Disney Genie takeaways, first impressions, and early strategies from the first day of operation at Walt Disney World

Oct 20, 2021 in "Disney Genie"

First Lightning Lane guests at Magic Kingdom October 19 2021
Posted: Wednesday October 20, 2021 8:54am ET by WDWMAGIC Staff

After spending the first day with Disney Genie at Walt Disney World, we have some early takeaways and strategies to help prepare you for using Disney's new trip planning and ride reservation system.

Short waits in Lightning Lanes, at Least for Now

Lightning Lane wait times are short. There are currently only a limited number of guests using Genie+ and Individual Attraction purchases, so the Lightning Lane moves you to the front of the line in a matter of minutes, significantly quicker than the old FastPass+ queues. With attractions like Millennium Falcon Smugglers run where you may see a 60 minute standby wait time, you are likely able to cut that to just a couple of minutes with the Genie+ Lightning Lane. As with FastPass+, we expect to see these waits increase as awareness of Genie+ increases and more guests use the Lightning Lane.

Early Strategies to Maximize Genie+

Slinky Dog Dash at Disney's Hollywood Studios has so far been the most in-demand Genie+ selection, and soon after the 7am opening of reservations, availability shifted to the afternoon.

An emerging strategy would appear to be to make a Slinky Dog Dash Genie+ reservation at 7am, and to then make a second selection at the earliest opportunity, 2 hours after a 9am park opening at 11am. Learn more about making subsequent Genie+ reservations.

In most cases, Genie+ selections have been available within a couple of hours, and availability remained into the evening hours.

The only Individual Attraction purchase to sell-out has been Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance. Most Individual Attraction purchases not included with Genie+ were available for almost immediate rides.

Smooth Roll Out of Disney Genie

So far, there have been no significant issues with the My Disney Experience app, and the rollout of Disney Genie appears to have gone according to plan. The app itself is fairly robust. We encountered a couple of random crashes and there are a few bugs, particularly when planning for multiple parks in a hopper scenario. But on the whole, My Disney Experience is holding together and not getting in the way of using the system.

The only significant hitch that we are aware of was an extended downtime of Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, which led to guests asking for refunds for their Individual Attraction purchase. Disney Genie terms and conditions of use say no refunds will be given, but guests were able to obtain a refund of sorts in the form of a Disney gift card. With the frequent breakdowns at Rise of the Resistance, this may become a common scenario, so we will have to wait and see how Disney plans to manage that scenario.

Phone Use Goes Up, and Battery Life Takes a Hit

With Disney Genie, you will spend more time on your phone and may find high levels of battery drain as you spend more time using My Disney Experience than ever before. We went through 60% of an iPhone 13 Pro during our testing in 4 hours at Magic Kingdom. A full charge in the morning is essential, and you will likely need a charger to top up the battery along the way. Losing contact with My Disney Experience would be a major roadblock to your day of using Disney Genie.

Good News for Guests Not Using Genie+

Currently, the vast majority of guests are using standby lines only. So far, we have not seen any significant impacts to standby wait times due to the opening of Lightning Lanes.

Still too Early to Draw Any Conclusions

Any conclusions about wait times, standby lines, or Lightning Lanes need to wait until more guests are aware of Disney Genie+ and during busier days in the parks. The upcoming holiday period around Thanksgiving will be a good indicator of the true impact of Lightning Lanes - parks will be busy, and many more guests will be aware of Genie+ and strategies.

Learn More about Disney Genie, Genie+ and Lightning Lanes

Learn more about Disney Genie from our recent articles, including a Disney Genie FAQ, and Genie discussion on the WDWMAGIC Forums.

Discuss on the Forums
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gerarar4 hours ago

Must be. For the last 3 days the VQ for Rat lasted only 4 seconds, and the 7am drop actually lasted longer than the 1pm drop for all 3 days. Now today, the drops lasted 11 and 33 seconds respectively. Big drop in demand it seems like.

nickys4 hours ago

It was only a “hack” in the sense that it wasn’t working the way Disney intended it to work - otherwise they wouldn’t have changed it. Everyone could use it if they noticed that they were allowed to book another G+ ride. There was nothing you had to “do”, no work around involved, in order to book the next ride. You booked the next one like every other one.

