Let’s actually start with the latest on Lightning Lanes in case you’ve missed the updates in Genie+ Sells Out for First Two Times at Disney World. In addition to selling out on Sunday, Genie+ also sold out on Monday (Presidents’ Day) at Walt Disney World. On Presidents’ Day, it sold out sometime between 1:30 pm and 2:15 pm EST, which was later than it sold out Sunday. On both days, Genie+ was priced at $29 per person, before tax.
On Tuesday, the price of Genie+ dropped back down to $22 per person (pre-tax). It has been that price every day since, and has yet to sell out again. If you’re assuming both the lower price and the service not selling out are due to lower crowds following the holiday weekend, you are incorrect.
Thus far, Tuesday has been the busiest day of the holiday week with 10/10 crowd levels and an average wait time of 61 minutes. Yesterday was not quite as bad, with an average of “only” 53 minutes–which was still enough for a 10/10 crowd level. It’s too early to tell what the ultimate crowd level will be today, but it’s currently below 10/10.
In any case, we previously predicted that this would be the Worst Week of Winter 2023 at Walt Disney World. That is not just due to the Presidents’ Day long weekend. Mardi Gras is another huge factor, and many schools are off this entire week as a result. There’s also the Princess Half Marathon this upcoming weekend, and a couple of large youth sporting events at ESPN Wide World of Sports. Suffice to say, those 10/10 crowd levels are not in the rearview mirror, and won’t be until February 27, 2023.
It’s interesting that Genie+ sold out on Sunday and Monday, but no days since. Our expectation is that the price jumps back to $29 this coming weekend, and potentially sells out again. As for why it didn’t sell out on Tuesday–a cheaper and busier day than Monday–some readers theorized that tourists who arrived on Sunday and bought it that day or on Monday may have been dissatisfied. On busy days, the average guest only gets 3-4 Lightning Lanes–and that’s if they start booking them at or around 7 am.
Given that, many may opt not to buy again after being burned once or twice would make sense. I’m inclined to agree with this theory, and know that guest satisfaction with Genie+ has been low by Walt Disney World’s standards. However, with a fresh crop of tourists arriving this weekend, sell outs are once again possible.
Anyway, Walt Disney World has now announced that they are going in the opposite direction, and actually adding value to Genie+ instead of increasing the price and making it less useful in the process.
Starting March 20, 2023, guests who purchase Genie+ service will also receive digital downloads of their Disney PhotoPass attraction photos, taken in the park on the day of their purchase, at no additional charge.
Attraction photos are taken while in the parks at more than a dozen of Walt Disney World’s most popular attractions including the following:
Starting April 4, this list will also include TRON Lightcycle Run, the newest attraction at Magic Kingdom and probably the coolest on-ride photo of all thanks to the unique lightcycle ride vehicles. Although I’d say the photos we have from Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind are among our most fun ones!
Also starting March 20, Annual Passholders will receive access to Disney PhotoPass lenses and one complimentary Cinderella Castle Mural of Memories experience (age restrictions apply). See our post about the Cinderella Castle Mural of Memories if you’re unfamiliar with that offering that debuted (and seemingly flopped) around this time last year.
While we’re excited for the inclusion of on-ride attraction photos in the Genie+ service, the Cinderella Castle Mural of Memories and PhotoPass lenses do absolutely nothing for us. Those lenses are fun to play around with once for like 20 minutes, and we’d recommend doing exactly that. We have some fun ones of us that we saved, but we literally have not touched that feature (which is currently included in Genie+) in over a year.
The big downside of the PhotoPass lenses is that it is a huge battery drain. On the days that we tested it out, our devices dropped from nearly full charges to under 20% in about an hour–maybe less. Using Genie+ and the My Disney Experience app as normal over the course of a day can already be taxing enough on a device’s charge without adding the lenses to the mix. Plus, using them means even more screen time, and we have more than our fill of that on a typical day in Walt Disney World.
Still, it’s nice that Walt Disney World is adding and enhancing rather than taking away. Even if not for us, the PhotoPass lenses are a fun feature that’s worth trying out at least once–maybe you’ll enjoy the lenses and want to use them more than we did! They’re not something we’re super excited about or overly-praise, but we’re also not going to rain on the parade of anyone looking forward to this.
Ultimately, we’re looking forward to the addition of on-ride photos in the Genie+ service, which makes the service more comparable to its counterpart at Disneyland. (It’s still not as useful or easy at Walt Disney World, save for at Magic Kingdom.) This is a nice and appreciated value-add, especially on days when the cost is higher and the usefulness is lower.
If you have questions about the basics of using–or not using–the paid FastPass service, see our Guide to Genie+ at Walt Disney World & Lightning Lane FAQfor all of the foundational need-to-know info. This whole system is confusing and convoluted, so you might have a question or two-dozen. That answers all of the most common ones we’ve been receiving from readers.
What do you think of these PhotoPass changes at Walt Disney World? Happy about these moves or do they not impact you? Surprised that Walt Disney World is including on-ride photos with Genie+ or giving away the lenses to Annual Passholders? To whom or what do you attribute these positive decisions? Do you agree or disagree with our assessments? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback—even when you disagree with us—is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!