I Already Hate Disney World's Genie+ Replacement, And There's Only One Way To Truly Fix It

 Aladdin's Genie looking shocked.
Credit: Disney

Nobody likes standing in lines, as they're boring and a waste of time. Trying to get on the new attractions at Disney World or any other theme park, is going to mean spending a lot of time standing in lines. I’ve been visiting and writing about theme parks for years so I’ve probably stood in lines at Disney World for a longer portion of my life than most. So of course I, and others, are more than willing to at least consider paying money to skip Disney World's longest lines.

Every theme park company has a line-skipping option you can pay for, and Disney World was one of the last to charge for it. FastPass+ existed before the pandemic and was free to all guests. After the parks reopened, we were given Genie+, a paid option, that gave guests access to skip the line for most attractions, but with the most popular sliced off into what was called Individual Lightning Lanes, which required a separate payment to skip the line only on the specific attraction.

Disney World has announced that starting July 24, things are changing. The goal is to make things easier for guests. The old system was confusing, but I’m not sure the new system is a great deal better.

The Genie stretches in an exaggerated fashion in Aladdin.
The Genie stretches in an exaggerated fashion in Aladdin.

Genie+ Is Being Replaced By Lightning Lane Multi-Pass

The first change is the name. Genie+ is going away, the Disney and being replaced with Lightning Lane Multi-Pass. It will take all the elements of Genie+, but will also include two major components of the old FastPass+ system. First, guests will be able to book up to three Lightning Lanes early. Seven days before a visit, those staying in Walt Disney World Resort Hotels will be able to book for their whole trip. Guests staying off property will be able to book three days before their visit and will need to book each day of their visit separately. This makes booking Disney World hotels perhaps worth the money.

The return of this feature is potentially good for those who hated the hassle and panic of having to wake up early on the day of your visit to book Lightning Lanes and try to get the best times for the key attractions. The other element of FastPass+ that’s coming back may be less welcome, however. Lightning Lane attractions will have a two-tier system with all available attractions listed as either tier one or tier two. Guests will only be able to book one tier-one Lightning Lane of their three. The other two will come from a second list of less popular attractions.

The Individual Lightning Lane system remains intact, but is getting a name change to Lightning Lane Single Pass. Major rides like Rise of the Resistance and the new Tron: Lightcyle Run won’t be available if you only buy the Lightning Lane Multi-Pass. To skip the line on those attractions, you’ll need to pay an additional amount. However, you will now be able to do this early on the same schedule as the Multi-Pass.

Chip Hicks, Lightning McQueen, and Strip
Chip Hicks, Lightning McQueen, and Strip

Lightning Lane Is Supposed To Make Things Simpler, But It Doesn’t

The reason for the name change, according to the announcement from Disney, was to make things simpler and clearer, but it fails in that regard. The names of the two things are nearly identical, which runs the risk of a guest accidentally buying the wrong thing or simply getting confused about which thing they’re looking at. Also, the new names are simply more words than the old names, making even talking about this whole mess more difficult.

The tier system for Lightning Lanes makes some sense from a fairness perspective. It potentially prevents hotel guests who get earlier access from locking up all the major attraction times, but anybody who was in that second group for the old FastPass+ system knows that’s not how it worked. Getting a FastPass for Avatar: Flight of Passage was impossible if you were staying off-property, and the tier system is just another layer of complexity to the system for all.

One element that wasn’t part of Genie+ or FastPass+ is that once at the park, guests will be able to continue to retain up to three Lightning Lanes at a time. Once the first one is used, another will be available, and that will continue all day. While that will give guests more options more quickly, guests used to have to wait hours in between booking new FastPsses depending on when their next one was scheduled for, it also has the potential to devour up all available Lightning Lanes very quickly. Time will tell.

The number of explanatory videos and pages of text dedicated to explaining how to use the system makes it clear there’s nothing simple or obvious about it. The whole thing is a mess, and there’s only one way to fix it.

Scrooge in Mickey's Christmas Carol, surrounded by money
Scrooge in Mickey's Christmas Carol, surrounded by money

The Only Way To Fix Lightning Lane Is To Charge More For It, Sorry

Disney World and Disneyland were among the last theme parks to charge for this sort of system, so it is understandable that when the change happened, the price was, compared to most other parks, a lot cheaper. While the price has risen steadily over the last three years, it’s still a lot less expensive than almost every other park’s line-skipping option. But even at the lower price, Genie+ wasn't worth the money Disney needs to charge more for Lightning Lanes.

The way to actually make it easy, to not have to worry about two different types of paid Lightning Lanes and two tiers of attractions within one of the Lightning Lanes, or how many days ahead of time to book, is to make the option expensive enough that the majority of guests don’t buy it. Right now, a lot of people are paying a little bit of money, but Disney can make as much if a few people pay a lot more, and the system will work better.

An Express Pass at Universal Orlando Resort that does the same thing as Lightning Lane costs more than what a ticket to get in the park costs. As a result, they don’t sell as many. However, this has two benefits. First, the people who buy it know they’ll get value from it, and second, the line skippers don’t disrupt the standby line as much. As Defunctland has proven, line skipping makes the wait in the standby line longer than it would be if the line skipping didn’t happen.

All the extra steps and tiers and complexity exist because Disney knows a large portion of guests are taking advantage of the system. The new system looks like the old system that nearly everybody used because it has to to work at all. I don’t love the idea of losing out on line skipping because I can’t afford it, but if I’m going to pay for it, I need it to work, and I need to not cause me more problems and complexity in planning what is supposed to be my vacation.