Disney overhauls virtual queue and planning system for domestic parks with Disney Genie and upsells

Posted Wednesday, August 18, 2021 7:52 PM | Contributed by Jeff

Disney has introduced a new system called Disney Genie to manage planning and queueing at Walt Disney World and Disneyland. It includes some premium queue options for additional cost. From the official blog post:

Built right into the My Disney Experience and Disneyland apps, Disney Genie service will maximize your park time, so you can have more fun. It includes a personalized itinerary feature that will quickly and seamlessly map out an entire day. From specific attractions, foodie experiences and entertainment, to general interests like Disney princesses, villains, Pixar, Star Wars, thrill rides and more – just tell Disney Genie what you want to do and it will do the planning for you.

The short video overview:

The long video overview:

Wednesday, August 18, 2021 7:56 PM
Jeff's avatar

Despite the wall of text in the blog and a 15-minute video, they completely fail to answer the question, "What does this mean for me when I'm used to not paying for anything extra but used to get three Fastpasses a day?" I'm pretty sure that's the only thing that anyone really wants to know, and the best conclusion I can make is, "Genie will tell you a good time to go, but you may spend more time in line than you're used to." Are Lightning Lanes for the upcharge service only? For resort guests who get reservations? For whatever thing Genie says I should do? It's too hard for my autism brain to not compare it to what I'm familiar with.


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Silly Nonsense

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Wednesday, August 18, 2021 8:12 PM

The general consensus is that you're getting less for more here.

Also, this tweet on Mickey's Christmas Party prices is making the rounds on the Disney sites, noting the event is shorter and has considerably fewer features now than it did when it was half the price.

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Wednesday, August 18, 2021 9:03 PM
OhioStater's avatar

So...Disney is now implementing Fastlane, only a per-ride basis?

I don't know if I'm too tired to process info right now or what, but I'm confused.

Disney Genie will continue to update your itinerary throughout your day, so you can be more spontaneous and go with the flow.

Having an itinerary of any kind sounds like the opposite of being spontaneous.

Last edited by OhioStater, Wednesday, August 18, 2021 9:13 PM

Promoter of fog.

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Wednesday, August 18, 2021 9:23 PM
Jeff's avatar

Yes, and that dude in the long video assures you several times that you can be flexible and spontaneous. Can you?

While they have been operating with reduced capacity, though judging by the parking lots, I don't think it's that much lower, having no virtual queue at all has been an interesting experience. Getting to ride Flight of Passage or Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is more in the realm of possible, with hour waits or less if you time it right. But you also appreciate how a lot of rides (Frozen, Test Track, Micky & Minnie's Runaway Railway, Everest, Tower of Terror and others) don't have standby queues designed to carry a huge load of people.

FP+ was a disaster at rollout, but got to be pretty solid within a few months, both for multi-day vacationers and AP's. I'll give them the benefit of the doubt to see how this goes, with the satisfaction that they probably spent way too much building the software to make it work.


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Silly Nonsense

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Wednesday, August 18, 2021 10:40 PM

that sound you're hearing is the collective "@$%!" from the Disneyland Annual Passholders who thought the world was righting itself with the Magic Key announcement. Those go on sale the 25th, so with this dropping in advance, people are now seeing how the Magic Keys while seemingly priced same/same to the former program, now come with a HUGE variable. The Reservation availability variable was already something that the locals were willing to "take a chance on" but now Genie, and the new price points and the downside ramifications are causing people to re-evaluate the calculus.

this should be fun

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Wednesday, August 18, 2021 10:44 PM

The planning part sounds like it was modeled for Orlando (which it should be) and its tourist, once in a generation, Disney Trip model. The SoCal base, who know every inch of the two parks and don't need to be told that "Star Tours" is just around the corner, are going to shred this thing.

Last edited by CreditWh0re, Wednesday, August 18, 2021 10:46 PM
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Wednesday, August 18, 2021 11:34 PM
ApolloAndy's avatar

Disney hates poor people.

I think this is "within tolerances" for my family's travel style. We got about once a year, do a huge multi-thousand dollar "buy whatever you want" blowout, and absolutely abhor lines. If this access is similar to what people were getting with MaxPass (we never had the chance to try it), I'm all for it. I think it is designed to hose local AP's though. If you're popping in for a few hours after work, you're either looking at a $15 upcharge or a lot of people cutting the standby line. Maybe that was the case with the previous FP systems, but it seems as bad with a system like this.

