Genie+ Finds Frustrating New Way to Start Day
Just when you thought the Genie+ UI couldn’t get any worse, Walt Disney World has said “hold my beer” and made more guest-unfriendly changes. This post runs through recent changes to the paid FastPass service, explaining how this will be a frustrating way to start the day for Lightning Lane power users.
In the last several months, Walt Disney World has been making a ton of tweaks to Genie+ in an effort to balance supply & demand, while also attempting to improve dismal guest satisfaction scores. The most recent of these was Eliminating the Genie+ Ticket Add- at Walt Disney World. That was met with a lot of doom and gloom and complaints, but Genie+ has yet to sell out anywhere or any day.
Walt Disney World has also added more entertainment and character meet & greets to Genie+ in an attempt to provide more capacity to the highly in-demand service. In some cases, those additions have been reverted–as happened with a trio of meet & greets at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Still, those were positive, guest-friendly changes from Genie+ perspective.
There have also been a slew of changes that amount to lowering expectations or reducing complaints. To that end, Disney added a ‘warning’ that “on average, guests can enter 2 to 3 attractions or experiences per day using the Lightning Lane entrance if the first selection is made early in the day.” (Read more in Genie+ Really is Paid FastPass+ at Walt Disney World.)
Unfortunately, recent tweaks to Genie+ can be filed under “lowering expectations” rather than “positive, guest-friendly change.”
The latest change is that during the high-demand window from the time Genie+ goes live in the morning at 7 am up until 7:30 am, guests will not be able to see the Lightning Lane return window.
Instead, My Disney Experience displays a “Check Availability” message that requires an extra tap to see the return window. Same goes for Individual Lightning Lane with a “See Available Times” message.
This is undoubtedly being done to “address” a common complaint, which we covered in our recent Genie+ Wish List: 3 Big Improvements for Walt Disney World. In that, our #2 problem was times shifting. That expressed the frustration of being up early, seeing the perfect Genie+ return window, quickly clicking through and reviewing the confirmation screen, only to discover that your “perfect” 9:00 am return time has shifted a little bit…to 5:40 pm!
Our suggestion for fixing this was simple and reasonable: locking selection time windows once clicking an attraction. This proposed solution comes from…pretty much every other online reservation system in use everywhere else? Holding a selection time for 60 seconds, 5 minutes, or whatever is deemed appropriate to give guests adequate time to complete the process without any surprises would fix the issue and reduce guest headaches.
Walt Disney World’s approach can’t really be called a “fix” or even a “duct tape solution.” It doesn’t do anything to address the problem, it just hides it. I guess the thinking is that people won’t complain about shifting return times if they can’t see return times? But that doesn’t actively address anything, it just obfuscates.
The underlying guest-unfriendly issue still exists, it just isn’t as easy to articulate what’s wrong. So if the goal is simply avoiding specific guest complaints, not improving actual satisfaction with the paid FastPass service, mission accomplished?
If you’re making ride reservations right at 7:00:00 am using our Genie+ Speed Strategy, this change doesn’t really impact you.
At worst, it’s a lateral move. In that scenario, you weren’t relying on the accuracy of those return times but were clicking through as quickly as possible and relying on your fast fingers (and internet connection!) more than anything else. It’s a distinction without a difference–the return times were likely to be inaccurate anyway, and didn’t provide any better or worse information than the “Check Availability” message. Both are equally worthless and should be disregarded.
Unfortunately for other Walt Disney World visitors, this is actually going to be a negative change–not just a lateral one.
If you were holding off on booking and instead using the Ride Reservation Refill Rules at Walt Disney World to book between ~7:07 am and ~7:25 am, this throws a monkey wrench in that. No longer will you be able to refresh and see when the refill has occurred. Instead, you’ll have to click around a bit more. For Genie+ power users, it’s another layer of frustration in a system that’s already plenty frustrating.
For those who are unfamiliar with these reservation refills, the above screenshot illustrates one of them. Compare this to the previous set of screenshots and you’ll notice that the return times are earlier. That’s because Walt Disney World quietly refills ride reservation availability at various times throughout the day–and we caught one such instance of that.
