A few weeks ago we took an impromptu trip to Disney! Almost since the kids were born we have been annual passholders. Now that they are a bit older though, it has become harder to go as often. The kids, Natalia especially already being in 2nd grade, should not miss school and their extra curricular activities have become more intense. Peter’s baseball schedule is wild and Natalia dances competitively so between competitions and trying to limit the amount of dance classes she misses, we cannot go to Disney as often. In fact, we never made it all of 2021!
Since our last trip in November 2020, Disney has had a few changes, one of them being adding the new Genie Plus system. This trip was planned on a whim so we did not have time to properly research this.
If you are interested in why this trip even happened (and if you’re not haha skip down to the bold DISNEY GENIE PLUS) – we had considered going to Disney over Christmas break since the kids are off from school and our office closes. Unfortunately, the parks were booked by the time we looked at this. As I shared in my post Holidays at Home in Miami, school starting early in the calendar year and the Archdiocese of Miami’s rules that the kids may need to quarantine and do virtual school if we left the state did not give us any incentive to plan anything outside of the state of Florida. The week before Christmas break the school called saying Natalia could not be in school until the following year because she had been ‘exposed’ to COVID by a classmate. She unfortunately could not even perform in her Christmas show she was so excited for. Although she was perfectly healthy, it was what it was. Two days into her return to school though after Christmas break, they call AGAIN saying she was ‘exposed’ to COVID by a classmate again and could not be in school the rest of the week. Mind you- while the mask requirement on the children had been lifted after Thanksgiving, upon return from Christmas break all the children are forced to wear masks again and the child who ‘exposed’ her is fully vaccinated against COVID. After not traveling to avoid keeping her out of virtual school, you can imagine my frustration at her ending up in virtual school regardless and so we decided it was time for that Disney trip! I could probably do a whole post or two on my feelings on virtual school and this COVID and vaccine situation as a whole regarding mental health, but I want to keep things positive on here. Let’s get back to the fun stuff- Disney and Genie Plus!
DISNEY GENIE PLUS
On the drive up Peter (my husband) tells me to research the new Genie Plus platform since he’d heard about it. In my opinion, Disney’s webpage gives a very vague explanation of what it is and it more so boasts how great it is without telling you how to use it. Click here for their link on it: Disney Genie Plus. He tells me I need to search for blog posts on it- which of course is where the idea for this post was born!
To be honest, I still could not find any blog posts that explained it well in my opinion so I asked a friend and my sisters in law who had used it recently. It seemed the only way to learn if it’s worth paying for is to actually use it.
Let me try to dumb it down- Disney theme parks have always been known for their long lines. I am not sure the exact history on this but they eventually released a fast pass system where you could obtain a ticket to make a shorter line for a ride. By scanning your entrance to the theme park card they would ensure you were only using one at a time. Eventually, you could reserve up to three of these in advance and once you used all three, you could reserve one at a time throughout the remainder of your day using the Disney Experience app. We had this down to a science to efficiently get on as many rides as possible whenever we visited Disney! If you are new to Disney and have never been, the app is a must these days! It allows you to make dining reservations and shows you wait times for all the rides in any park.
Enter new Genie System! They basically started calling the Disney Experience app the ‘Genie’ but it’s still the same idea where you can plan your day, make reservations and see wait times for rides from anywhere. ‘Genie Plus’ though has a cost. It is $15 per person which does not sound too bad but for a family of 4 it adds up and now you are looking at spending $60 per day. Genie Plus basically gives you the ability to use fast passes (the ones that used to be free). They also renamed the fast pass line to the ‘lightning lane’. Furthermore, it does not include newer rides with high demand. You now need to pay between $10-$13 for those if you want access to them. These are separate from Genie Plus so if you purchase Genie Plus AND lightning lane passes for the newer rides you are potentially looking at over $100 a day for a family of four depending on how many extra lighting lane passes you purchase. The question of course becomes- is this extra expense worth it?
Day 1 we drove into Epcot from Miami. We are road trip warriors when it comes to things like this and have actually made it all the way from South Florida to the state of Georgia without stopping. Disney is a quick and easy one for us so we were at the park by opening time of 10 AM. We decided to give the Genie Plus a shot and spent the $60 for it. First ride we were able to reserve was Soarin’ and it was not available until around 2PM. We had the option to purchase further lightning lane passes for the popular rides such as Frozen Ever After and the new Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure but as a family of 4 that was going to add up especially after already purchasing Genie Plus. We were able to ride other rides which do not usually have too long of a wait such as Spaceship Earth and The Seas with Nemo and Friends. Finally it was 2PM and we had our chance to ride Soarin’! You can only reserve one ride at a time with the Genie Plus system. As soon as we checked in to Soarin’ we tried to reserve another ride. Unfortunately, by this time, there was nothing really left that would require a fast pass until much later at which point we had a dinner reservation. Long story short, we paid $60 to ride Soarin’. This may have been worth it possibly if it was our first trip to Epcot ever and even then, it may have made more sense to just wait the 60ish minute line to ride and save ourselves the money. You live and learn! We have never been on Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure so for us, it may have made more sense to just purchase the lighting lane passes for that ride. Due to the fact that Epcot does not have an overwhelming amount of rides, I did not find the Genie Plus system worth it for this park. Also, if I’m being completely honest, I’m at Epcot more so for the food, drinks and world showcase exhibition where I can at least pretend I’m traveling the world!
Day 2 we visited the Magic Kingdom! We have done Disney more than enough to know that we should give the Genie Plus system a shot at Magic Kingdom. Unlike Epcot, this park is more about the rides! We arrived early and I can say we had success using the Genie Plus system at Magic Kingdom! We were able to reserve a good amount of rides early on and were able to ride most of the rides we wanted to make sure we were able to get on. Pro Tip: You need to be there EARLY if you want to be able to take advantage of the Genie Plus system. Later in the afternoon, it was not as easy to reserve rides and we ended up back at the Epcot situation where there was nothing left worth reserving. The reservations also become more spread out later in the day. This is likely since as the day goes on, the park becomes more populated and you have more people making reservations.
Day 3 we went to Hollywood Studios. Based on our previous experiences at the 2 parks the day before, we did not purchase Genie Plus. We made our lines. Hollywood Studios is another park that does not have an overwhelming amount of rides. It’s actually a smaller park and also has a bit of a focus on shows. We did not visit Animal Kingdom this trip, however, I do not think we would have purchased Genie Plus there either. It does not have enough rides to merit spending $60 for our family of four to avoid lines. Animal Kingdom is also somewhat of a zoo- literally! There are different exhibits to see wild animals so again, this park also has more to do other than rides.
In summary- If you can be at Magic Kingdom early, roughly around the time the park opens, I would recommend purchasing the Genie Plus system. As far as the other parks go, we felt it was not worth it for a family of four. We both agreed if we were younger and traveling alone, $15 a day may be worth it to skip lines in all the parks. however, for a family of four it was pricey!
Bottom line, I feel this is just another way for Disney to make money. If you think about it, the only difference really is they are now charging to use fast passes. I definitely prefer the older system where you would reserve your 3 fast passes and then continue to reserve what you could throughout the day…for free. Nonetheless, as any Disney loyal fan, we will continue to go back especially while we still have little ones!
Thanks for visiting!