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Potential Usefulness of Genie+ at Animal Kingdom

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If you haven’t been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard the news that Genie is coming to Disney. No, not a meet-and-greet with the Will Smith version of the character. That might be just as controversial as what was actually announced. There’s a lot of information and speculation flying around, and probably just as many terms that we’re all going to have to get used to: Genie, Genie+, Lightning Lane, Virtual Queue, Boarding Pass.

As you can probably guess, here at TouringPlans there is already a lot of work going into you getting you the best information possible on how to make the most of your time and money when it comes to all things Genie. And while we don’t have all of the facts about how Genie is going to impact wait times or touring strategies, we can make some educated guesses based on things we already know and data that we already have. And then when Genie does roll out to park guests, we can quickly do some in-park testing and be more certain.

One piece of the big Genie announcement was the ability to pay $15 per person, per day in order to have the privilege of reserving times to utilize the Lightning Lane at a certain set of attractions instead of the regular standby queue. There are still a lot of unknowns surrounding this service, but to do some analysis we’re going to make some assumptions and guesses. This post will kick off a series where we explore under which conditions it might make sense to spend the extra $15 per person per day to try to avoid some lines, and under which conditions you might not even need to bother. In each of these posts, we’ll make some guesses about which attractions will qualify for Genie+ (and which won’t), and we’ll assume that you’re only going to visit a single park in a day and that you’ll be able to purchase Genie on a daily basis (rather than for just the entirety of your trip).

Explain the Math!

If you purchase a one-day ticket to the park, and you stay for the entirety of the park’s open hours, it averages out that you pay $15/hour to be in the park. We’ve seen that $15 number somewhere in this post already … oh right! That’s the cost of Genie+ too! So, all things averaged out, let’s say that in order to be financially “worth it”, my use of Genie+ for the day needs to save me an hour of waiting. Then I’ll feel like I earned back my $15. What are the chances that it’ll save me that time?

This is where assumptions start coming in. Let’s assume Genie+ availability, capacity, and use all mirrors FastPass+. These could be great assumptions, they could be terrible ones. But it’s the closest corollary that we have real data for. So it’s better than nothing. If we can figure out average time saved by using a FastPass at the same attractions where we think Genie+ will be offered, we can then determine whether we think we’d realistically save 60 minutes of wait times in a day. Thankfully, I know a cool company that has all of that FastPass time savings data.

The ride with the most FastPass data from 2019? Big Thunder Mountain Railroad!

To narrow things down, I pulled all submitted actual wait times from 2019, the last full calendar year that FastPass+ was utilized in WDW. I can tie those directly to attractions, and can therefore get average standby and FastPass waits at each attraction that was open that year. Of course, year-long averages aren’t incredibly helpful because they vary so wildly based on when you visit. So I also pulled the actual crowd level for each park for every day that year, along with the time that the wait happened.

That means, I now have average standby waits and average FastPass waits for every attraction that was open in 2019 under the following 9 different conditions:

  1. Low crowds (Crowd Levels 1-3), Morning (before the 11-5 peak crowds)
  2. Low crowds, Midday (11-5)
  3. Low crowds, Evening (after the 11-5 peak crowds)
  4. Medium crowds (Crowd Levels 4-7), Morning
  5. Medium crowds, Midday
  6. Medium crowds, Evening
  7. High crowds (Crowd Levels 8-10), Morning
  8. High crowds, Midday
  9. High crowds, Evening

From there, I can calculate, on average, how much time a FastPass would’ve saved you for each attraction under any of those conditions. If we assume that Genie+ is going to work similarly, we can add up the results and see whether the $15/day makes sense … from a financial investment perspective.

Animal Kingdom, Low Crowds

Time saved (in minutes) by using a FastPass at each attraction

A few things to know about interpreting these tables. Any time a question mark shows up, that means that we either don’t have any FastPass data about that attraction, or we don’t have enough to make a statistically valid claim about the time saved using a FastPass versus waiting standby. Anything that appears in the table is a Genie+ potential ride. The gray at the bottom are some (educated) guesses about which attractions will require “individual access” (aka, paying more) and therefore don’t qualify for Genie+.