Jrb19795 hours ago

I'm not against stacking per say. The problem is there isn't enough capacity for Genie+ to work. Since a high enough price increase is coming to limit how many buy it and enough new attractions aren't coming either, the only way to make it work is to limit how many LL people can hold at one time. Limiting it to 2 opens more availability to everyone.

Waters Back Side5 hours ago

The 2nd point is true you are right about that. But as far as the first point I made I was more or less talking about stacking in terms of how it is impacting ride availability. That is what the poster(s) is saying as a solution in terms of making the Genie + work better. But like you said, it might make sense to prioritize some of those rides if it means you want to make sure you fit it in before a dining reservation etc. And I do agree, yes there is nothing wrong at all with stacking those rides if that's what you want to do as a paid Genie + guest. I might find myself doing the same thing after my first ride.

nickys5 hours ago

But with FP, if your return window was more than 90/120 minutes away you could book another. I remember having paper FPs for 3 different rides for the family and having to find the right ones.

nickys5 hours ago

I don’t understand this idea that there is no point in booking a G+ for something like SE or LwtL, just because the waits might “only” be 30-45 minutes. Why wait when you don’t need to? And I would disagree with statements like “the most someone would stack is Test Track and Soarin”. If I had dinner reservations at Epcot, I could hop to the park at 5pm and have 4 (or more, depending on opening time at my first park) G+ passes ready to use before dinner. That would be a nice relaxed evening.

Waters Back Side5 hours ago

But then this circles back again to if you can only hold one at a time, you might have a return time for 4:30pm for your first ride. And there was a hack that some people were stacking rides anyway that was an advanced method and a loophole that Disney already halted. And again. Other then MK, it is not often that someone would have 3 rides unless one or two of them always have availability anyway. Any paying Genie + guest should be allowed to stack rides if there is a return time of more than 2 hours from their last choice. Genie + is useless otherwise.

Jrb19796 hours ago

In that instance it would suck to limit it to 2 cause it's not your fault that happened. My idea comes from those who purposely stack for a park they aren't visiting til later in the day. IMO the way Genie+ should work is you can only hold 1 LL at a time. I still think it should be rolling availability each day like they used to do with FP

nickys6 hours ago

So incur the wrath of those who paid $15 to only get 2 rides using it? Book SDD with a return time of 4:30pm Then at 11am you book say TSMM with a return time of 5pm. And then they say, “sorry, you picked the “wrong” rides, you have to wait until 4:30pm to book your next one”. That sounds fair to you, does it?

Waters Back Side7 hours ago

Slow day today? I pull up the tip board for HS and SDD had a slot for 1pm. Cannot see why. Its Saturday of a holiday weekend.

Waters Back Side7 hours ago

The only park I really see stacking of more then 2 happening is at MK. And there are not a lot of availability issues for the rides on the Genie + tier at MK being how many there are to choose from. At HS for example itll be hard to stack more then 2. Especially if people are buying the ILL's in the AM and picking one Genie +. Unless its actually in the evening like 6 PM and at 11 AM and 1 PM you select two others before 6 PM but by then most are not available anyway unless you want to choose Alien Swirling Saucers and Star Tours. Epcot the rides you could stack do not have exceedingly long waits where it causes availability issues anyway like Figment. LWTL, Spaceship Earth and Nemo. so the most someone would stack is Test Track and later on Soarin if on the board still. I do not see a situation where a stacking of 3 occurs often other then maybe MK.

matt91128 hours ago

Maybe? The system needs to be either really crappy at current cost or far better at higher prices. Remember express is super easy to use and reauires no planning or luck.

Jrb19798 hours ago

I was thinking another way to make Genie+ work better is to limit stacks to 2.

lazyboy97o10 hours ago

Because you knew the system and had preferences that worked well with it. Such individual experience didn’t map across the entire park’s operation.