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Potential Usefulness of Genie+ at Magic Kingdom

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Last week, signs went up around Walt Disney World converting old FastPass queues into Lightning Lanes. So crunch time is upon us – this isn’t a drill or a joke; Lightning Lanes are happening. And in order to be in that Lightning Lane, you’ll have to be paying for Genie+ (or have a kid to swap or a DAS reservation). Maddening. The whole idea that you’d have to pay a Genie to get your wishes … nonsensical. But this is the world we live in.

It all comes down to this – can Genie+ save you time at the most popular park?

So how can we make the best of these new rules? We have to figure out whether Genie+ is worth what it costs to use. We know that it will cost $15 per person, per day (and certain high-demand rides will cost more for individual access). We’ve already analyzed what might at happen at Animal Kingdom, EPCOT, and Hollywood Studios. At Magic Kingdom, where the largest number of attractions qualify for Genie+, this “per person” stipulation is of particular importance. There are many family-friendly rides that qualify for Genie+, so the multiplication of the Genie+ cost for a whole family is more obvious. For example, my family of four has to give up $60 to use Genie+ for a day. $15 doesn’t sound terrible, but I can get a good meal for $60, even at Disney prices. Is that a budgeting trade-off I’m willing to make? Maybe. But I want to do the math first and see what I’m getting.

Explain the Math

For this series of posts, we’re assuming that the financial break-even point for using Genie+ is saving an hour of wait time. Because if you have a one-day ticket, on average you’re spending about $15/hour on your park ticket. That price per hour goes up if you only spend a few hours in the park each day. Or it goes down if you buy multi-day tickets. So it’s an average – a benchmark.

We’ve done standby for Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, but it was the second-most popular FastPass back in 2019.

How do we figure out how much time you might save with Genie+? We use the only data we have so far, which is FastPass data. 2019 was the last full calendar year that FastPasses were used. If we can get all of that data, and assume that Genie+ availability, capacity and use are similar to FastPass+, then we can make some educated guesses about how much time we’ll be able to save.

I pulled all submitted actual wait times from 2019. This gives us a lot of data points – not just how long the wait was, but also whether it was standby or FastPass, what day and time the wait was from, and what attraction the wait was for. I can then group all of that data based on what the crowd level was and what part of the day it was. That means I’ll have average standby and average FastPass waits for every attraction that was open in 2019, in the following 9 conditions:

  1. Low crowds (Crowd Levels 1-3), Morning (before the 11-5 peak crowds)
  2. Low crowds, Midday (11 am – 5 pm)
  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

For each condition, I can calculate, on average, how much time you might have saved by using FastPass+ at each attraction. And then we can add all of that up for a full day of touring and hypothesize whether paying the $15 (per person) is worth the potential time savings.

Magic Kingdom, Low Crowds

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

A few notes about how to interpret these wait time savings tables. Wherever 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 wouldn’t qualify for Genie+.

  • The great aspect of Magic Kingdom is that, compared to any other park, so many attractions qualify for Genie+. So you can take advantage of the quantity of options and maybe have the opportunity to earn a lot of time savings. Unfortunately, on low crowd days, you’re going to have to use a LOT of “wishes” from your Genie+ to get close to an hour. The only attraction with potential savings of more than 20 minutes is Peter Pan’s Flight, and only if you get a return time during peak hours.
  • Peter Pan’s Flight is easily the Genie+ attraction that will save you the most time, if it’s a must-do for your family.

    Let’s say that you can get and use a lot of those “wishes” throughout your day at Magic Kingdom. You use two in the morning, at Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and Tomorrowland Speedway. Midday you get and utilize four wishes, at Peter Pan’s Flight, Haunted Mansion, Jungle Cruise, and Splash Mountain. In the evening you pick up one last wish for Winnie the Pooh. If you use those seven wishes, you save 73 to 103 minutes. That’s a lot of work and scrolling for open return times, but it could be worth it if you work your day around finding and utilizing those times.

