BIG changes are coming to Disney World with the introduction of Disney Genie, Genie+, and Individual Attraction Selection.
It can be hard to know how all these new features will fit into your Disney World vacation planning. So we did our research and came up with new tips for planning your best Disney World vacation while keeping Genie in mind! Whether you’re planning on using the Genie features or not, these tips should help you make the most of your time in the parks.
We’ll take a quick look at all the new changes coming with the Disney Genie and then go into our tips for how to use them (or not) to make your Disney vacation the best that it can be.
The Disney Genie
There are three main parts to the new Genie service: the Genie, Genie+, and Pay-Per-Ride.
The most basic new feature is the Disney Genie, which is a free tool that all guests can use in the parks. It’s part of the My Disney Experience app, so you can use it on your smartphone. Basically, Genie is a planning tool that helps you organize your day and plan for what you want to do in the parks.
You can make dining reservations and mobile order, check wait times on rides around the parks, and get recommendations for rides and restaurants.
Genie+ starts at a cost of $15 per ticket, per day*, and it allows you to reserve your spot at some attractions in the park you’re visiting. If you have Genie+, you can start making reservations (one per person at a time) at 7AM on the day of your visit. Once the time for that reservation has passed, you can make another reservation (and so on).
EDITOR’S UPDATE: *In October 2022, Disney introduced variable date-based pricing for Genie+ with the price starting at $15 per guest, per day. Guests are able to check the price for the day on the My Disney Experience app prior to purchasing for the day.
Your reservation allows you to skip the standby line and instead use the Lightning Lane (AKA FastPass line) to board the ride faster.
Not all of the rides in Disney World are included in the Genie+. Select rides (usually the most popular ones) are part of Disney’s Individual Attraction Selection, or pay-per-ride.
Disney has confirmed that Seven Dwarfs Mine Train at Magic Kingdom, Radiator Springs Racers at Disney’s California Adventure, WEB SLINGERS: A Spider-Man Adventure at Disney’s California Adventure, Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance in Hollywood Studios, and Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure at EPCOT will be part of Pay-Per-Ride.
For these rides, you can book reservations individually by paying a separate fee. You can buy up to two reservations per ticket each day. And you can make those reservations starting when the park opens if you’re not staying at a Disney World hotel or at 7AM on the day of your visit if you are staying at a Disney World hotel. You do not have to buy Genie+ to use the Pay-Per-Ride feature.
Disney hasn’t said what the prices will be for each ride; instead, they said that prices will differ based on the ride and time of year. With that language, we’re assuming there will be surge pricing, with much higher prices at busier times of the year.
Now that we’ve looked at an overview of each feature, we’ll share our best tips for using these during your vacation.
Take Advantage of the Free Genie Feature
We also think this will be a great option for first-time visitors as Disney Genie should really be able to help guide you through your day. It will give you suggestions based on your family’s personal wants and needs and can help guide you through the park.
During your vacation, use Genie to check on ride wait times. There’s a Projected Wait Times feature, which will show you what the wait times might be throughout the day. The expectation is that guests can use that to get on rides with the least possible wait. For example, if you get to the Dumbo ride and see that the wait time is 60 minutes, check the Genie see if Disney is expecting the time to drop in the next few hours. Then, come back later and get on with less of a wait!
Still Plan Ahead As Much as Possible
Although Genie has projected wait times and can make dining reservations, it’s still best to plan ahead as much as you can. You might want to get to the parks early to try to get on the most popular rides before the wait gets too long. You can make dining reservations 60 days in advance, so do that as early as possible in case the reservations fill up at your favorite restaurants.
But if you weren’t able to get the reservations you were hoping for, this could help if you know which restaurants’ walk-up waitlists are still available. From what we know about the system, Genie should be a supplement to your planning and not a replacement.
Link Your Group on My Disney Experience As Soon As Possible
All of the new features depend on the My Disney Experience app, so make sure your app is working well before your Disney World trip. Your group’s tickets and park passes should all be linked together on the app. To do this, go to the bottom menu on the My Disney Experience home page and find the three horizontal lines. Scroll down to find the “Link to Account” option, then add the information for each person’s tickets and passes.
Recently, Disney made a change to the virtual queues where you can add your group up to one hour before the queue opens. We recommend doing this as well to make the process easier when 7AM (or 1PM for the later queue) opens for Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure!
