Walt Disney World will soon be making another change to Genie+ and it’s an unequivocally positive one! This post runs through recent changes to the paid FastPass service, explaining how this is an improvement for Lightning Lane power users and newcomers alike.
In the last several months, Walt Disney World has been making a ton of tweaks to Genie+ in an effort to balance supply & demand, improve guest satisfaction scores, and set expectations at a reasonable and realistic level. The biggest and most recent change was the move to date-based pricing for the Genie+ service.
As always, ‘changed to date-based pricing’ is Walt Disney World code for “price increase (most of the time).” That’s precisely what happened, with prices jumping to $20 almost overnight for many dates during the first month after the introduction of surge pricing. The cost ceiling went up further last month, maxing out at ~$31 after tax during the week of Thanksgiving. Thus far in December, most dates have actually dropped back to pre-increase territory (it’s again $15 today and was every day I looked last week, too).
Earlier this fall, Walt Disney World made a few user interface changes of varying usefulness (depending upon your perspective). First, during the high-demand window from the time Genie+ goes live in the morning at 7 am up until 7:30 am, guests are not 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.
The second change made earlier this fall is that Genie+ now shows you that return time on the tip board rather than the current availability when you’re holding a Lightning Lane for that attraction (see above). This is good and bad. It’s nice to see your window when browsing other availability, but this also obfuscates what’s currently available in case you wanted to cancel and rebook. From Disney’s perspective, this change was probably a matter of killing two birds with one stone.
Finally, Walt Disney World added a banner to the Tip Board in My Disney Experience that prominently displays your next eligible selection time. This works pursuant to the 120 minute rule or the closing of your most recently-booked Lightning Lane return window, whichever is earlier. This is an unequivocally positive change, especially for novices who may have been otherwise unaware of the 120-minute rule (it happens much more than you might think).
All of the aforementioned changes have been in place for a few months at this point. We’ve largely gotten used to them, finding ways to work around these ‘impediments’ as necessary. From our perspective as power users, the biggest drawback is Park Hopper times not automatically shifting, but we’ve been able to work around that at EPCOT, DHS, and Magic Kingdom (the only places it’s relevant) without too many headaches. As always, it’s important to adapt.
While the recent changes have been hit or miss, the good news is that an unquestionably positive change is coming very soon. In fact, this was #1 on our Genie+ Wish List of Improvements for Walt Disney Worldand a “conspicuous omission” that we’ve complained about regularly and repeatedly since Genie+ launched last October…
According to journalist Scott Gustin, the Genie+ service will soon add the ability to modify Lightning Lane reservations without needing to cancel and rebook. You will also be able to make changes to your party size during modification of your Genie+ Lightning Lane selection.
(Note that this will not apply to Individual Lightning Lanes. Guests will not be able to modify those a la carte ride reservations–presumably because they had the ability to choose a time on the front end?)
You will only be able to modify Genie+ Lightning Lanes to other selections in the same park where original ride reservation was made. If you want to modify to a Lightning Lane at a different park, you will still need to cancel and rebook.
For example, if you currently held the highly-coveted Disney & Pixar Short Film Festival Lightning Lane, you could modify it to the equally important Journey into Imagination with Figment Lightning Lane since both are in EPCOT. However, you could not modify to select Na’vi River Journey or Space Mountain, since those attractions are not in EPCOT.
When the modify feature officially launches, you’ll notice a “…” on your Genie+ LL selection. You will tap “…”, “select “Modify Plan,” and you’ll see other available Lightning Lane return windows. From there, you can then select the new attraction and/or return time.
Also noteworthy is that modifications will not reset the game clock on the 120-minute rule. All the existing policies will still apply, and modifying does not trigger any of them. (At least, not to our knowledge. As always, things could change or quirks could emerge. After all, this is Disney IT we’re talking about!)
This change is expected to occur in the next week or so at both Walt Disney World and Disneyland, before the heart of the holiday season.
The modify button will roll out when the My Disney Experience and Disneyland apps are updated in the next week (for both iOS and Android).
This change is HUGE, and impossible to criticize. It’s an improvement for everyone, a big leap forward on the ‘quality of life’ front that makes Genie+ more intuitive and user-friendly. Obviously, it’s not a panacea for all that ails the app feature, but it’s good to see UI issues are being addressed.
Okay, it’s almost impossible to criticize this. This does disproportionately help power users who understand how cancellations and ride reservation refill rules work. First-timers are less likely to play the ‘refresh game’ so they are less likely to benefit from that–and will thus be disadvantaged to some degree.
