This Walt Disney World park report walks you through my step-by-step afternoon and evening at Epcot using the new Genie+ service. It features what I accomplished via virtual queue, standby, and Lightning Lanes, and thoughts at the end about whether Genie+ is worth the money during a half-day at Epcot.
The new Genie+ line-skipping service is Walt Disney World’s paid replacement to free FastPass+ for select attractions in each park. Genie+ costs $16 per person per day, excludes two of the most popular rides per park, and is similar to MaxPass at Disneyland–it’s a basically a digital version of the paper FastPass system from the “old days.” For more info and answers to common questions, see our Guide to Genie+ at Walt Disney World & Lightning Lane FAQ.
Note that this is my personal experience at Epcot using Genie+. Simply what I did over the course of testing Genie+ in Epcot. It’s definitely not a recommended itinerary, Genie+ touring plan, or universally-applicable day that we’d suggest replicating. To the contrary, we would actively discourage you from replicating this day at Epcot.
This is all about our ride count with Genie+ and maximizing the service to showcase what’s possible and how much bang for your buck you could get. As such, we skip a lot of the shows, entertainment, and atmosphere that make Walt Disney World special and set the parks apart. In a day of normal “for fun” touring, we definitely would not do that. That’s especially true at Epcot, which is a park that doesn’t hold up when judged solely by its ride count.
Anyway, let’s move along to my half-day using Genie+ and Lightning Lanes at Epcot…
To bring things up to speed for anyone who didn’t read the Animal Kingdom morning report, above is my stockpile of Lightning Lane selections for Epcot. These were obtained via a mix of the 120 minute rule and tapping into attractions at Animal Kingdom.
In that previous report, there were a couple questions about how I got all 3 of these. Honestly, I don’t remember and cannot reconcile it from my notes. (Oops.) Best I can tell, it’s either a glitch or I forgot to write something down. One of the things I keep underscoring in strategy posts is to try booking Lightning Lane selections periodically, as it’s hard to keep track of eligibility windows, and sometimes the system just inexplicably lets you book another. Like all things Disney IT related, it’s still glitchy. As are my note-taking skills.
Upon entering Epcot at 2 pm on the dot, my first step was to check the virtual queue for Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure. Even though this opens at 1 pm, I had heard scattered reports that it hasn’t been filling up until after 2 pm.
As compared to Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, which received comprehensive coverage of its first several months after opening (and still does to this day), the rat ride has flown under the radar. It’s only been open for a month, and it’s like everyone has already forgotten about it.
I can only speak for our coverage, but that’s because Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure is less personally interesting. To this day, I get excited for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance–I cannot imagine it ever getting old. I could take or leave Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure. I don’t love or hate it–I’m just indifferent to it.
In any case, I was able to score boarding group 139 for Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, with what was likely to be a return time at the end of the night.
There’s not a ton of good information out there about virtual queue availability for Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, but we’ve been seeing it top out in neighborhood of 160 boarding groups per day since the debut of Individual Lightning Lanes. It was previously hitting 170-180, so the ILL accounts for ~10-15% of capacity assuming no other changes.
If you’re visiting Walt Disney World in the next couple of months, don’t expect to be able to score a virtual queue spot for Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure after Park Hopping. As attendance picks up, this will start filling up at or shortly after 1 pm again.
Same thing happened with Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance. While this isn’t nearly as popular as that, it’s still the newest ride at Walt Disney World. People planning holiday season trips will want to do it.
Moving along, I headed to Soarin’ Around the World to take advantage of my Genie+ selection from earlier in the morning.
At 2:09 pm, the posted wait time was 10 minutes. My actual wait was 9 minutes via the Lightning Lane, which is exactly what it would’ve been in the standby line. I saved no time whatsoever, but it was impossible to know that when making my selections earlier in the morning at Animal Kingdom.
Next up, Living with the Land via standby at 2:30 pm. The posted wait time was 15 minutes, but I could see only a handful of people in line, so I knew it wouldn’t be that bad. My actual wait time was 1 minute.
The most exciting/noteworthy aspect of this was watching the installation of Christmas lights and decorations for the Living with the Land Merry & Bright Nights holiday overlay. Cannot wait for that to return!
Spaceship Earth was down when I passed that way, so I couldn’t redeem that Genie+ ride reservation.
Interestingly, I didn’t see a multi-attraction Lightning Lane ‘experience redemption’ appear in My Day following this. It could’ve been because I had already booked another selection via the 120 minute rule, a glitch, or maybe I somehow missed it? Regardless, not a huge deal–just mildly disappointing that I wasn’t able to multiply my options from this.
From there, it was on to Test Track at 2:55 pm, where the standby wait time was 30 minutes. My actual wait was 3 minutes to the design studio, and another ~5 minutes after that. I was off the ride by 3:18 pm.
