You can blame this post on my friend and frequent commenter Caroline, who linked in comments to yet another blogger hot take on Disney’s announced new Genie+ system. I wasn’t going to inflict any more Disney on my few and loyal readers, but my response in comments sorta became an essay. 🙂
First, for those of you who don’t know what this is about: Disney has abandoned the former Fast Pass system, where you could make a reservation for a shorter line for a ride for free, for a new Genie system, which charges a flat $15 per person per day for the ability to make short line reservations.
Paying for a faster trip through the line is what the other theme parks do to manage crowds – Universal and Sea World have charged to jump the lines for YEARS, and their options are more expensive.
From what I’ve read so far, Genie is far more sophisticated than simply “paying for a fast pass,” and I will reserve judgment until I see it in action for a few months. From the description, it’s designed to provide advice to help tailor your visit as well as manage crowd flow on rides. Again, I want to use it before I roll on my back kicking and screaming about it.
I will speak heresy: The old fast pass system didn’t work all that well. Local passholders could set multiple fast passes from their couch with little intention of using them, just playing around on the app, and any guest could set them intending to use them and not release them when they no longer wanted them.
Disney had no way to know who would and would not use that hard to get FP for Peter Pan or whatever, so while it somewhat helped with traffic flow, it was easy to game the system. The fast pass lines would be shorter than the regular, especially at peak times, but “fast” was often relative. Disney is an expert at moving huge crowds of people efficiently, and I’m willing to see if the Genie system helps traffic flow.
As for the cost, yes, as the other blogger pointed out, it adds $60/day to a family of four’s cost, IF THEY CHOOSE TO USE IT. It is not required. If the entire system works to smooth traffic flow it’ll help even the people who don’t want to pay.
But honestly, after the first rage and tantrums on the Disney boards I follow, they kinda shrugged and went back to planning their multiple sit down dining options, where a family of four usually can’t eat for less than $100 without alcohol, and discussing whether Old Key West is better than Saratoga Springs resort.
Disney is very expensive. So is Universal, so is Sea World. There are ways to do it slightly cheaper (stay offsite for sure, bring a damn water bottle instead of paying $4 for shitty Desani water, bring some snacks in a backpack so you aren’t paying $20 every time your tummy rumbles). But it’s expensive. No way around it.
Disney did not just whip this system up during COVID “to gouge people to make back what they lost”, they’ve used it in France and I think in Japan? Or Hong Kong? and even in California for a while. Disney has been collecting this sort of traffic data for years, and I’m confident they’ve figured out that this is the best way to make sure fast passes actually get USED and manage traffic flow, which at peak times is tens of thousands of humans.
Before Fast Pass went away, the Disney boards online were full of weeping and wailing about being unable to get any fast passes! OMG, why is it so hard to get Seven Dwarfs Mine Train? And let’s not even talk about the daily drama of the virtual queue for Rise of the Resistance.
There are ways to manage it if you still want to save the $$. Pick a day or two of your stay where you’ll pay the Genie for your favorite rides, so you’re sure you’ll get on them, and do it for just a day, or two. The rest of your stay, wing it, you’ll still get on a lot of rides and maybe find other things to do that you’d otherwise sprint by as you’re racing to a ride.
Disney is a corporation, and the primary function of a corporation is to provide value to shareholders. I’m not sure why anybody is shocked that they have re-evaluated their systems to try something new. If it doesn’t work, they’ll watch the numbers and change it again.
And if all the people on Facebook actually follow through on their threats to cancel their passes because Disney is just greedy and OMG, Walt must be spinning in his grave now (because Walt was not at all a shrewd businessman who bought a huge swath of Central Florida via shell companies and built an empire), and if all the other bullshit 48 hour hot takes come true, well, that’ll also thin the herd. I’m betting, and obviously Disney is betting, it won’t.