Within the final two months, Walt Disney World has seen big swings in crowds. Together with that, the price and expertise of utilizing Genie+ and Lightning Lanes has different significantly. This covers the “high 10” occasions we’d suggest skipping paid FastPass based mostly on our testing, and the sometimes-superior options to purchasing line-skipping entry.
Let’s begin by briefing addressing crowds and pricing, as that is prone to be a very powerful consideration for you–and it’s the motivation behind this publish within the first place. When you’ve been following the curler coaster of Genie+ costs and crowds within the final couple of months, you already know it’s been fairly the wild trip.
After hovering to a brand new file of $35 per day through the peak weeks earlier than and after Easter, costs have plummeted…and so have standby wait occasions! As lined in Sharp Slowdown for Shoulder Season 2023 at Walt Disney World, crowd ranges have dropped dramatically. In some circumstances, to lows not seen since Fall 2021. Together with that, Genie+ costs have fallen again to their lowest low of $15 per day.
This dynamic with decrease crowd ranges and Genie+ pricing will proceed to play out previous to the beginning of summer time season. As attendance inevitably will increase, so too will Genie+ and Lightning Lane costs. In each eventualities, there are going to be occasions when it is sensible to skip shopping for Genie+ and as a substitute go for different technique.
Because the title suggests, that’s exactly what we’re going to cowl right here. The objective is that will help you decide when it does and doesn’t make sense to buy Genie+ at Walt Disney World, so that you don’t waste money and time, or topic your self to pointless stress and stress when it actually isn’t obligatory or advantageous. With that in thoughts, right here’s a rundown of when to skip Genie+ at Walt Disney World…
On a Tight Finances – Though we’re frugal by nature, we now have no hesitations about spending further for memorable experiences or add-ons that may embrace the standard of our holidays. To that time, our checklist of the Finest Worth Splurges at Walt Disney World is full of a variety of enhancement choices, from character eating we like to Membership Degree hacks. It additionally has precisely one entry for Genie+ and Lightning Lanes, and that’s (spoiler alert) at Magic Kingdom.
Maybe extra necessary than anything, it warns in opposition to selections pushed by FOMO. That’s value reiterating right here, as no enhancements or up-charges are essential to have an amazing journey to Walt Disney World. In relation to on-line journey planning and social media, there’s a pervasive sense of FOMO that drives many individuals to spend on pointless experiences. That is exacerbated by sure in style experiences reserving up rapidly or promoting out.
In relation to Genie+ and Lightning Lanes, we’ve repeatedly argued that demand for Genie+ is comparatively inelastic at incrementally increased worth factors as a result of it’s nonetheless a comparatively minor expense within the grand scheme of the worth of a Walt Disney World trip. If a household spent $8,000 or extra for a trip, what’s one other ~$80 extra to “guarantee” the expertise is enjoyable and the entire journey wasn’t a waste of cash.
The issue with that considering is that it presupposes two issues. First, that Genie+ will assure an excellent day. It is not going to. Second, that with out experiencing a sure variety of points of interest, a go to to the parks shall be dangerous. Additionally unfaithful. Crucial factor you are able to do to have an amazing Walt Disney World trip is reject this line of considering. Not simply with Lightning Lanes, however as an entire. It’s a recipe for stress, stress, rigidity, and grownup meltdowns. Reject it and also you’ll depart happier, extra happy, and with a fuller pockets.
At Animal Kingdom, Virtually All the time – You understand how Walt Disney World has stored base 1-day ticket costs the identical since 2018 with the intention to promote a decrease place to begin, however in actuality, that’s solely at Animal Kingdom? I’m barely stunned that hasn’t occurred with the Genie+ service. If there are days when Animal Kingdom is “value” $109 and days when Magic Kingdom prices $189, absolutely the paid FastPass on the respective parks has completely different values.
