Once the company successfully conditioned guests to consult the Disney World app before making any moves, it took the next step in the evolution of itinerary automation: Disney Genie. With Genie, Disney found a way to convert one of its most frustrating self-inflicted flaws—the maddening burden of navigating its planning bureaucracy—into a new profit center.

The service, which came online in late 2021, is still taking baby steps, but the basic idea is that once you activate it (for free) in the Disney World app, its algorithms will design a full touring plan of activities for you, based on what you tell it you like. You can ask for a Princess-themed day at Magic Kingdom, for example, or request a route through World Showcase’s international dishes.

You may follow its prescription or decide against it, or you can switch plans midstream and ask it to recalculate a different schedule for you. If the Genie puts something on your itinerary, it has the ability to get you in (even if it's just on the Standby line, as in the free version of Genie).

There are lots of wrinkles. One is that in truth, only you really know what you like and how you like to travel, and Genie has a way of filling some of your time with things that Disney wishes you'd do. Sometimes you’ll grab a tough reservation and sometimes you’ll learn about something new you’ll love, but sometimes a thing will only be on your docket because resort operations wants to move people to less-popular stuff at that hour. The Genie isn’t inclined to repeat attractions in your plan, either, whereas we all know teenagers who would happily line up for Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster three times in a row. Genie also welds you to both a timetable and your smartphone—is that fun for you? Only you can say how you prefer to spend your time at a theme park.

Genie is most useful for visitors who don't know much about Disney or what they want to do. If you're an invested Disney fan, Genie can be fairly unintelligent and doesn't have a sense for your mood or habits. For example, if it suggests a restaurant and you would rather be on rides and not eating, when you tell Genie to remove the restaurant from your upcoming plans, it still suggests other places to eat, not rides. Genie also tends to shy away from adding rides to your schedule if you didn't explicitly tell it that you liked that ride at the start of the process, so make sure you tell Genie to prioritize your absolute favorites when it asks what you like.

Everyone can use the free version of Genie, which will also forecast wait times for the big attractions later in the day. But Disney would rather you pay an extra $15 per day to upgrade to Genie+. The upgraded app can direct you to various attractions and diversions that are currently accepting visitors through Lightning Lane, the old FastPass queue (click here for information on how to use Genie+ and Lightning Lane).

Genie+ does not include Lightning Lane access for exactly two rides per park—and they're always the most popular ones (like Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance). For those must-rides, you have to pay yet another fee for the change to join their quicker lines, which you may do even if you didn't buy Genie+ for the day. However, the added fee for Individual Lightning Lane is not cheap—a family of four can easily pay $60 just to avoid waiting in the longer Standby line for a single ride, and they may only pay it once a day for that ride.

Genie+ users will also receive a few other minor perks, such as Disney-themed photo filters and sounds. Really, though, people buy it for the Lightning Lane access.

Most importantly, Genie is designed with upcharges in mind. It’s a tool that can fill your time, yes, but it’s also a tool designed to steer you to profit-driving experiences. You have to be careful with a friend like that.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.