You Do NOT Need to Get Up at 7 am for Genie+
One of the big complaints about Genie+ is that it “forces” Walt Disney World guests to get up early in order to book their first ride reservation at 7 am. This post will test whether that theory is accurate, with a look at Lightning Lane availability later in the morning and an explanation of when you actually “need” to make first selections for each park.
Before we get going, I want to start with something that has been bugging me with regard to the Genie+ service. No, it’s not the lack of a modify button (this time) or anything about the awful user interface. Rather, it’s the ongoing Walt Disney World fan response to all things Lightning Lanes.
It’s now been about a year since Walt Disney World revealed that free FastPass+ would be permanently replaced by the Genie+ service. (Time flies when you’re having fun, amirite?!) I think we can all agree that the initial announcement, subsequent communications (or lack thereof), branding, user interface, and so much more about Genie have left a lot to be desired, to put it charitably. (You can probably already tell there’s a “but” coming…)
But it does no one any good to exaggerate the system’s shortcomings, problems, and woes. Yes, it stinks that a formerly free service was replaced by something that costs money. It was also an inevitability that was years in the making, and would’ve happened regardless of who was/is CEO. (As we’ve joked before, don’t cry because free FastPass is over, smile because it didn’t happen 3 years earlier, per the original plan. 😉)
It’s also true that, aside from costing money, many of the issues that plagued Genie+ almost a full year ago at launch still haven’t been remedied. This is incredibly frustrating, and we’ve made no attempts to minimize this, or Walt Disney World’s anemic guest satisfaction scores in the last year.
It’s also true at the same time that not everything about Genie+ is awful. Each subsequent change is not bad news. The service is not wholly irredeemable or without value. The sky is not falling.
Among some Walt Disney World fans, there is a seemingly reflexive reaction to announcements or updates on Genie+ that seeks to vindicate their preconceived opinions and validate their anger. Each mention of Genie’s name summons more hostility and outrage. There isn’t even an internal logic to it–if Genie is truly the worst thing ever, it should stand to reason that it’ll likely benefit from tweaking and iteration. Nope. Bad begets more bad.
In part, this just seems to be the way things are nowadays. Everything is either awful or awesome. People form snap judgments and don’t deviate from entrenched positions. They’re either team X or Y, with little middle ground. Obviously, this extends far beyond Disney. Just as it isn’t healthy in other aspects of life…it isn’t here, either.
Again, Genie+ has a lot of problems and shortcomings. This isn’t to minimize any of that. Fortunately, as has been explained in myriad posts, you can either leverage it to your advantage or use alternative approaches and avoid the whole thing!
Admittedly, some of the fault lies with us. Those “myriad posts” about Genie+ have contained countless strategies to leverage paid FastPass for maximum benefit and become power users of the system. Although we’ve repeatedly offered the caveat that such advanced-level knowledge is not necessary for the vast majority of people, the mere existence of so much strategy nevertheless creates pressure.
Even beyond Genie+ and Lightning Lanes, this is something with which we’ve grappled. It might not show from some posts, we but are relatively laid back and spontaneous travelers ourselves when doing things for leisure. The goal with most of our planning posts is to give you the tools you need to think differently and beat the crowds so you can get more out of your vacation and enjoy time with your family. With few exceptions, we’re not presenting strict strategy that must be memorized and followed meticulously…or else! (When I say that I hate spreadsheets, I mean it.)
Ideally, the goal is more “teaching you to fish” than anything–putting you in a position to understand how to approach the parks and Walt Disney World’s many convoluted and quirky policies/systems/etc.
We’re cognizant that it doesn’t always work that way in practice. The FOMO machine drives so much of the mindset behind Walt Disney World vacation planning. The substance of an Early Entry at DHS strategy post detailing why that’s superior to Lightning Lanes might carry less weight than the volume of posts about the Genie+ service.
It’s a tough and sometimes delicate balance. My goal is to present a level-headed and honest look at the good, bad, and ugly of Walt Disney World with minimal sensationalism and hyperbole. In furtherance of that, I tend to think more information is better than less, but sometimes that can be perceived differently.
I’m probably just rambling at this point, so I’ll cut this short and get on with the Lightning Lane availability after 7 am. The whole point here is to relieve some of the pressure Walt Disney World visitors may feel to get up right at 7 am, use speed strategy, advanced stacking techniques, and so forth. Genie+ does not need to be so complicated, or have high stakes. You do not need to get up at 7 am, or even during the 7 am hour.
When Walt Disney World fans assume they must book at 7 am or be at a huge disadvantage, this is often due to a fundamental (yet oddly persistent) misunderstanding of How the Genie+ 120 Minute Rule Works at Walt Disney World.