Truly, I take that again. You possibly can have nearly as good of time at Animal Kingdom as some other park, on any day. In contrast, Genie+ is just about at all times ineffective at Animal Kingdom for those who’re doing a full day within the park. As we’ve identified numerous occasions, Animal Kingdom is the best park to strategize. Arrive considerably early or keep late, and you may knock out every thing with out Lightning Lanes. That’s true even in 10/10 crowd ranges.
The one exception, and why that is an “nearly,” is that if your plan is to roll as much as Animal Kingdom after 10 am and depart earlier than 4 pm on reasonably busy or worse days. In that case, Genie+ at Animal Kingdom could be advantageous…however we’d strongly suggest not doing solely the height hours of the day within the park. Not solely is it when crowds are worst, but it surely’s additionally when the park is hottest and least comfy. In each means, it’s a extremely dangerous strategy for Animal Kingdom; principally the alternative of a technique.
If Wanting a Tech-Free Journey – We try to be frank right here, even when which means holding unpopular opinions or telling you belongings you may not need to hear. In that spirit, I feel the complaints about screen-time with Genie+ are massively overblown. Certain, you can spend all day along with your head buried in your cellphone enjoying the refresh recreation or attempting to time Lightning Lane drops. However none of that’s obligatory to make use of the Genie+ system to most of its potential.
The screen-time criticism strikes me as coming from followers of FastPass+ who need to ‘pile on’ with causes the substitute is worse. Personally, I don’t suppose that helps the argument, and as a substitute dilutes or undercuts reputable grievances. That’s very true on condition that FastPass+ labored very equally when it got here to refreshing and same-day drops.
Nonetheless, I can empathize with the spirit of the criticism. That’s as a result of Walt Disney World has leaned so closely into expertise and in-app options within the final a number of years, the totality of which do kind of necessitate display time. It’s nonetheless potential to go tech-free, however you’re unquestionably at a drawback when not Cell Ordering, becoming a member of digital queues, and so forth. If you wish to scale back your display time, it thus is sensible to not buy the Genie+ service.
As a compromise, contemplate as a substitute embracing a “set it and neglect it” strategy: make a Lightning Lane choice, after which set an alarm for two hours later (assuming you’re topic to the 120 minute rule) or rapidly make your subsequent choice whereas in line after tapping into the Lightning Lane return. Merely opting out of the compulsive checking for “higher” occasions and trip reservations will dramatically scale back your display time, and your expertise will nonetheless be good.
Eligible for Early Entry – Too many Walt Disney World guests underestimate Early Entry. Many don’t use it in any respect, dismissing it as “solely” half-hour and thus not definitely worth the time. One other widespread incidence is beginning at Magic Kingdom and prioritizing Seven Dwarfs Mine Practice, and reaching the (inaccurate) conclusion that Early Entry shall be ineffective elsewhere.
At 3 of the 4 parks, Early Entry is extremely advantageous. Between it and common rope drop, you possibly can usually accomplish and save extra time than a whole day with Genie+ and Lightning Lanes, and with out spending any extra cash. We simply overhauled our step-by-step methods for Early Entry and park opening, which you could find by way of our Information to Early Entry at Walt Disney World.
At EPCOT, Typically – Since launch, Genie+ has improved significantly at EPCOT. It went from being the worst park to a reasonably robust choice on some days and for some events due to the addition of Frozen Ever After and Remy’s Ratatouille Journey to the common Lightning Lane lineup.
I nonetheless have a tricky time getting Genie+ to work how I’d like at EPCOT. In my private checks, I’ve discovered that on much less busy days, Genie+ shouldn’t be actually essential to expertise the headliners effectively. On busier days, there isn’t sufficient Lightning Lane stock to attain trip reservations for greater than 3 of the 4 headliners–typically simply 2 of them.
