Disney Genie Service Debuts at Disneyland December 8

by Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix, staff writer
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First announced in August 2021, Disney Genie is the next generation of digital planning tool, which the Walt Disney Company says, "takes the guesswork out of 'what's next,' so that visitors can spend less time in line and more time having fun with friends."

Disney debuted the new service in Walt Disney World in October, and now Disney Genie is coming to the Disneyland Resort. Starting Wednesday, December 8, visitors to Disneyland and Disney California Adventure can turn to Disney Genie to get a little help in planning their theme park day. For an added cost, visitors can use Disney Genie+ and Individual à la carte Lightning Lane entrances to avoid longer waits at the most popular attractions.

There are really three components to this new system, and in writing about the service for the past several months we've found it least-confusing to break them up by pricepoint and features.

Disney Genie (free for everyone)

At the Disneyland Resort, Disney Genie is a free service that works within the existing Disneyland mobile app to help visitors plan a customized itinerary for their visit.

You can begin using Disney Genie as soon as you purchase your theme park tickets and make a park reservation, though you won't see your specific itinerary until the day of your visit. You select your can't-miss rides, shows and restaurants, and Disney Genie creates a customized itinerary to follow. You can choose to be very specific by selecting the exact rides, restaurants, and shows, or enter more generalized interests like "Princesses" or "Star Wars" for a themed itinerary.

The service is designed to update your itinerary throughout the day to optimize park time, taking into consideration real-time attendance patterns, wait times, and attraction downtimes. The app will also feature a personalized tip board to display current and predicted wait times at the attractions you may want to visit, to let you see when a line might be shorter.

You have some flexibility with Disney Genie, in that you can delete or swap the recommendations that the app makes. Don't feel like climbing Tarzan's Treehouse? Just swap that for another attraction, or delete it entirely.

As before, the Disneyland app will offer the ability to make place mobile orders at participating restaurants, make dining reservations or join a stand-by list for participating restaurants. Disney Genie will incorporate any existing reservations into your itinerary, so you don't miss your time at Savi's Workshop or lose your table at the Blue Bayou.

This service is entirely free and completely optional. If you don't want to spend your day staring at your phone, you can just tuck it away and explore the park, hopping in whatever standby line strikes your fancy.

Disney Genie+ ($20 per person, per day)

Disney Genie+ is the next generation of the MaxPass service formerly offered at the Disneyland Resort. It completely replaces the Fastpass system with a new expedited entrance called a Lightning Lane. The Lightning Lane is a separate attraction entrance, similar to the former Fastpass entrance, which offers a shorter wait time.

Most of the attractions that were previously available through MaxPass can be reserved through Disney Genie+, with a few notable exceptions. This is a same-day service, so there's no advance planning required. In fact, Disneyland Resort visitors can only purchase Disney Genie+ and make Lightning Lane selections once they've entered a theme park.

As with MaxPass, you can hold one Lightning Lane attraction reservation at a time throughout the day, and make a new reservation once you've used or canceled the previous one.

You can purchase Disney Genie+ for just one day or two, or for the entire visit. Magic Key holders can add Disney Genie+ by the day. At present, there's no option to add the service to a Magic Key.

In addition to Lightning Lane access, Disney Genie+ comes with two bonus features at the Disneyland Resort:

  • Unlimited Disney PhotoPass digital downloads from their visit,
  • Access to Disney Audio Tales while in the theme park. Disney describes this feature as "fun new audio experiences that let you discover the parks in cool new ways—through fascinating fun facts and behind-the-scenes insights."

Individual Attraction Selections (varies from $7–$20 per person, per attraction)

The second premium offering is a version of the Disney Premier Access service introduced this summer at Disneyland Paris. The domestic version doesn't have a fancy new name—Disney refers to it as Individual Attraction Selections—but the idea is the same: Pay to play.

Regardless of whether you subscribe to Disney Genie+, all park visitors can choose to purchase access to the Lightning Lane for up to two "high demand" attractions per day. As expected, the popular Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance attraction will offer this option at Disneyland, while Disney California Adventure will offer this option at Radiator Springs Racers and WEB SLINGERS: A Spider-Man Adventure.

Individual Attraction Selection pricing will vary by date and attraction, and will run from $7 to $20 per person, per attraction.

It's still very possible to visit Disneyland and Disney California Adventure without paying for premium access. Disney will continue to offer standby lines for most attractions, just as they did when Fastpass launched, though for some attractions this may mean a virtual queue instead of a physical standby line. This change just means there are three tiers of attractions, instead of the two we've been used to for the past two decades.

  • Standby only – the types of rides that never offered Fastpass
  • Standby (free) or Disney Genie+ reservation (paid)
  • Standby/Virtual Queue (free) or Individual Attraction Selection (paid)

How much inventory Disney diverts from the free standby queues to paid Lightning Pass remains to be seen, but expect wait times to increase once Disney Genie+ rolls out.

Disability Access Service

With the debut of Disney Genie+, Disney will also introduce several changes to its Disability Access Service. The biggest change is that visitors on or after December 20, 2021 can now pre-register for DAS before their visit, and even make some attaction selections before they arrive. This is accomplished through video chat with a Guest Relations cast member at least two days before the visit. Visit the Disneyland website to book your video call.

At the conclusion of the call, visitors who are eligible for the DAS can book their first two attraction selections before their visit. Once Disney Genie rolls out, these visitors will then be able to use the Disneyland app to self-select additional attraction selections during their visit.

Alan Dalinka got to try out Disney Genie+ at Walt Disney World, and shared his experiences in the Walt Disney World Update. Disney has had more than a month to learn from the implementation in Florida, and we're hoping that many of the issues from that rollout will be solved before California gets its first look at the program.

Change is hard. Some of us are old enough to remember when Disneyland still used ticket books. Some of us are old enough to remember when Disneyland introduced Fastpass. Some of us remember the launch of My Disney Experience, and My Magic Plus, and MaxPass. Each of these new offerings changed the way we visited the theme parks, and even changed the face of theme parks themselves.

Disney Genie+ will do the same, and we're about to find out just how much. I'm hopeful that the upgrades to the Disneyland app really does provide a much greater degree of flexibility and spontaneity for park visitors, and will actually let us put our phones down and enjoy the friend and family around us.