fbpx

Comparing skip-the-line upgrades: How does Genie+ compare to other major theme park options?

by Samantha Davis-Friedman

This week, the big news for Disney parkgoers was the announcement about the fall launch of Disney Genie — the new planning tool replacing MaxPass and FastPass at Disneyland and Walt Disney World. But how does Genie compare to other theme park skip-the-line upgrades?

Theme Park Upgrades - Genie

According to Disney Parks, Experiences, and Products Chairman Josh D’Amaro, users will be able to access Genie from within the existing Disneyland and My Disney Experience apps that most guests are already familiar with. The free Genie tool is designed to help guests maximize their park visit, but will not include the ability to reserve times for attractions.

To do that, guests will need to purchase the Genie+ skip-the-line upgrade, which D’Amaro describes as “the next evolution of [Disneyland’s] MaxPass.” In addition, some high-demand attractions not available through Genie+ will use Lightning Lane queues, which can be purchased individually (with or without the purchase of Genie+), similar to the new Premier Access paid FastPass service at Disneyland Paris; however, each guest will only be able to purchase a maximum of two Lightning Lane attractions per day.

Let’s look at skip-the-line upgrades then compare prices:

Universal Express

Theme Park Upgrades - Universal Express
Image courtesy of Universal

When guests purchase Universal Express at Universal Orlando Resort and Universal Studios Hollywood, they can skip the lines at participating shows and attractions — once per ride with Universal Express and as many times as they want with Universal Express Unlimited (at Universal Orlando only).

Both 1-park and 2-park options are available in Orlando for Universal Studios Florida and Universal’s Islands of Adventure. For Volcano Bay, Universal Express passes can be purchased to skip Virtual Lines at select participating rides, and Universal Express Plus passes allows guests to skip Virtual Lines at all participating rides and attractions.

Guests staying at Universal Orlando’s three premier hotels (Loews Portofino Bay Hotel, Loews Royal Pacific Resort, and Hard Rock Hotel) get free Universal Express Unlimited passes.

SeaWorld and Busch Gardens Quick Queue

Theme Park Upgrades - Quick Queue
Image courtesy of Busch Gardens

Guests at SeaWorld can purchase a ticket upgrade called Quick Queue Unlimited, which provides unlimited front-of-the-line access for select rides. Guests visiting the San Diego and San Antonio parks can also add a reserved seating option that offers one-time reserved seating at select shows. In San Antonio, Quick Queue Junior offers a reduced rate for front-of-the-line access to the park’s kid-friendly rides.

The Quick Queue upgrade at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay allows guests to skip the lines once per ride at the most popular rides and roller coasters, Quick Queue Unlimited will enable them to skip the lines as many times as they want, and Quick Queue Junior allows younger guests to skip the lines once per ride at kid-friendly rides and roller coasters.

At Busch Gardens Williamsburg, Quick Queue offers single-time priority access to Alpengeist, Apollo’s Chariot, Escape from Pompeii, Finnegan’s Flyer, Griffon, Le Scoot Log Flume, Mäch Tower, and Verbolten; and Quick Queue Unlimited Plus offers unlimited priority access to those eight attractions plus one-time access to InvadR, Loch Ness Monster, and Tempesto.

Six Flags The Flash Pass

Theme Park Upgrades - Flash Pass
Image courtesy of Six Flags

The Flash Pass is available at 11 Six Flags parks: Six Flags Discovery Kingdom, Six Flags Magic Mountain, Six Flags Over Georgia, Six Flags Great America, Six Flags America, Six Flags New England, Six Flags St. Louis, Six Flags Great Adventure, Six Flags Lake George, Six Flags Fiesta Texas, and Six Flags over Texas.

The 3-tiered ride reservation system allows guests to skip the lines and ride when it’s their turn with pass options for Bronze (up to 25% faster than the current wait time), Gold (up to 60% faster), or Platinum (up to 90% faster).

Cedar Fair Fast Lane

Theme Park Upgrades - Fast Lane

Guests can purchase a Fast Lane pass at Cedar Fair theme parks that provides priority entry for certain attractions. In addition, some parks offer Fast Lane Plus, which adds even more attractions to the pass. For example, at Cedar Point in Ohio, Fast Lane offers shorter wait times on 20 rides and attractions, and Fast Lane Plus includes all 20 Fast Lane attractions plus rides on Steel Vengeance, Maverick, Millennium Force, and Top Thrill Dragster.

How much do skip-the-line upgrades cost?

Disney Genie

  • Genie+ – $15 per person per day at Walt Disney World and $20 per person per day at Disneyland
  • Lightning Lanes – Prices will vary based on dates and attractions (maximum of two per person per day).

Click here for more information.

Universal Express

  • Universal Orlando 1-park passes (Universal Studios Florida or Islands of Adventure) – Seasonal pricing ranges from $79.99 to $199.99 for Universal Express and $109.99 to $229.99 for Universal Express Unlimited. All prices are per person per day.
  • Universal Orlando 2-Park passes – Seasonal pricing ranges from $89.99 to $209.99 for Universal Express and $119.99 to $239.99 for Universal Express Unlimited. All prices are per person per day.
  • Volcano Bay – Universal Express Pass seasonal pricing ranges from $19.99 to $79.99, and Universal Express Plus Pass ranges from $39.99 to $109.99. All prices are per person per day.
  • Universal Studios Hollywood Universal Express – Seasonal pricing ranges from $179 to $279 per person per day. Universal Studios Hollywood also offers a California Resident Universal Express from $169 to $279 per person per day.

