This week, Walt Disney World changed their pricing on Genie+, making the add-on a different price at each park and effectively raising the average price. Prices have also risen at Disneyland Resort in the last few months. In this post, we’ll take a look at the future of Genie+ and what the higher cost does to the value offered.
For those unaware, Genie+ is a paid service guests can add to their park tickets that will allow them to skip the lines at certain attractions. The system is very similar to successors like FastPass, FastPass+ and MaxPass but there’s a different name for the system and then another name (Lightning Lane) for the actual skipping the line? It’s all very confusing but it doesn’t need to be. This is FastPass that guests pay for and make line skipping reservations for on their phone.
Currently, Disneyland’s Genie+ costs $25 and could go up depending on the day. Walt Disney World just switched to dynamic pricing where the cost depends on the date and which park you’re buying for. Buying for multiple parks is obviously the most expensive, followed by Magic Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, Epcot and then Animal Kingdom. The variable pricing will make the price lower at certain parks on a few days but, all in all, will raise the cost.
In general, I don’t like dynamic pricing but this is more of an issue in the world than it is for Disney. Sporting events, theme park tickets and hotels price things based on their projected availability. It was only a matter of time before this model moved on to add-on features. That’s business and, if you’re looking on the bright side as a consumer, means there’s some value if you’re flexible with travel dates.
The bigger issue is that the average price of Genie+ keeps going up. Whether that pricing has hit an apex with post-pandemic travel and guest spending quieting down remains to be seen. I’ll try to steer away from the constant debate of when will Disney outprice their guests. Yes, this does fall into that category but I’ve written enough blog posts about ticket price increases over the years to rehash that.
I’m more curious at what point Genie+ loses its value to guests. I’m in the minority in that I don’t think splurging for the service is a good idea unless you’re in a huge time crunch. I felt that way even before the price increases, although there was some obvious value in getting Genie+ for a day and knocking off all the headline attractions you could. Part of that value is that it’s just really fun! Would you rather wait in line or not? Even the strongest ‘queue is an extension of an attraction’ defenders would choose no line.
But what was once a $60-$75 add-on for one day for a family of four is now going to be $100. There’s diminishing returns, especially for repeat guests. When you factor in that this service was free less than 5 years ago, some sticker shock takes over.
I have nits to pick with what Genie+ has done to the parks in general. For those waiting in standby lines, the change has been noticeable. The ratio of Lightning Lane guests going into an attraction compared to standby guests is definitely not 1:1. I’d guess it’s closer to 5:1 and even that feels low sometimes. I get it, Genie+ guests paid for the service while others didn’t but there’s a reason that the parks feel full even when they’re not these days.
Genie+, FastPass, or whatever skip the line service you throw in allow guests to be in two spots at once. Yes, one of those spots is virtual but that still slows the lines. It’s a great system for those that use it and a system I’m in favor of if the ratios aren’t heavily skewed. With free FastPass, the ratio was much closer to 1:1 than it is now. But now there’s an overloaded system with Genie+ where there’s too many slots in each window available to guests, so those queues get backed up and the standby line suffers.
How do you solve that while not losing money if you’re Disney? Charge twice as much for the service while offering half as many spots. The supply & demand would still be there, as I think there’s plenty of guests who would still pay double for Genie+. If the price was only double what it is right now, Disney would still be able to offer a lower skip the line service than their competitors all while having the parks run more efficiently.
Unfortunately, I don’t see it going that way. Corporate greed and PR would likely get in the way of this as the blowback from doubling prices would be significant. I’m not sure you could talk Disney executives into putting a hard cap on Genie+ allotments either, as I’ve only seen the service sell out a couple of times in its current state. Cut the allotment in half, even with the price doubling, and Disney would likely be leaving money on the table. That’s something they do not like to do.
Right now, the service is in this middle ground. It’s definitely not free and it doesn’t include the top attraction or two at each park but it’s not that expensive. I find it to be the most frustrating spot for the company to sit in because that also has caused the parks to feel busier. With Genie+ still being relatively new, I don’t see a dramatic change coming though. Just incremental price increases over time, possibly some vacation packages with Genie+ included if a big travel lull hits. I’m hoping to be wrong on this one though!
What do you think of the Genie+ price increase and the future of the system? Let us know in the comments below! Planning a Disney trip? Check out our Travel Guides to help get you there! If you enjoy what you’re reading here on Wandering in Disney please subscribe to the blog via email or WordPress and like our social media pages. You can find all of those things on the right side of this page. Thank you very much for reading, we appreciate it!