Among Disney fans, information (and disinformation) and rumors and gossip and speculation and complaints about the new Genie service have all been flying around for the past two weeks. If you were avoiding media for all of that time, let me catch you up to speed on the pertinent facts. You know those lines at Walt Disney World and Disneyland that were used for people that had FastPass+ or MaxPass, or people that were utilizing child swap or DAS? Yeah, those. They’re getting a super-cool new name: Lightning Lanes. Oooooooh. Ahhhhhhh. And in order to access them, you can use a brand new service with another super-cool new name: Genie+.
The good news is, that means if you’ve been missing those lines while standing in standby queues for the past year, they’re coming back! The bad news is, you have to pay to access them. Most rides that offered FastPass will likely now be accessible via Genie+. You pay $15 per person, per day and you unlock the ability to reserve return times at those rides, one reservation at a time, and only made on the day of your visit. A couple of the most popular rides, though, won’t be available for that price. Instead, you’ll have to pay for them individually if you want to skip the standby line.
On Saturday, we began to explore whether we could make any hypotheses about Genie+ being worth the cost under certain crowd and touring conditions at Animal Kingdom. Today we’ll run the same numbers for EPCOT as an initial guess into how you might be able to decide to use (or not use) Genie+ once it’s released.
Explain the Math!
In a recent post that compared the hourly cost of various WDW experiences, we determined that the average hourly cost of being in the parks with a one-day ticket is $15 per hour. That could go up if you buy a one-day ticket and don’t stay rope drop until close. That could go down if you have an AP that you use a lot, or you buy discounted multi-day tickets, etc. But it’s a rough start. Coincidentally, Genie+ also costs $15 per day – that makes my brain do a little bit of quick math and say that in order to feel like my $15 purchase is “worth it”, I’d want to use it to save myself at least an hour of standby waits. How can we figure out if that’s possible?
Genie+ hasn’t been rolled out yet, so we don’t have any data about it specifically. But we can make some educated guesses in a way that will let us use the large amount of data that we do have. If we assume that Genie+ will have the same return time availability and capacity and numbers of users as FastPass+, we can use FastPass data as a starting point. We absolutely do not know that any of those things will be the same, but it’s a reasonable assumption.
To pull together some FastPass data for us to work with, I went back and looked at all of the submitted actual wait times from 2019. That was the last full calendar year that FastPass+ was utilized in WDW. I know a few things about these wait times. I know what attraction they were for. I know whether they were standby or FastPass waits. I know what day they were submitted, which tells me what the crowd level was in that park on that day. And I know what time they were submitted, because wait times vary according to time of day too.
So after a little bit of fancy data-wrangling, I 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
Using that as our starting point, I can determine (on average) how much time a FastPass would’ve saved you compared to standby for each attraction under any of those conditions. Since we’re assuming that Genie+ is going to work similarly, we can add up the results and see whether that $15/day is a reasonable price to pay.
EPCOT, Low Crowds
A note about how to interpret these tables: Whenever you see a question mark, 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 attraction that appears in the table is a Genie+ potential ride. The gray attractions at the bottom are some (educated) guesses about which attractions might require “individual access” (aka, paying more) and therefore don’t qualify for Genie+.
Alternate headline for this post: DON’T PAY FOR GENIE+ AT EPCOT ON LOW CROWD DAYS. The numbers are screaming that at you. If most of the midday wait savings start with a zero … that’s not a good sign that you’ll be making back your money by avoiding waits.
- There’s one caveat to the above headline. If you are a die-hard Frozen fan and love spending your day circling through Arendelle and letting it go, and if you can repeatedly grab return windows for Frozen Ever After, then … yay. You go ahead and pay that $15 and enjoy your day.
- For my taste, there’s absolutely no way I’d ever pay the $15. Those numbers above tell me to just rope drop Frozen Ever After with my Frozen-loving kids, and then go about the rest of my day.
EPCOT, Medium Crowds
- There are still a lot of zeros on this table. Especially after 5 pm, a return time isn’t going to help you much, other than at Frozen Ever After. If you grab a return time for Frozen Ever After between 11 and 5, and a return time for Mission: SPACE in the morning along with one for Soarin’ in the evening, that means you could reasonably expect to save between 41 and 58 minutes. Toss in a few other attractions and you might be able to get your hour of savings.
- Even at crowd levels in the 4 to 7 range, a Genie+ return time probably isn’t going to be worth the time you’d spend trying to get it at Journey into Imagination with Figment, Spaceship Earth, The Seas with Nemo & Friends, or Turtle Talk with Crush. You might feel better about your investment if you load up on them, but they’re almost certainly not going to make a tangible impact on your day.
- The Becky Personal Opinion on this one is that, once again, I wouldn’t be springing for Genie+ on this park day. EPCOT is so spread out, with so much to do and see that aren’t Genie+ attractions, that I could easily plan my day around the few larger waits. Rope drop Frozen Ever After, save Soarin’ for the evening after a leisurely trip around the World Showcase, and enjoy my day.
EPCOT, High Crowds
- Ok, I’ll admit, the number of zeros still showing up on even the highest crowd-level days surprised me. I guess no one went to EPCOT in the morning in 2019. (I see you, 11 am opening times in 2020-2021, you make more sense now.) And everyone must be eating around the World in the evening. Cool. That tells me that I could still game the waits at EPCOT even on these crowded days just by paying attention to crowd patterns.
- The good news is, if you’re looking for a time to use Genie+ at EPCOT, this finally could be it. You could pay your $15 and nab the first available return time for Soarin’ in the morning, attempt to grab a return time for Journey into Imagination while exploring the Seas for a bit, then cross your fingers that there is still a midday return for Frozen Ever After available while you do whatever else you want to do at the front of the park. With just those three return times, you’d be saving between 56 and 75 minutes of standby wait.
- In this situation, I might legitimately buy Genie+. The higher crowds definitely warrant it the most, but since there are so many people in the parks, I’d also be competing with more people for the best attractions and return times. But if I could nab a Soarin’ return time for right around 11 and be reasonably certain that I could get a Frozen Ever After return time after that for sometime before 5, then it’s worth it for my family. That frees us up to rope drop Test Track and vie for the virtual Remy queue too.
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 Frozen Ever After multiple times. Time savings on every other eligible ride are basically negligible, and you would spend more time navigating to reserve return times than you would save by avoiding the standby queues.
- At medium crowd levels, you could save a decent amount of time by using Genie+ at a handful of attractions, but for the rest it likely wouldn’t avoid much wait. It’s definitely still possible to avoid long waits just by strategically touring.
- At high crowd levels, Genie+ could be used to avoid two different significant midday waits, and a bunch of other 5 to 15 minute waits around the park. The usefulness of Genie+ at the highest crowd levels at EPCOT will depend highly on availability of returns times. As long as you can get return times for Frozen Ever After and Soarin’ (ideally during peak hours), it should pay for itself.
- Something else to keep in mind is that Genie+ is paid per day, not per park. These park-by-park analyzes assume a single park per day. But if you are already paying for park-hoppers, you could start early at Animal Kingdom and finish out the afternoon/evening at EPCOT, all with Genie+. Each park individually doesn’t have many attractions that benefited from FastPass, but if you combine them, the number increases.
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 EPCOT? What are your thoughts about potentially using Genie+ instead? Let us know in the comments! And stay tuned for similar analyses for Hollywood Studios and Magic Kingdom.