Click here for more information about Universal Express at Universal Orlando and here at Universal Studios Hollywood.

Quick Queue

  • SeaWorld Orlando – Seasonal pricing ranges from $19.99 to $69.99 per person per day.
  • SeaWorld San Diego – Seasonal pricing ranges from $14.99 to $29.99 for Quick Queue and $19.99 to $39.99 for Quick Queue Premier (includes reserved show seating). All prices are per person per day.
  • SeaWorld San Antonio – Seasonal pricing ranges from $19.99 to $34.99 for Quick Queue, $24.99 to $44.99 with reserved show seating option, and $4.99 to $14.99 for Quick Queue Junior. All prices are per person per day.
  • Busch Gardens Tampa Bay – Seasonal pricing ranges from $14.99 to $109.99 for Quick Queue, $19.99 to $129.99 for Quick Queue Unlimited, and $9.99 to $54.99 for Quick Queue Junior. All prices are per person per day.
  • Busch Gardens Williamsburg – Seasonal pricing ranges from $14.99 to $99.99 for Quick Queue and $29.99 to $129.99 for Quick Queue Unlimited Plus. All prices are per person per day.

The Flash Pass

  • Seasonal pricing varies by park, but starts at about $50 for Bronze, $75 for Silver, and $115 for Gold. All prices are per person per day.

Click here for more information.

Fast Lane

  • Seasonal prices vary by park, but as an example, Fast Lane at Cedar Point ranges from $109 to $169, and Fast Lane Plus ranges from $159 to $249. At Knott’s Berry Farm, Fast Lane ranges from $89 to $99. All prices are per person per day.

Average Per Person, Per Day Costs (Single Park):

Disney
Genie+
Universal
Express
SeaWorld/Busch Gardens
Quick Queue
Six Flags
Flash Pass
Cedar Fair
Fast Lane
$15 – Walt Disney World$140 – Express$30 – Quick Queue$50 – Bronze$140 – Fast Lane
$20 – Disneyland$169 – Unlimited Express$35 – Quick Queue + Reserved Seating$75 – Silver$200- Fast Lane Plus
$20 (estimated) – Lightning Lanes$10 – Quick Queue Junior$115 – Gold

How does that add up for a family of four?

Universal Orlando
Photo courtesy of Visit Orlando

With so many different options, it’s harder than ever for guests to calculate the cost of their theme park vacation, but let’s estimate the average costs for skip-the-line upgrades for a family of four (two adults and two kids) visiting one park:

  • At Walt Disney World, the family would pay $60 per day for Genie+, plus, an additional $80 if they purchase two Lightning Lanes attractions (based on an estimated $10 per ride). Total: $140
  • At Universal Orlando, the same family would pay an average of $560 for 1-park Universal Express ($676 for 1-park Universal Express Unlimited). Total: $560
  • At Six Flags Magic Mountain, they would pay an average of $300 for The Flash Pass Silver. Total: $300
  • At Cedar Point, they would pay an average of $560 for Fast Lane ($800 for Fast Lane Plus). Total: $560
  • At SeaWorld San Antonio, the family would pay an average of $120 for Quick Queue ($140 with reserved show seating) or an average of $80 if they purchase two Quick Queue passes and two Quick Queue Junior passes. Total: $120

Yes, Disney is going from offering something free to charging, but as you can see, they’re the second-least expensive in our comparison. Other things to keep in mind: Universal’s Express Passes are free when you stay at certain hotels. Not every attraction is included in Genie+, or with most parks’ passes.

What do you think about theme parks selling skip-the-line upgrades? Would you pay extra to avoid waiting in long lines? Let us know in the comments.

Related Articles

2 comments

Steve August 20, 2021 - 9:32 pm

Biggest point your missing is when using Disney Genie+ Compared to all the other passes is that you are not guaranteed how many rides you can get on. With Universal and Sea World even on the busiest days you can get on every single ride offered at least once and normally as much as you want with the unlimited pass. Genie+ will be exactly like the fast pass system after the 1st ride you will have to see what is next available and at what time, and you can not get anything else until you complete that ride.
To me Universal’s passes are way much better deal even if the cost more. And if you stay at one of there hotels an even better deal.

Reply
Stephanie August 21, 2021 - 5:26 am

I don’t think you can compare yhe base level of Genie + to Universal’s Express Pass. The Genie option will require you to make a reservation for each ride while in the park that day and only one reservation at a time. That is comparable to the Tapu Tapu system at Universal’s Volcano Bay, which is a free system. On busy days many people still won’t be able to ride their favorite rides without purchasing those lightning passes.

Reply

Leave a Comment

Email Newsletter Signup

Get the latest news direct to your inbox.
Simply submit your email address below.