  • The Becky Personal Opinion? No way I’m buying Genie+ on a low-crowd day at Magic Kingdom. We’ll just follow a touring plan for our family and avoid the long waits that way. On low crowd days there will only be a few really long lines, and we can hit those at rope drop or wait until the evening when things die down.

Magic Kingdom, Medium Crowds

Time saved (in minutes) by using a FastPass at each attraction
  • Unlike the other parks, even at medium crowd levels there aren’t any attractions that are a sort of one-hit-wonder that automatically save you most of an hour. But there are a lot of attractions with time savings of over 20 minutes during peak hours, so this is where the quantity of attractions starts coming into play.
  • If the weather is warm on the day you visit, the time you save with a Splash Mountain return time will go up, especially in the middle of the day.

    If you like rolling in to the park a couple of hours after rope drop, then Genie+ on a medium crowd level day might work for you. Pick up midday return times for Haunted Mansion, Jungle Cruise, Peter Pan’s Flight and Splash Mountain. Stay late and get return times for Under the Sea and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad in the evening. With six Genie+ “wishes” you save between 117 and 153 minutes. If my family happens to like all of those rides, and we can feel reasonably sure that we’d be able to use six “wishes”, maybe it’s worth it to pay $15 for each person for the day.

  • What would I do in this situation? It’s still a no for me. My kids don’t like Haunted Mansion or Splash Mountain, so two of the decent wait-avoiding options are out for us. And I don’t want to be getting my phone out and refreshing/scrolling available return times 6 or 7 times. I’d rather come up with a plan that helps me avoid the big waits and experience the attractions that my family enjoys. It’s not worth $60 to tailor our day around trying to find times and attractions that work for us. But if you’re willing to rack up 5 or 6 “wishes”, and you pick the right attractions to use them on, it could definitely be worth it.

Magic Kingdom, High Crowds

Time saved (in minutes) by using a FastPass at each attraction
  • At high crowd levels is where we see the real differences between Hollywood Studios and Magic Kingdom, the two parks that should garner the most attention for potential Genie+ use. At Hollywood Studios, Genie+ was worth it at high crowd levels because there are a high percentage of attractions that all have high average waits (and therefore more significant potential time savings). At Magic Kingdom, the opposite is true. Even at high crowd levels, there is only one attraction where you could potentially save an hour of time, and that’s Peter Pan’s Flight at midday. The time savings at Magic Kingdom come from the ability to potentially avoid many half-hour-ish waits depending on how many “wishes” you’re able to use.
  • The least useful Genie+ “wish”? Of the attractions we have data for, it looks like Dumbo. I’d probably throw PhilharMagic and Monsters Inc Laugh Floor in there too.

    Let’s say you hit the park bright and early and are able to grab morning return times for Jungle Cruise and Splash Mountain. After those rides, 11 am rolls around and you get times for Big Thunder Mountain, Haunted Mansion, Peter Pan’s Flight and it’s a small world all before 5 pm. After 5 there are still passes available for Pirates of the Caribbean, Under the Sea, and Winnie the Pooh. Because Magic Kingdom has the most attractions eligible for Disney+, it’s also the park that’s most likely to have evening availability of Genie+ return times because there are so many more to choose from. So potentially using 9 “wishes” in a day could happen. If it did, you’d be looking at wait savings of 179 to 252 minutes. $15 per person for 9 wishes that save up to 4 hours? That’s a decent trade-off.

  • What would I do on a high crowd day at Magic Kingdom? Assuming that real-life experience shows that return times are abundantly available because of the large number of attractions, I might actually go ahead and shell out the extra $60 for my family. I wouldn’t be happy about it, but if I can trade the price of one expensive quick service meal or one cheap-ish table service meal and turn that into much less waiting, especially in the peak midday hours, I’d consider that a worthwhile trade.