As a reminder the clock on this does not start ticking at 7 am (or whenever your first early morning ride reservation is made). The clock starts *at* park opening. If you make your first Lightning Lane selection at 7:00 am, booking Slinky Dog Dash with a 2 pm to 3 pm return window, and Disney’s Hollywood Studios opens for the day at 8:30 am, you can make your next Lightning Lane selection via Genie+ at 10:30 am.
Someone who made their first DHS Lightning Lane selection with a return window of 3-4 pm at 8:29 am can also make their next pick at 10:30 am. Both of you are in the exact same position. In other words, the next round for both examples is 120 minutes after 8:30 am.
Accordingly, it follows that the pertinent consideration is Lightning Lane inventory between 7 am and park opening times. If availability is still good for the most popular attractions, there isn’t much of–or any–disadvantage to sleeping in a little and booking during the 8 am hour. That’s what the screenshots here showcase, with commentary sprinkled in.
It’s not entirely fair to say that inventory is the only thing that matters. After all, the way Genie+ ride reservations work is that you can book one at a time, and can either make another selection after two hours (120 minutes) or once you tap into your previous Genie+ selection, whichever comes first.
As such, if you’re able to book a Lightning Lane return time within the first two hours that the park is open, you’ll usually be able to book another as soon as you tap into your first selection. Meaning that if you somehow scored Slinky Dog Dash for 8:45 am to 9:45 am, you could book your second Lightning Lane as early as 8:45 am and get a slight jumpstart on everyone else.
This offers an advantage, but with a few caveats. First, if you prioritize sleeping in on vacation–the whole reason for avoiding the ~6:45 am Genie+ alarm–it’s probably not a paramount concern. You likely wouldn’t make it to the park that early if you’re not up by 7 am, anyway.
Second, truly savvy strategy usually won’t have you returning to Lightning Lanes during the first ~90 minutes the parks are open–that’s prime time for using standby lines to beat the crowds. You’re not going to want to return to Slinky Dog Dash–or any other ride reservation–that early. (Now, 9:45 am at DHS is a different story–lines are starting to get longer by then. So there is still some upside.)
Finally, anyone booking their second Lightning Lane an hour or so after park opening is almost certainly going to have a return time more than 2 hours into the future, thus subjecting that to the 120 minute rule. At best, they have a 30-45 minute head-start and get a slightly earlier return time for attraction #2 of the day.
That’s not nothing, but it is relatively insignificant over the course of the day. That’s especially true at the parks that are not Disney’s Hollywood Studios, where availability for headliner attractions lasts a lot longer.
This also does not take into account Lightning Lane refills, which are going to be a main means of scoring selections at popular attractions later in the day. (See Ride Reservation Refill Rules at Walt Disney World for more on this added availability throughout the day.)
By pure luck/accident, we actually hit one of these while grabbing screenshots for this article. As you can see, Slinky Dog Dash was ‘refilled’ shortly before 8:30 am. This didn’t go quickly, and it still had availability at 8:55 am. (Although not pictured, even past 9:30 am!)
It’s entirely possible–and not at all uncommon–that someone who got up early for the 7:00:00 am Slinky scramble would have a later return time (or miss out entirely) while someone who got up over an hour later would have better success. (To address another misconception: you would have the same success with refills regardless of party size. It does not matter whether you’re a party of 1 or 100.)
In other words, someone who books their first Lightning Lane right at 7 am is not going to be running around the park stacking up dozens of Lightning Lanes while you’re asleep, depleting the ride reservation inventory and rendering Genie+ useless before you’ve even made your first selection.
At best, they will have access to better return times for certain attractions and the ability to tap into their first selection before the park opening 120 minute rule window elapses. That is an advantage, especially when it comes to popular #2 priority attractions that go fast. However, it’s one of degrees and also assumes some speed strategy skill or luck in getting that early return window.
In practice, it often does not work out that way. Anyone who books a 7 am Lightning Lane with a return time over 2 hours after park opening is in literally the exact same position as someone who books 1 minute before park opening. There’s no advantage to booking Jungle Cruise with an 11:00 to 12:00 return time at 7:00 am over Jungle Cruise with a 1:30 to 2:30 return time at 8:58 am. Zero.
Now, this isn’t to say we’d recommend taking a laid-back approach to Genie+ during the week of Thanksgiving, Christmas, or any peak season dates. That’s not a good idea if you want to get as much done as possible, as everything is amplified (for the worse) with 10/10 crowd levels. However, that’s true across the board, and not exclusive to Lightning Lanes. We’d never recommend anyone going over those peak weeks sleep in if they wanted to get a lot done. It simply isn’t a good idea, and for reasons almost entirely unrelated to Genie+.
