Friday, August 20, 2021

Disneyland's New Genie Service: Everything You Need to Know


Alright guys, here it is. We'd heard the rumors that this was coming. Then they implemented a similar system in Disneyland Paris and we all said, "well that park is very different and they won't do that here." And now here we are. The new Disney Genie Service (aka Paid Fastpass) is here and emotions are running high. I don't blame anyone for being upset! I'm really not thrilled. But before we go into all of that, let's take a good look at what Disney has announced because change is hard and these kinds of announcements can seem confusing. 

**There are TWO PARTS to the Genie Service. The free part (hooray!) and the paid part (boo!). Let's look at the free part first because that's so much more relaxing. 

The general Genie Service is the free service that will be integrated into the Disneyland app (or My Disney Experience for the WDW folks) and its main focus is to help you plan your day. 

You can go in and tell the service characters or shows you want to see, rides you want to make sure to make it on to, foods you want to eat, and it'll help you organize your day. 
  • You can get current wait times and predictions for rides you like so you can try to avoid some longer lines
  • Keep track of "favorite" attractions so to help you decide where to go next
  • Get help making reservations or doing mobile ordering for food
  • Join the virtual queue for rides that use it (WEB Slingers and Rise of the Resistance)
  • Access to a "virtual assistant" if you have questions as you go
  • Get updates on all of these things as the day goes on

Here's what I like about this part:

I love that it'll help you plan your day. If you're more of a go with the flow person, this might not be for you and you can 100% ignore it. But if there are certain favorites you don't want to miss, if there are characters you want to try to meet, if you don't want to miss out on that snack at Bengal BBQ and want to grab it on your way over to Pirates, this can really help you streamline all of that so you don't wait around as long trying to figure out the next thing. 

Here's what isn't my favorite:

That app is a battery sucker!!! Bring a portable charger or two because you'll sure need it, especially if you want to use your phone for other things during the day like pictures, videos, or whatever else. 

Ok, here's the part no one is excited for...Genie +. Genie + is the paid part of the service and it's what will replace Fastpass and Maxpass. If you were already using Maxpass and loved it, then there's not much change for you. That was already an additional cost to use the app to make Fastpass reservations.

For an extra $20 per person per day ($15 at WDW, not sure why the difference), you get access to Genie +. Here's what you get:

  • Access to the Lightning Lane (the old Fastpass lines). You can make one selection at a time through the app. 
  • Audio experiences...that's really all they've said about that. I'm hoping it's special information about different parts of the parks that you can listen too. But they're literally just said "audio experiences." So stay tuned to find out whatever the heck that is.
  • Unlimited Photopass downloads

Alternatively to purchasing the Lightning Lane all day, you could purchase "individual selections" where basically you're buying access to one or two high demand attractions. The pricing on this one hasn't been announced yet but it'll vary day to day (probably based on crowds) and that will be announced closer to the launch of the program. 

Here's what I like about this part (I'm trying to stay positive, guys...bear with me):

Sometimes Fastpass actually made wait times longer. Let's use the Matterhorn for an example. It used to be a 30-35 minute wait no matter what. Once they added Fastpass, it went to closer to an hour for standby any time of day. So if this paid option is less popular because of the pricing, it could actually help standby times. 

Making Fastpass or Genie or whatever you want to call it reservations from your phone stops the need to be actually at the ride to get your return time and that can help make your day much more simple. 

I'd love unlimited photo downloads. I always hand my camera to the Photopass photographers and they usually get a good shot, but they take 1 with my camera and like 10 with theirs so odds are you'll get the perfect pic from them. Plus ride photos. I never buy those and sometimes they're amazing. I'd love to be able to grab those for free...well...$20 a day but as many as I want. 

Here's what obviously isn't my favorite:

$20 per day per person is a fortune on top of already expensive ticket prices for something that's been free for the last 20 years!!!! I can see a situation where I'm taking a very quick trip (1 day or 1 day per park or something like that) that this might be super helpful to make sure I'm getting in all my favorites. But I like a 4-5 day trip for my family of 4. That's an extra $320-$400 dollars added to the price of my vacation!

This is 100% a money grab and it's pissing off a lot of people. Now, that's not to say these same people won't just adopt the new system anyway (as with everything else that we Disney fans often get vocal about), but it's still incredibly frustrating.