Disney parks have seen a lot of changes over the years. From an unprecedented extended closure during the COVID-19 pandemic to updates on iconic attractions such as Splash Mountain and Jungle Cruise to reflect a more diverse world, Disney is no stranger to overhauling operations.
Now, Disney-goers accustomed to using the free FastPass reservation system to ride popular rides are in for a big change: Starting this fall, it will cost you money to secure those line-skipping privileges at Disneyland and Disney World.
Since 1999, Disney FastPass and its successor, FastPass+MaxPass, served as a free ride reservation system for theme park guests at Disneyland and Disney World. Riders could secure a one-hour window for an attraction to avoid waiting in long lines and enjoy other areas of the park. This feature was included in every park ticket admission price, and it was a popular way for families to keep fidgety kids on the move.
However, since reopening in mid-2020, the Disney FastPass+ program has remained shut down for guests, and now it’s being replaced by the Genie+ program.
Discover Disney Genie service, a great new offering designed to make planning your best Disney day at @WaltDisneyWorld Resort or @Disneyland Resort that much easier. It’s all coming this fall. https://t.co/jtwe1XBdwH pic.twitter.com/vS6AkEuVCB
— Disney Parks (@DisneyParks) August 18, 2021
How Are Disney FastPass+ And Disney Genie+ Different?
Disney Genie will be a free trip planning service within the official Disney parks app known as “My Disney Experience.” Anyone can use the app for personalizing itineraries to Disney World or Disneyland.
According to the Disney Parks Blog, Disney Genie “brings existing planning features together in one place. Join a virtual queue at certain attractions, make dining and experience reservations, mobile order food at many locations, get help from a virtual assistant, and more.”
Within Genie, visitors will find Genie+. This is where advanced ride reservations get made, but the service isn’t included with theme park admission (with the exception of Disney’s Hollywood Studios Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance). It costs $15 per day, per person at Walt Disney World and $20 per day, per person at Disneyland. This will give guests access to the Lightning Lane entrances at a variety of attractions, including Haunted Mansion, Big Thunder Mountain and Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run.
But some of the most popular Disney parks attractions — including Seven Dwarfs Mine Train in Magic Kingdom and Radiator Springs Racers in Disney California Adventure — are not included. These high-demand attractions will have an extra individual fee per ride, and each guest will only be allowed to choose two of these high-demand attractions per day. Disney says pricing will vary depending on date, type of attraction, park and other factors.
These Lightning Lane choices can be made across different parks, so if your family has Park Hopper passes, you can reserve a time elsewhere later in the day.
“Some attractions are in more demand than others, so what we wanted to do was create a mix within that ecosystem whether it be with Disney Genie+ or Lightning Lane individually,” said Disney Parks, Experiences and Products chairman Josh D’Amaro in an interview with D23.
Previously, Disney theme park guests could start making their advanced attraction reservations between 30 and 60 days before arriving at the parks, depending on whether they were staying at a Disney resort. However, it looks as though Disney Genie+ reservations will require guests to make their attraction choices starting at 7 a.m. on the day of their park visit. So, be prepared to be up early!
Using Disney Genie+ is an optional upgrade, and the normal standby lines will be in use at all Disney parks for no extra cost.
Reaction To The End Of The Free Disney FastPass
Disney fans‘ reactions to any changes at the parks usually come in fast and furious. So, it didn’t take long for the opinions to start rolling in on social media.
Twitter user Eddie commented how the new Disney Genie and Genie+ system seems simply like an enhancement to the current program and that it might be the company’s way to make crowd levels more manageable.
This doesn’t sound too different from My Disney Experience honestly. But now Fast Pass is a paid add on. I think this is Disney’s way of controlling crowds. People wanted less crowded parks, this is how it’s do it without Disney pointing in someone’s face and saying “get out!”
— Eddie (@Iwishiwassmart2) August 18, 2021
However, many Disney parks fans were not as understanding about having to pay out more money for services that were previously free. For some, including Twitter user Shayne, the constant additional fees have become too much.
So, since our last trip to Disney, these are the services that we used that we now have to pay for:
1. Hotel parking: $20/day for mod resort x 10 days = $200
2. Fast pass: $15/day per person x 10 days = $300
3. Lightning pass a la carte: ~$100
Just cancelled 2022 Trip to Disney
— Shayne (@doobiestfx) August 19, 2021
Will this change your vacation plans?