It’s time to compare Disney World and Universal!
Disney World and Universal have been pretty busy lately preparing for Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, Halloween Horror Nights, and new updates to EPIC Universe. With all of the excitement going on, this felt like the perfect time to compare the two most controversial services these theme parks offer!
I go to theme parks nearly every day of my life so I feel pretty experienced in all things Walt Disney World and Universal. One of those things is skip-the-line services available, so let’s talk about everything you need to know before you pay for them.
My friend Quincy and I just did a fun test of trying both of these services in a head-to-head competition. You can watch that video right here!
Now let’s take a closer look at what you need to know about both skip the line services!
What Are They?
To compare these two services, you have to understand what they are. Disney’s skip-the-line service is called Genie+, and it has come with its fair share of controversy. This service has three tiers. The first is free and allows guests to use the Tip Board on the My Disney Experience app.
The second tier is Genie+ which gives guests access to most of the Lightning Lanes in Disney World. The price for it ranges by day and by park, but we’ll get into that in a moment. Finally, the third tier is an additional fee per person per day to access the most popular ride in each park (there are two in Magic Kingdom.) Seems simple right? It’s not really.
Down the road, Universal’s skip-the-line service is called Express Pass. Express Pass has two tiers. The first allows guests to skip participating lines one time each. The second tier, Universal Express Unlimited, allows guests to use the express pass an unlimited amount of times at participating rides.
Guests staying at participating Universal Premier Hotel get the Express Pass included in their hotel stay for free.
How Do They Work?
This is where the two services really start to diverge. Universal’s service is pretty simple. Once you purchase your express pass, you can go to any of the participating rides whenever you would like, scan your ticket and skip the long lines.
Yup, that’s pretty much it. This is vastly different from Disney’s service. Genie+ is a bit more complicated than Express because of how the service works. Genie+ requires guests to choose their lightning lanes for rides throughout the day starting at 7 AM on their park day. After the first selection at 7 AM, guests can make their next selection in one of two ways.
The first is that they use their first lightning lane and are able to make another within two hours of their first selection. The second way is if a guest’s first lightning lane is more than 2 hours after the park opens. Once the 120 minutes is up, guests can make a second lightning lane. (Don’t worry if you’re confused, it’s a lot to remember!)
Lightning Lanes can also fill up and run out of availability throughout the day. This means not everyone who purchases Genie+ will even be able to use every lightning lane in a park. Disney only guarantees guests access to 2-3 lightning lanes per day which is a stark difference from the Express Pass. I’d bet now you’re wondering why anyone would choose Genie+ over Express so let’s talk price.
How Much Does It Cost?
We’ve talked about how different the services are but the biggest difference between them is price. Disney’s Genie+ ranges from $15 to $35 per person per day, not including the individual lightning lanes in each park which is an additional $10 to $25.
The pricing has recently changed to be based on which park you’re going to rather than a flat fee. For example, it will be cheaper to go to Animal Kingdom than to Magic Kingdom. Pricing-wise, Genie+ could potentially cost upwards of $85 per person per day if you purchased two individual lightning lanes and the services all at their maximum price.
Over at Universal, the pricing is a bit steeper. The Express Pass pricing starts at $89.99 and Express Unlimited can start at $99.99 per person per day for one park. Depending on the season and if you buy the pass for both parks, Express can cost upwards of roughly $289.99 per person per day.
Which Is Better?
This is the part that is hard to decide. While Genie+ might be less user-friendly, it is significantly cheaper and more accessible to large families (or anyone on a budget) due to the price.
However, it doesn’t take studying for a long time to fully understand Express Pass. In the end, it really depends on what matters to you and your family on your next vacation. You can pay for simplicity or you can save some money but add another thing to worry about onto your trip. No matter what you choose though, you can be sure that AllEars has all of the best tips and tricks to help you on your next trip to Orlando.
Which skip-the-line service do you prefer? Tell me in the comments!