The actual early riser advantage is the same as it has always been: getting to the parks before the crowds arrive. It’s sort of odd to be quibbling over a theoretical ~30-45 booking advantage for a single Lightning Lane when the park-goers who get up at 7 am will be knocking out attraction after attraction via standby lines during Early Entry and at rope drop. Commando touring strategies beat all other approaches, including the Genie+ service.
That is the real reason we’d strongly recommend getting up early on vacation at Walt Disney World and one that has been discussed in numerous morning strategy posts recently. As always, you’re at a tremendous advantage if you arrive before park opening or stay until park closing. The middle of the day is always the busiest/worst time at Walt Disney World, which is simply a byproduct of behavior of humans on vacation and can’t be “blamed” on new technology. It will always be true that the early bird gets the worm and the night owl gets the…mouse, I guess?
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Does this reassure you at all about using Genie+ when sleeping in at Walt Disney World? Provide clarity about the 120 minute rule in relation to park opening, and why it’s not imperative to make a ride reservation right at 7 am? Have you had success or failure booking your first Lightning Lane closer to park opening instead of right at 7 am? Thoughts on availability around park opening times or later in the day? Are you planning on buying Genie+ or sticking to free standby lines? Do you agree or disagree with my assessment that Genie+ can be a laid back experience if you choose not to stress over it? 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!
Another example of trying to fix this crappy broken Genie+ just happened yesterday. Now you cannot stack reservations for a second park until 2pm. This is ANOTHER example of a terrible change to an already TERRIBLE system. This makes it even worse yet again.
When are they going to scrap this entire POS and give guests something that actually makes it easy
I mentioned in my previous post (Jojo, pay attention here). That Tom mentioned they were tweaking the system to try and improve it. I said even if they do, i had no faith they would make changes that actually benefit guests. Guess what? I was right. Another crappy band aid that makes it worse, not better.
Keep handing over your money – Oh yeah, forgot to mention, even more money now as Bob said they are going to increase prices again
This is what I was talking about Jojo………..Have fun!
Tom, Your post rambled on way too much. If all the changes Disney made weren’t confusing enough you made it worse with this post. By the time I got to you saying that you were probably rambling on I was basically done with your post. But, I pushed thru and came to the conclusion at the end that this was time I was never going to get back & didn’t learn anything new that I didn’t already know… unnecessary chaos. Ultimately with all the time having to waste on the new systems you’d be better off just standing in the reg lines & go during a less busy time of the year.
Per Tom, “I do not love Genie+, but I’ve adapted to work with it–or around it, depending on the day.”
The problem with this is you are local, and own a Disney related blog. You have been able to use Genie enough to perfect/develop work arounds.
I read your blog constantly and still have trouble utilizing your tips on this process.
We’re once to twice a year visitors, DVC, and absolutely can’t master this process on the ground.
I resent and will always, paying for this, but if forced to at least let this be something you can do way ahead as the old FP was and have some maneuver room. It interferes with dining and any other things you may be trying to work around with only hours at best notice. It’s not reasonable.
It’s tough to get a family of varying ages moving in the AM with, “oh, we need to be over here in such in such a time” when it wasn’t in the original plans.
Moving 2 people around, much easier.
Tom is right, this isn’t going anywhere for a while, so I’ve resigned myself to hoping for incremental improvements. The first one I’d like to see is the ability to book a ride on Genie+ more than once. We could do that with Fastpass, and it’s really great for those who enjoy rides that maybe aren’t headliners. For example, we used to ride EE at AK over and over again, just rebooking FP. Now with Genie+ we can only ride once without waiting a long time to ride again. I guess they’re trying to spread out a availability, but the system should self-regulate, correct? Anyway, give me back that high I got from scoring a second and third and fourth FP for the same ride 🙂
This our biggest complaint, too. If we want to ride Aladdin’s Flying Carpets over and over with no wait, let us.
People were complaining about having to plan ahead of time with FP+. Now they’re complaining about having to do it the day of is too stressful. Having to spend all day on their phone? That’s better than having to run across the parks for a FP in the days of yore, at least for this disabled person. You’re going to have to put in a little work, either before the trip or during the trip. That’s just how it goes. Disney will never win because there are people who love to plan and there are people who hate to plan. Someone will always be unhappy.
I’m in the camp of having loved MaxPass from Disneyland and wanting them to bring it to WDW. Seeing as how this is fairly similar, I’m not all that unhappy about it. I generally like the idea behind it. The execution is off:
-I would like if photos were included like they were in MaxPass.