What Does This Mean For You?

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

  1. At low crowd levels, you should easily be able to tour around Magic Kingdom without Genie+. The park absorbs crowds into the large number of standby lines rather well. Be smart about which attractions you do in the morning and evening, and use peak hours for a long lunch or attractions with shorter (or no) lines.
  2. At medium crowd levels, there are enough decent waits at Magic Kingdom that if you get 5 or 6 “wishes” throughout your day, you can probably avoid an hour or more of waiting. Unlike at Hollywood Studios, you won’t be able to make up that time by scoring one or two key return times. You’ll have to put in the work to grab a higher quantity of return times. But at medium crowd levels, it could be worth it – especially if your touring style is heavy on peak hours.
  3. At high crowd levels, you can potentially avoid many half-hour-ish standby waits throughout the day at Magic Kingdom. This is one of two situations (the other being high crowds at Hollywood Studios) where I’d be willing to put my money on the line and give Genie+ a try.
  4. OVERALL – Genie+ isn’t a good investment at Animal Kingdom or EPCOT, unless you park-hop between the two and can grab return times for the high-wait attractions at both parks on the same day.
  5. OVERALL – Because of the high average waits at most attractions in Hollywood Studios, it’s the park where you can save the most time with the fewest “wishes”. Assuming that you can get and utilize the same number of “wishes” at each park, you will save the most time at Hollywood Studios. But since it doesn’t have as many available attractions at Magic Kingdom, return times may fill up quicker and make using more “wishes” more difficult.
  6. OVERALL – Magic Kingdom has the most Genie+-eligible attractions, and should therefore have the highest availability and capacity for return times of any park. That makes it likely the safest bet if you want to give Genie+ a try on one day of your trip. But at low and medium crowds, it might not make much of a difference anyway.

Now that we’ve explored the potential for Genie+ at every park, what are your opinions? Are you going to avoid Genie+ no matter what? Or are you likely to give it a try in certain situations? Let us know in the comments!

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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

28 thoughts on “Potential Usefulness of Genie+ at Magic Kingdom

  • Pamela Fischer

    The additional cost of Genie + and then Lightning Lane on top of that…is….a big NO for me….If enough people refuse to pay those upcharges, Disney may rethink the whole program. I am sure a lot of people will just go ahead and pay: it will be VERY hard on families who have saved up for their dream vacation and then be priced out.
    If they had just done what they used to have in Disneyland with the $15.00 daily “fast” pass, it would have been an easier pill to swallow.

  • TwoBits

    Excellent series, Becky! Hope to see more of these in the future.

    One thing I have speculated on is how many Lightning Lane passes can one expect to get based on crowd level, and what attractions can we get those on? Right now the only data we have to go by is which attractions had day-of-visit fastpass availability. It possible that with limited availability that a visitor could only expect to get one or two E-ticket attraction Lightning Lane passes, and the rest C-ticket and below.

    • Becky Gandillon

      You’re right – until the system goes live, we don’t have any real information about availability. So we’ll all be flying by the seat of our pants for a little while until we can crunch the numbers. I’m just more comfortable with some data-driven guesses based on what we do have, rather than being totally in the dark!

      • Brad Kinsey

        We’re going in May 2022 and have a total of 9 (including a 2yr old) in the party. I don’t know what we’ll do, but the one thing I like about Genie + is it’s a day-of proposition, as opposed to a 60-day pre-plan. My plan is to look at the data compiled in the next 8 months, but still get to the park and use Touring Plans before figuring out if Genie+ is worth it. That’s a lot of money for 9 people (even though most are paying their own way) abd we have a 7-day ticket, so it will really have to save a lot of time for us to buy it. If you ask me to predict what we’ll do, I’ll say we won’t buy it this next trip. Now, the individual selections may be a different story, depending on if we can get a Rise boarding pass, but that’s another discussion.

