Unless you’ve been out of the Disney news loop in the past few weeks, one of the biggest stories to come out of the Disney parks is the retirement of FastPass and the introduction of the new Disney Genie+ and Lightning Lane. There was a lot to unpack when we first heard the news, so keep reading as we share everything you need to know about these two new features and how they will impact your future Disney vacations.
What is Disney Genie?
Before we go any further and start looking at the replacements for FastPass, let’s first introduce you to Disney Genie. Disney Genie is a new digital service that will be launching this fall in both Walt Disney World and Disneyland. It offers you the tools you need to make the most of your visit to the parks while also helping to offer more flexibility for last-minute planners. It will work to guide you around the theme parks and share tips that will help you to spend less time in lines.
Disney Genie is built into the My Disney Experience and Disneyland apps and will help you to maximize your precious time in the parks. It will offer a personalized itinerary, which will map out the entire day for you in the park of your choice. You can tailor it to specific interests, such as princess, Pixar, or thrill rides, and you’ll receive recommendations for dining and attractions throughout the day. This will be a complimentary offering for anyone visiting the park and who has a valid park ticket for that day. Make sure you have the app downloaded before your visit so that you are ready to enjoy Disney Genie.
Disney Genie+ Service
Here’s where things get a little more interesting, as Disney announced the replacement for the previous FastPass system. Disney Genie+ is a paid service that has a daily fee attached to it. At Walt Disney World, it will cost you $15 a day, whereas at Disneyland, you will pay $20 a day. This allows you to choose the next available return time for some of the top attractions in the park, which were previously using the FastPass system. It’s important to note that not all attractions are included in this service, as you’ll see a little later on. You can only make one selection at a time throughout the day, and once you’ve been on that ride, you can then select your next attraction. This is one of the things that we know very little about currently, as it’s hard to tell what the availability of the attractions will be throughout the day until it launches.
When your ride time arrives, you’ll enter the attraction through the Lightning Lane entrance. This acts in the same way as the old FastPass entrance, and you should have a minimal wait time to board the attraction. At the moment, Disney has only named a few specific attractions for this, such as Big Thunder Mountain Railroad in the Magic Kingdom and Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run in Disney’s Hollywood Studios. In Disneyland, this option will replace the MaxPass service, and in this resort only, you’ll receive unlimited Disney PhotoPass downloads during the day you purchase Disney Genie+. In Walt Disney World, you’ll be able to enjoy Disney parks-themed audio experiences and photo features that use augmented reality lenses.
Individual Attraction Lightning Lane Passes
Here’s where things get even more interesting, as Disney also announced that select attractions would be available for purchase individually. This is completely separate from Disney Genie+ and can be purchased either alone or alongside this option. You’ll schedule a time to arrive at up to two attractions a day using the Lightning Lane. These are some of the most sought-after park attractions, with examples of this including the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train at the Magic Kingdom and Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. The pricing for this option has yet to be announced, but it will vary by the date, attraction, and park that you are visiting. More details are certainly needed about this option, but it’s a good way to guarantee that you and your family don’t miss out on certain attractions during your trip.
Lightning Lane selections are made on the day of your visit, and you can use these options across a couple of parks if you have a Park Hopper pass. They’ll still offer the standby line and virtual queue, but the old FastPass system is now gone for good. On top of that, they are making some changes to the Disability Access Service (DAS) program, which we’ll discuss in a separate post. There’s certainly more information that’s needed about these options before the launch, but within a few short months, we should know more about these services.
When Do You Need to Book Your Passes for the Day?
If you are staying at a Disney hotel, everything will start that day at 7 am. As well as booking your free virtual queue, you can book your first Disney Genie+ selection and up to two Lightning Lane passes. People who aren’t staying on-site will have to wait to book the individual Lightning Lane passes when the park opens for the day, but the other options are still available at 7 am. This is a great perk of staying on-site, as if you miss out on the virtual queue for the day, you can then purchase your pass straight away to ensure you get to ride that day.
For Disneyland visitors, the times for the Disney Genie+ service and Lightning Lane are the same for park and hotel guests. You can book the virtual queue at 7 am as usual, but when you enter the park, you’ll be able to book your first Disney Genie+ selection and Lightning Lane entry. As far as the virtual queues in both resorts, they will continue in the same way as they have been operating recently, without a standby line for the attractions during the day.
Who Will Disney Genie Appeal To?
These new features have certainly caused an uproar in the Disney community, and it’s a lot of change for visitors to accept in one go. While we need to learn more about Disney Genie to give a well-rounded opinion, we believe there are some visitors who will benefit from these options. If you are just visiting the parks for a weekend, you’ll likely find good value in any of these options, which will help to guarantee that you get to ride some of the top attractions. However, for anyone traveling for a longer trip or visitors from countries such as the UK who spend a couple of weeks in the parks, this is unlikely to be a very budget-friendly option.
For Disney hotel guests, there are a lot fewer perks than there were previously in the parks, and you’ll find that this is another expense to add to your vacation. Some people may just want to use this option for a day or two at the end of their trip when they know that there are some attractions left they haven’t been able to ride yet. It’s all about working with your budget and seeing how busy the parks are during your trip to see if it’s a worthwhile addition for your travel party.
There’s a lot for us to unpack when it comes to the new Disney Genie and Lightning Lane options, which will be launched this fall. The exact date of this launch has yet to be released, so check back soon for more updates about these new features for your next vacation.