Complete Guide to Disney Genie, Disney Genie+, and Individual Attraction Passes
Updated: Aug 22, 2021
Disney dropped some BIG news this week when they announced that they are officially retiring the FastPass+ and MaxPass systems at Walt Disney World and Disneyland. Although this announcement has been somewhat divisive among fans of the Disney parks, I have been expecting Disney to make an announcement like this for a while and I anticipate many guests eventually coming to enjoy the new offerings Disney is bringing in to replace their older systems. I'm going to share all the information I have about Disney Genie, Disney Genie+, and individual attraction passes, but first let's take a stroll down memory lane!
Out With the Old
The most recent iteration of the FastPass+ service at Walt Disney World gave all guests with valid theme park admission the opportunity to make three advance FastPass reservations through the My Disney Experience app for each day of their tickets. These experiences were subject to limited availability and had to be booked 60 days out from date of check-in for onsite hotel guests and 30 days out from each park day for offsite hotel guests. Guests with FastPass reservations were allowed to skip the standby lines for their scheduled attractions and go through the FastPass lanes instead. FastPass options in many parks were tiered, allowing guests to reserve only one top tier attraction in advance per day (popular rides such as Test Track, Flight of Passage, Mickey and Minnie's Runaway Railway, etc.). Once a guest's three advance FastPass reservations were used, they could make as many additional FastPasses as they wanted on their park day: one at a time and subject to limited availability. Smart use of the FastPass+ system gave guests the opportunity to experience a lot of Disney's attractions without having to utilize the standby lines. However, for guests who didn't know the system well, it had the potential to severely limit what they were able to do in the parks each day.
Disneyland's MaxPass system was a ticket or package add-on that allowed guests to use the Disneyland app to select a return time (essentially a virtual queue) for many rides and attractions in Disneyland park and Disney California Adventure park. MaxPass also included downloads of PhotoPass pictures (similar to Walt Disney World's Memory Maker product). MaxPass was originally released at a cost of $15 per person per day but had increased to $20 per person per day shortly before the pandemic shutdown. If you're familiar with Disneyland's MaxPass system, then you've likely already noticed the similarities with Disney's new Genie+ service. We'll talk more about Genie+ in just a moment, but first let's talk about standard Disney Genie.
In With the New
Disney Genie is a complimentary in-app service that guests can use as part of the My Disney Experience app for Walt Disney World or the Disneyland app for Disneyland. On the day of your park visit, Disney Genie allows you to tell it what you're interested in and it takes your interests, your existing dining and experience reservations (made in advance by you or your travel agent), and forecasted wait times and puts together a plan of action for your day in the parks. Disney Genie is flexible, so if there is an element of the plan it presents that you're not happy with, you can tell it to adjust and it will do so in real time. Disney Genie serves partly as a way to help guests more easily navigate the theme parks (particularly those who are new to Disney parks) but it might also serve as a method of crowd control. Disney may utilize Disney Genie to help ensure that guests are spread evenly throughout the parks rather than allowing for the possibility that everyone might rush to the same part of the park at the same time. Disney Genie will also retain some of the features that are currently available through the My Disney Experience and Disneyland apps, such as the ability to mobile order at quick service restaurants, join walkup lists or make day-of reservations (based on availability) for table service restaurants, join virtual queues for select attractions, and purchase merchandise. It's important to note that Disney Genie does not make any reservations for you automatically and it cannot be used in advance of your park day. It is simply a tool that you can use while in the parks to help make navigating the parks a little easier.
Disney Genie+ is a paid upgrade that can be purchased as a ticket add-on or as part of your hotel and ticket vacation package. This is the element that is very similar to the MaxPass system at Disneyland. For $15 per person per day at Walt Disney World or $20 per person per day at Disneyland, guests can purchase the ability to reserve return times for many of Disney's attractions. Return times are subject to limited availability and guests can only reserve one at a time on the day of their park visit. Return times cannot be reserved prior to the day of your visit. Disneyland's Genie+ service will also include PhotoPass downloads.
