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