My Thoughts On Disney's Paid Genie+ Service Replacing Free Fastpass+
Fastpass+ is dead. Sort of. Disney this week announced that Fastpass+ is going to be discontinued and replaced with a paid service called Genie+. Although the Genie branding doesn't make much sense to me. Genie grants three wishes, right? That's more describing the old Fastpass+ system, but I digress. Fastpass+ was becoming a bit of a problem and needed an overhaul. COVID gave Disney the opportunity to try something else, monetising it in the process. There were times the Fastpass+ queue was just as long as the standby, and with the way that the Fastpass+ queue guests were prioritised, it made the standby line even longer. Something had to be done sooner or later.
About Genie & Genie+
Part of the Genie service is complimentary, which helps guest plan their day while in the parks making suggestions for dining and attractions as the day goes on - which you can read about here - but today I'm going to focus on the portion of the news that's blowing up across the internet, and that's the paid Genie+ service replacing Fastpass+. (What is it with all these companies adding + on the end of the names of their services these days?)
A quick history lesson. Included in your Walt Disney World ticket 30 (or 60) days before you arrive you could book up to three Fastpass+ attractions per day at select times. At those times, you could go through the Fastpass+ queue to enter the attraction with a low-ish wait.
Now that's going away and being replaced with Disney's Genie+ service and the previous Fastpass+ queues will be rebranded to "Lightning Lanes". Unlike Fastpass+ where you'd book weeks in advance, this is now all done on the day. If you're a Walt Disney World resort guest you can book your first Lightning Lane via Genie+ at 7am. If you're not, you can make your first booking when you're at the park when the park opens. You select an available time, and then after you've been on the attraction, you can book your next one, and can continue to do this all day as long as there is availability left. If you decide to park hop, you'll be able to book the Lightning Lane in the park you're hopping to as well. You might think that sounds familiar, and you're right. That's how the paper Fastpass service used to work, but now it's all done digitally.
The Cost & Service
The cost of this service at launch will be $15 per guest for the whole day. At the time of writing, we know that Genie+ includes Haunted Mansion, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, and Millennium Falcon: Smuggler's Run. Disney say there will be over 40 attractions in total included with Genie+. Genie+ will NOT include the big rides like Seven Drawfs Mine Train and Rise Of The Resistance. To go through the "Lightning Lane" on those attractions they will be separately individually priced (up to two per day per guest). Those prices have been not announced, but I'd guess it would be on par with Disneyland Paris Premier Access. However, I won't go into that too much here until those details have been released.
Depending on how much you enjoy planning your Walt Disney World holiday months in advance will likely play a part in how you feel about this change. Some guests hate they have to plan their days with military precision so far out, others love it. If you hated it, you'll now much prefer that everything is done on the day (if you're willing to pay for Genie+). For those who won't pay it, there's no planning for attractions needed at all. I'm somewhere in the middle. I never minded it, but I equally enjoyed the paper Fastpass system back in the day.
From A British Perspective
As someone with a Disney blog following Disney news, I saw this coming, so I'm not hugely surprised. Yes, it sucks another "free" (although nothing is ever free, it's all priced in) perk has been removed from the base offering and now costs extra, but every time there's a price increase or a new paid option gets introduced, someone gets priced out. That sucks and makes people angry, even more so if you're paying for a whole family. Disney's at the end of the day is a public traded company and has a duty to shareholders to maximise profit where it can, for better or worse. Disney has a product that the whole world wants and they're struggling to keep people away as the parks get incredibly crowded. It's a great problem to have as a business, it just results in the experience costing more for all of us.
We Brits stay at Walt Disney World for 2 weeks on average. I think this Genie+ is more targeted at guests going for shorter stays who need to make the best of the little time they have. I don't see myself using Genie+ all that much for this reason, although I'll probably end up being convinced to pony up $15 (or whatever the cost will be) for a big ride like Rise Of Resistance or Flights Of Passage once or twice if the standby is outrageous. But generally speaking, I don't see this adding much at all to the overall cost, for the reasons I am about to lay out.
The question will be, will the Genie system as a whole (both the complimentary AI-based suggestions and the paid option) make the overall park experience better for those who pay for Genie+ and those who don't. I believe Disney wants the best guest experience possible (why wouldn't they, they want us keep going back), but due to the high demand of that experience, the cost keeps rising. If Genie and Genie+ does what it appears to try to do, the experience should be elevated for all guests, while making Disney some extra revenue in the process.
Genie+ is optional, and until it's out we won't know the effect it will have on the standby wait times. Keep in mind that almost every guest in the past do book their 3 Fastpass+ per day - which contributes to the Standby wait times significantly - but not every guest is going to pay for this, are they? It could actually have a positive effect on the standby wait times by making them shorter. We will have to wait and see, but I hope for all Disney fans and Disney World regulars, that will be the case.
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