Unfortunately, you now wouldn’t be able to observe this occurring from the Tip Board between 7:00 am and 7:30 am. It would require clicking on each individual attraction to “Check Availability,” which is quite tedious.
Our recommended approach for the 7 am sharp super strategists would be to book your first selection using the speed strategy without pausing to check times or review anything. Once you made your reservation, check the time to see if that conflicts with your schedule–or whether you think you can do better.
If so, cancel and wait for an anticipated refill time and book again then. This approach entails more risk and committing more time, so understand that before proceeding. For most people and attractions, simply booking at 7 am as speedily as possible is still going to be the best and most straightforward strategy.
With that said, we have to acknowledge that power users should not be the intended beneficiaries of Genie+ changes. One thing we’ve stressed since the original announcement of the whole Genie system was that its policies were formulated in response to complaints from Walt Disney World first-timers.
In particular, we’ve pointed to same-day selections, rather than those made 30 or 60 days in advance. While the latter is favored by many savvy planners and repeat visitors–disproportionately the readers of blogs like this one–it was not popular with park-goers as a whole. Unfortunately, many first-timers had no clue they could make ride reservations until arriving. By then, it was already too late.
Two of the guiding principles behind Genie were monetization and democratization–making it easier to use for more guests and making money in the process. It has been an unequivocal success at accomplishing one of those goals.
However, the Genie system went off the rails at some point during development. It launched as something convoluted and confusing to all (so I guess in a sense it did level the playing field…but not in the way intended!), rather than being an easier and more intuitive–albeit paid–system. In any case, this is mentioned because changes should be evaluated at this point based on whether their guest-friendly and positive for inexperienced users of the system, not seasoned pros.
This “Check Availability” change benefits no one. At best, it reduces confusion about why times shifted–but that’s really only in theory. It doesn’t even properly resolve that, as there’s still not any sort of time lock. All it really does is add an extra click, and one that doesn’t yield anything positive for anyone.
In the end, you could say this is the equivalent of a duct tape solution…if your phone had a cracked screen and you opted to fix it by covering the crack with duct tape. In other words, not much of a solution at all, in practical terms.
On a different note, we’re now less than two weeks away from several Genie+ headliners reverting to Individual Lightning Lane status. In case you missed it, Expedition Everest at Animal Kingdom, Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway at Hollywood Studios, Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure and Frozen Ever After at EPCOT, and Space Mountain at Magic Kingdom have been included in the flat-rate Genie+ service for spring and summer.
Way back on February 25, Walt Disney World moved one Individual Lightning Lane attraction per park to the Genie+ service. This was done in response to the system (yet again) coming close to collapsing under the weight of Presidents’ Day crowds/demand, just as had previously happened for the prior holiday season. At that time, the change was made effective through August 7, 2022–for a total of over 5 months.
From the beginning, we’ve written that this change would occur through “at least” August 7, 2022. Our assumption has been that, at some point, Walt Disney World would quietly remove the August 7, 2022 asterisk from its official site and make the change permanent. After all, this change debuted last year at Thanksgiving and will almost certainly be necessary then. If October returns to normal, the added Genie+ capacity might be necessary much sooner–possibly by Columbus Day.
It doesn’t make much sense to keep bouncing these attractions around, changing their status from Genie+ to Individual Lightning Lanes and back multiple times per year. The whole Genie system is already a morass of random rules and policies that seemingly change on a weekly basis with little rhyme or reason as to why. (Spoiler: more changes are coming later this year and in early 2023!) There’s no compelling justification for reverting these rides to Individual Lightning Lanes once the off-season starts.
Of course, there is a reason for it–capturing more revenue during the off-season when Genie+ doesn’t technically “need” the added bandwidth to function as intended. That’s not a good or compelling reason, unless you’re looking at it from Walt Disney World’s perspective.
If Disney makes this guest-unfriendly move, our advice would be to respond accordingly. First, don’t buy Individual Lightning Lanes for any of the aforementioned attractions. Second, don’t purchase Genie+ for EPCOT or Animal Kingdom. Now, we’re not suggesting this as some sort of “moral stand” that fans take.
