Disney World Replaces Free FastPass System With Paid Genie + And Lightning Lane, And Fans Are Not Happy
ORLANDO, Florida – Walt Disney World’s popular FastPass program has been replaced with an expensive new option that allows customers to pay to avoid long lines on the parks’ most popular rides.
Longtime fans, for the most part, aren’t happy with the change.
“Nothing could be more magical than paying thousands of dollars for a vacation to be spotless around every corner,” one fan wrote on Disney’s Twitter feed. “I don’t see anything ‘magical’ at all,” wrote another.
In recent years, Disney has been unique among the major theme parks by offering its skip-the-line program to all guests at no additional cost. As part of the FastPass system, all guests had the option to book travel times at popular park attractions later in the day, with a shorter queue.
Other major theme parks, including Cedar Point, Universal, and Six Flags properties all sell expensive, front-line accessible passes.
Len Testa, president of TouringPlans.com and co-author of “The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World,” said he’s never seen the Disney fan base so angry. “The reaction to the paid FastPass has been received about as badly as anything Disney has done,” he said.
The new program, which launched on Tuesday, has three main components: Genie, Genie + and Lightning Lane. It works like this:
* Genius: Each guest has access to the new Genie System, a free tool available on the My Disney Experience app that is designed to help visitors better maximize their time in the parks by helping them with directions, ordering food, providing estimated wait times and more.
* Genius +: For $ 15 per person per day, a guest can upgrade to Genie +, giving visitors access to a special, shorter ‘Lightning Lane’ at dozens of popular rides, avoiding the longer lines. . Participating rides include Peter Pan’s Flight, Test Track, Slinky Dog Dash and many more. This option, however, does not include the most popular rides in the parks. (For the list: disneyworld.disney.go.com/genie/lightning-lane).
* More Lightning Lane options: In addition to the Genie + system, there is a separate pay-per-view surcharge program for the most popular rides. Customers can pay a one-time fee – $ 8 to $ 15, depending on the day and route – to access a shorter line for the eight most popular rides (two at each park). These rides are Space Mountain and Seven Dwarfs Mine Ride in the Magic Kingdom; Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure and Frozen Ever After at Epcot; Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway and Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance at Disney’s Hollywood Studios; and Avatar Flight of Passage and Everest Expedition at Animal Kingdom. Customers can purchase two of these passes per day and do not need to purchase Genie + as well.
The cost of Genie +, plus two pay-per-view Lightning Lane passes, will add up to $ 45 per person per day to the cost of a trip – or nearly $ 200 per day for a family of four. This is in addition to admission to enter the park, which costs at least $ 110 per person per day.
And Testa said that Genie + prices will certainly increase in the weeks and months to come, as Disney assesses demand.
Dennis Speigel, an industry consultant, predicts that Disney guests will eventually come to terms with the new system. He noted that FastPass, while free, was not equally accessible to everyone, as many rides ran out of FastPass seats early in the day, rewarding guests who had planned ahead.
The free portion of the new Genie system – which is meant to help customers create routes to minimize wait times – is closely watched by others in the industry, said Speigel, CEO of International Theme Park Services. in Cincinnati. “The more they can communicate with guests and orient them to help with the movement and balance of the park, the better it is for the guests and the better it is for the park,” he said. “At the end of the day, I think it’s a win-win.”
Despite early reviews from Disney’s fan base, Speigel and Testa said there is no doubt visitors will buy Lightning Lane passes.
What is less clear is whether these purchases will generate additional revenue for Disney or replace spending elsewhere in the parks.
“People can reallocate money rather than paying more,” Testa said. “Maybe they don’t have a fancy dinner one night or they cut their vacation short by a day.”
The FastPass shutdown is just the most recent in a series of unpopular decisions made by Disney executives to improve the company’s bottom line.
Earlier this year, Disney announced it would stop Magical Express, the free bus system provided to and from Orlando International Airport to Disney resorts. The service will be phased out from 2022.
Other unpopular changes include reduced overtime in parks for resort guests, new fees for high-tech MagicBands that serve as room keys and entrance tickets, increased fees for parking and more.
Walt Disney Company CEO Bob Chapek appears to be paying the price for fan reviews on social media.
Testa said Chapek, who took the top job in February 2020, just before the coronavirus pandemic shut down the industry, was in a dead end – tasked with increasing revenue when previous executives plucked all the fruits at your fingertips.
“They’ve raised the price of tickets to roughly what people can afford,” he said. Hotel prices have also skyrocketed.
“There aren’t a lot of places where they can increase their income,” he said. “There’s only a limited amount you can charge for a hot dog until people bring their own lunch. “
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