Genie Arse

Not too surprisingly this week has been a busy one and a bit of a blur. Work was ridiculous for the first few days, where I found myself in the position of having so much to do I had no idea what to tackle first, next or not at all.

Then on Thursday, Mustard were out gigging at a fairly large corporate do in Manchester. We played at an awards show for the Manchester Society of Architects (I think) at the Albert Halls in Manchester and it was a bit surreal, not least because the likes of James and The Manic Street Preachers have played there and the in house PA system we were able to use was incredible. We had proper sound folk and all sorts looking after us. It was awesome, nerve wracking and weird all at the same time. It went well anyway.

So with all of that and more going on, there has not been too much time for the planning of the WDW trip. I did find time to watch a handful of vlogs around the introduction of the new Genie service and all its chargeable variants.

Now I recognise that the system is still very new and I am sure things will get smoothed out and changed, but, and pardon my knee jerk reaction, what an absolute shambola and piss take the whole thing seems to be. I have always thought that any system that sees people pay more money when the parks and lines are busier is just giving that park the absolute ability to inflate wait times and make more money, but from what I have seen so far, I am absolutely gutted that this horror show has been introduced.

Costs aside for a second (but I will come back to that, don’t worry) getting on a few rides seems to be more complex than a moon landing now. I am fairly tech savvy for an old boomer, and I know the parks inside out. How on earth is someone who isn’t that great with a smartphone, newly arrived in WDW for the first time going to cope? It appears to be massively over complex. Nobody likes a good bit of planning and strategising over a theme park day more than me but I think we have jumped the shark here. When and how you are allowed to pay and book stuff will require full time study for about three months prior to a trip. There will need to be months of planning about your planning. The danger is that first timers may find the whole thing so overwhelming and over complicated that they fail to fall in love with the place like we all did all those years ago, and that will be to Disney’s detriment of course. One of the vloggers I watched already said that they noticed far more phone usage in the parks with Genie in play, which is no surprise as it seems you need the app to schedule your restroom stops. Hang on, that could be a handy feature!!

As for the costs. Just no. Now, I am sure once I am in the parks and in the moment I will succumb to handing over some dollars to get on some things, because it’s a long way to go for us to then not ride some of the headliners, but I will massively resent it and it will and has already tainted my perception of WDW. The huge financial pressure this is going to put on families with smaller kids who are giving them the puppy eyes to get on a ride that costs extra is just heart breaking to think about. This may not be the cash cow Disney think it will be. Families have finite budgets so anything spent on these new extras will surely only come out of any budget that may have gone on merchandise or on-site dining, and guests may now have to do less of both to accommodate these new “essentials”. Or folks will just take fewer trips as the cost of one has escalated so much in this and every other way.

When I apply this new system to our own situation, having already paid literally thousands of dollars to get my party into a WDW park on each day on our trip, if all six of us then wish to ride Rise Of The Resistance with what would have been a free FastPass+ in the past, we would need to pay an extra $90. That could be on top of the other $90 we have already paid that day for the Genie+ thing too. Then, if the only way we can ride, say Remy is to pay again, that would be another $50 or so. If we bought Genie+ and two of the extra special rides for all of us for each day we were in a Disney park on our trip (assuming that is say ten days) we would spend another $2,300. An extra $230 a day, ($40 per person) on top of the ticket price is absolutely crazy and they should be ashamed. I’m sorry, this is just too much money.

I know it’s optional, and I am painting the worst case scenario but when attractions like Rise Of The Resistance have standby lines of two hours almost constantly there isn’t much of an option if you want to ride that. And if you simply can’t afford the extra money you have an inferior experience to those who can.

This feeling that what we all had once for free is now provided at a premium is really the thing that sticks in my throat. I was always that person defending the cost of a WDW trip, pointing at the likes of ROE, Wishes and Fantasmic all provided pretty much nightly, as just one way in which the investment you made in a holiday to Disney was repaid.

They or their replacements are all still there (or soon will be) and they are on the same impressive scale, but this latest cash grab seems to have tipped me over the edge as a result of my own knee jerking.