-User interface needs work. I don’t need suggestions. I just need my plans and the ability to modify.
-Separating Individual Lighting Lanes is crappy. I’d be much more amenable to the price if it included EVERYTHING. And I think others would too.
-At Disneyland, you had to be in the park to purchase, so being able to from your room at 7am is actually a nice upgrade from MaxPass, I think.
-I’m sure there’s more, but that’s what comes to mind.
I’m more upset about Park Reservations still being a thing. On my last trip, I missed an artist’s signing time during Festival of the Arts on my Epcot day. (It was my arrival day, and my flight was late. Poor planning on my part.) I bought their prints anyway, concerned about stock issues, and thought I’d try and make it the next day. But their time was 11am-1pm, and my park reservation that day was in Hollywood Studios. Park hopping isn’t until 2pm. It was so disappointing. She was someone I really wanted to meet and have sign the artwork.
Hi Julie, It has been my experience that if you have some extenuating circumstances, such as you described here, Disney personnel (cast members) can be quite helpful. Next time, talk to the manager at your hotel or even ask for a manager at the park’s ticket gate. Good luck!
I’m probably the only person on the planet who doesn’t hate Genie+, at least judging by the comments here. I liked the old paper fastpass tickets and the new app system is basically that but with an app that doesn’t require me to sprint across the park to see if there are any fast passes left for the ride I want…
I did like the pre-planning aspect of the previous online fastpass reservation system. It helped me make decisions about just how early or how late to plan to be in the park (do I need to rope drop or can I sleep in since I got the Flight of Passage return time I wanted?) and it helped to manage expectations before the trip. It would have been my preference to keep that system, but the new Genie+ does allow me more flexibility on the actual park day to change things up. The old system resulted (for my family) in a lot of inflexible itineraries where we felt we HAD to be somewhere specific at a certain time, despite weather, hunger, desire for a nap, whatever.
I also understand folks who would rather there be no “skip the line” access at all. I get it. Wait times would be lower. We saw that play out last year. BUT, it’s simply not going to happen and wasting time and energy railing about it isn’t going to change anything.
I am going to preface my comment by saying that I think this blog is one of the best Disney parks blog on the internet and I follow it almost every day! But, I will say that I think the biggest issue with this post (for me anyways) is that it’s not taking into account that a lot of visitors at Disney World do not live in Florida. A lot of visitors are here for a once in a lifetime trip or they’re at Disney World for a yearly trip and that’s it. So, if Genie + does you dirty the one day you decide to enter the park and you don’t get on that ONE ride you and your family have been looking forward to forvever…it is devastating and frankly hard to explain to small children as well. Waiting in extended lines all day isn’t much a good choice either for a myriad of reasons that I don’t need to explain. So, while yes I agree that Genie + isn’t inherently the worst change Disney has ever made it is a bad choice for those who are visiting from out of state. This post, again this my opinion, is coming the POV of someone who is access to Disney multiple a year. That’s just not the case for a lot of people.
On a positive note, I did not know that the 120 minute rule started at park opening not that the time you check in to your first Genie+ ride reservation. I’m just thinking about all of the rides I could’ve booked in the hours between park opening and 11am or whatever. I could’ve taken the Frozen Genie+ that was for noon easily! I’m both disappointed that I didn’t know this (this just goes to show how confusing Genie+ is for people who will maybe use it once a year) and also elated that this will change the game for my family!
I am so glad to hear that you had a positive experience using g+. You had mentioned the 120 rule and using it next time. As soon as Disney realizes the one positive left of g+ and how people are working the system, I am sure that rule will change before your and mine, next visit. They love taking away things that make travel to the parks easier and make guests happy. I guarantee you that the 120 rule is on the chopping block. Lol see..magic express (gone) dining plan( gone?) perks for deluxe guests(gone) the list goes on..
