Today, we will tackle the flip-side of the controversial new jump-the-queue system from Disney, referred to as Genie+. If you have been living under a rock, let me explain. In 2021, the Disney powers that be decided to shake things up, even more than the pandemic, by kicking the much-loved FastPass+ system to the curb, replacing it with a new, paid option that left many feeling confused and betrayed. Sorry Genie+, but they’re just not that into you. From there, we have seen post after post debating the merit of this switch, with support for Disney dwindling in this particular battle. If you need a catch-up on the state of Disney PR at the moment, check out my take on it last week here. Spoiler alert: I’m not impressed with how they are handling it.
But this time, I wanted to take the debate out of it, looking solely at maximizing the value of Genie+ if you have chosen to or are planning on using it. Let’s pocket some of that Disney Apologist drama for another day; this is just about making the most of your investment — if you have made it — and avoiding common mistakes, not about whether or not it is worth it.
Let’s start with the biggest mistake I see guests making when it comes to Genie+. Before you leave for your vacation, get your tech house in order. Everything about Genie+ relies on your phone working to its best ability. One person will need to take the lead on this in terms of bookings, so I would suggest choosing the newest phone. Make sure that everything on it, including the phone’s OS and the My Disney Experience App, is updated to the most recent versions to avoid any glitchy headaches.
Another aspect of Genie+ that is often overlooked is the toll it takes on your phone’s battery life. It can be nearly impossible to make the most out of your pass on only one battery cycle if used frequently. Be sure to choose the device with the best battery life, and strongly consider bringing a recharging device as well. The last thing you want is to come up to 3 pm, and your passes are useless without access. This also means that you want to be sure you have a solid connection. The WiFi in the parks can be touchy and uncooperative at times, so if you are traveling from overseas, be sure to look into your data options before you leave.
Early starts and being in vacation mode don’t exactly go hand-in-hand, but you won’t want to make the mistake of missing out on those early hours of the day when attraction lines are at their shortest, and Genie+ options are at their best. If you aren’t sure how the whole thing works, let’s do a quick recap on what you need to do on the day you plan to use Genie+.
You probably know the basics: $15 per day, per ticket allows you faster access to select attractions using the Lightning Lanes, subject to availability. Your first selection can be made from 7 am on the day you plan to use the pass, which means that if you aren’t up and running in time to be online and ready to pounce, you could potentially miss out on your best lineup for the day. Every minute counts when it comes to this system, so being prepared is the key to its success. This leads me to the following advice.
That casual, see-what-happens attitude that we enjoyed the parks with many years ago has no place in this new world of Disney. Don’t make the mistake of going into your Genie+ day without a plan. Review the list of available attractions in each park in advance and discuss with the rest of your party the highest priority for your group. You can find a list of them on The DIS here. This is a great thing to do over dinner one night or even on the plane while trying to pass the time on the lead-up to your arrival. I like to make a list in my phone’s notes app, so I know exactly what we are looking for and in what order. Your best chance of getting those more significant attractions earlier in the day is to be online and ready to rumble when everything comes online.
If you go in without a plan, it can be easy to get swept up in something that becomes available sooner and, in hindsight, might not have been worth the selection if the standby line is reasonably short to begin with. Don’t make the mistake of sacrificing the bigger attractions for the smaller ones you can wait for. The beauty of Genie+ is that it can help you actually get to enjoy some of the attractions that you could otherwise not have any chance of riding, like Kilimanjaro Safaris in Animal Kingdom or Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster in Hollywood Studios. Stay focused on the bigger goals, and you will have a better chance of locking in those major rides.
A common complaint I hear about Genie+ is that it keeps you glued to your phone for the entire day, always looking to see what is available and where your next move may be. The better prepared you are going into it, with a plan of what your ideal day would look like, the easier it will be to make good decisions and then put your device away in between.
I hope some of those tips help you get the most out of your Genie+ investment, and your group can experience as many attractions as possible.
Zoë Wood is a travel writer from Sydney, Australia. Since her first visit to Disneyland at the age of 6, she has spent her years frequently visiting Disney Parks and traveling around the world.
Join Zoë as she lets you in on all the tips, tricks, anecdotes, and embarrassments that arise from her family adventures.