Honest Review of New Disney Genie Services: What I Liked and What I Wasn’t Too Crazy About

Walt Disney World’s new Disney Genie service is up and running. Recently I had the opportunity to try out the new free Disney Genie service along with the paid-for service Disney Genie+ and Individual Attraction Selection offerings. A couple of days after the launch date I headed to the parks (all four parks to be exact!) to experience the service and get all the details to share with you. I started my day at Hollywood Studios and park hopped over to EPCOT, Animal Kingdom, and ended the day at Magic Kingdom.

I’m going to be honest with you. I wanted to not like this new service. When Disney first announced this program, I wasn’t happy that guests were now going to have to pay for service that used to be free in the form of FastPasses. Although I’m still a little disappointed there is now a cost to skip some of the longer attraction wait times, I do have to admit, as a whole, the service was easy to use and helpful in managing my park day. Here’s what I liked as well as some things I wasn’t too crazy about while using Disney Genie+ and Independent Attraction Selection.

The Basics

Let’s make sure we are all on the same page with what these new services are before I let you know what I liked and didn’t like while using them.

  • Disney Genie – This basic-level service is complimentary. Disney Genie is a personal itinerary service that lets guests create their best Disney day. These features include a personalized itinerary creator that offers suggestions to you based on “My Top Picks” that you can select when setting up the service. This free service will also provide estimated wait times for attractions and will also make dining suggestions, notifying you of openings at table service locations and reminding you to use Mobile Order for nearby quick service locations.
  • Disney Genie+ – Disney Genie+ service is a paid-for service that will allow you to skip longer attraction wait times. The cost is $15 per person per day per person. Using Disney Genie+ you can choose the next available time to arrive at a variety of attractions and experiences using the Lightning Lane entrance. You can make one selection at a time, throughout the day – from classics like Haunted Mansion to thrill rides like Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and newer favorites like Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run. Resort guests will be able to make their first selection at 7:00 am on the day of your visit. 
  • Individual Lightning Lane Selections (ILLS – not sure who came up with that title) -This is an additional service that can be purchased either with Disney Genie+ or separate from it.  This service is for only the most popular attractions (two at each park). Prices for this service will vary, but right now does not exceed $15 per person per attraction.

✅ Liked – Easy to Use

For the most part, the Disney Genie+ and Individual Lightning Lane Selection were easy to use. Before you get started be sure you have the most recent update for the My Disney Experience app on your phone (the 50th Anniversary logo on the app icon). From the home screen of the app, tap on “Get Started” and this will direct you to select the date of your park visit(s) and allow you to select some of your family’s top wishes for your day.

There were a couple of things I did to make the process easier for me. First, the day before I was going to use the service, I selected “My Top Picks” for that particular park day. This is helpful as the free Disney Genie service (available to you whether or not you purchase either of the paid-for options) will make suggestions to you throughout your park day based on your “Top Picks.” The second thing I did was I went ahead and paid in advance for the Disney Genie+ service. You can pay for this service either by adding it your vacation package in advance or paying for it between midnight and 7:00am on the day you want to use it. Paying in advance allows you the opportunity to be ready to make your first attraction selection right at 7:00am.

❌ Didn’t Like – The Cost

Although the service is easy to use, I’m still not crazy about paying for the service. For my solo trip day, I spent $15 for Disney Genie+, $15 on Individual Lightning Lane Selection of Rise of the Resistance, and $9 on Individual Lightning Lane Selection of Ratatouille: Remy’s Adventure for a total cost of $39 for one person. You don’t have to be a math whiz to realize that this will add up with larger families.

✅ Liked – Added Convenience of Little Wait Time

Although I may not be crazy about the added expense, I have to admit I thoroughly enjoyed the added convenience of Disney Genie+ and ILLS. In the past, I have ridden both Hollywood Studios’ Rise of the Resistance and EPCOT’s Remy’s Adventures using the virtual queue. With both of these attractions, my wait was significantly shorter using this new paid-for service.

❌ Didn’t Like – Can’t Select Disney Genie+ Lightning Lane Time

Unlike FastPasses, where you could select the hour window of time for the attraction, you can’t select the time with Disney Genie+ Lightning Lane. With Disney Genie+ you receive the next available time. For extra Individual Lightning Lane Selections, you can select the time.

✅ Liked (Actually -Loved!) – Disney PhotoPass Lenses

A couple of fun additions included with Disney Genie+ are Audio Tales and Disney PhotoPass Lenses. Audio Tales will offer insider tips, information, and other fun facts. I had a great time with Disney PhotoPass Lenses. Using your mobile device you can snap magical photos that will include augmented-reality features. You do not have to have Memory Maker to take advantage of this feature and photos will be saved directly to your phone. Definitely a fun feature!

❌ Didn’t Like – Being On Your Phone Constantly

Using these services, whether the free Disney Genie or paid-for services, causes you to be on your phone even more than normal. As someone who is naturally a planner, I felt like I was constantly looking at my phone to secure the next Lightning Lane or find out the timing of the next show. A downfall of all this time on the phone (aside from it taking away time from the loved ones you are with) is it drains down your phone battery. You definitely will want to bring along a portable phone charger or purchase an exchangeable Fuel Rod while in the park.

✅ Liked – Dining Suggestions

Disney Genie (free service) includes a standby option for table service locations where you do not have a reservation. In addition, the app will also display any available opening times making it easy to book a reservation on the fly. This feature makes it easy to snag a last-minute reservation.

Tips for Using Disney Genie, Disney Genie+, and Individual Lightning Lane Selections
  • Remember to prepay for Disney Genie + by either adding it to your vacation package in advance or purchasing it on the My Disney Experience app between midnight and prior to 7:00 am on the day you plan to use it.
  • Before your arrival date, setup Disney Genie letting the service know what you are interested in seeing and doing by selecting “My Top Picks” on the app including selections of  thrill rides, characters, and other things that are important to your family
  • Immediately at  7:00 am (for Disney resort guests, all others must wait until the official park opening time) attempt to secure your first selection Disney Genie+ attraction and/or your Individual Attraction Selection. Know that you can’t pay for the Individual Attraction Selection(s) prior to 7:00 am, so once you select the attraction you will then be directed to make payment. Pay quickly as your time slot is not secured until payment is processed.
  • You can purchase both Individual Lightning Lane Selections right at 7:00 am. You do not have to wait to use the first one before purchasing the second one.

Have questions about making the most out of using this new service? Reach out to me and I will be happy to assist you: natalie@castleandcruiseadventures.com.

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