Compounding issues is the structure of EPCOT. If enjoying Theme Park Tycoon with the objective of maximizing strolling distances, for who is aware of what motive, you’d drop EPCOT’s marquee points of interest precisely the place they’re. This isn’t an enormous deal while you’re taking a linear strategy to the park, however it may develop into a critical situation with Lightning Lane return occasions, which might necessitate appreciable criss-crossing and backtracking.
Relying upon your strolling velocity and precise wait occasions, you may really waste extra time with Genie+ than it’s value at EPCOT. That is very a lot a ‘your mileage could differ’ factor–each actually and figuratively–so we’re far much less inclined to put in writing off Genie+ throughout the board at EPCOT. We’ve decided that it’s not for us besides in choose circumstances, however it could work out much better for you.
Capable of Keep Late – As indicated above, Genie+ shouldn’t be all that obligatory for those who keep previous the afternoon at Animal Kingdom. The identical can be true at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. We anticipated the tides to activate this technique with the return of Fantasmic, however we’ve field-tested technique a couple of half-dozen occasions since then, and it nonetheless works about the identical as earlier than. (It’s nearly inexplicable the group patterns haven’t shifted at DHS.)
This doesn’t work fairly as nicely at EPCOT or Magic Kingdom, however wait occasions do drop within the night hours at each. That’s particularly the case within the former Future World neighborhoods at EPCOT, and as many company begin staking out spots for the Fortunately Ever After fireworks at Magic Kingdom. By the final half-hour of the night time, precise wait occasions are minimal. (Posted wait occasions for headliners are normally massively–and purposefully–inflated to discourage company from leaping in line on the final minute.)
Eligible for Prolonged Night Hours – That is like one of the best of each staying late and Early Entry, a longer-lasting on-site perk for an much more choose viewers. Prolonged Night Hours final 2 hours (versus half-hour) and provide an opportunity to just about run the desk on the preferred points of interest at Magic Kingdom and, to a lesser extent, EPCOT.
Except you need to repeat favourite points of interest, it’s pointless to purchase Genie+ for those who’re making the most of Prolonged Night Hours. That is sooner and simpler, whereas additionally being extra enjoyable and environment friendly. See our Information to Prolonged Night Hours for technique and different data.
If It’s $30+ Per Particular person – Over spring break, I did intensive testing of Genie+ on $29 days with 10/10 crowd ranges. I’ve but to purchase it on the $35 worth level, and doubtless gained’t till Thanksgiving, however who is aware of how a lot it’ll value then! Judging by wait occasions, there’s no actual distinction in crowd ranges between the $29 and $35 worth; the latter was basically a worth improve, not a response to increased attendance or demand.
Regardless, the (moderately costly) lesson I’ve discovered from these $30 (after tax) days was that Genie+ is that demand is highest when costs are highest, which implies much less trip reservation stock and in addition longer Lightning Lane return strains. The problems at Disney’s Hollywood Studios are just like these at EPCOT, which is just fewer high-value Lightning Lane reservations regardless of increased costs. At Animal Kingdom, the needle shouldn’t be moved by increased costs (see above).
The one exception to that is Magic Kingdom. As a result of a much more sturdy trip roster, Genie+ nearly at all times is value it at Walt Disney World’s flagship park. Even when beginning late and taking a extra laid again strategy to creating choices, the maths nonetheless works in its favor. The $30 (or nevertheless a lot cash) is value it for the variety of hours (actually) you’ll save ready in line. There’s actually just one exception to this…
If It’s <$20 Per Particular person – The reverse of the above can be true, for exactly the identical motive. Demand is highest when costs are highest, and demand is lowest when costs are lowest. That’s as a result of, fairly merely, Genie+ shouldn’t be all that obligatory on gradual days. With the ‘new regular’ pricing for Genie+ as of mid-2023, the typical posted wait time is normally 31 minutes or much less when Genie+ is priced at $20 or much less. Needless to say the typical posted wait time is normally inflated by 25%, so precise wait occasions are even decrease than that.