This is how we feel too. We pay lot of money in travel, hotel, tickets, food, etc. the go to WDW and then when you get there, there’s no guarantee you can get on the headliner’s without waiting in lines for hours while waking up early and being on your phone all day. No thanks. I would never spend that much money not knowing if i couldn’t get on the rides we wanted without waiting hours. WDW took away the most important part of being a resort guest, being able to book in advance. We will spend our money elsewhere
My wife and I spend the week of Memorial Day 2022 at WDW. Thanks to your VERY helpful posts explaining Genie+ and strategies for getting the most out of its use, our experience was absolutely fine. Now, while we are not experts on your level, we are not WDW newbies by any stretch. Living in southern Indiana doesn’t allow us the number of visit opportunities that we would like. This year was our 13th trip. In the My Disney Experience app era, we visited in 2016, 2019, and 2022. Yes, the interface leaves a LOT to be desired. But after a day, we got the hang of it. We did not pay extra every day. Clever use of early park hours, an excellent resort location (Boardwalk Inn), and two days of extra magic hours, we got to ride almost everything we wanted. Some rides multiple times. We arrived on Saturday, May 28. Yes, the day after Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind opened. We assumed that we would not be able to get on it. We did! On the last day! The ride broke down (surprise, surprise) just before our queue number came up. We walked over to Connections Cafe to grab a quick bite. While we ate, my wife kept refreshing the ride status on the app. As soon as we saw the ride reopen, we dumped what was left of our lunch and rushed the 100 feet or so the the ride entrance. We virtually walked on! We also assumed that we would not be able to ride Rise of the Resistance. Wrong again! We finished Midway Mania 20 minutes before park close and the app listed a 45 minute standby wait. One excellent Disney rule to take advantage of: All guests in the queue at park close must be allowed to finish the queue and ride the attraction. Had the ride not broken down while we were in line, our wait would have only been around 30 minutes due to people jumping out of line due either to impatience or other time-sensitive plans. After a 30-minute delay, we did our part for the resistance! We were concerned about riding Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure. Wrong a 3rd time! This time we arrived just after park opening. Thanks to the International Gateway entrance near the Boardwalk Inn, we were nearly at the queue when we entered the park. Over all, our experience was on par with previous years. You have to be patient and flexible when visiting Disney World. This is where our past experience is valuable. With the help of the app, we are able to make snap decisions when our plans don’t work out. PLUS, your advice was HUGE! We arrived at WDW with enough education to avoid unpleasant surprises. There is one area where we wish you would put more emphasis: VERY young children in the park. I know that this is a sensitive area and there are thousands of reasons that it may be “necessary” to take a baby or toddler to WDW. But, in our thirteen trips, we have seen nothing but misery for these families. We put a minimum age upon ourselves from the get-go. We did not take our kids until they were 5-6 years old. We also imposed a “no strollers” rule upon ourselves. No, we did not subject our daughter and son to a “Bataan Death March” in the hot Florida sun. We planned our days with large rest breaks. We went back to the resort hotel during the hottest part of the day where we either took naps or spent time at the pool. Our friends know we are Disney nuts and ask our advice often. The “minimum age” idea is the first advice we give. You’ve seen it. Crying babies and toddlers adding pressure to the parents who are already stressed by trying to navigate what is really NOT a “simple” vacation. Inevitably, a domestic dispute occurs. I would love for you to expand on this in future posts.
KEEP UP THE EXCELLENT WORK!
I mean, as a mother of a small child, I think your opinion on taking small children to Disney World is pretty one-sided. There are a lot of reasons as to why parents decide to take their small children to the park. For me, I ended up taking my INFANT to Disney World because we had to postpone our trip multiple times due to Covid while I was pregnant with her and nobody wanted to babysit a 6 month old while my husband and I flew to Florida. We didn’t want to lose money so we took her. Was it easy? No, but we did it. We took her again she was just almost 2 years old because we ended up garnering free park passes and again no one wanted to watch her. Was it better? Yes but I wouldn’t call it a vacation. Are we going to take her again? YES! You know why? Because she’s still FREE and we have airline credits to use up due to having to reschedule again from having COVID and the airline overcharging us this past Spring. Also you need to take into account the families with multiple children of differing ages. Frankly, it’s also cheaper to take a 2 year old since they’re free and sometimes families don’t have a choice. It’s great that you had such a wonderful experience, I think this biggest takeaway from seeing all of these posts is that the Genie + experience varies from person to person which is its biggest flaw.
I’ll get off of my soapbox now..
I agree that complaining incessantly doesn’t usually move the needle. It IS WORTH complaining/giving feedback at least once. I will be taking a ridiculously expensive trip to WDW with extended family over Thanksgiving week, delayed since 2019. We are lifelong Disney fans…I first visited in 1971 and been hooked ever since. However, I’m anticipating this will be our farewell voyage because I can no longer stomach giving money to a company that so clearly cares for profit over customer experience and treats its customers with such distain and callousness.
My sister and her husband bought the tickets when it still had fast pass included. They are older and not tech savvy and bringing 6 kids. She just texted me the other day when they will get their wristbands for the fast passes. I had to tell her it is all done through the app and that you can’t ride every ride with them. I’ve tried to explain how everything works multiple times and they still don’t get it. It is going to be a disaster for them, I fear. This is the problem with Genie + imo, you can’t just plan it ahead of time and execute the itinerary.