At this point, I had set myself up nicely for late afternoon in Disney’s Hollywood Studios. My Day had become quite jumbled–reservations weren’t grouping together by park for some reason–so I don’t have a single screenshot, but I had Lightning Lane reservations for Slinky Dog Dash, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, Tower of Terror, Toy Story Mania, and Millennium Falcon Smugglers Run lined up all in the span of a few hours. (Slinky Dog Dash was pure luck–it had been gone for a while and I snagged what must’ve been a cancellation.)
Since I was in the neighborhood, I stopped over at the Imagination Lounge for some “free” caffeine and chips.
Nothing else in Future World had any appreciable wait time–I could’ve done Mission Space, Journey into Imagination, or the Seas with no wait. Instead, I opted to head to World Showcase.
At this point, it was becoming clear that I’d be able to accomplish every single headliner in Animal Kingdom, Epcot, and Hollywood Studios if I so desired. The biggest challenge would be Frozen Ever After, which I debated knocking out in the mid-afternoon despite its 65 minute posted wait.
Upon arriving at the attraction, I decided against this. Even though the standby line looked short, the Lightning Lane return was spilling out the entrance. This suggested to me that the wait time was probably close to accurate, and there was a backlog of Lightning Lane guests to work through. (I hadn’t been checking My Disney Experience, but 95% of the time, this is due to downtime earlier in the day–pretty common for Frozen Ever After.) I should have time at the end of the night for it, instead.
After an “intermission” of several hours at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, I returned to Epcot at 8:30 pm to finish out the night. My boarding group had been called for Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, and my wait in the physical queue portion of the virtual queue return was about 20 minutes. That seems to be on the low end of the return range, which was probably due to it being later in the evening–a decent number of people probably leave Epcot by then.
It’ll be interesting to see how much longer the virtual queue lasts for Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure. It was instituted due to space constraints in this dead-end in the France pavilion, but doesn’t seem needed right now. However, that could change in the coming weeks with Thanksgiving and Christmas crowds. (My guess is that it ends in early 2022.)
It was just after 9 pm at this point, and I could’ve easily done Frozen Ever After if I so desired. I did not so desire.
While the posted wait time was only 30 minutes, I was absolutely beat (I walked rather than taking the Skyliner between Epcot and DHS) and didn’t feel it was necessary to “prove” I could do Frozen Ever After just because. I would’ve done it if the opportunity for (pointless) bragging rights in knocking out all the DAK, Epcot, and DHS headliners were still on the table, but downtime with Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance had already doomed that.
When it comes to this afternoon at Epcot with Genie+ and Lightning Lanes, there aren’t many major lessons or takeaways.
I guess the first would be to prioritize Test Track. It’s far and away the most worthwhile Genie+ selection at Epcot, but you probably already knew that.
After that, Soarin’ Around the World is the next highest priority. That’s really not saying much on a day when the standby line was essentially a walk-on and just as fast as using the Lightning Lane.
This will almost certainly change on days with higher crowds, but it should really underscore that point that Genie+ is not all that useful at Epcot on low to moderately busy days. And we really don’t know how useful it’ll be on higher crowd days, as there haven’t been any of those at Epcot since Genie+ launched.
This was easily foreseeable, and one of the reasons we predicted/hoped that Harmonious front of house viewing would be included in Genie+ to create more value for visitors to Epcot. Without that, and with Frozen Ever After and Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure set aside for Individual Lightning Lanes, Genie+ is a really tough sell for Epcot.
Going forward, my hope is that low Genie+ sales for Epcot results in tweaks. There’s no reason for two ILLs (demand is supportive of one, not two) in any of the parks, especially Epcot. It also makes sense to follow the FastPass+ practice of offering reserved fireworks viewing at Epcot.
For now, unless you’re wanting to repeat major attractions or are going on a significantly busier day, Genie+ is not necessary at Epcot if you’re spending all–or even most–of the day here. The only way buying Genie+ at Epcot, at least with moderate or lower crowd levels, makes sense is when Park Hopping.
Ultimately, I knew going into this that Genie+ would be less useful at Animal Kingdom and Epcot than Magic Kingdom and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Our days at all of these parks “proved” that to a greater degree than anticipated, with Genie+ being even more useful thus far at Magic Kingdom and DHS than anticipated, and even less useful at Animal Kingdom and Epcot.
Of course, it’s still early in the roll-out of Genie+ and Lightning Lanes, and utilization isn’t at its eventual level. Moreover, crowds were slightly below average for this visit, making for suboptimal testing conditions. Still, we have a pretty good idea that Genie+ isn’t going to prove tremendously beneficial to Epcot guests even in the best scenarios (e.g. worst crowds). Conversely, Genie+ at Epcot is absolutely worthwhile if you’re heading to a second park earlier in the day…or a third park later. With that in mind, we’ll pick up this report at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in the late afternoon and evening for even more Park Hopping!
Thoughts on my afternoon in Epcot using the paid Genie+ service? Are you planning on buying Genie+ or sticking to free standby lines at Epcot? Do you agree or disagree with my assessment? 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!