The new Disney Genie service, which will replace the departing FastPass and MaxPass line-cutting alternatives, will launch this autumn.
Die-hard Disney fans who are disappointed by the demise of Disneyland’s free FastPass system and the emergence of the new premium Genie+ alternative have one thing to cheer about: perhaps reduced attraction wait times.
The new Disney Genie service, which will replace the departing FastPass and MaxPass line-cutting alternatives, will launch this autumn. Disneyland will phase out the free FastPass system in favor of a paid Lightning Lane alternative, as well as begin charging for premium front-of-the-line access to select particular attractions.
The $20 Genie+ subscription on the Disneyland smartphone app will include access to more than 15 attractions at Disneyland and Disney California Adventure. Genie+ will feature the Haunted Mansion, Big Thunder Mountain, and Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run, with more attractions to be announced at a later date.
According to Disneyland authorities, attraction wait times are affected by a variety of factors such as the time of year, theme park capacity, attraction availability, attendance mix, and visitor behavior. Disneyland and Disney California Adventure attraction inventory will be set aside for both Lightning Lanes and standby lineups, similar to the previous FastPass system.
“We’re incredibly excited about the flexibility and choices Disney Genie complimentary service provides to make planning easier, maximize park time and help guests make the most of their visits,” according to Disneyland officials. “We believe this new service will enhance the overall park experience for all of our guests.”
Most, but not all, theme park experts believe that the new paid Genie+ line-cutting system and Lightning Lane lines at Disneyland and Disney California Adventure will reduce attraction wait times for all guests.
According to Martin Lewison, a theme park specialist at Farmingdale State College in New York, the termination of complimentary FastPasses might potentially decrease Lightning Lane wait times and help attraction standby lineups move faster.
“Taking away free FastPass should reduce overall demand for rides by reducing the number of guests who wait in the virtual queue,” Lewison said via email. “Of those who once took advantage of free FastPass, some will spring for Genie+, some will settle by joining the standby queue and some will opt to avoid the queue altogether. The question then becomes: By how much?”
According to John Gerner, managing director of Leisure Business Advisors, fewer Disneyland guests would use the FastPass replacement system once they have to pay for the convenience.
“It’s likely that many visitors won’t feel the extra convenience is worth the price, so they’ll use the normal queue lines instead,” Gerner said via email.
Dennis Speigel, an industry specialist with International Theme Park Services, believes Genie+ will reduce wait times, which are the theme park sector’s single worst enemy.
“Nobody likes to wait or stand in line — not you, not me,” Speigel wrote on the ITPS blog. “This new Genie program offers even more flexibility through a program called ‘Lightning Lane Entrance’ that will save guests additional line time.”
However, not all theme park experts feel that Genie+ will significantly reduce wait times at Disneyland and DCA.
Former Disney executive Duncan Dickson does not believe the elimination of Disneyland’s complimentary FastPass system would significantly reduce wait times for Lightning Lanes or standby lines.
“The guest mix at Disneyland is so much different than other parks,” the retired University of Central Florida assistant professor of theme park and attraction management said by phone. “The majority of the guests that come to Disneyland are annual passholders. You probably won’t see much of a difference at Disneyland because they are much more savvy guests. They’ve been there so often and know how to work the systems.”
MiceChat expects that the new premium Genie+ system will be less popular than the previous free FastPass and $20 MaxPass systems.
“If fewer people pay for Genie+ than used FastPass/MaxPass, lines could be better than in the past,” according to MiceChat. “But at $20 per person/per day, it’s a pretty good bet that there will be plenty of Genie+ users every day.”
The “broken” FastPass system often made standby wait times longer, according to SyFy Wire theme park reporter Carlye Wisel.
“This shift towards Disney Genie+ and à la cart options was the right choice for the parks going forward,” Wisel wrote on SyFy Wire. “By limiting the number of guests who receive expedited entry, the standby lines can, hypothetically, move more quickly, particularly when in-app software is nudging you towards locations that currently have shorter lines.”
The former front-of-the-line system created longer wait times for everyone not using FastPass, according to Orange County Register theme park columnist Robert Niles.
“As a paid system, Disney Genie+ should attract fewer users than the free FastPass, allowing Disney to better manage standby lines,” Niles wrote in a Register column.
Professor Tom Morrow was originally a spacecraft missions director who oversaw spacecraft travels from Earth to the moon, notably with the Moonliner space-ship. In later attractions, Mr. Morrow is the mayor of Tomorrowland and a promoter of the latest technological advancements.
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