I have to admit that when I first heard of genie+ And the cost, I also thought that it meant I could use the fast pass lane on all the rides for that day. Like the express pass at universal. I was like great!!! Disney finally fixed fast passes!! Boy.. was I wrong. They actually broke it more… my suggestion would be for you to send her YouTube videos of people using the service with step by step visuals. I learn better with visuals and audio. Also, explain to her that even veteran guests are really struggling with the new system. Hope this helps.
Your posts and information are always top notch. I love following your blog. On this topic, though, I’m struggling. I’m completely in support of improving the system, and don’t see future changes as inherently bad. However, making surface tweaks, or even major changes, to a system that is fundamentally flawed, just isn’t going to get there. I have returned to WDW since Genie Plus and it wasn’t all doom and gloom. We didn’t buy the service or ILLs, having already spent a big amount to stay in a Disney resort, have hopper tickets, and eat Disney meals. We couldn’t justify another expense. Our biggest issue was not so much that we got to ride less, as we were generally successful, it was just so much more frustrating and something that everyone in our travel party commented and noticed (grandparents and teens) – seeing the Genie+ lane and ILL just left a sour taste in our mouths. I’ll still return, and we’ll still have a great time, but it really changed our feelings about the visit and how often we’ll go back.
“…seeing the Genie+ lane and ILL just left a sour taste in our mouths. I’ll still return, and we’ll still have a great time, but it really changed our feelings about the visit and how often we’ll go back.”
Totally understand. Given that, I don’t think there are any changes coming that’ll change your perception of Genie+ or Lightning Lanes.
I’ll just say that the whole system is not “fundamentally flawed” from an overarching guest satisfaction perspective.
At its core, Genie+ is very similar to MaxPass at Disneyland. That system was very well received, getting high marks from guests. All Disney needed to do was make tweaks to that and this could’ve gone so much better. A lot of people would’ve still been upset about paying for FastPass–and capacity issues would exist with 3 of the WDW parks since they haven’t built enough to keep up with crowds–but the response wouldn’t have been nearly as bad as it has been with Genie+ and Lightning Lanes.
This also means that MaxPass provides a blueprint for changes Disney can still make to Genie+ to improve satisfaction with the service. Why many of those changes haven’t already been made is beyond me.
It does sound like I would like the Disneyland version of MaxPass better. I’m sure guest satisfaction for those using it higher. But I’m not following how that has any bearing on guest satisfaction for those that don’t use the service, or for the the differences that exist between WDW and DL. The no upcharge experience is downgraded whichever system is in place. As in all cases, there are winners and losers. I guess I just fall in the “loser” bucket, given my resistance to give in on this cash grab. I’d much prefer higher ticket prices for all and going back to a simpler (admittedly, for me) system that feels a bit more fair, less stressful, and not so in your face all the time.
Tom. You couldn’t be more off base with this blog and your follow up comments. I am afraid you’ve drank too much of the coop aid here.
Love you articles but you are WAY off on this one and it’s borderline offensive for you to be defending genie+ Sorry but I’m starting to wonder if I will still read your articles if you really believe what you wrote.
Why is it so unreasonable to ask that Disney just return to one lane only attractions? That one lane does not cost extra and it moves FASTER because there are NO FAST LANES slowing it down. Why is it so unreasonable to ask that we just go back to the days before any kind of so called “fast pass” extra lanes were even created? It was way more simpler and fair to everyone. If Disney cannot manage to make their “fast lanes” like Universal Studios where there are two lanes. Regular and fast with out having to stay on a phone all day trying to book attractions because you paid one price to go through the shorter lane then just go back to one lane for every one. I’m sorry but we absolutely have every right to be angry and reject this stupid time wasting money grabbing Genie thing. Bottom line…. I do not want to pay top dollar for an expensive vacation/trip like Disney and be forced to be up on my phone by 7Am and be on it constantly all day long to book attractions that are not even giving me time choices and are going to have me running from one end of the parks to the other! This is outrageous. My daughter and I are going the first week of Oct. We’ll be up early each morning and on the bus to the parks by 7AM. I’ll make an effort to book the Genie for something but if he gives me any kind of hard time what so ever on my vacation…. He can go right back into his bottle and I’ll take my family and my money to some other vacation destination until this complicated system is fixed once and for all even if that means WDW just ends up being a memory in our heads. What I find also so amazing is how many people are shaming those of us who dare to buck this crazy system voicing our well deserved anger over it! Its like how we are with our doctors…. scared to death we might offend them even though they hold our lives in their hands and therefore we have every right to question every thing they say to us. Come on! Its only because we are all trying to chase down our childhoods. We are all drug addicted to Disney! And Disney is taking advantage of our addictions. Disney is not the only vacation cookie in the jar. There are others. We have to just be willing to give them a chance! This may very well be my last trip. But I swear I am really going to put a real effort into replacing WDW with another vacation destination after this.