Individual Attraction Passes
An individual attraction pass is an additional purchase that allows guests to reserve a return time for one of Disney's most popular attractions on the day of their visit. Guests can purchase a maximum of two individual attraction passes per day. This service can be purchased on its own or guests may choose to purchase it alongside Disney Genie+ service, since the attractions offered as individual attraction passes are not part of the Disney Genie+ system. Although Disney has not yet released a full list of the attractions that will offer individual attraction passes, it's reasonable to theorize that the attractions that were previously Tier 1 FastPasses are good contenders for individual attraction passes. Pricing for individual attraction passes will vary based on date and attraction.
How Will This Change My Disney Vacation?
As I mentioned above, the release of a paid ride reservation system has proven to be quite divisive, particularly for regular patrons who were used to a complimentary system. However, the "pay for play" model has become somewhat of an industry standard for theme parks. Universal's Express Pass system charges guests a flat fee to wait in Express lines at most rides and attractions and SeaWorld's Quick Queue system works very similarly. Those systems are very popular with guests and many of my clients find the convenience they offer worth the extra purchase. I have an unpopular opinion regarding the complimentary FastPass+ system. Although I enjoyed skipping the standby lines for the attractions I was able to secure a FastPass for, I suspected that the FastPass system actually made all the standby lines longer than they would have been without FastPass lanes. My suspicions were confirmed when the parks reopened after the pandemic shut down with no FastPass+ service available. All the standby lines seemed to move faster because very few people were allowed to jump the line (only VIP tour guests, Club 33 members, Golden Oak residents, and those with a DAS pass were permitted to use the FastPass lanes). Granted, reduced capacity likely contributed to the shorter standby lines, but even once capacity started increasing to near pre-pandemic levels, the principle of shorter standby lines without FastPass+ held true.
Although I understand the disappointment many guests feel over the loss of the complimentary system, I do believe that a positive potential result for all guests could be a continuation of shorter standby lines even once Disney Genie+ and individual attraction passes launch. Not everyone will buy into that paid system, so there will still be less people jumping the standby line than there were when every guest was able to book complimentary FastPasses. Also, the complimentary Genie will probably serve to spread guests out more evenly across the parks, hopefully helping to further shorten the standby lines.
Frequently Asked Questions
There are three common questions I've gotten about Disney Genie, Disney Genie+, and individual attraction passes and I want to end this post by addressing those and also inviting you to leave any additional questions you have in the comments. Although not all the information about these systems has been released yet, I have been trained by Disney on these systems and am happy to share the information that was given to me with you.
Question 1: Do I Have to Use Disney Genie, Disney Genie+, and Individual Attraction Passes?
No, you're not required to use any of these systems if you don't want to! If you would prefer not to rely on Disney Genie to map out your park day for you, you still have the option to navigate the parks as you see fit. Standby lines will be available for all guests and select virtual queues will be available without the purchase of Disney Genie+ or individual attraction passes.
Question 2: Does Disney Genie Impact the Disability Access Service (DAS)?
Enhancements are coming to the DAS system as part of Disney Genie. Guests will have the option of booking return times through the app and also signing up for the service in advance of their visit. However, guests who prefer to continue using the in-person service will still have the option to do so.
Question 3: Does Disney Genie Replace Travel Agents?
Absolutely not! I hope that I've demonstrated some of the value a travel agent provides through this blog post. There are A LOT of elements of this new system to sort through and, as a travel professional, I have been trained by Disney to do exactly that for my clients. Disney Genie is a great compliment to a travel agent‘s services, but certainly not a replacement. Genie doesn't help you choose the right resort hotel or ticket type for your interests and budget. It doesn't help you set up your online account so that you're ready to use Disney Genie, Genie+ etc. by the time you enter the parks. It doesn't offer dining reviews and recommendations or wake up early 60 days before your trip to make dining reservations for you. It also doesn't monitor for discounts and apply eligible new promotions to save you money. And it doesn't wait on hold for hours to handle any unforeseen issues or make sure you are kept up to date with the latest changes to policies and procedures. Disney Genie is a great tool to use when you're in the theme parks but, even if you plan to make use of this complimentary service, the expertise and pre-travel planning services of a travel agent are still invaluable. And, what's even better, a travel agent's services are also FREE!