Rather, you should do so as a rational consumer. If those attractions are removed from the Genie+ ride roster, the service is no longer worthwhile for EPCOT or Animal Kingdom. The value proposition changes, it’s as simple as that. Moreover, it’ll be the off-season when crowds and wait times are lower (decreased demand is what’s allowing Disney to make the change in the first place), so Genie+ won’t be as necessary or useful. Same deal with Individual Lightning Lanes on those attractions–it’ll be quite easy to avoid long lines at those attractions without paying extra.
Ultimately, we’re still hopeful that Walt Disney World will make the changes permanent between now and August 7, 2022. It’s the right thing to do, both logistically and in making things easier on visitors. As for the frustrating change with return times from 7:00 am until 7:30 am, we really hope that’s simply a temporary duct tape fix, as it’s not helpful or a real solution in any way whatsoever. It simply hides the problem which is not the same as actually addressing it.
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 FAQ for 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.
Planning a Walt Disney World trip? Learn about hotels on our Walt Disney World Hotels Reviews page. For where to eat, read our Walt Disney World Restaurant Reviews. To save money on tickets or determine which type to buy, read our Tips for Saving Money on Walt Disney World Tickets post. Our What to Pack for Disney Trips post takes a unique look at clever items to take. For what to do and when to do it, our Walt Disney World Ride Guides will help. For comprehensive advice, the best place to start is our Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide for everything you need to know!
Do these ride reservation refill rules make sense to you or is it too overwhelming? Will you use this strategy for scoring Genie+ or Individual Lightning Lane selections? Have you had success in getting Slinky Dog Dash during one of these refills? What about headliners in other parks? Thoughts on leveraging Genie+ refills versus other strategy? 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!
Hello, I just returned from Disney. I hate that now after you have booked a ride with gp you can no longer see any times for it on the tip board or if that ride is still available. What if you need to change your time?? If you cancel, it may not still be available!! Atleast, prior to the new changes, you could still see available times! And then decide if you wanted to chance canceling and rebooking!.
We are big DVC people, and until COVID, had been going multiple trips a year for about 15 years. For a long time, our points not only allowed us to bring family and friends to WDW, but also we took cruises, ABD trips, went to Aulani, and really made the most of our membership. That was not always easy, as DVC has its own serious customer service issues. For part of the time we’ve been members, we lived in Florida, and would just go for the weekend like every month. One time on a Friday night, we literally hopped in the car and drove up from FLL and while en route I booked our resort and got us dining reservations. We stopped having APs when we moved out of state, and now, we are selling points. Not everything yet, but we are just done. Between the awful politics in the state and how ridiculous this system is now, we just can’t do it anymore. The problem is, we missed multiple trips in a row due to COVID, and with all the banking, we have really not gotten anything out of membership for the past 4 years other than a very expensive dues bill. My husband took the kids on an ABD trip this week just to use some points. We are supposed to go to WDW with good friends the week between Christmas and New Year’s, and now after reading this, I’m dreading it. I used to be the person who organized 18-20 people on My Disney Experience for family reunions. I did all the planning, booked all the dining and FPs, etc. I WAS the Disney expert in the family circle. But I can’t even understand your articles on Genie+ at all, and I’ve read them three times. We haven’t been in so long, our kids are now out of high school, one is just about done with college, so this is about it, and I wanted this trip to be special. But after spending $3K on the 4-day tickets for 9 people, and another $3K for 9 people park-to-park with Express at Universal just for 1 day, I am not really up for spending $6K for one day of VIP tour just to get to ride 7-10 rides! What happened to this place?! As I type these very large numbers, it is not lost on me how ridiculous that all sounds. That is crazy. And just because they are willing to take money from extremely affluent overseas visitors to make up for the number of US families who have given up does not make this right. Our family has not been there since before Star Wars opened. Clearly, there are things we would like to experience at least once, but we have one day at each park this trip. That’s how much time our friends could get off work. How can we justify having a trip that will be well over $10K and get nothing out of it but aggravation? I am so angry and sad. I loved Disney. I don’t know what we are going to do, but it seems like it might just be best to sit and watch the animals from my resort room so I don’t hate the trip even more.
Amen Pam T,. your comments should be required reading for Disney executives,.. if the electrodes on their skulls do not wave and burp all during your true tale, then they should explore other career sectors,..