Well said! We are going to Disney in November on a very expensive trip for 8 of us and between the Genie+ crap, increased hotel costs, no Disney dining plan and a missing magical express I’m really wondering why I’m bothering to spend a fortune on a company that clearly hates its customers.
Tom- your posts have guided our Disney trips for the last four years- your tips have always changed our trip for the better so I’m always happy to read what you come up with even if you think it’s rambling! I admit I hate genie +; we have young kids so we like to do early morning, pool/nap and back to a different park. Genie makes it hard for us to do what we would like to do in that timeline – I preferred the days of picking my passes ahead of time – even tho I thought it was a little nuts to have to do that so far out! HOWEVER, and I absolutely hate to admit this because I don’t like genie plus (including the fact that I feel like I’m on my phone constantly now) on our our first trip using genie plus (combined with your strategies for early entry) we got on more rides than we ever have on any other trip. I’ve gotten over pay to play and totally give in for the convenience factor, but I do think the system is clunky and has a lot things that could be improved but somehow it worked for us much to my chagrin!
Tom. I am a huge fan. I follow you faithfully. So please don’t take this the wrong way. This is the worst post you’ve ever written. Genie+ is terrible. Everything about it is terrible. We love Disney world. My family had the worst vacation we’ve ever had in November 2021 to the point we won’t be back. If genie+ is causing families to not return, how can you defend it in any way?
Sorry I think you are very wrong here
Hi Mike. I understand your opinions and agree with all of them. I love Tom’s posting and read everything he posts. I follow along and often times disagree. We can all agree that we love Disney World. We all can agree we want to spend our money wisely and all feel we are getting less for money and experiences in the parks.
I truly feel that Tom is trying to make the best of a terrible situation, as far as Genie + is concerned. My take away from his post is this, “learn to love it. It’s not going away. Ever. Disney wants it, so we have learn how to work it. Or we don’t go.” I have to learn to work this terrible system to the best of my ability. After our trip in 2023, I will no longer be able to afford this kind of “trip” my children are used to. I am thankful for the past trips, I am thankful for the time we have spent as a family, but am accepting the new norm. What choice do we have? Complaining isn’t working. Emailing Bob Chepek doesn’t work. He forwards all email to the complaint department. The board doesn’t care. We must vote with our pocketbooks. It’s ok to disagree with other. I like to see everyone’s thoughts.
Ann hit the nail on the head, but I’d modify her quote to be “learn to live with it.”
I do not love Genie+, but I’ve adapted to work with it–or around it, depending on the day.
From my perspective, that’s the more productive approach than shaking my fist at the sky and yelling at clouds. I know this isn’t going anywhere. At best, we’ll see incremental improvements that make the user experience better. But the core concept of paid FastPass has been a long-term goal for years, and the company is not giving up that revenue now that they’ve tasted it.
I don’t care about the paid part. I used to pay for the 3 extra FP when we had a 3BR grand villa at BLT. I am not in the “just going to have to accept it” camp. Genie+ was supposed to make it easier by not having to plan in advance but it’s actually made it 100x worse. Genie+ took away the reason we went to WDW. Stinks because we love it there but not in its current form. We are going to Alunai next summer and then selling our DVC. We have been lifelong Disney people as my parents took me in 1974 when I was 4 years old. How can a system that drives lifelong fans, DVC owners and multi generation family members to no longer want to go be considered acceptable?
I just don’t get it and 100% don’t agree with your post. People accepting what they have done is the problem. We won’t be part of it.
No, it’s actually one of Tom’s best posts. It’s your response that is questionable. Tom gave useful info on how to make the best of G+. One of the complaints about it is that people feel they have to get up at 7am. Tom’s post shows they actually don’t. If you find G+ problem-solving offensive then maybe it’s time for you to take a break.
JoJo. Sorry if you do not like my answer. But from everything I’ve read, Tom encourages all opinions, whether you agree or disagree, The comments give feedback to what actual customers are thinking and experimenting. It’s ok to disagree, as long as it’s respectful, which I think my post was
Genie has been a very controversial topic as evidenced by the dismal guest satisfaction ratings that Tom has brought up. As a consumer, I get to choose where to spend my money. And my point was, that if it’s so bad that it causes us to not go, then we would like them to change it vs making these inconsequential tweaks that make it worse.
