There was a time when visiting Disney World was a lot easier and much less confusing. Somewhere, someone who works for Disney thought ending this one benefit was a smart idea.
Of course, we are talking about the free fast pass options that guests used to be afforded. Were they perfect? Not at all and more often than not, guests would miss out on getting passes to a top attraction and were instead left with a fast pass to The Living Land...which we all know you don't need.
The idea was a mess but at least it was easy. Depending on where you were staying, you could get your fast passes, three per day until used, three months ahead of time. You get online around 7 am on the day that window opens and make your first set of reservations.
Now, that isn't the case. Now you buy your passes. I get this is a money maker. Genie+ should be pretty simple. Download the app, purchase the pass, and make your reservations as you go but like the original free option, there is no guarantee you will get to ride the attraction you are hoping to.
Disney's website says that guests can enjoy 2 to 3 attractions per day using the Genie+ feature provided their first option is booked for early in the morning when the parks are opening. You will also get to download digital images on "select" PhotoPass attraction pictures.
The price for Genie+ changes with the time of year. For example, right now during the Christmas week, they are at the most they have ever been. Simple supply and demand.
The rules, well they are a few. You can only make one attraction reservation at a time (hence the 2-3 attractions) if you plan it right. You have to wait 2 hours between reservations as well unless you activate your reservation. For example, if you have a 7:00 am reservation you can make your next one at 9 or once you enter the attraction at 7 am. Planning is imperative to maximize your day.
Pricing depends on the time of year and the park as well. You could pay $15.00 at one park and on the same day have to pay nearly $30 at another. Plan ahead. If you are jumping from park to park, you will pay more.
For many, this is a great option to beat the long lines and if you are willing to slide your card to buy it, you will at least have a shot at getting into attractions but just because you have it, doesn't mean the attraction you want will be avaiable.
Let's look at this in a realistic way. Today we are visiting Magic Kingdom and at 7:00 am we have a reservation for Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. At 7:00 am, we scanned our reservation and hit the ride. We can then make another reservation.
We choose to make or next attraction the Jungle Cruise but we have to wait at least 2 hours before our reservation. So we go ride something else and at 9 am return for Jungle Cruise. We enter and make another reservation. By now, other reservations have been made as well and our next options are not 2 hours out, they are for 3 in the afternoon. We grab one and then we do other things. At 3, we enter or next attraction. Chances are, there are no more reservations available at this point.
Previously, you made your three for the day with specific times and as you used them you could make another one. Sure, there may not be as many available but on most days, even busy ones, you could experience four attractions in a day using the free option.
The original way of booking free fast passes wasn't without flaws. If you were staying off property, you probably missed out because all the bigger attractions were booked far in advance. Perhaps Disney should consider a combination of all three options. A limited number of free passes for resort hotel guests on Disney Property and/or annual passholders, another for Genie+ purchasers, and Lightning Lane Ala Carte purchasers. We will get to that one next.