Disney Genie Unveiled as Paid FastPass Replacement

Disney revealed its new new twist on FastPass+ at Disneyland and Walt Disney World with a variety of add-on fees applicable to all theme park guests including Disney Vacation Club members. 

Disney Genie Full 2021

On Wednesday, the first concrete details were released for the Disney Genie travel planning system. Disney Genie features a new level of vacation planning technology integrated in the My Disney Experience smarphone app. At its simplest level, Disney Genie allows guests to select their favorite attractions, characters and/or ride types, and uses that data to map a custom itinerary which minimizing wait time. 

However, Disney Genie spells the end of Disney's FastPass service which has existed as a free time management tool for more than two decades. FastPass allowed guests to secure scheduled ride times--as many as 3 at a time with the latest iteration--returning to the attraction at a scheduled time in lieu of waiting in the queue. 

The closest parallel to FastPass is the new Genie+ add-on. For a fee of $15 per guest, per day at Walt Disney World--$20 at Disneyland--are able to obtain one ride reservation at a time, scheduled on a same-day basis. While nearly identical to FastPass, Genie+ does not include all headliner attractions and adds a cost of $60-80 per day to the vacation expenses for a family of 4. 

In its promotional materials, Disney draws comparisons between Genie+ and Disneyland's MaxPass service. What these comparisons overlook is that guests who chose to forego MaxPass still had the option of utilizing FastPass at no additional cost, claiming paper tickets at the attractions rather. MaxPass simply added the convenience of digital ride reservations. Additionally, MaxPass was bundled with several varieties of Disneyland Annual Passes, while others could purchase for the annual fee of just $125. Both of these MaxPass benefits have been eliminated with the Genie+ offering. 

Meanwhile several popular attractions will not even be included in Genie+, instead requiring guests to make Individual Attraction Purchases. Confirmed rides include Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance and Remy's Ratatouille Adventure. Reserving a spot on this tier of attraction require a separate purchase which will reportedly rise as high as $24 per person.  As many as two attractions per park may be classified as Individual Attraction Purchases and not included in the daily Genie+ fee. 

Neither Genie+ reservations and Individual Attraction Purchases may be made in advance. Instead, Walt Disney World guests will be able to begin booking at 7:00am each day for Disney hotel guests while Disneyland guests must enter the a theme park before securing any attraction reservations. 

Guests utilizing either Genie+ or Individual Attraction Purchases will return via the former FastPass queues, now dubbed "Lightning Lane." 

Standby options will remain available at most attractions. However the only means of avoiding the Standby option will be the paid options via Genie+ or Individual Attraction Purchases. Due to high demand, certain attractions are not expected to operate Standby lines. These include Rise of the Resistance and Remy's Ratatouille Adventure which will require either an Individual Attraction Purchase or unpaid reservation via the Virtual Queue system. 

The Disney Genie introductory materials also referenced dining reservations and the ability to join a "Walk Up List" for table service restaurants which traditionally require Advance Dining Reservations. No details were provided as to how this will impact the current dining reservation system which currently allows restaurant bookings 60 days in advance.

Disney Genie is expected to launch in the fall of 2021. 

Editorial Comment: The Disney Genie introductory materials go to great lengths to stress how the free Genie features will simplify theme park touring for many guests. The unavoidable truth is the free level will require guests to exclusively utilize Standby queues, placing them in second or third tier status behind those who pay for the better experience. Gone are the days of having little-to-no wait time on three (or more) FastPass attractions for only the price of a $130 theme park ticket. Even if the basic Genie app does its job and creates an efficient touring plan, those guests will spend the majority of their day creeping through lengthy Standby lines, as Genie+ and IAP purchases are now the only way to eliminate queue time. 

Unlike Universal Express at Disney's cross-town rival--which provides free front-of-the-line access to guests at most Universal Studios hotels--complimentary Genie+ and/or Individual Attraction Purchases are not offered to Disney resort guests.

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