      • Christa

        So it makes sense then that for those who come in for longer on property stays, that every day your ticket cost per day decreases, the impact of a $60 (fam of 4) goes down. That’s $420 extra per 7 day visit.

        What I’ll miss is the once and done part of booking fast passes in advance of my vacation, putting them into the touring plan maker on TP site and just enjoying our day. Now I’ll be on the app fussing and messing about.

        Alas, I’m with you. I’ll use a touring plan and do our best.

  • Sarah

    I’ve really liked this series. Although I think Genie+ is more valuable than you do. On my last trip to Disney, I spent about $4k between flights, hotel (Hilton Bonnet Creek), meals, and transportation. We had 9 nights and 8 days. We spent an average of 7 hours in the park each day as I have a toddler who couldn’t last too long. Each hour in the park cost my family about $70. At $30/ day for the adults, Genie+ looks like a steal at most crowd levels. Plus I hate waiting in lines. I’d much rather spend the same time waiting, but eating lunch or goofing around in shops. So even if it didn’t save me any time waiting, but just allowed me to wait someplace better, it would probably still be worth it.

    • Jasmine

      I totally agree! I hate waiting in line. I’ve already added the cost of Genie+ to my trip budget, although it took the place of what would have been MVMCP (which isn’t happening anyways – after hours is too late for my son). I’m fortunate, there are only 2 of us so the daily add isn’t so much.
      Whether we will do the individual add-ons will depend on price, park and specific ride. We may do 2-3 on our trip, but I’m fine just skipping those rides if the lines are too long anyways.

    • Becky Gandillon

      Sarah, I totally understand! Perceived value is totally in the eye of the beholder. People that visit more frequently can just skip long lines, or be patient while in them and not feel like they’re “missing out” on other experiences. Moms with antsy toddlers (insert raised hands emoji here) may be willing to part with any amount of money to skip to the front of the line with their nap-averse small human. At least this way we all have _some_ visibility into how much time we _might_ save, and then we can make those informed individual judgement calls about when it’s “worth it” to us.

      • I do think though that using ticket price is a poor choice instead of using holiday cost.
        Whilst I do understand holiday cost is a harder metric to get.

    • Adam

      Same here. We don’t get to Disney terribly often and my time there is precious. Plus waiting in line has a high opportunity cost in a place like magic kingdom with so many things to see and do. I would not buy it every day in every park, but saving me even half an hour in magic kingdom would be well worth it.

  • Donna Juzva

    Thanks so much for this insightful series. This type of perspective, informed by relevant data, means so much and is the reason that I find ‘touring plans’ to be so valuable. By using parallel data and interpolation, you have brought clarity to a situation that has so many unknown variables, it seemed almost impossible to quantify. But you have done it. With this information, we can make informed decisions to buy or not to buy, as this new offering is rolled out. Clearly there are variables that will be manipulated over time, and I expect you will be right there to let us know what is happening and how we can best plan as these changes occur. Thanks, so much ! Great job !

    • Becky Gandillon

      Thank _you_ for the encouragement, Donna! I really appreciate your feedback.

      • Kimberly Kovalsky

        What Donna said!!! Thank you!

  • Alan Rastellini

    Until we get real data I feel like a lovely nearby $120 hotel w free parking, ride share, rope drop and buy 2++ individual rides is the best option for my family of 2.

    • Becky Gandillon

      I am totally interested to see what different people opt to do and how it works out for them, especially with different party sizes!

  • This is really neat analysis. I’m glad that it (at least preliminarily) seems that people like us who rope drop, use a touring plan, and generally know what we’re doing won’t feel like they have no choice but to pay for Genie+. Hopefully that ends up being the case.

    • Becky Gandillon

      I’m right there with you, Joel. Still planning to stick to our low-crowd trip the week after Labor Day and use TouringPlans and very happily avoid Genie+ if at all possible.

