It’s a New (Disney) World: Genie+ Is A Mess & Other Hot Takes From My Most Recent Trip

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Disney World Update

Disney World Update – Major Observations from My Most Recent Trip

As some may have noticed, MtM’s Diamond member meetup in Orlando recently wrapped up.  Among other fun-filled events, many of us visited Epcot for an eventful day and lively night.  Several members took in other parks, as well.  As a Disney World fan who hasn’t been to any park in almost two years, I had much to absorb since my last visit. We’ll be back on a family trip in late January, so this was also a great opportunity to reacquaint myself prior.  Here’s my Disney World update, including my takes from the recent visit.

Genie+ Is a Mess

Genie+, the $15 per day replacement for FastPass+, was a wreck during our visit.  First off, Genie+ design within the Disney World app is confusing and unnecessarily time-consuming.  Booking errors out.  If I want to make a change, I have to let go of my current reservation before obtaining a replacement.  The app organization follows no coherent order – existing reservations are mixed in with a lot of other noise.  It’s a big, tossed salad.  Perhaps this is intentional.  I can’t help but think the Disney masterplan is to tie up guests on their phones rather than on attractions.  But hopefully, it’s just a bump in the road related to the recently-introduced Genie+ “features.”  Regardless, the streamlined FastPass+ experience has been replaced by the opacity of Genie+.

As of right now, I plan to buy Genie+ for most days on our future trip.  I’ll treat it more as an insurance policy during our visit while not expecting too much out of it.  I guess this means Disney wins $60 more per day from my Disney gift cards.  But I will more than make up for that by opting to stay off property this trip.

Construction Around Epcot’s Entrance

Upon entering Epcot, the area around Spaceship Earth has seemingly been in a state of transition for years.  Construction has diverted walkways, introduced ugly facades, and created confusion.  I felt I was walking in a circular pattern to get anywhere.  Of course, changes have been long overdue in this area of Epcot, and the pandemic has slowed completion.  Future Worlds East and West, now called World Discovery and World Nature, maintain some familiarity.  The Space 220 restaurant next to Mission Space is a nice addition.  No, I couldn’t get in.

Unfortunately, dining options up front are relatively limited during construction.  Beyond luckily snagging a Space 220 visit or trekking way over to World Nature, the only open option I saw was a snack stand on the way to Mexico in World Showcase.  Of course, many (including this writer) focus their dining in World Showcase.  Regardless, it’s slim pickings around Spaceship Earth.

Disney World Update

Early December Weather Is Excellent

Before this recent visit, I’d never been to Disney World during the late fall.  I can see why it’s so popular this time of year.  The weather is great!  Temperatures approached the mid 60’s upon our park entry, peaked in the mid 70’s, and fell to the low 60’s after the Harmonious fireworks.  Jeans and a t-shirt were perfect all day and night – I enjoyed not carrying anything extra.

On the flip side, many came out for the excellent weather.  I’d never seen World Showcase so busy.  I enjoyed that for the people-watching aspect, but the food lines were killer.  I had to skip the poutine in Canada this trip – maybe that’s for the best.  Beverage lines were long but moved fairly quickly.

Harmonious Is Enjoyable, All the Stuff Isn’t

Our visit ended with the new Harmonious fireworks show.  I enjoyed this latest offering, particularly the Moana intro.  However, all of the equipment overtakes the lake around World Showcase.  It’s just a monstrosity.  I guess it’s necessary for the innovative Harmonious show, but Shawn and I discussed how Illuminations, the previous Epcot fireworks show, didn’t have near as big a footprint.

World Showcase Delivers, As Expected

My family visits to World Showcase have been a blast.  Historically, we’ve built these visits around a dining reservation at a sit-down restaurant.  This was my first time visiting World Showcase with a group purely for quick service beverage and dining options.  I had just as much fun with this different touring style.  Exploring all the different nooks and crannies of World Showcase never gets old to me.  I realized I’d never been all the way back in Morocco – there’s a great Sangria stand back there now!

Standby Lines Are Digestible

Of course, my family and I have loved FastPass+ access to attractions historically, peppered in with a few standby lines when necessary.  On this trip, we ended up waiting 60 or so minutes for Frozen Ever After in the standby line – we didn’t see a reason to pay $11 for individual Lightning Lane access.  The wait time actually ended up being shorter, and the enjoyable conversations with other Diamond members helped!

Disney World Update

Disney World Update – Conclusion

I could go on, but those are my primary observations from the recent trip.  I look forward to Epcot’s continuing transformation and will defer ultimate judgment until this construction iteration is done.  Despite the flaws of Disney World, Epcot in this case, I’ll accept the bad with the overall good.  I’m hopeful Genie+ will slightly improve prior to our next trip, and I’m happy to be a bit more prepared for said visit.  Have you been to Disney World and Epcot recently?  What’s your current opinion?

Benjy Harmon
Benjy is a fan of points, miles, and financial independence (FI). An experienced world traveler, husband, and father, he currently focuses on roaming throughout the USA expense-free (or close to it). He enjoys helping others achieve their FI and travel goals.

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6 COMMENTS

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6 COMMENTS

  1. I just visited DHS and the Animal Kingdom this week 12/13/21) using Genie Plus. Yes, took a bit to learn as one would do with any new system but not that difficult and using it helps. I like it as I would an effective tool to manage and plan the activities. It works and is indispensable to getting the most out of the day. The big problem was the main attraction, Rise of the Resistance, breaking down. Twice the day I was there. Big time waster.

    • DonDover,
      Good point regarding Genie, and I’m glad to know Genie+ was a bit easier on your visit than my very short one. Yes, breakdowns on Rise seem to be routine, unfortunately.

  2. With all the cutbacks they are doing, I am so glad for discounted Disney gift cards. Actually discounts at Disney are good anytime but this makes it easier to go.

  3. I went to Magic Kingdom on Black Friday with my family. They all still live in Orlando and are Disney fanatics (I grew up with and went to college there, so obviously have a Disney connection), so I’m used to the history of Disney rolling out similar programs (man, I miss the orbital fast pass).

    Genie+ wasn’t as bad as I expected. We got all the rides we wanted and were able to plan the day well. But, honestly, it felt like it took me half the day to figure out how to use the stupid genie+ portion of the Disney app and it drained my battery. Finally I realized getting on Disney’s wifi helped my phone battery and overall app experience.

    I agree that the standby lines were shockingly shorter than posted. On both Big Thunder Mountain and Pirates of the Caribbean we waited at least 15 minutes less than posted. This was even with a packed park, so maybe genie+ is helping? I plan on buying it next time, now that I feel like I know how to use it.

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