People accepting this awful system is the problem so it will never go away, so we will
No, the problem is you not accepting that a lot of people like G+ enough to buy it. So maybe it’s not as bad as you think it is.
Jojo. That’s inherently false. Not sure what you don’t understand. Just because people buy genie doesn’t mean it’s good. Tom has written multiple times how the guest satisfaction numbers are dismal (I’ve heard rumors in the low 20 percentile). You don’t have to be a complete #+%& either Genie+ is terrible. That’s a fact. They’ve even admitted it by trying to change its functionality. If you want to give them your money, all the power to you. You can be that sucker. I won’t. You are a Typical Disney apologist, whatever they do or say you just accept.
Your response makes no sense. Disney just said in their earnings call that 50% of guests buy G+. If it’s terrible, why do guests continue to buy it a year after launch? The real issue here is you can’t accept that other people get value from G+, and you can’t. And the reason is obvious – you refuse to learn, or accept that others want to learn, how to use the system optimally, as evidenced by your response to the practical and useful tip that Tom gave in this article.
jojo…….It makes complete sense…..People buy it because they have to, not because they want to. I’ve used Genie+ plenty, I know how it works. It’s terrible.
Facts are the facts. Guests hate it, that’s not debatable.
Tom’s tips are trying to make the best of a bad situation
You obviously have never used it
I agree completely Mike. I was just going to respond that there is a difference between forced compliance and choice. Why would anyone choose a more difficult, convoluted, ill functioning product over ease and simplicity. Chepek I can say anything he wants about how great his system is, out of context. We don’t believe a single word that comes out of that guys mouth. he’s the face of the board he must keep up appearances. That’s it. he is ready to go down as captain of this sinking ship
@mike Why do guests “have to” buy G+? It’s not mandatory, and 50% don’t buy it.
Previously you said those who buy it were “suckers” and “part of the problem”.
So which is it?
Jojo……..Answer me one question please. Have you used Genie+?
You have to buy it unless you want to wait in 2+ hour lines.
You are a typical apologist. Whatever Disney does, you accept. I dont. I wont go anymore.
And to answer your question they are both. Suckers who pay for a crappy product and part of the people because as long as people pay, they wont fix it the right way
@Mike Glad you admit that G+ is worth buying in order to save time in lines. Yes I’ve used G+ and I recommend Tom’s articles to anyone who wants to get more out of it. But not to you, because you won’t go anymore (your own words). So why do you care if other people want to buy G+?
I don’t think anyone should buy it. I don’t anyone should even go to 2
WDW. And you never used Genie+obviously
It’s ok if you pay for Genie+, there’s a sucker born every day. Let me know what your experience is like when you use it!
You seem bitter, Mike. Get help.
Glad to hear Brent! Thank goodness we now have FaceTime and lots of ways to communicate overseas… I still remember getting in line to use the community phone on my first deployment! Save up that Family Sep Allowance and have a blast!
We’re visiting WDW in September and planning to only ILL (no Genie+) for the two days we are park hopping. If we pay for ILL and there are no available times when we are in that park…what happens?? I assume we aren’t refunded?
For instance, we plan to do MK in the AM and HS in the afternoon after a hotel break. We hope to book a RotR ILL for the afternoon/evening. But what if we get an earlier window? I understand you can somewhat “pick” your time, but from posts I’ve read that’s not guaranteed. Would you call customer service at that point and ask for a later return window?
Thanks all/Tom! We’re experienced Disney travelers, but first trip in the new Genie+ world.
Tom, you’re just so smart. I love reading your articles. Are you going to be at MNSSHP on opening night? My husband and I would love to shake your hand (and get a picture!). You’ve steered us in great directions for many years!
We will be there! Please stop us, say hello, and get a photo when you see us. Hope you have a great trip! 🙂
Yay! We will watch for you! 🙂 You have a great trip, too! Just so happened that this party worked for us. We set sail on the Fantasy the next day!
I’ve always told anyone who listens to my advice and yours. Even with LL or anything else get there early!!! You get on so much and you can use LL for that exclusive attraction (s). Then take a nice break midday and go later for lesser crowds then as well, and stack LLs while swimming where applicable mainly MK.
So basically, there is only one attraction that typically/often has no reservations in Genie+ at opening time (Slinky Dog Dash). I would not have guessed that (that there was one ride, not that it would be SDD, which is a fun balance of cute and thrills at one of the non-castle parks).
Hey Tom! I’m planning a trip to Disney to celebrate my retirement from Active Duty from 24 Oct to 28 Oct. What would you consider the park level to likely be at that time?
Congrats my man! 7 years off myself from that, and using this article to plan my family’s next trip back after this damn Korea rotation.