  • Jessica

    I’m planning to try it out next month! Even on a CL1 day at MK (10/14), my personalized touring plan (optimized!) is still giving us 231 minutes in line. YIKES! I figured if we’re only in the parks from 9-5:30 (that’s the plan anyway), I don’t want to spend almost four hours of that time in line. Splash Mountain, for instance, has a wait time of nearly an hour, and it’s putting that ride in the afternoon for some reason. So we’ll see how it goes with Genie+ 🙂

  • Brad McMahan

    I am going to avoid Walt Disney World entirely.

    • I love the idea of Genie+ and I have a feeling it will eliminate locals and other frequent visitors from overusing and clogging the system like they did on the fastpass system. I also like the idea that I don’t have to plan what my kids will be in the mood to ride months in advance. I do feel sorry for those who are more budget sensitive than I am BUT if the extra $15 is going to kill your trip than MAYBE you should hold off on your trip for a year or so or explore the countless cost cutting measures available (I’m looking at you Target gift cards)

  • Zeenat Kwon

    Based on your analysis and our group (6 and 8-year-old who are short) I see there is absolutely value in using Genie+ in Hollywood Studios and Magic Kingdom. I also agree, especially with these kids, I don’t see a use for it in Epcot.

    I do disagree with Animal Kingdom only cause I can see at least 3 rides we might need it for based on a semi-relaxed touring on a semi-busy day. EE, KRR and Navi we can all use Genie+ for. I also think since we are doing one full day and one-half day in MK, the half-day we won’t need to do Genie+. Of course, we aren’t going till T-giving 2022, so we got a lot of time to figure things out!

    I hope you guys do an analysis of the IA$ attractions. I heard Killamanjaro Safari might be one of those and some people think it’s not worth it. But as you see the age group for the kids, we may need to do it more than once, haha. So those analyses will be interesting.

  • Lana Kipp

    Disney is already too expensive and lower income are being excluded not magical at all anymore

  • WDW is my happy place

    I definitely think this is a “your milage may vary” situation. Disney is one of the last park company’s to even have a free/included line shortening option. My annoyance is that Genie+ will still require the app/planning component. Universal express is allows much more spontaneous use, but is also less valuable for those who come more often. Thanks to Touring Plans- people will be able to make an informed decision.

  • Brooke Rosenthal

    Hello. Do you purchase Genie+ per day? or must you buy it for all the days of you ticket?

  • Abby

    Do you think that TP will still be able to keep up with genie in terms of the personalised plan as TP is historical data and Disney is live data.
    Although I do wonder if Disney will push in a certain way that’s not necessarily best for the customer but best for Disney whereas TP I know has always been about the customer.
    TP has saved me a lot of time in the past. I’m just hoping this new genie hasn’t taken away any of TP usefulness.
    Do you think maybe you will do a video when your in the parks like you did when you sent people in at different times maybe you could send one on what Disney genie plan suggests and what TP plan suggests. Direct comparison would be excellent.

    • Becky Gandillon

      Thanks for expressing your concern, Abby. While TouringPlans does make predictions based on historical data, we 100% update them with real-time data. We get an average of over 250 actual wait times each day submitted through the Lines app, as well as information about the posted wait for each ride each 5-10 minutes. We use those to update estimates real-time.
      We recently did a post and YouTube video describing why (even pre-Genie – Blog: https://touringplans.com/blog/the-wait-time-secret-that-disney-wont-tell-you/ and YT: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W5iYlj5TW04; ), because TouringPlans and Disney have different motivations, you can trust our predictions and real-time information more. Especially in the era of Genie, Disney will have even more incentive to make waits appear worse than they actually are.
      You can bet that we’ll have lots of in-park tests of Genie and how TouringPlans stacks up! Stay tuned once it goes live.

      • Cathy

        I am 98% overwhelmed. I’ll be there in 12 days and I don’t know how TP meshes with G+, or Genie for that matter. How do I use both TP and G+?

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