Perfect explanation of what’s gone wrong at Disney. Been DVC members for 22 years and I want to throw my hands up in surrender … just enjoy the resort and experience other things in the Orlando area. I agree with rorosen … Disney execs need to read your post! Truly a sad state of affairs.
Could they be setting this up so that we eventually have multiples times to select from when “checking availability”? Similar to the old FP system? One can dream
Seriously at this point they should just “make subtle infrastructure changes” meaning just change it back to Fast pass plus but it will be paid and they can call it Genie plus. Additionally, give at least 24 hrs to reserve not morning of. The current form is Genie minus.
A few comments. Firstly the “bandaid” put in place seems to me it is a placeholder. That is, as a programmer(which I am) if the system was not originally written with the ability to lock times then adding it is a HUGE change whereas simply adding a button to take you to a new screen is a simple change. I would guess the ability to lock times is being worked and that this is simply a “quick get it out the door” stop gap measure.
That said, the entire system needs to poof and disappear. It’s pretty easy mathematically to show that most guests would spend less time waiting in lines if there was no line cutting anywhere. It takes just standing in one standby line to eat up all the time saved using 2 to 3 G+ lines. That’s how much this sort of thing affects standby wait times that I don’t think most people understand.
Thank you for the explanation. Makes sense. Would love to see a beta test on just “waiting in line physically” like we used to. And then see what happens.
Oops then Disney would lose money, but customer satisfaction would go up. (If that could be measured.)
Is that why Disney is running so many advertisements? …. They need to replace the customers who were loyal fans and just gave up.
Tom, can you still “stack” lighting lanes with Genie+? Just wondering if Disney has changed that too.
Yes you can! Book both right at 7am!
This is one of my favorite lines of all time. “The whole Genie system is already a morass of random rules and policies that seemingly changes on a weekly basis.” I don’t know whether or laugh or cry. Well done.
Will be at WDW in a month or so. Thinking about doing a crash course on all your genie articles and strategies before then but I do recognize that I do not want to turn into the frustrated, grumpy, tired vacationer that I am sure I would become by being tied to the phone living and dying on some random computer assignments.
I am going to leisurely accept what happens without the paranoia and planning. The regular day to day of my life is stressful. I’ll use my two weeks at WDW as a way to practice some zen thinking and not give into FOMO.
Thanks Tom for all your updates. If you have one and only one tip for the zen type strategy I would appreciate hearing it. Look forward to your answer…..
Reading through blogs, articles, and comments about G+ and it hits me how completely absurd it is that we’re talking about “paid” ride selections. We already paid to enjoy rides when we paid hundreds of dollars to enter the parks – on our carefully advance-reserved dates of course.
My dream is that starting today not one person buys a single “paid ride option” ever again and Disney is forced to drop this silliness.
Good luck. Keep dreaming. Meantine, wanna buy my ocean-front property in Montana?
I have four different neighbors that have come back from WDW and none of them said they will return. All of their comments are similar to all of yours. They said, “It is too much money for the stress and headaches. This is supposed to be a vacation.” This is sad.
I’m hoping that by putting the times on a separate screen, they will take the next step and actually soft-reserve the time window for a period of time so that you get a more predictable result. Here’s to hope?
Ugh, we went to DW last December, then again in April. The genie + definitely is frustrating- we would be up ear click for a 9 am and it would switch to like exactly when we had lunch or dinner reservations. We are headed back this December and was hopeful it might be easier
And yet, Disney’s board of directors voted unanimously to extend Chapek’s contract for three additional years. The Chairman of the Board, Susan Arnold, said, “Disney was dealt a tough hand by the pandemic, yet with Bob at the helm, our businesses – from parks to streaming – not only weathered the storm, but emerged in a position of strength.” Give me a break. ALL businesses were dealt tough hands during the pandemic. However, most are trying to recover their losses without gouging the very people they depend on, the ones who provide their income.