  • Animal Kingdom is a tricky case for Genie+, because there are only a few attractions that reliably have long waits. Especially on a crowd level 1-3 day, you’re not going to be stuck in many atrocious lines. If you’re in one, it’s probably at Flight of Passage, and you’re not going to avoid that with Genie+.
  • Time savings in the middle of the day can still be pretty decent, especially at Na’vi River Journey. But in order to make my $15 “worth it” at Animal Kingdom on a low-crowd day, I’d have to make sure that I get Genie+ time slots between 11 and 5 at Expedition Everest AND Kali River Rapids AND Na’vi River Journey. Even then, I’m only likely saving 43 to 62 minutes compared to a standby wait. I could throw in multiple rides to see the Shaman in Pandora, or maybe go on DINOSAUR in the evening, but it’s not looking great for line avoidance to pop up over the one hour mark.
  • For my money, I’d avoid paying for Genie+ on a low-crowd day at Animal Kingdom and just make a regular touring plan that helps me avoid peak waits.

Animal Kingdom, Medium Crowds

Time saved (in minutes) by using a FastPass at each attraction
  • On medium crowd days (crowd levels 4-7), the time savings from using FastPass increased by a bit across the board. Now a Genie+ return time for midday at Na’vi River Journey could potentially save me almost an hour all on its own.
  • In order to maximize time saved in line, I could arrive midday and attempt to get and use three Genie+ return times during peak hours and then another in the evening. If I rode DINOSAUR, Expedition Everest and Kali River Rapids with Genie+ between 11 and 5, and then also managed to ride Na’vi River Journey with Genie+ in the evening, that would probably save me between 69 and 96 minutes. Not too shabby, if everything works out and it fits with my touring schedule and style.
  • But hey, I’ll be honest. My family never rides DINOSAUR or Kali River Rapids. So, my personal choice would be to hit Na’vi River Journey in the morning when it has lower waits, and then utilize a touring plan to hit everything else at decent times.

Animal Kingdom, High Crowds

Time saved (in minutes) by using a FastPass at each attraction
  • A high crowd-level day is the perfect day to use Genie+ to skip the line for Flight of Passage … oh wait, you probably won’t be able to. But the good news is that it’s also a really good day to use it to skip the lines at Na’vi River Journey or Expedition Everest, especially in the middle of the day.
  • On the days with the highest level crowds, it’s easy to time Genie+ return times to maximize time savings, assuming that there are lots of them available. Unfortunately, on the days with the highest level crowds, you’ve probably also got the highest number of people purchasing Genie+ and competing with you for those return times. But even if you hit Genie+ Na’vi River Journey in the morning, and DINOSAUR and Expedition Everest midday, you’ve easily made Genie+ “worth it”.
  • Knowing that we know absolutely nothing about the individual access rides or how much they would cost, my personal plan on a high-crowd day would be to rope-drop Na’vi River Journey, book it over to Kilimanjaro Safaris next, pay for individual access to Flight of Passage sometime in the middle of the day when I’m also exploring trails and doing other non-wait activities, and then wait until crowds start to filter out of the park in the evening to hit up Expedition Everest (or DINOSAUR if I’m feeling like I have to ride it).

What Does This Mean For You?

If the capacity and wait times for Genie+ are similar to FastPass+ then:

  1. At the lowest crowd levels, it will be difficult to save over an hour in line by utilizing Genie+ without re-riding Na’vi River Journey multiple times, or arranging your whole day around just trying to get Genie+ return times that specifically maximize time savings.
  2. At medium crowd levels, getting a Genie+ return time in the middle of the day for Na’vi River Journey could yield almost an hour of time savings by itself. But it’s still possible to avoid long waits just by strategically touring.
  3. At high crowd levels, Genie+ could be financially “worth it” as long as you get and utilize at least 4 return times in a park day. Even so, you can do the park without many miserable waits if you rope drop and utilize morning hours well.

Regardless of how Genie+ ends up working, stayed tuned to get more information about how much time it might save you and how you can best utilize it to your advantage.

What rides did you usually ride via FastPass at Animal Kingdom? What are your thoughts about potentially using Genie+ instead? Let us know in the comments! And stay tuned for similar analyses for EPCOT, Hollywood Studios, and Magic Kingdom.