Try for Virtual Queue Boarding Passes First, Then Consider Pay-Per-Ride
Some of the rides that will be on the Pay-Per-Ride feature — like Rise of the Resistance, Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, and WEB Slingers: a Spider-Man Adventure — also use virtual queues. As of right now, Rise of the Resistance has changed to a standby line, but the virtual queue may come back. (Disney has said the virtual queue is paused right now.)
Virtual queues will continue on the other rides even when Pay-Per-Ride starts. As of right now, it seems like you should try getting a virtual queue reservation first (which you can make at 7AM on the day of your visit).
You might be able to get on the ride without paying! If you’re not able to get a reservation, check Pay-Per-Ride to see how much that reservation would cost. Then weigh the cost with how much you want to ride. If it’s worth it to you, you can pay then and still get on the ride. Remember that you can also try for a virtual queue boarding pass again in the afternoon, at 1PM.
Check Out the Extra Features on Genie+ If You Buy It
The main feature on Genie+ is that you can book Lightning Lane reservations at some rides in each park. But you should also check out the other features available — like Audio Experiences and PhotoPass Augmented Reality Lenses.
The Audio Experiences sound like guided tours in Disney World, with commentary from Imagineers and behind-the-scenes facts about attractions in the parks. And maybe you’ll want to plan some time to explore the Augmented Reality lenses by taking pictures in different locations around the park.
Try to Make Genie+ Reservations as Early In the Day as Possible
If you do buy Genie+, try to make your ride reservations early in the day. You can only have one reservation at a time, so try not to book your first one for 5PM if you’ll be in the parks at 9AM.
Is it really worth the $15 (starting cost) for each person to just get on one or two rides? Try to time your rides so that you get the most possible out of your trip.
Buy Genie+ Strategically
If you’re buying Genie+ ahead of time — when you buy your tickets or vacation package — then you have to buy Genie+ for every day of your trip. No matter what, you can’t make ride reservations until 7AM on the day of your visit.
BUT you can choose to buy Genie+ for just a single day if you buy it on the day of your visit. This is a good option if you don’t want to pay quite so much, because you might not need Genie+ in every park. For example, EPCOT doesn’t have a ton of rides, so there won’t be a lot of options for ride reservations anyways. Since you won’t get as much out of Genie+ there, you might not want to pay for it. Other parks — like Hollywood Studios — have quite a few popular rides, and Genie+ could be much more helpful. This will really depend on your family’s wants and needs. So take the time to weigh it out!
Buying Genie+ one day at a time is a trade-off because you can’t plan ahead quite as much. But it could definitely save you money if you don’t need it for every park.
Really Consider If Genie+ Is Worth It
A starting cost of $15 doesn’t sound like much for unlimited ride reservations, but Genie+ starts at a cost of $15 per person, per day. If you’re traveling with a large group for a multi-day trip, that can get expensive. Weigh the cost with how many people are in your group and how many rides you want to go on.
Do the same with the Pay-Per-Ride feature. Although we don’t know yet how much each ride reservation will cost, we’re expecting the cost to go up during busy times and on more popular days. These little costs add up quickly, and you don’t want to look back after your vacation and realize you spent way more money than you meant to.
BUT some of the rides are really cool, and you might not want to miss them if that’s a priority to you. Just make sure you plan for the costs before your trip so it’s not too much of a surprise!
Don’t Forget that Standby Lines Are Still a Thing
Standby lines will still be available in Disney World! You can always choose to wait in line for almost any ride (excluding the ones with virtual queues). Use the free Genie feature to check on wait times, and if the line is supposed to be short at a certain time, take advantage of that.
If you plan to wait in the standby line, consider getting to the parks early and go to the most popular rides first. Chances are, you’ll get on at least one good ride before the crowds get too big. The same might be the case late at night as well!
Consider Staying at a Disney World Hotel
Guests staying at Disney resorts, the Swan and Dolphin hotels, or Shades of Green can purchase Pay-Per-Ride reservations at 7AM instead of when the park opens. That gives you a lot of extra time to book your spot on some of the most popular rides before the reservations run out. If this is important to you, then you might want to consider staying at a Disney World hotel.
Hopefully this helps you as you navigate the new changes in Disney World vacation planning. Our tips might change as we experience and navigate this for ourselves, so keep following DFB for more updates and info!
How are you planning to use the Genie on your next Disney vacation? Tell us in the comments!