Disney's Genie+ service, which is available at both Walt Disney World and Disneyland Resort, has been a contentious system ever since it was announced back in 2021. Monetizing what used to be known as the FastPass system was controversial for a number of reasons, and many wondered if Disney Genie+ and the Lightning Lane system could truly bring a better experience for guests than its predecessor.
That hasn't stopped guests from trying Genie+ out, however, as Disney CEO Bob Chapek revealed in August 2022 that 50% of guests are using the service, which has led to record profits for the parks division of the company. With such big demand, it is no wonder why back in June 2022 Disney announced that they would no longer allow guests to purchase Genie+ service for thier vacations in advance, and that the service must now be purchased inside the My Disney Experience app on the day of a visit.
While the jury is still out as to whether Genie+ has truly solved some of the issues of FastPass and FastPass+, the profitability of this service ensures that it won't be going away any time soon, and in the meantime, Disney has been quick to respond to changing guest patterns and elevated park attendance, implementing some important Genie+ and Lightning Lane modifications recently that guests should know about before heading to the parks this fall.
1. Return times no longer automatically displayed at 7:00 AM when Genie+ first opens
Many guests like to start their day by setting their first Genie+ Lightning Lane reservation as soon as the service is available at 7:00 AM. Previously, guests were able to look at the lineup of attractions, with currently available times next to them. However, several weeks ago Disney made a change that gets rid of the times list and instead displays a “Check Availability” message next to the attraction that requires an extra step to see the return window.
Though no official reason was given for this adjustment, it was likely made to help guests avoid the frustration of seeing return times change (sometimes quite dramatically) between when guests initially select them and the confirmation screen. Some guests may find this frustrating, however, as there's no way to quickly see what attractions have early return times and they'll now have to click through several screens to get information that was available at a glance previously.
The "check availability" message disappears after the initial morning rush of Lightning Lane reservations around 7:30, so guests making reservations later in the day can get an easy look at what return times are still available to reserve after this high traffic period.
2. Genie+ prevents park hopping guests from making Lightning Lane reservations before 2:00 PM return times are available
When the original Genie+ system was launched, guests who had tickets with the Park Hopper option who wanted to make Lightning Lane selections for their second park of the day could do so from the Tip Board section of the app at any time of the day, with the system automatically adjusting available return times to start at 2:00 PM, allowing guests to plan ahead.
However, a new change has been made that stops guests from making a Lightning Lane selection for the park they are planning to hop to if the next available return time is before 2:00 PM. Guests wanting to hop to a park that does not have return times available before this time will simply be listed as unavailable, with an error message popping up. So, for instance, if you’re at Disney's Animal Kingdom at 9:00 in the morning trying to make a Lightning Lane selection for the Tower of Terror attraction at Disney's Hollywood Studios in the afternoon, Genie+ won’t let you make the reservation unless the next available return window is already after 2:00 PM.
Guests can of course try to make their selections again later in the day, but unfortunately, there is no way to be notified when a post-2:00 PM Lightning Lane return time is available for park hoppers, so those who are looking to time their Lightning Lane reservations carefully will have to keep checking the app frequently to do so, adding another level of frustration for guests who may already find the Genie+ system (and the way it handles park hopping specifically) a little cumbersome.