Monday, August 15, 2022

Some travel agencies in Disney embrace the new Genie+ system to pay for play as other consumers are fuming

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  • According to some Disney-centric travel agencies, Disney’s new Genie+ service may make or break a client’s holiday.
  • According to the agents, Genie has the ability to improve the visitor experience by providing flexibility that the prior offering lacked.
  • One agent is concerned that their clients may have to change their holiday plans to cover the expense of the new system.

Disney’s new Genie+ service will be pay-to-use, but it may still provide visitors with options that FastPass did not.

On Wednesday, Disney unveiled its new Genie+ app, which will replace its existing FastPass service. FastPass enabled customers to skip lines at up to three attractions at Walt Disney World Orlando. Rides, on the other hand, had to be pre-selected and reserved at a certain time.

On Twitter, several individuals have criticized the new program. In hundreds of online comments, opponents accused Disney of using the Genie+ program to extract more money from customers and questioned its worth in improving the park experience. “How much money is enough for you?” wrote one user. “Honestly disgusted in this.”

While some consumers are upset with the new service, some Disney-focused travel agencies told Insider that, despite the additional expense, Genie may actually improve clients’ park experiences. These brokers make money on visitors’ Disney bookings, but Genie may reduce their commissions if customers decrease specific prices to mitigate Genie expenses.

“We do so much for our clients with bookings and reservations, but no amount of advanced planning can help with contingencies. However, now there’s this little genie on their shoulder that we’ve always wanted to be, so when things don’t go according to the plan, like weather or ride closures, there’s an app that can help clients pivot,” Juliana Castelli Grohman of Kingdom and Cruise Travel.

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According to Disney, the Genie app functions similarly to a road map. The basic version is free for all users, and customers may collaborate with their travel agent to choose what is most important to them, and the app will recommend a route based on their preferences. Genie+, which costs $15 per person per day at Walt Disney World and $20 per person per day at Disneyland, is the skip-the-line option required to circumvent ride waits.

While some guests may be angry about having to pay to avoid the line, several agents told Insider that the new method will actually optimize people’s time in the parks. Genie+ enables customers to select one Lightning Lane attraction at a time and jump from ride to ride throughout the day via a virtual line. A representative for Disney stated that the company is offering training and instruction to travel agencies during the launch, including a webinar last week that drew over 6,000 people.

Grohman feels that by doing so, attendees will be able to spend more time enjoying other activities such as character meet and greets and entertainment.

“I’m really excited about Disney Genie. It will help me guide clients through the parks, as if I was there with them, and give more flexibility and spontaneity than FastPass, which relied on specific ride times,” said Kathryn Finkelstein of Mickey Travels.

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Darren Wittko of Magical Vacations Travel predicted that Disney will begin charging for FastPasses. While he realizes that customers may perceive the change as a money grab, he hasn’t had that experience with his clientele.

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“Disney hasn’t raised ticket prices or hotel prices since 2019, and I’m actively booking throughout 2022, and those clients are getting 2019 rates. So, I didn’t really understand the financial part of it, but I understand the concern from guests,” he explained.

One agent, who requested anonymity because they were not permitted to speak to the press by their firm, feels the expense will disproportionately affect Disney-exclusive travel agents since customers may wish to offset the cost of Genie+. One option is to book an offsite resort, which generally results in a lower fee for the agent, but she has been urging her customers to do so in order to save money.

“They have cut so many things, character meet and greets, dining plans, parades, airport transportation, and now taking away FastPasses. There will be a tipping point for when enough is enough,” she said.

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