I remember vividly standing in Galaxy’s Edge for the first time and feeling both blown away and somehow proud that a brand and experience I had long advocated had yet again delivered in such an impressive way. It bolstered my opinion that they always knew what to do and when I handed over my cash they knew how to spend it. That exchange felt fair.

I suspect and fear that if and when I do get on to Rise of the Resistance the whole thing will be soured both by the $90 we have handed over and the feeling that we are being taken for a ride and not in the way we might like.

Again it’s early days and things may settle but there’s a very real prospect that only on-site guests will have any chance to secure a Lightning Lane for this ride. There have long been on site perks which I understand but they need to give all guests a fair chance.

Universal have their own version of all this. We typically pay for the on-site experience when we do go there. The difference is we go to Universal infrequently because of that. That extra cost means we are selective about our visits there and Disney may find this begins to apply to them.

Yes, WDW has always been expensive but I have always felt that the quality, service and limitless entertainment made it good value. This new model feels like it is bordering on a piss take. For the first time it feels like Disney are not on my side. I’m sure they never really were, but at least I felt I was getting good value and a fair shake of the stick for my dollars.

As things settle and improve and maybe they even listen to some of their long standing customers, this all may change, but right now, from what I have seen it leaves a very bad taste in the mouth. It seems a move borne out of greed and not to improve the customer experience. Disney seem to have overcooked this massively both in terms of complexity and cost.

I appear to have gone off the deep end on something that when it was announced didn’t really bother or register with me. I suppose that was mainly because at that point I had no expectations of going any time soon. On the plus side, if things keep going as they are in the UK, that may be true once again.

So I shall leave it to Disney to sit in the corner and think about what they have done. They have time to smooth things out and make changes of course, and whatever happens we will hopefully go and have a good trip whenever that time comes regardless of all this nonsense.

For next week I shall ban myself from moaning and as ADR booking time approaches in the coming days we shall focus here on the nicer side of planning and me boring you with a day by day, blow by blow plan for our next American adventure.

Till the next time…..

12 thoughts on “Genie Arse

  1. I wholeheartedly agree with everything you have said about Genie+. I’m someone who does not appreciate having the piss taken out of me and this is exactly how I’d feel paying upwards of $45 for my family to ride something that mere months ago would have literally been free. Disney, or the ones making these decisions, seem to have no concept of the impact of this pricing will have – or maybe they genuinely just don’t give a monkeys on account of the amount of people who are either too rich, or too blinded, to care.

  2. I couldn’t agree more. We have been Disney AP holders for the last ten years and averaged three trips a year. (Pre-Covid). The AP was very cost effective for us. We’re booked to return at Christmas and have reached the conclusion that for now, considering Covid too, Disney has priced us out. The Genie+ seems too convoluted and I don’t want to be stuck to my phone all day. We will buy a Seaworld AP (access to Busch Gardens and Aquatica too) giving us one quick queue ride per day and the Universal (3 parks) APs giving us express passes after 4pm. We believe both these passes are value for money when you take into account other benefits such as preferred/valet parking, discounts of food and merchandise etc. We will return to Disney someday and I’ve no doubt we will pay the additional $45 a day for Genie+ but it will no longer form the backbone of our Orlando trips. I think Disney should have introduced an AP with fast pass (LL) included. As it stands at present I see no benefit of being an AP holder. I also can’t be doing with the park reservation system. There is no spontaneity allowed.

  3. Completely agree with your thoughts , Ticket prices alone have risen over 3000% since opening , way more than inflation. Also taking into account the parking fees, which go up in leaps and bounds, Disney is becoming a rich mans game. So much for Walt’s vision of somewhere for the family , it is now somewhere to take your second mortgage.

  4. 100% agree, in fact, I haven’t read one single blog/post/comment anywhere that thinks this change is a positive one. We’re going back in April, if we weren’t going with my son and his girlfriend for their first visit in years I would definitely not be visiting Disney. We will continue to visit Florida each year but after Aprils visit Disney will play either a very small part or none at all. I can’t believe I’m saying this but I have been so outraged by this latest cash cow of theirs that I’m not even bothered.

