We were promised back in August a reimagined guest experience with the change to the Genie Plus service from the FastPass system. In short, in my belief, the only reimagining was a new revenue stream for Disney that has increased frustration and resulted in less time actually doing what you want to do.
Disney imagines that we are all there to experience everything, and their job is to move us all around the parks where we get a mixture of the things we like. When you first log in to the platform, you are asked questions to help build your experience, and a tentative, non-guaranteed plan is built for you by the Genie.
If you are super relaxed and want to walk from side to side of the parks, you like watching shows, you enjoy eating snacks, or you don’t care about riding the newest attractions, then the Genie Plus service is for you. As a matter of fact, you are their dream client.
For my family and I, 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 kids’ ages, character experiences aren’t really a thing anymore for us.
Booking With Genie Plus
If you want to reserve ride experiences on 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, limiting our choices.
We booked our first experience and then had to wait two hours before we could book another one. During the two days we were there, we booked no more than three experiences each day. On the old FastPass system, we started the day with three experiences pre-booked. I was able to add on a good day, up to another five or six experiences. Also, FastPasses were included in the cost of our less expensive tickets.
Lightning Lane Woes
Just when you thought this couldn’t get worse – there’s the Individual Lightning Lane. At Hollywood Studios, the two experiences with the Individual 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 what we already paid for Genie Plus and our tickets to enter the park. Rise of the Resistance wasn’t even available, as all the Individual Lightning Lane passes were sold out. We had no choice but to wait in a nearly three-hour-long line in order to get this experience.
The next day at Magic Kingdom, I watched a meltdown as a family with their two young children learned what the Individual Lightning Lane was in front of Space Mountain. We had chosen to pay $11 per person for part of our group to ride Space Mountain (not me). I was waiting in the Tomorrowland Plaza area as this family approached the attendant to learn how they could use Genie Plus and the Individual Lightning Lane. When they were told the price, the man’s entire demeanor changed. They walked to the side and in front of his children told his wife that he was f$%&*($ done. Literally, Disney broke this man’s spirit.
How Do I Feel About Genie Plus?
In a lot of cases including mine, 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 Plus system has created an additional barrier- a more visible class system where only the rich can enjoy the best parts of the parks.
I don’t believe Disney World is for everyone as much as we might wish it is. The Genie Plus system though has created a have and have nots among those that attend. It highly favors those with previous 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 things. 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? That all remains to be seen.
A great first step would be to fix the Genie Plus system. It’s super simple to fix: Eliminate the extra costs for Genie Plus and eliminate the extra costs for the Individual Lightning Lane. Immediately. Before it’s too late.
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