Disneyland Genie+ launched on December 8 and despite some glitches, the program is a no brainer for anyone looking to spend less time in line and more time enjoying the Happiest Place on Earth.
While Genie+ is completely new to the Disney World contingent, Disneyland visitors –especially locals/Season Pass holders – already experienced Disneyland Genie+’s predecessor MaxPass. Like Genie+, MaxPass allowed guests to secure FastPasses from their phone instead of criss-crossing both parks to physically retrieve a FastPass.
Disneyland Genie+ vs MaxPass
The old MaxPass system cost $15 per person per day. Disneyland Genie+ at $20 isn’t a far cry and in terms of Disney park ticket increases….it’s about right. The new Genie+ system works exactly like MaxPass. The only difference is that Radiator Springs Racers is not included and must be purchased separately as an Individual Lightning Lane (more on this later).
Disneyland Genie+ does not include Rise of the Resistance, but neither did MaxPass. WEB SLINGERS: A Spider-Man Adventure was not in operation during MaxPass and undoubtedly would have gone the way of Rise of the Resistance with a virtual queue; just as it did at launch.
It’s not all “take aways” with Disneyland Genie+. Added to the “FastPass” options are Millenium Falcon: Smugglers Run and Monsters, Inc. Mike & Sully to the Rescue! Additionally, Disneyland Genie+ includes Disney PhotoPass disneyland.disney.go.com/guest-services/photopass-service/ for the day just like its MaxPass predecessor. All in all, the services are nearly identical…with one big difference.
No Free FastPass…a HUGE Disneyland Genie+ Benefit
The biggest single influence on the success of Disneyland Genie+ is the elimination of the free FastPass. The Nerd was a huge advocate of MaxPass and its time savings and convenience. But now…there is no need to compete with the hoards of FastPass users as guests have been slow to adopt Disneyland Genie+.
Case in point…
The Nerd arrived at Disneyland on a Monday evening in December a week after Disneyland Genie+ was released. The park was crowded with guests getting their Disney Christmas fix. Lines for the main attractions ranged from 30 minutes to over an hour.
Walking through the gates at 7p, the Nerd immediately purchased Disneyland Genie+ for two people and made a reservation for Space Mountain – it was immediately available for use.
Once the Space Mountain passes were scanned and while navigating the queue, Matterhorn reservations were made…again, with immediate availability. After a +/- 10-minute wait in the Lightning Lane line at Space Mountain, we ventured to Matterhorn, scanned in and were careening down the icy slopes and avoiding the yeti a handful of minutes later.
While in line, we made a Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters reservation with, you guessed it, immediate availability. After scanning in, but before saving the world from the Evil Emperor Zurg, we decided to snag a reservation for Haunted Mansion Holiday. The soonest we could get a reservation was 40 minutes later.
So…we worked in some Mickey Pretzels and dinner while we waited for our reservation. We quickly navigated the Haunted Mansion queue and made an immediately available Big Thunder Mountain reservation. Once we scanned into the Frontierland headliner, we quickly made a Guardians of the Galaxy reservation with immediate availability.
So far, we were either eating or in a FastPass…errrrr…Lightning Lane line every single moment. We made our way to Disney California Adventure and immediately bypassed the 45-minute Guardians wait and made our way immediately into the pre-show. Meanwhile, we snagged a reservation at Monsters, Inc. Mike & Sulley to the Rescue!
You’ll never believe it! Immediate availability via the Disneyland Genie+ access (as was Incredicoaster, Toy Store Mania, Goofy’s Sky School, and Soarin’ Around the World. Alas, our day was growing short and DCA was to close 33 minutes after we exited Guardians. We decided to pay the $7 for Individual Lightning Lane Access to Radiator Springs Racers and try to use our Monsters, Inc. Lightning Lane just before park closing.
Alas….the Nerd made an error. In no hurry to secure the Radiator Springs Racers access and distracted by an internal debate of getting a soft serve at the Cozy Cone before experiencing the attraction, the Nerd let a few too many minutes slip by. At 9:32pm the Nerd was heart-broken to realize that Individual Lightning Lane access and Disneyland Genie+ reservations could no longer be made (the cutoff being 30 minutes prior to the park’s scheduled closing!).
Hat in hand – of the things the Nerd suffers to develop these articles! – the Nerd diverted for a quick ride aboard Mater’s Jingle Jamboree (no wait), grabbed a soft serve and proceeded to wait the 25-minutes in the Radiator Springs Racers’ standby line. And to add insult to injury, this wait would cause the Nerd to lose the opportunity to experience Monsters, Inc. as it would be after 10pm by the time he raced to victory in Cars Land.
While waiting, we used Disneyland Genie+ to snag a reservation for the Indiana Jones Adventure with immediate availability. After DCA closed, we went back to Disneyland, went to Indiana Jones and then decided to call it a night.
The time savings experienced by using Disneyland Genie+ was incredible and worth every penny (well, 2,000 pennies). Without it, we would have experienced maybe three Disneyland attractions plus made time for a quick meal. With Disneyland Genie+, we experienced nine attractions across both parks….the majority of which were headliners.
Just adding up the Standby wait times on these nine attractions equated to nearly 5 hours. We were at the parks about 4 hours and enjoyed dinner and a snack. We meandered from attraction to attraction, stuck our head in some shops and had a delightful evening with virtually no time spent in lines.
The Nerd is hooked on the Disneyland Genie+ upgrade and will be interested to see how the experience evolves as more people undoubtedly splurge and spend the extra $20. If someone is on a multi-day ticket, the Disneyland Genie+ could easily cut a full day’s ticket expense or, at the very least, make the entire experience more leisurely and enjoyable.
Individual Lightning Lane
Many people have not yet adopted the Disneyland Genie+ extra expense and more are likely bristling at the added cost for the Individual Lightning Lane attractions with the following observed pricing:
Radiator Springs Racers ($7 per person weekdays, $13 weekends, $18 holidays/high crowds)
Rise of the Resistance ($20 per person)
WEB SLINGERS: A Spider-Man Adventure ($7 per person weekdays, $13 weekends, $18 holidays/high crowds)
We don’t love this upcharge because it makes Disney feel more like Six Flags or Universal Studios – like you can feel the Mouse looking for cash and loose change in your pockets.
We do like this upcharge from the standpoint that it allows anyone willing to fork out the money, the opportunity to save an incredible amount of time. Individual preferences will weigh heavily in this decision and it has been fiercely debated among the Nerd family (and the online community at large).
The Nerd enjoys Rise of the Resistance, but has ridden it enough that spending an extra $20 is unnecessary. But so is a 60+ minute wait….the Nerd would not wait this long. To be sure Rise of the Resistance is a world-class attraction and one of the most immersive Disney rides ever created, but the Nerd has experienced it enough that it is not a priority.
On the other hand, Radiator Springs Racers for $7 to squeeze it into a busy day of enjoying attractions makes the cut. The Nerd doesn’t ride Cars every time, but to bypass a 60+ minute wait for a terrific attraction can be worth it.
To Disneyland Genie+ or Not to Disneyland Genie+…Final Thoughts
The biggest obstacle to Disneyland Genie+ and Individual Lightning Lanes is perspective. It’s hard to spend this kind of money on something that “used to be free”. If FastPass had always been a paid upgrade, this would be a non-issue. In time, memories will fade, Genie+ will catch on and Disney will find another way to make it exclusive all over again.
For now, we say get to the front of the curve and get to the front of the line. Usage will increase, but for now…it’s the best money you can spend at Disneyland!