Disney Parks Introduces Genie, A New Service Replacing FastPass – And Asking For More Of Your Money

Fans of the Disney theme parks are no doubt riveted by some very big news emanating out of Burbank today: gone are the days of the FastPass ticketing system or even the paid MaxPass ticketing system at the parks. Now, it's time to welcome someone new and blue to your life: the Disney Genie service. The short version: this is intended to be a planning tool to streamline your theme-park experience. The long version? Get ready to pay.

What Genie Offers

After teasing it for a little while, Disney has unveiled some details about the Genie Service on its Parks Blog. Genie will be built into the Disney theme park apps, and will include features for planning your day at the parks (we'll get to the money part shortly):

  • Get Itinerary Updates from Morning to NightDisney Genie will continue to update your itinerary throughout your day, so you can be more spontaneous and go with the flow.
  • Find Your Favorites at a Glance: Create your very own personal tip board to instantly see your favorites. It will display current AND forecasted future wait times, helping you predict when you might experience quicker entry to attractions.
  • Enjoy More Flexibility and Fun: Disney Genie brings existing planning features together in one place. Join a virtual queue at certain attractions, make dining and experience reservations, mobile order food at many locations, get help from a virtual assistant and more.
  • This video runs down the basics you need to know:

    Now, just as you might expect from Disney, there's no one-size-fits-all situation here. Yes, there's a complimentary version of this service, which will give any guest to the Disneyland or Walt Disney World theme parks the ability to access daily itineraries, make dining and character reservations, and more. But there's also the Disney Genie+ and Lightning Lane options. What, you may ask, does the plus sign connote? Money.Meaning, if you want to use Disney Genie+ to select from a host of attractions (per journalist Scott Gustin on Twitter, it's over 15 attractions at Disneyland and 40 at Walt Disney World), you're going to have to pay, per day and per ticket. It will cost you $15 at Walt Disney World and $20 at Disneyland, per day, to use Disney Genie+. And if you want to ride attractions like Seven Dwarfs Mine Train or Radiator Springs Racers, you'll have to use an extra option called Lightning Lane, which presumably refers to how quickly your money will be taken out of your bank account. 

    Here's how the Disney Parks Blog breaks it down:

  • Disney Genie+ service (available for purchase): For the price of $15 per ticket per day at Walt Disney World Resort and $20 per ticket per day at Disneyland Resort, choose the next available time to arrive at a variety of attractions and experiences using the Lightning Lane entrance. You can make one selection at a time, throughout the day – from classics like Haunted Mansion to thrill rides like Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and newer favorites like Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run (attractions subject to limited availability). This convenient option is the next evolution of the fan-favorite Disney MaxPass service from Disneyland Resort. Disney Genie+ will also include Disney parks-themed audio experiences and photo features to capture your memories – augmented reality lenses for those visiting Walt Disney World Resort and unlimited Disney PhotoPass downloads from your day if you are visiting Disneyland Resort.
  • Individual attraction selections (available for purchase): Schedule a time to arrive at up to two highly demanded attractions each day using the Lightning Lane entrance – like Seven Dwarfs Mine Train at Magic Kingdom Park and Radiator Springs Racers at Disney California Adventure park (subject to limited availability; attractions not included with Disney Genie+). Pricing for this option will vary by date, attraction and park and will be announced closer to launch.
  • For a longer breakdown of what Genie offers, this video offers an in-depth look:

    Disneyland is Not a Museum

    Walt Disney famously said that Disneyland was not a museum. What that meant, in short, was that neither guests nor Cast Members should expect the Disney theme parks to be static presences in the world, but always changing. Change can be hard, but also good. But change can sometimes also just seem a bit frustrating, and at this extremely early juncture, it's easy to see today's big announcement as the latter. The Disney theme parks are a business, of course, but while that means they need to make money, it also means they need to have customers who want to spend money at their parks. Some of you out there may well be the types with enough disposable cash that this option doesn't throw you off too much. And if you've done MaxPass, as I have, there's certainly a true value to that system (just as with MaxPass, Disney Genie+ comes with unlimited PhotoPass downloads of your experience). But for many of us, additions like this may stay true to the notion that Disneyland is not a museum. It's just an incredibly expensive experience that's becoming too expensive to afford.