  5. I agree with you whole heartedly having been going to Disneyworld now for 25 years….Myself like a lot of people stayed on Disney property as Disney was the main focus and then would travel to Universal for 3 days out of my 2 weeks holiday, I think the way that Disney are heading and there not really been any bonus to staying on site , I think that for us especially as Universal are going to build the 3rd park I think that all that will change, especially as Universal on site hotels are a lot cheaper than Disney, I think that a lot of people will be staying at Universal for the majority of the holiday and pencilling in Disney…..such a shame as even as an adult I count my days until I visit my ” Happy Place” ..I hate the fact that I will be on my phone more and as I live in Greece I know for a fact that I will have difficulty purchasing any rides given my Greek Bank account …..let’s see what next year brings as I will be staying on site at Disney for 2 weeks then Universal for a week .Might be the last time for me I’m afraid .at least for a long time …..

  6. It seems totally mad to me the idea of paying so much extra on top is not good at all. I hope that they see sense but I fear there will be plenty of people with enough to pay for the experience. If we all voted with our feet things may change but I don’t think they will. Seems the people in power have an agenda and are sticking to it. Sad for the average family.

  7. I am another one who totally agrees with you.

    We are DVC owners so stay on site and go at quiet periods of the year. I am hoping that January will be quiet and the lines short as there is no way that I will double pay to go on to a ride.

    Since we have had the fun of re booking this holiday several times my thoughts have been drifting towards DLP. I have only been once, about 28 years ago! But surely it is good? It is Disney. We could save all the money spent on flights maybe for us this is the way forward and only do an Orlando trip every so often.

  8. I’m glad I went to Disney when I did, free fast passes and what seemed like value for money. Over the last 10 years or so they have become greedy with all the double digit % price increases year on year. Now they’ve introduced this genie thing, it’s becoming , cost wise , out of the reach of ordinary people, unless they want to spend most of their day in a queue.
    While there are people willing to pay, Disney will keep increasing their prices unfortunately.

  9. I don’t think its that bad as it been made out in reality. I’ve seen a couple of blogs where they have been able to get on rides with a less than 40 minute wait at a weekend so do you need it? We never used to have free access to via a separate lines for years until Fastpass was first introduced and as to paying for separate rides, that was how the parks used to operate when they first opened. I can understand people don’t like change but no-one is forced into going to Disney and then no-one is forced to pay extra get on rides either. By the time we go next September hopefully all the kinks would have been iron out. We won’t be paying for Genie+ but whether we would pay for the odd ride using the Lightning option would depend on a few factors such as how desperate we wanted to go on it, how much each ride would cost, time left on the holiday, how much spare cash we had left, etc

    At the end of the day people will see it differently and if nobody didn’t pay (that’s not going to happen) then Disney would probably change it. In a very short space of time it will be the new normal and nobody will be complaining about it.

    1. Bring optional doesn’t make it right. Optional has a different meaning when you are on a “once in a lifetime trip” or with very young kids who don’t understand why they can’t go and ride something. All this is the definition of first world problems of course. It’s just a holiday.

      I have always embraced change at WDW. Progress is good. This though feels like taking advantage of a loyal customer base and without any real tangible benefit to the customer.

      Sure there were e-ticket rides in the past but the charging model for entry was totally different then.

      I have little confidence this will go away and if we want to keep going to WDW we will need to suck it up. It feels like this change is going to fundamentally change how people plan and undertake their Disney visits though.

  10. We’ve put off our 2022 visit. It’s got to the point where it all got too much. They know people have got 2020/21 holiday money burning a hole in their pocket so they will make sure they extract it as quickly as possible. Brayden’s last youtube on mickey views was bang on, and the current Disney leadership are dragging it down to be like any other themepark and there may be more bad decisions to come.

  11. With much sadness we have postponed our next trip until 2023. We will see how things are then, but at the moment, I’m not planning to use genie+ or pay for the LL’s. It may be the end of the love affair sadly

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