However, I strongly believe that even first-timers will benefit from this change to some degree, as it makes the UI easier and more intuitive. This is the kind of feature the average user–even the average inexperienced user–likely expects to see, so it’s a big step forward, if you ask me.
To that point, here was my criticism about the lack of a modify button when adding it to my Genie+ Wish List: Genie has a number of user interface “quirks” that make it seem like it was thrown together quickly without much reference to its predecessor, and with next to no field testing. Without question, the most frustrating omission is the lack of a modify button on existing Lightning Lane ride reservations.
This oversight is particularly puzzling because the ability to modify a selection was present in the old FastPass+ system. How it worked is pretty intuitive. You would simply click on one of your existing FastPass+ reservations and then click a modify button, rather than cancel. That pulled up a version of the booking flow, allowing you to access the full list of attractions with FastPass+ availability, including different times for your existing attraction selection.
If that’s difficult to visualize, pull up an Advance Dining Reservation and click the modify button on that. It’s the exact same idea with ADRs or, you know, pretty much any other online reservation system!
The lack of a modify button is so significant because that one simple feature would provide a safety net. It would allow you the ability to lock-in a ride reservation and then continue searching, looking for better options. In particular, ride reservation refills and cancellations. If you’ve never used Genie+, this missing feature may not seem like a big deal. Just cancel and rebook instead, right?
In theory, that works. In practice, the process of searching for a new Lightning Lane, then cancelling your current one and rebooking is incredibly time-consuming and involves several clicks. I’d hazard a guess that, 9 times out of 10, by the time you cancel and get back to the booking screen, whatever you wanted is already gone. (I have literally never had success canceling and rebooking something better. I don’t even attempt it anymore.)
Beyond that, losing your original reservation can put you in a worse position, as you have to continue searching until you find a suitable replacement. Meanwhile, the clock has reset on the 120 minute rule. It really feels like having the magic carpet rug pulled out from under you.
Adding the modify button changes all of that.
While I call the lack of a modify button a conspicuous omission, it’s far more likely that it was a deliberate design choice. It’s not a bug, it’s a feature. Which is to say that the modify button was likely purposefully excluded from the original roll out of Genie+ as a way to throttle power users a little bit and reduce ‘problem behavior’ that Disney had identified under FastPass+ or MaxPass.
It’s easy to handwave this away as typical Disney IT ineptitude, but think about it–a modify button has been a common feature of previous ride reservation systems at both Walt Disney World and Disneyland, as well as Advance Dining Reservations, and more. It’s possible the modify button was glitchy and cut as a result in the rushed rollout of Genie–that definitely wouldn’t surprise me. But not remedying it for over a year until other changes were made that better ‘load-balanced’ the paid FastPass system? That suggests to me that this was by design all along.
We will likely never know for sure, but either way, we are incredibly happy that Walt Disney World and Disneyland are remedying this error or omission and adding a modify button to Genie+ Lightning Lane reservations.
Ultimately, Genie+ has a lot of problems. It’s convoluted, confusing, and counterintuitive in plenty of ways that are troublesome for first-timers and longtime fans. There’s still a lot of that to be resolved, but we have to give credit where credit is due. Genie+ has improved considerably in the last several months thanks to a variety of UI changes. This is far and away the biggest of the bunch, and will be a colossal leap forward.
While power users will undoubtedly benefit disproportionately from the addition of a modify button, this is such an important–and expected–feature that it’s an across-the-board upgrade. Adding a modify button will be an unequivocal improvement for everyone who buys the paid FastPass feature.
Honestly, I’m a bit surprised Walt Disney World and Disneyland aren’t waiting until 2023 to introduce the modify button. Not just because the weeks of Christmas and New Year’s Eve are busy, making it a “risky” time to test a feature change, either. More importantly, that’s when most of the Genie+ ticket add-ons will be gone, meaning that utilization will (presumably) be lower starting in January 2023. Even beyond this, I’m really curious how the demand-dynamic with Genie+ Lightning Lanes changes (or doesn’t) in the new year.
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.
Pleased to hear that Genie+ will soon have a modify button to change Lightning Lane selections without losing them? What do you think of the recent UI changes to Genie+ at Walt Disney World? Do you consider this a meaningfully positive improvement to the paid FastPass service? Will you purchase Genie+ or does this all sound like too much of a headache? 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!