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Becky Gandillon

Becky Gandillon was trained in biomedical engineering, but is now a full-time data and analytics nerd. She loves problem solving and travelling. She and her husband, Jeff, live in St. Louis with their two daughters and they have Disney family movie night every Saturday. You can follow her on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/becky-gandillon/ or instagram @raisingminniemes

13 thoughts on “Potential Usefulness of Genie+ at Animal Kingdom

  • Tiffany

    Thanks for the break down! Always love your insights.

    I heard a rumor that you will not be able to “à la carte” lightning passes unless you have already upgraded to genie+ . Any word on if that’s true?

    • Becky Gandillon

      Thanks Tiffany! That’s not a rumor that I’ve heard. I’m sure that you will have to be using Genie to access them, but that’s the app (or at least, part of the My Disney Experience app), and not the paid Genie+ service. I’d imagine that people would be pretty upset if they had to pay the daily fee just to then pay the individual access.

  • Laura B

    This is the kind of content I knew Touring Plans would get out when I heard about Genie+. I have a trip planned for April and will be pouring over all the data to see if it’s just better to have a good touring plan or else pay the $15/ppm for our family of 4

  • All of you can sugar coat this cash grab. I come for two weeks minimum family with 5 kids stay at a deluxe resort and now apperantly that’s not enough of a bill? International travellers pay through the nose already. Where is the loyalty based system Chapeck said was coming? That’s why the video shows people who can’t even fake a smile while they ask fake questions. We love Disney spent 23 days last summer wearing a mask no complaints from the kids and now I have to add $105 per day. Crazy.

    • Dean Finder

      I don’t think they’re sugar coating it. They’re just dealing with the reality of Disney’s attempt to raise park prices without actually changing the gate prices as best they can.
      As for Disney’s naked cash grab – I know I’m planning to take a longer break between visits now, and expect that the next one (to ride the Tron coaster I’ve dreamed about since I was 6) may be my last.

      • Becky Gandillon

        Thanks, Dean. I was personally an expert-level FastPass+ user, so yes, I’m definitely not pleased about the change. Unsurprisingly, I’m also a detailed planner and I don’t like that even if I pay the extra money for Genie+, I’ll have no idea what I’ll be able to use it on or when until the day I’m going to the park. But we’re trying to give people as much information as we can, and to help you all make the decision for yourselves whether you want to spend the extra money or not.

  • Jane Disisto

    Will we be able to get a Guest Assistance Pass for handicap without a cost?
    Please reply , we will be visiting Disney in a week.
    Please e-mail me. We visit Disney several times a year.

  • Jane Disisto

    Will we be able to get a Guest Assistance Pass for handicap without a cost?
    We will be visiting Disney in a week.We visit Disney several times a year.
    Please e-mail back to me

  • @Jane – The existing, in-person DAS program will also continue in case families and individuals prefer that method.

    However, there are two new features coming soon. In the fall, guests will be able to virtually register with a Cast Member through a live video chat as early as 30 days before a visit to the parks at Disney World. At this time, the live chat will only be available in English.

    While speaking to the Cast Member, guests will be able to choose up to 2 experiences per day using the new DAS Advance planning option. These advance selections must be booked at least 2 days before you plan to use them, and you will not be able to make selections on the day you visit the parks.

    Another feature coming soon is the ability to choose attractions in the My Disney Experience app, which means they will no longer have to visit each ride queue individually.

    • @Larry- More info on the DAS pass has come out since the initial announcement, and they have clarified that DAS holders will be able to do both (pre-select two rides, and secure return times in the app while in the park).

  • TwoBits

    I was going through my touring plans back from the old paper fastpass days. I would get three or four a day back then. If that holds true for Genie+, then I am still paying about $4-$5 per ride per person (and one of those rides might be for something like Kali River Rapids, a ride that didn’t need a fastpass, but it had a time that was near a time I would be near it according to my touring plan, so I would grab it anyway).

  • Thank you so much for this write-up! I hope you’re planning to do this for all of the parks; it’s really helpful. I would be especially curious to see what this would look like for MK; there are so many more rides there, that it seems like a person would get the most bang for their buck from Genie+ at MK. But I would love to see the data on this to be sure.

    • Becky Gandillon

      You’re in luck Jill! You should be seeing the same analysis for EPCOT on Wednesday Sept 1st, then Hollywood Studios on Sept 4th, and Magic Kingdom on Sept 8th.


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