I am glad to have a good friend take the spot light on his thought on Genie +. Brian and I have been friends for a few years now and while we have a lot to talk about, most the time it comes back to Disney. We have taken a trip to Disneyland together, but have yet to go to Walt Disney World for a trip. He has experienced both MaxPass at Disneyland and FastPass & FastPass+ at Walt Disney World before the transition to Genie+ and Lightning Lane. On his most recent trip he was my first hands on friend to experience Genie + and the ups and downs of the new program. I’m going to let Brian take it from here.
We were promised back in August a reimagined guest experience with the change to the Genis service from the Fastpass system. In short, it was reimagined as a new revenue stream for Disney while increasing frustration and less time actually doing what you wanted to do.
Disney imagines that we are all there to experience everything and their job is to move us all around where we get a mixture of the things we like. When you first log in you are asked questions to help build your experience and a tentative, non-guaranteed plan is built for you.
If you are super relaxed and want to walk from side to side of the park you have made reservations at watching shows, eating snacks, or riding none of the newest attractions then Genie service is for you. Matter of fact, you are their dream client.
For me, we are trying to experience as many things as possible in a logical flow because there are only so many steps I can walk in a day. We want to ride the big rides, the newest rides, and at my kid’s ages, character experiences aren’t really a thing anymore for us.
If you want to reserve ride experiences at the best rides, you’ll need to pay $15 more a day, per person, on top of your ticket price to get the Genie plus experience. Because we stayed off campus on my last trip, we were unable to add the Genie plus service until the day of. Once we did, a lot of the experiences were already full well into the late afternoon.
We booked our first experience and then had to wait 2 hours before we could book another one. On the two days we were there, we booked no more than 3 experiences each day. On the old Fast Pass system, we started the day with 3 experiences pre-booked. I was able to add on a good day, up to another 5 or 6 experiences. Also, Fast Passes were included in the cost of our less expensive tickets.
Just when you thought this couldn’t get worse – there’s the lightning lane. At Hollywood Studios the two experiences with the Lightning Lane option were Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway and Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance. Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway was going to cost us an additional $9 per person to ride. This is on top of Genie Plus and our ticket to enter the park. Rise of the Resistance wasn’t even available as all the Lightning Lane passes were sold out. We had no choice but to wait in a nearly 3-hour long line in order to get this experience.
The next day at the Magic Kingdom I experienced one of the disappointing meltdowns as a family with their two young children learned what Lightning Lane was in front of Space Mountain. We had chosen to pay $11 per person for part of our group to ride Space Mountain (not me). I was waiting in the Tomorrowland plaza area as this family approached the attendant to learn how they could use Lightning Lane. When told the price the man’s entire demeanor changed. They walked to the side and in front of his children told his wife that he was f$%&*($ done. Literally, Disney broke this man’s spirit.
Families save up their hard-earned money to bring their children to experience Disney World. It’s not a cheap vacation at all. There are definitely ways to do it for less, but no matter what you will be spending a lot of money to be there. My belief is that the new Genie system has created an additional barrier, a more visible class system where only the rich can enjoy the best parts of the parks.
VIP services have been a thing for a long time and I’ve never complained about them. It’s something to work hard to one day be able to experience. I’m not a socialist either. I don’t believe Disney World is for everyone as much as we might wish it is. The Genie system though has created a have and have nots among those that attend. It highly favors those with experience and money. The casual attendee, the person that saved for two or three years to bring their family for four days, is the one getting damaged by this new system.
The cost of experiencing Disney World has grown exponentially and Disney continues to fee their attendees more and more for the same thing. I don’t know if there will ever be a plateau, but if there is, will the damage and perception of Disney World as an elitist vacation spot be too far to overcome.
A great first step would be to fix the Genie system. It’s super simple to fix: Eliminate the extra costs; Eliminate the Lightning lane. Immediately. Before it’s too late.
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