I also said of Genie on another board:

"To me the real question with all of these things isn’t whether Disney is intentionally manipulating people into doing things that aren’t in their self interest. The real question is how it knows what my self interest is.

MOST people would rather be told that a line is 10 minutes longer than it actually is, but some people would rather know exactly how long the line is.

MOST people would rather be told to go ride Small World with a 10 minute wait, but some people would rather stand in line at Space for 60 minutes.

MOST people would rather wait when the line is 30 minutes or less and get some virtual pass when the line is 31 minutes or more, but some people would rather just stand there for 45 minutes.

I don’t think Disney is going to sell us something to actively steer us away from our preferred outcome (through manipulation, additional complexity, or mis/lack of information). That would just be bad business. But I wouldn’t be surprised if these systems make assumptions about what the guest would prefer, and frankly, since I don’t tour like most guests, many of those assumptions would be incorrect."

Last edited by ApolloAndy, Thursday, August 19, 2021 2:05 AM

Hobbes: "What's the point of attaching a number to everything you do?"
Calvin: "If your numbers go up, it means you're having more fun."

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Thursday, August 19, 2021 12:24 AM
99er's avatar

BrettV said:

Also, this tweet on Mickey's Christmas Party prices is making the rounds on the Disney sites, noting the event is shorter and has considerably fewer features now than it did when it was half the price.

This years Christmas event is not 'Mickey's Very Merry' as has been in years past. It is a new after hours event much like Boo Bash. So I don't think I would compare it to the old MVMCP since the point of this new event is to actually have less offerings in a shorter time. If Boo Bash is any indication, people are fine with this shift since the event has almost sold out 100%.


-Chris

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Thursday, August 19, 2021 12:31 AM

When Disney had paper fast passes it was still a spontaneous experience. You picked a ride and instead of waiting in line you did something else.

It’s a miserable experience of pre planning and reservations way too far in advance since FP+. Now they want to charge more to skip the line on top of their exorbitant prices. No thank you.

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Thursday, August 19, 2021 12:34 AM
ApolloAndy's avatar

I don't know why people value spontaneity so much. I mean, I understand that sometimes I don't know how I'll feel at 2:35 on a Thursday six weeks from now, but in general, I'd much rather have a decent idea of what I'm going to ride when (and specifically that I have a plan to ride my top attractions without waiting a million years) well before I enter the park.


Hobbes: "What's the point of attaching a number to everything you do?"
Calvin: "If your numbers go up, it means you're having more fun."

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Thursday, August 19, 2021 12:45 AM
LostKause's avatar

I haven't found the price for the fastpa- I mean Lightning Lane for the rides that are not included in Genie+. Did anyone else find a price for the mentioned individual, one-time use, front-of-the-line access to certain rides that have trouble handling demand?

To plus your genie is "only" an extra $20 per ticket per day, which is nothing compared to how much they already charge for a one-day ticket. But still, I do not like this. (ducks)


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Thursday, August 19, 2021 1:12 AM

LostKause said:

I haven't found the price for the fastpa- I mean Lightning Lane for the rides that are not included in Genie+.

There's the rub. it will be dynamically priced, variable to days/minutes with respect to crowds/weather/parades/spectaculars/etc. Don't think for one minute that there won't be some amazing yield management number crunching. Imagine a scenario to fill in those normal gaps when people migrate away from attractions and towards parade routes.

Bing! "Genie+ here, for only $$ (a number less than what it was an hour ago at peak mid day) you can do FOTL for %_________% (attraction) now, and still make it through and be done with plenty of time to see the parade by standing %___% here (see blue line on your digital map."

Last edited by CreditWh0re, Thursday, August 19, 2021 1:12 AM
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Thursday, August 19, 2021 2:00 AM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

It includes a personalized itinerary feature that will quickly and seamlessly map out an entire day. From specific attractions, foodie experiences and entertainment, to general interests like Disney princesses, villains, Pixar, Star Wars, thrill rides and more – just tell Disney Genie what you want to do and it will do the planning for you.

