At Disneyland, Genie+ is effectively the new fast pass service that allows users a shortcut to some of the lines in the park. If you pay for this service, on top of the already high-priced tickets, you will have access to lightning lanes, the shorter lines that replaced the previous fast pass lines.
You can pay for Genie+ when you buy your tickets for the entire duration of your pass or, if you only want to use it on select days, upon entering the park. Note, this is different from Disney World where you pay for it at any point on the day you enter the park (such as right after midnight).
You can make a new lightning lane selection every two hours or after you have used your selection. This means that you should either set a timer for two hours after you first make your choices and/or immediately pick a new lightning lane after scanning into a ride.
With long lines in the park, especially on peak dates, Genie+ is a popular add-on for many individuals. In the weeks surrounding Christmas, Disney has sold out of Genie+ passes before the end of the day.
Compared to the old fast pass system, Genie+ is not only more costly, but it is also more restrictive. On a recent trip to Disneyland, I decided to test out the service in order to determine if it is worth it.
The most obvious benefit of paying for Genie+ is that the use of lightning lanes significantly shortens the wait times for attractions. When in a lighting lane, never did I wait more than 15 minutes before getting on the ride. Compared to the wait times listed as up to an hour, lightning lanes offered significant time savings.
Additionally, most of Disneyland’s most prominent rides had lightning lanes, allowing me to maximize my day in the park and go on nearly every ride I wanted at least one time.
Another benefit to Genie+ is that it includes PhotoPass. This means that the photo of you screaming while going down Splash Mountain will not be an additional cost. The value of this benefit is truly based on whether or not you would have paid for the photo. Nonetheless, it was a nice touch to get these photos as a reminder of my day at the park.
As a test, I used both a lightning lane and singles’ line on rides that offered both, which included Matterhorn and Star Wars Smuggler’s Run. In both situations, the singles line wait was less than half the wait using the lightning lane. While compared to standing in the regular lines, it offered large time savings, but as a solo in the park, I would much rather use the free singles’ line.
The cost of the Genie+ is also higher than the previous fast pass system. The price starts at $25 per day but can go up beyond this point. While possibly reasonable for one person on one day, if you are traveling with a family of four, a three-day park visit would cost at least $300, a high price for this convenience.
My biggest issue with Genie+ is that it only offers one lightning lane per attraction, per day, so once you use your lighting lane for Space Mountain that’s it. From that point on in the day, rides on Space Mountain will involve a wait in the standby line.
This is notably different from the old fast pass, which included unlimited uses. While I understand why capping pass use makes sense, it’s disappointing for those who are trying to maximize the number of rides one goes on in a day.
Additionally, not all lightning lanes rides are included with Genie+, which decreases the value of the pass. Aside from the rides that do not have a lightning lane, some rides, such as Rise the Resistance, have individual lightning lanes where you can pay to shortcut that one individual ride as an additional cost.
The final negative about Genie+ is that it turned the magic of Disney into a phone-centric day in the park. Since you have to reserve a timeslot for each lightning lane, it was always a question of when the next available time is available and which rides should be ridden first. My day in the park turned into a strategic game of when to use lightning lanes, when to request time slots, and when to just wait in the standby lane.
The Last Point
Maybe I was lucky I went to the park, but even on December 16th, the week before Christmas and the start of the winter holidays, very few waits ever went over 45–60-minutes.
I will write another article about how I attempted to avoid lines while in the park but between arriving early and making use of the singles lines, paying extra for Genie+ helped save me time in lines, but it did not make my experience drastically better.
Now, had I visited on a busier day or visited with a larger group such as a family of four, Genie+ would have helped streamline the day and decrease wait times. I don’t think I would pay for Genie+ again when visiting the park by myself but would highly consider it when traveling with the family.
Additionally, if I had been visiting California Adventure alone (not a park hopper), I do not think it would have been worth it due to the lack of rides in that park that offer lightning lanes.
The long story short is that there is no straightforward answer, and the value of Genie+ personal. I do not think it is necessary on less crowded days, but with a family it could make your experience, especially if traveling with little ones, light years better.
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