how it will impact their vacation. It took a bit of reading, but I finally understand the details so I thought I’d put it all in one hopefully easy to understand place!
I’m going to try to break the new system down as simply as possible, so hopefully it’s a bit easier to understand. I’m only going to cover Walt Disney World in this post, because Disneyland is doing things slightly differently and I’d rather just focus on my home park for now.
Disney Genie is a complimentary new planning tool that is going to be built in to the My Disney Experience app. This is essentially Disney saying that they’ve listened to the guest complaints about planning a Disney vacation being too complicated, so they’ve developed a system to make things easier.
Right off the bat, this system looks to be the opposite of simple; there are more options which always makes things more complicated, but hopefully once they’re put into place this will make the planning and execution of a Walt Disney World vacation easier.
Disney Genie basics:
- Disney Genie will roll out on October 19th 2021.
- Free FastPasses are gone.
- You now have two options to pay for the new FastPass alternative, but if you don’t want to pay then stand-by lines and Virtual Queues are still an option; those aren’t going anywhere.
- FastPass entrances are now called Lightning Lanes, and these are the lanes you’ll return to when it’s your time to ride.
- Disney Genie is a personalized vacation planning tool that is complimentary, and will be installed into the My Disney Experience app.
- Genie+ is a paid service that will cost $15 per ticket per day, and will allow you to schedule return times for a wide variety of rides, one at a time, throughout the day.
- Lightning Lanes individual attraction selections will be available for the top tier rides, which will not be included in Genie+. This will be a one time cost to ride, and you can only make a couple of these selections per day.
- Genie+ return times and the individual attraction selections will be made on the day of your park visit – no more booking 60 days out.
As I mentioned, Disney Genie is basically a vacation planning tool that can be used before and during your Walt Disney World vacation. It’ll be built into the My Disney Experience app, and you can use it as much or as little as you like.
Disney Genie will include personalized itineraries, which will map out your entire day to include everything from rides to food to other park experiences. You can include your personal interests (Star Wars, princesses, etc.) and Disney Genie will customize your itinerary to include all of the things you want to do, as well as updating your itinerary throughout the day.
Not only can Disney Genie tell you what the current wait times are for attractions, but it will predict what they might be for later on. This means that once you’ve let the app know what rides and experiences you’re interested in, it can customize your day to ensure you’re experiencing the rides at the best possible times.
Disney Genie will also include personalized tip boards, where you see wait times and the next available return times if you’re using Genie+ (more on that below), as well as the availability of dining reservations and the next mobile order return times – you can even use this to join a waitlist for a restaurant without actually going to the location itself.
Features already on the app, such as joining Virtual Queues and mobile food ordering, meaning everything will be in one convenient place. There will also be a chat option where you can ask questions about the park operations, and a Cast Member will be able to answer you.
It remains to be seen exactly how Disney Genie is going to look and how well it can customize an itinerary for you, but Disney have invested a lot into this technology so I’m hopeful that the results will be impressive, and it will indeed make planning easier.
An additional add-on to the Disney Genie is the Genie+ services (Disney really loves their plusses!) This is a paid service that is not required, and is not included in any of the ticket options so it must be purchased separately. It can be purchased in advance, but ride selections can only be made day of.
At Walt Disney World, Genie+ is $15 per ticket per day; so for a family of four with four day park tickets, this would run $240 for all to participate each day (on top of the cost of park tickets).
If you’ve ever experienced MaxPass at Disneyland, then this service is very similar. On the My Disney Experience app, you can choose a return time for a wide selection of park rides (see the full list of rides included below) and then when your return time is available, you enter through the newly renamed “Lightning Lanes” (the old FastPass lanes, something I am sure I’ll never stop calling them).
You can select one ride at a time, and then once you’ve ridden that ride, you can make another selection, with as many return times as you can fit into one day. If the return time of your ride selection is more than 2 hours away, then you’ll be able to make another selection 2 hours later instead. You can make Genie+ reservations for two parks on any given day, so you can use this if you plan to park hop.
Genie+ selections are made the same day as your park visit (so no booking rides 60 days in advance anymore) – all guests will be able to make their selections at 7am on the day of their visit, regardless of what type of ticket you hold and whether or not you’re staying onsite. For this option, there is no benefit of being an onsite guest.
Lightning Lane individual attraction selections
Totally separate to Genie+ is another paid option that allows you to pay for two specific, top tier attraction return times; this option is reserved for the most popular rides such as Seven Dwarves Mine Train, and only includes rides that are not covered by Genie+ (again, see below for the full list of attractions available(. This option is called Lightning Lane individual attraction selections.
The cost of this option will vary by date, and specifics aren’t yet available; Disney has just indicated that prices will be between $7-$15 per person per ride. I would imagine prices will be higher for the more popular rides, and will also go up during peak travel times.
These attraction selections are also made the day of your park visit. Offsite guests can purchase the individual attraction selections at park opening, but those staying at a Disney resort hotel can make these purchases at 7am on the day of their park visit, so they get a little head start on what will be limited selections.
Which rides are included in Genie+ and Lightning Lane individual attraction selection?
Are there any benefits to being an Annual Passholder?
Not at the moment. The announcement on Disney Parks Blog did mention Annual Passholders, but unfortunately also specified that as of right now, neither Genie+ nor Lightning Lanes will be included with an Annual Pass purchase. There will also not be an option to add this on to your pass for an annual rate at this time.
I know many Annual Passholders will be upset by this news, and it remains to be seen as to whether this will change. Since Annual Passholders are often locals who just visit the parks for a few hours, Genie+ might not always be worth the additional cost unless there is some form of a discount, so watch this space to see if that information changes.
Changes to DAS and rider swap
One of the other big changes is to the DAS (Disability Access Service) system at Walt Disney World. Guests will now have the option to add this on to their reservation before they reach the parks, up to 30 days in advance via a live video chat with a Cast Member.
Guests using this advance planning system for DAS will also be able to schedule advanced reservations for up to two experiences per day, as long as they set this up at least two days before their park visit. Not only that, but guests using DAS will now be able to schedule their return times for attractions from the My Disney Experience app – so no more having to go to the attractions themselves to get a return time.
You can find more info on the changes to DAS in the fall by visiting the Services for Guests with Disabilities page.
As for rider swap, we don’t have any details as to how that might change yet, so I’ll update that as soon as we know more.