Addressing the Genie in the Room

Gabriel C. Hall
4 min readSep 15, 2021


The poor execution of a tried and proven concept

It is often said that Disney Parks, Products and Experiences sets the standard for the Attractions & Entertainment industry. I’d like to take this one step further. The creation of Disneyland and Walt Disney World has inspired smaller parks across the United States and the rest of the world. Even the park I work at full-time, Carowinds was inspired by Disneyland.

While it is true that Disney has a significant influence on the industry as a whole, there is one thing in particular that proved not to be the industry norm, but the industry exception. Everyone who has been to the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida is familiar with FastPass+. A former service that was free for all guests that allowed them to make reservations for rides and skip the standby wait. This service has not been offered since the parks shutdown and reopened due to the Coronavirus Pandemic, and it was recently announced that it would be retired and replaced by Disney Genie+. More on that later.

The concept of ‘skip the line’ passes is nothing new, but the fact that this service was free at Walt Disney World was the industry exception rather than the industry norm. Universal Studios Orlando offers Universal Express. allowing riders to skip the main standby lines. Cedar Fair (NYSE: FUN) offers FastLane at all of their parks, with larger parks offering multiple tiers. Six Flags (NYSE: SIX) offers varying tiers of the Flash Pass at all of its parks. This is not limited to publicly traded companies. Herschend Family Entertainment offers TimeSaver at Dollywood (Pigeon Forge, TN) and TrailBlazers at Silver Dollar City (Branson, MO). Hershey Entertainment & Resorts offers FastTrack at Hersheypark (Hershey, PA). What do all of these have in common? I’m glad you asked. None of these services are free. None of these services have ever been free.

Enter Disney Genie+, the replacement for FastPass+. Unlike FastPass, Disney Genie+ will be a paid service that offers much of the same as FastPass, with a glaring exception. With Genie+ you will be able to hold one attraction reservation at a time and will cost roughly $15 per person, per day. This within itself does not bother me. But in true Bob Chapek fashion, it isn’t so simple. Genie+ does not include all the rides in the parks, as the more popular rides (Such as Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance) will require you to fork over additional Money to use Lightning Lane. Guests may only purchase Lightning Lane access for two rides per day.

Rise of the Resistance is an example of an attraction with a Lightning Lane. This one really gets me. There isn’t even a functioning standby line for this ride. You’re either lucky enough to secure a spot in the virtual queue at 7am or 1pm or you just don’t get to ride. Now if you’re unlucky, you can BUY a spot on the ride! Wow, way to charge for a solution to a problem you created. Tim Cook would be so proud. Additional rides that have already seen the addition of Lightning Lane includes the Mad Tea Party and Dumbo Flying Elephants, both at the Magic Kingdom Park. Imagine shelling out extra money to skip the line on the Teacups!

I will concede that Disney offers an exemplary guest experience, and my recent trip to the Walt Disney World Resort a few weeks ago was nothing short of magical. I’ve heard people argue that the ‘magic is gone’ and you pay a crap ton of money for ‘shoddy quality rides.’ This is coming from people who are simply salty about the entire matter. Recent additions such as Toy Story Land, Galaxy’s Edge, and Pandora do not qualify as Shoddy. Rides such as Flight of Passage and Rise of the Resistance are incredible experiences that do not have anything rivaling them.

The increasing cost to visit the parks has priced some people into oblivion however. Many people who visit the parks have to spend an extensive amount of time saving for their trip. And with recent price increases, it just isn’t possible anymore for a lot of people. This would concern me if I was a shareholder. Sure, you could make the argument of supply and demand, and sure you could argue that wealthier people spend more money on vacation, but at the end of the day, more people in the parks means more money spent on dining and merchandise, more money spent on parking, and at the end of the day, more money in my pocket.

Effectively what Disney is saying to its guests with the execution of Genie+ is “Oh you wanna have a GOOD day? You gotta pay extra for that.” I wouldn’t be upset if Disney structured this program more like what other parks have, or offered different tiers where the first tier included only certain rides and the second tier offered all the rides. But this right here is completely ridiculous. How does the company that sets the standards, manage to screw up a tried and proven concept?

Only time will tell how consumers react to all of this. If Disney is offering incredible deals come January, we will know they are in some trouble.



Gabriel C. Hall