A business should never put the entire burden on those who are their source of income in order to to make up for monetary losses incurred during a global pandemic, a time when just about everyone suffered in one way or another (many are still suffering where personal expenses are concerned, as all of life’s essentials cost significantly more now than pre-pandemic). It’s like a slap in the face. The problem here is that, as people are willing to continue to pay ever increasing prices for Disney parks or streaming services, Disney will continue to increase costs. Pay more, get less.
I understand inflation and supply and staffing issues contributing to increased costs, but I feel Disney is dumping their problems on us peons instead of trying to fix them internally.
Walt, who actually didn’t have the financial savvy (or care to, leaving all that to Roy) to run his company in the early years, is, as they say, rolling over in his you-know-what. Universal, here I come.
What I also wanted to add was, what was once included in the price of your Disney trip (fast pass) now costs extra (Genie+ and LL). It’s not just the money, it’s also the time, as you must constantly be on your phone. Definition of vacation: an extended period of leisure and recreation. Nowhere does it say an iodinate amount of stress and dead phone batteries.
Of course they are, because they’ve found that we will continue to pay for it. As P.T. Barnum once said, they know “There’s a sucker born every minute!” and, by way of further explanation, to quote Pogo: “We have met the enemy, and he is us!”
Said P.T. Barnum, “The Noblest art is of making others happy.” And yet, Chapek is doing all for himself. We all wish that it went back to fast pass+ and 180 ADR. But not with the new CEO we are stuck with. We can only hope that things will get a bit better.
I wouldn’t even be mad about paying for Fastpass if you could just enter any line when you wanted and certain premium rides just had the ILL with a reserved time. It doesn’t have to be so complicated
I agree with you, Tom. This extra click is not going to solve anything. They need to create a time reservation. We know the tech exists! Use it Disney! I really do not get why they do not. I, too, hope they keep the Individual Lightening Lanes moved over previously to the standard Genie+. Better yet, I think they should do away with Individual Lightening Lanes completely and just have it all part of Genie+. It would create more content and increase guest satisfaction. But, I guess from the company standpoint they’d lose money. However, they are going to lose money in general on Genie+ if they do not get it together. I refuse to purchase individual lanes. I do not want to pay that much for just one ride.
“Unfortunately for other Walt Disney World visitors, this is actually going to be a negative change–not just a lateral one.”
To be more explicit than Tom, this is a change that doesn’t actually help or hurt new/casual guests, but only hurts power users. I never considered the fact that unlike paper FastPass with its multiple distribution points inside the park, this is the equivalent of having everyone show up at a single booth for tickets from anywhere inside or outside the parks. There is an actual problem, even though this won’t solve it (slowing down users doesn’t directly decrease the number trying to use the system.
Unfortunately, it sounds like this may be the one problem opening the Magic Kingdom earlier won’t help solve. (I seriously thought it might help before reading this post and thinking through the situation.)
I used to be a huge fan of Disney. I used to be an annual pass holder. I used to visit WDW every time I went to visit my son in Florida (about once a month). Not anymore. I had such bad experiences lately, with long wait times (I refuse to pay for Genie+ now since it’s so awful and nothing more than a way to squeeze for money out of us), poor customer service (did you know that Disney employees are no longer allowed to customize your food at some counter service places? IE: Do you hate pineapple juice but want the lime dole whip? Sorry, if the lime dole whip is offered on the menu to be served in pineapple juice, you are SOL. They are not allowed to sell you that lime dole whip without the pineapple juice! Do you want the Epcot food festival hummus and veggie dish served without aioli on top? Sorry, you are SOL. It does not matter that they have not put the dish together yet, or that there is absolutely no one in line behind you, so you are not holding a line up or anything, they don’t care. It’s the rule! Apparently, food must now be served the way the “chef intended”. Really Disney? What happened to making each experience magical at Disney?). Food in general has gone downhill, with lesser portions and quality for more money. Ordering food on the app can STILL cause a 45 minute wait for your food beyond the time the food was supposed to be ready and the app even tells you it’s ready!. And what about when you wait in line for 55 minutes for a ride, only to have the ride break down before you get on, and they close the ride down, but won’t give you a lightening lane pass to return? (They used to give you a fast pass). And this happens with 4 rides in one day MK? Which means you stood in lines for hours and hours and never got to ride anything? My last experience at Disney (on a weekday in February, on what was supposed to be one of the least crowded days of the year) was so bad, that I left the park at 3 pm in tears. I will not go back until Chapek fixes his mess. Until then, Universal, Sea World, and Busch Gardens have been getting my business when I visit Florida. I wish Disney would wake up and fix their mess. I miss the magic.