On crowd degree 1/10 to 4/10 days, Genie+ shouldn’t be going to save lots of you a lot time over savvy technique or an environment friendly Walt Disney World itinerary. You possibly can both plan your journey round as of late by consulting Walt Disney World Crowd Calendars…or take a look at the worth of Genie+ on the day of your go to, to see if it’s underneath $20. If that’s the case, that’s a powerful signal (however not fairly conclusive) that Walt Disney World is forecasting a slower day.
The corollary to those final two entries is that the “candy spot” for getting Genie+ is when it prices $20 to $25 (and maybe $29 with the ‘new regular’ pricing). Our testing has constantly discovered that to be when Genie+ is most helpful for EPCOT and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. (Once more, increased pricing nonetheless works out at Magic Kingdom. Decrease pricing may also work there if you need a really ride-heavy day or to repeat your favourite points of interest–as soon as by way of standby and as soon as by way of Lightning Lane.)
Prioritizing Experiences Over Points of interest – Bringing this full circle from the primary level, we additionally need to stress that approaching Walt Disney World’s theme parks “guidelines type” is a recipe for disappointment. Not solely that, but it surely misses the purpose. When you solely care about “conducting” an inventory of rides, Six Flags or different regional parks are considerably cheaper and a extra environment friendly means of driving the rides.
Walt Disney World costs premium pricing for a premium product. A core part of that’s the environment and ambiance. Merely being there. This can be a massive a part of why our itineraries are extra laid again with time to cease and scent the roses, why we’re averse to spreadsheets, and robust advocates of ‘deliberate spontaneity.’
Along with that, there are some days while you might need a number of Advance Eating Reservations scheduled, plan on going slower to see stage exhibits and atmospheric leisure, do a relaxed afternoon, or graze round World Showcase (or elsewhere) prioritizing one thing else over high-wait points of interest. These are a few of our favourite methods of doing Walt Disney World, and Genie+ is a non-factor for many of them.
Actually, it took us a very long time to get up to now, so we are able to perceive the self-imposed “stress” to knock out a sure variety of points of interest per day, particularly given the excessive value of a Walt Disney World trip. I nonetheless bear in mind the primary time we did a ride-free day within the parks; it was a little bit over a decade in the past, and I really felt a little bit responsible about it for some odd motive. That feeling light quick when occupied with a lot enjoyable we had in a completely completely different means than regular–but it surely nonetheless was admittedly an odd feeling at first.
Finally, that’s our perspective on when to skip the paid FastPass service at Walt Disney World. Even with all of this stated, it’s value reiterating that these aren’t arduous and quick guidelines, and also you may need to ignore our suggestions and purchase Genie+ extra usually, or add your individual ‘must-skip’ eventualities. There isn’t any such factor as one-size-fits-all recommendation for Walt Disney World.
At its greatest, Genie+ can free time for slowing down and savoring the parks. At its worst, Genie+ feeds into company’ worst impulses to go go go, beholden to a strict schedule of rides and different reservations. So once more, even it is a ‘YMMV’ factor the place Genie+ will empower some company to have a extra relaxed day whereas burdening others with stress.
When you’ve got questions concerning the fundamentals of utilizing–or not utilizing–the paid FastPass service, see our Information to Genie+ at Walt Disney World & Lightning Lane FAQ for the entire foundational need-to-know data. This complete system is complicated and convoluted, so that you might need a query or two-dozen. That solutions the entire most typical ones we’ve been receiving from readers.
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What do you consider skipping Genie+ at Walt Disney World? Are there days while you don’t really feel the necessity to use Lightning Lanes, or is it at all times a must-buy on your trip days within the parks? Ideas on any of our ‘skip eventualities’ listed right here? Every other issues we didn’t bear in mind or missed/bought fallacious? Do you agree or disagree with our evaluation? Any questions we will help you reply? Listening to your suggestions–even while you disagree with us–is each fascinating to us and useful to different readers, so please share your ideas under within the feedback!