Holy. Crap.

Can I Gonchback to every last thread where I told y'all this was the end game? And all the ways people insisted this would never work?

I'm sticky.


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Thursday, August 19, 2021 2:18 AM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

CreditWh0re said:

LostKause said:

I haven't found the price for the fastpa- I mean Lightning Lane for the rides that are not included in Genie+.

There's the rub. it will be dynamically priced, variable to days/minutes with respect to crowds/weather/parades/spectaculars/etc. Don't think for one minute that there won't be some amazing yield management number crunching.

This Frommer's article says in part:

"...a similar pay-per-ride system launched a few weeks ago at Disneyland Paris charges the equivalent of $9.50 to $17.80 each and every time the short line is used.

That surcharge is levied per person, and it applies to, among other attractions, one of the most beloved family rides, Peter Pan's Flight. So a family of four might pay $71 just to avoid standing in the regular line of a single ride."

Disney just started hating the middle class.

Last edited by Lord Gonchar, Thursday, August 19, 2021 2:35 AM
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Thursday, August 19, 2021 8:55 AM
Jeff's avatar

You know, sometimes I wonder if Disney is actually over-thinking it. I'll be the first to admit that Universal can be a mixed bag as far as operations go, but their Universal Express service has essentially been the same for decades. If you stay in an on-site hotel, you get it, or you pay extra for the day, or you get it after 4 if you have the most premium annual pass. It never really appears to be oversold to the point of interfering with the standby lines, and the standby lines are generally less than an hour (aside from Hagrid's Motorbike, sometimes).


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Silly Nonsense

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Thursday, August 19, 2021 9:38 AM

I know you and I disagree on how Fastpass+ affected the WDW experience, but this 100%. I feel like WDW just makes it more and more complicated and adds more steps to everyone's experience. Universal (and most other major chains) simply charge more for the opportunity to go in a different line that's significantly shorter. It's a great experience for those who choose to do it, but it's priced in a way to not hinder the experience of everyone that doesn't do it.

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Thursday, August 19, 2021 9:51 AM
eightdotthree's avatar

This is a theme in online video games. As the game gets more and more players the player base is split in two. The 5% and the filthy casuals. The 5% want high-level content that challenges them, The filthy casuals just want to have fun and not get crushed by the 5%. Disney keeps catering to the filthy casuals because of course they are.

I prefer the old paper fast passes because I know my way around a theme park but maybe this will work? If the lightning queue has fewer people than the current Fast Pass queues maybe it will make the normal queues more comfortable?

Last edited by eightdotthree, Thursday, August 19, 2021 9:52 AM
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Thursday, August 19, 2021 9:56 AM
Jeff's avatar

FP+ always worked for me outside of 7D and Flight of Passage, so yeah, I didn't hate it. But Express was better as a Premier Pass holder, for sure, because you just walked from ride to ride and did the thing quickly. There was no app, no plan.


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Silly Nonsense

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Thursday, August 19, 2021 10:21 AM

eightdotthree said:

If the lightning queue has fewer people than the current Fast Pass queues maybe it will make the normal queues more comfortable?

This to me is one of the key questions: how Disney will manage capacity / surge pricing on the lightning queues. If it feels like the only way to ride Space Mountain is to pay an extra $17 a head, people might be pretty unhappy. (It probably won't keep them from coming to Disney World, of course.) OTOH, if it's a choice between an hour in a decently moving line and $17, that's maybe less offputting.

As someone who hasn't experienced anything at Disney other than the paper tickets at Disneyland, and who is vaguely planning a trip to WDW a year from now, this seems:

  • complicated, but not (from the user perspective) hugely more complicated than the previous systems
  • potentially intrusive - is the damn Genie going to be bugging me every five minutes?
  • a relief, in that I won't have to plan what I want to ride two months in advance
  • annoying, in that I'm going to have to set my alarm for 6:45 every morning of my vacation (apparently, per that Frommer's article, the lightning lane choices become available at 7 am daily)
  • another thing I'm going to have to spend months studying if I don't want to be a sap, or possibly a way to avoid months of study? Time will tell
  • more expensive, but at this point I'm thinking, in for a million, in for two million.

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