Sorry to hear you had some frustrating experiences last week. We had that happen on 2 rides at Hollywood Studios, but a quick trip to Guest Services helped us out.
‘Conspiracy’ theory: the intention is to create frustration. Makes the product more desirable. Allows guest to feel a sense of conquest and advantage once any ride is experienced however convoluted the path toward that seat. Rarely do i see any readers questioning this manipulative tactic. Occasionally someone recalls the old days when the parks were places to soak up good will and fun. Park experiences actually having become the opposite of what I first loved about them, now it’s all about beating others to the dining reservation or ride line. Most obvious when people pile into mile long queues for a souvenir that will end up an attic curiosity when our heirs clean out our homes once we have taken the bus to that great Typhoon Lagoon in the sky,..
Yes! That Figment popcorn bucket thing! I love him, have a tattoo of him, but I’d never waste time like that. So odd.
Or, in some cases, literally beating others. I can’t wait until Chapek add “Group Brawl Week” to the activities list along with marathons and other “crowd attractions”! Anything for a buck, right?
We are coming in September and staying in a Deluxe Resort. We plan on taking advantage of the Extended Hours available to us. Are Lightning Lane purchases still required during that 2 hour window or are all rides accessible during the Extended Hours period?
Lightning lane and Genie rides aren’t available during extended hours. The only ride that you can reserve for that time period is Guardians of the galaxy. (Which I recommend doing! The 6pm drop is a great way to ride 2-3x in one day!)
We just did the extended evening hours at EPCOT and got Guardians for 8:45 pm – 9:45 pm, so we basically were walking during the fireworks. The other ride we wanted was Test Track, and it was down (and of course it was not going to be repaired for a two-hour special extended hours). We did Mission Space after Guardians and that was it. The time flies by.
Great read Tom, thanks. While I’m totally in agreement with most commenters here….what I can’t understand is why so many people use Genie+ to begin with? It’s a ripoff! Just don’t use it! It isn’t a necessary expense. We’re going in September but even if we went during a busier time…I think I’d just use my good ol’ Touring Plan/Lines app and hope for the best. Still involved but I feel better using that and keeping my face ever so slightly less out of my phone than giving Disney even more of my money and being consumed with making selections all day on the phone. I was leaning toward shelling out $60 for MK and maybe another of the park, but this convinced me….I’m just not going to use it and try our luck with standby.
As a semi-regular visitor to WDW, and as a family group of 8 coming the first week of Sept I can say there is no way that I’m going to be using Greedy Plus during our visit. As stated earlier if Disney thinks I’m going to pay hundreds of dollars for the privilege of just walking around their parks they’ve got another thing coming. If we can’t get on rides in a reasonable amount of time I simply won’t be back. P.S…..Dear Bob, just because I can afford to pay your prices doesn’t mean I don’t look for value for my $$$, and I’m certainly not going to pay for stress, or to spend the day tied to my phone while on vacation. Disney is investing in and implementing a poor, or at least risky, long term business model. Short term profits have blinded them to the long term implications.
Thanks again for all the useful info. We are DVC,former Florida residents and AP holders. Even after moving still visited 2 times a year pre COVID. We’re older so now we wouldn’t feel comfortable coming without my son to navigate all of this. As residents and AP holders we would go to WDW just to take a walk and have a meal. To think all that is gone. That spontaneity gone. Very sad to think vacationing is now so much more than deciding what clothes to bring. Too much stress for us. Looking into sites that will rent our points to pay for a trip to Universal. Thanks again.
Well said. Our biggest problem is that, as you said, spontaneity is gone. Wife and I used to hit WDW three or four tines a year. Trips always started with “Hey, lets go to . . .” Not any more. DVC booking is an almost impossible disaster. Seriously considering selling our points. I refuse to rent them. Allowing that, IMO, is a major part of the availability problem. I refuse to contribute to it!