Last year, I reported on the value of the Genie+ system at Disneyland in California. It’s an optional add on that gives you access to “Lightning Lanes” on select rides at both the OG Disneyland park and the neighbouring California Adventure, helping you skip many queues that you may face on a day at the park.
Ultimately, with the inclusive PhotoPass, and the sheer level of time you’ll save if you spend the extra money, it was a worthy investment. But Disney haven’t introduced a one-size-fits-all approach to this new premium “‘FastPass”, and their offering at Walt Disney World (WDW) in Orlando, Florida, is a little bit different.
So how does it compare? And is it, too, worth the investment? And, how does the new ride TRON Lightcycle / Run – which opened today at Magic Kingdom – fit into it all?
First, let’s talk about the cost. When Genie+ was first introduced at WDW, there was a cost of $15/day per person to use the service. This would give you the ability to jump in lightning lanes through the Walt Disney World app at the park(s) you had pre-selected to visit that day.
Now, however, the system runs under a dynamic pricing system, and while the price still starts at the reasonable $15, it has been reported to run up to $35. And it’s important to note from the outset: it doesn’t guarantee you’ll get to ride everything you want.
The Lightning Lanes
The primary power of purchasing Genie+ is that it grants you access to the lightning lanes (which formerly operated under Disney’s “FastPass” system), through the Walt Disney World app. You need to stay on the app regularly to select your time periods to access the shorter queues – and you can usually only have one lightning lane access at a time. Once you use it, or two hours passes, you’re able choose another.
This doesn’t just include fast access to rides, but also shows and character meet and greets. As of printing, there are 23 experiences to enjoy in Magic Kingdom alone! But keep in mind, you can often only have one Lightning Lane at a time, and you need to be – so chances are you’ll only fit a few “lanes” into the day.
Like in California, select rides aren’t automatically included in the Lightning Lane package, and require an additional fee to access – which also fluctuates depending on the day. Only one ride at each park (two at Magic Kingdom as of today),
At the time of printing this includes many of the rides we listed as our favourites yesterday:
- Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance at Hollywood Studios
- Avatar Flight of Passage at Animal Kingdom
- Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind at EPCOT
- TRON Lightcycle / Run at Magic Kingdom (Opened Today!)
- Seven Dwarves Mine Train at Magic Kingdom
If you’re reading this in the distant future, the most up to date list can be found HERE.
While it’s easy to understand why this is necessary for the newest attractions, it’s important to note that both TRON and Guardians offer Virtual Queues which mean there’s no guarantee you’ll get to ride it at all unless you fork out the extra cash – unless you get on early (and FAST) enough. Virtual queue spots can sell out in minutes. But if you get that, you won’t need to purchase the Individual Lightning Lane ticket. More details on Virtual Queues can be found HERE.
Of course, this can all start getting expensive. Especially as, unlike Disneyland in California, you’re unlikely to be coming for just the one day (see how many days you should visit HERE). So you really need to carefully consider what to buy and when you want to buy it. Luckily, you don’t have to buy Genie+ to access the “a la carte” options, so you could just spend the money on the ONE ride listed above, which can be anywhere from $10 (for Seven Dwarfs Mine Train) or $25 (for Rise of the Resistance). And it changes day by day due to attendance and demand.
Are photos included in the deal?
Unlike in California, up until March 20th, 2023, the Genie+ purchase didn’t include any complimentary photos – only access to special AR lenses to take photos through the app.
However, as of that date, if you take a ride that includes an in-ride photo, you’re now able to access those photos for free in the app, and download for your enjoyment. This adds a lot of value to the product, as you’d normally have to pay twenty bucks just to print one set of photos from a ride!
Now that in-ride photos are inclusive in the Genie+ package, on most days it’ll be worth the money even if you only get to use a few lightning lanes throughout the day. But it’s not necessarily something you want to do every day – it gets expensive quickly, especially if you’re on a day that’s seeing “surging pricing” (to borrow phrasing from another App).
And you don’t want to spend the whole time at the park looking at your phone trying to get on the next lane, do you?
Ask yourself: What do you want to ride? How long am I willing to wait? How much am I willing to spend?
Your answer on whether or not it’s worth it will really come down to your priority experiences and the price of the day. And if you can get in quick enough (be ready for a 7am wake up!) to get into the Virtual Queue, you may make your decision that way. Just remember, if you purchase Individual Lightning Lanes or the Genie+ inclusive lightning lanes, you still need to get on early enough, before capacity fills out. The more popular the ride, the quicker you need to be. Not to mention tech savvy!
In being strategic with my plan of attack, I did get to ride everything I wanted to across the four parks.
For me, on a three day visit, I purchased an individual lightning lane one of the days, Genie+ one of the days that incorporated Hollywood Studios – which features many of the most popular rides in the parks, and just went for it without anything on the final day. And as I learned that day, ultimately, there’s just going to have to be some rides you end up stuck in a long queue for. But that’s all part of the experience isn’t it?
To book your next holiday to Walt Disney World, visit their official website.
All images supplied by Disney Parks unless otherwise noted. The author visited Walt Disney World as a guest of Disney Parks. While at Walt Disney World we stayed at the stunning Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort.