As anyone who has ever planned a Disney trip knows, planning is vital to ensure you maximize your time in the parks.

And whether you find that to be a benefit or an obstacle might depend on your preferred park-going method. But with the new digital Disney Genie service (available soon within the Disneyland and My Disney Experience apps), all of that is about to change at both Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World Resort.

A father and son use the Disneyland app together on a mobile phone.
(Disneyland Resort)

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A Window Into Disney Planning Now

Disney Genie replaces FASTPASS, FASTPASS+, and Disney MaxPass, three convenient services for managing lines that have been retired. But rides lines aren’t the only waits to avoid.

For years, guests have also juggled showtimes, rope drops, parade times, and Extra Magic Hours to beat the crowds. Many wake up early to get the best dining reservations exactly 60 days in advance. They use complicated spreadsheets, sites that specialize in forecasting wait time statistics, and sometimes Disney Travel Advisors to efficiently navigate the parks.

Many organized Disney fans enjoy this level of trip planning, and for them, the scheduling has become almost as fun as going to the theme parks.

However, at the opposite end of the spectrum are the traditional park-goers who value spontaneity or aren’t dialed into the hacks frequent visitors use. They want to enjoy the day as it leads them.

These park guests want flexibility with less hassle. This group benefits the most from the new Disney Genie service at both Walt Disney World Resort or Disneyland Resort. It should help level the playing field against frequent visitors who have been studying hacks and tips for years.

Hand holding Disneyland park ticket

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What Is Disney Genie Service?

Park enthusiasts learned about this new digital service to help with Disney trip planning at the 2019 D23 Expo, a Disney fan event.

A few years have passed since the initial announcement, but the wait is almost over. The Walt Disney Company is touting a fall 2021 release date though no official launch date has been announced.

"Coming soon" Disney Genie screenshot from the app.

According to the official Disney Parks Blog, Disney Genie will provide the following benefits:

  • Convenience
  • Easier planning
  • More options and flexibility
  • Reduced wait times
  • More fun

The most talked-about feature of Disney Genie is the personalized itinerary. It’s all about guest preferences. Park guests input what they want to do on their dream day at Disney theme parks, and the Disney Genie service grants their wishes.

After the Genie considers, analyzes, and plans the day, resort visitors end up with an itinerary featuring their favorite rides, foods, entertainment, and characters. 

Here’s an example of how that day might look. Say you want to take your little fairy tale princess for a day of castles and pampering. Just let the Genie service know who her favorite princesses are, and it will do the rest, making sure to add in some dining recommendations fit for royalty. 

Or, perhaps you have a junior Jedi looking forward to visiting this land that is far, far away. Let the Genie know, and you’ll end up with an itinerary for a day that’s out of this world. 

Two small boys in Star Wars costumes and wearing Mickey ears inside Star Wars: A Galaxy's Edge at Disneyland
(Joshua Sudock/Disney Parks)

As you enjoy your day in the park, DisneyGenie takes care of your planning with:

  • Continual itinerary updates
  • Current and forecasted future wait times
  • Personal tip boards
  • Virtual queues
  • Reservations
  • Mobile food orders
  • Virtual assistance

Walt Disney World and Disneyland Differences

Although Disney Genie service is coming to both the Disneyland and Walt Disney World theme parks, there will be some minor differences in how it works at each resort.

For all guests visiting the Florida resort, Disney Genie is a part of the My Disney Experience app, Walt Disney World’s vacation plan management program. My Disney Experience is a free mobile app.

Over on the West Coast, the Disney Genie is also complimentary but part of the Disneyland app.

You will essentially have Genie’s lamp in your pocket and access to your wishes. Just make sure you remember to charge your phone.

Again, Genie is not a paid service, and you won’t need to pay to continue to use the traditional standby or virtual queues. Genie will continually update wait times to ensure you maximize your time at the parks. However, you can upgrade to minimize standing in line even further.

Lightning Lane and Disney Genie+

Along with the rollout of the Disney Genie service, both Disney parks will also offer additional options to minimize the time guests spend waiting in line.

The first of these options is the new Disney Genie+ service, a paid upgrade to the free service. The most attractive feature of Disney Genie+ for most visitors will be access to the Lightning Lane entrance at select rides and attractions.

What is a Lightning Lane?

The next phase of quick queues at both resorts will be what Disney is calling Lightning Lanes. These lanes will operate similarly to the old FASTPASS system.

There is one thing about Lightning Lanes that the self-proclaimed trip planners may not like. You have to wait until the day of your trip to make your first ride selection.

Disney Genie+ at Walt Disney World

At Walt Disney World, the cost is $15 per ticket per day, and this opens up Lightning Lanes to over 40 attractions.

Guests can make their first Disney Genie+ selections beginning at 7 a.m. on the day of their park visit if they are staying at a Disney resort hotel. Guests staying elsewhere can make Genie+ selections when the parks open.

Disney Genie+ users will only be able to make one selection at a time. But you can make selections at different parks on the same day. 

Disney Genie+ at Disneyland

As with Walt Disney World’s FASTPASS and FastPass+ options, Disneyland’s MaxPass service will be retired. This service was popular among fans and is the basis for the new Disney Genie+ offering.

The fee for the Genie+ Service at Disneyland will be slightly higher at a rate of $20 per ticket per day (the cost of the former MaxPass), and this opens up Lightning Lane access at over 15 different attractions. 

The traditional and virtual queue options will continue at no cost. 

Disney Genie+ Attractions

Big Mountain Railroad at Disneyland park in California is a MaxPass eligible ride.
(Paul Hiffmeyer/Disneyland)

Although Disney has not confirmed most of the attractions available on the Disney Genie+ list, here are the few that they have announced. According to WDW magazine, the rides that will be on the list for Disney Genie+ are:

  • Haunted Mansion
  • Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run
  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad

See also: Best Rides at Disneyland

Other Disney Genie+ Benefits

There are a couple of additional perks when purchasing Disney Genie+. Disney refers to these other perks as audio experiences and PhotoPass exclusives.

The audio experiences are available at favorite attractions throughout the parks. The PhotoPass exclusives are unlimited same-day downloads at Disneyland Resort and Augmented Reality lenses at Walt Disney World. 

Individual Attraction Selection

The second option for minimizing wait time in the parks is a new Individual Attraction Selection. Park visitors will choose an attraction and schedule an arrival time for up to two of these specific attractions per day.

Pricing for this option varies, and no other details on cost are available at this time. The confirmed attractions for the Individual Attraction Selection are:

  • Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance
  • Seven Dwarfs Mine Train

It’s a mix and match set-up; you can use any of these options alone or in combination with each other. It’s up to you to choose what makes the most sense for your family and their theme park visitation style.

Halloween Time at the Disneyland Resort
(Joshua Sudock/Disneyland Resort)

Plan Your Trip

There you have it. If you and your family prefer to fly by the seat of your pants on a magic carpet, then the new Disney Genie digital service promises to make a trip to Disney parks less stressful and more fun for you.

Who doesn’t want to maximize enjoyment while minimizing wait time and meltdowns?

If you are more of a planner and want to prepare, well, then there’s good news for you too. The My Disney Experience and Disneyland apps, which are your gateways to Disney Genie, are available to download on the App Store and Google Play.

You can download them now, so you can check out the Disney Genie service as soon as it’s available. And make sure to schedule your wake-up calls at Disneyland and Disney World just before 7 a.m. so you can reserve your first Disney Genie+ attraction.

See also: How to Save Money on Disneyland Tickets

Katie Dillon is the managing editor of La Jolla Mom. She helps readers plan San Diego vacations through her hotel expertise (that stems from living in a Four Seasons hotel) and local connections. Readers have access to exclusive discounts on theme park tickets (like Disneyland and San Diego Zoo) and perks at luxury hotels worldwide through her. She also shares insider tips for visiting major cities worldwide, like Hong Kong, London, Paris, and Shanghai, that her family has either lived in or visits regularly (or both).

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