Walt Disney World is filled with spaces and attractions which are generally overlooked. Overlooked attractions are rides and experiences which normally have little or no wait, and a less experienced visitor may be unaware of their presence.
Many of these attractions, such as the Swiss Family Treehouse, are my personal favorites. Prior to 2020 I only visited the parks during high crowd times when headliners like Seven Dwarfs Mine Train accumulated waits of two hours or more very quickly. Meanwhile, showings of Country Bear Jamboree played to a theatre which would be one quarter full.
But since the implementation of the Disney Genie, Genie+, and Lightning Lanes, I have noticed these once deserted areas accumulating queues and crowds which previously were unheard of. The Disney Genie launched at Walt Disney World on October 19th, 2021. Disney Parks Blog indicated as part of their October 8th, 2021 announcement that the purpose of the service was to:
- Reduce time in lines while keeping in mind your top picks
- Pace your day with experiences you’ll enjoy – and haven’t already done yet
- Build around your existing plans like dining reservations and Park Hopper preferences
One of the facets of the Disney Genie consists of providing guests with personalized itineraries designed to deliver a more satisfactory experience. While many memes on the internet make fun of options presented, I wonder if part of the increased traffic to these attractions is due to guests taking the Genie’s suggestions.
The Disney Genie is coupled with Genie+, a paid service of $15 per day, with an extra fee for some headliners (Individual Lightning Lanes) which provides parties with a return time to select attractions. Guests in the Lightning Lane are given priority over those in the Standby queue, and in my opinion, stand-by waits are much longer than in the pre-Lightning Lane world. For example, Living with the Land, once a reliable walk-on now can accumulate a stand-by wait of thirty minutes or more as Genie+ guests pour in. Whether or not Genie+ is in fact increasing the wait time for standby guests, the perception that every attraction in the park has an onerously long wait might lead visitors to explore other options.
The increase in traffic to the Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail and lines regularly exceeding thirty minutes to board the PeopleMover greatly benefit these attractions and experiences. Without enough guest traffic it may not be worth keeping areas open or completing major repairs when maintenance is needed. Even worse, minimal interest could result in classics like Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress being shut down. Or the Swiss Family Treehouse being subjected to an unnecessary Intellectual Property-driven overlay.
The reshuffling of guests from a 120-minute wait on the Jungle Cruise to one of the in-theatre shows aligns with first two goals of the Disney Genie indicated above. Reducing time in lines and pacing a day with new experiences, I sincerely hope visitors become acquainted with spaces they might otherwise walk past and learn to appreciate them.
Maharajah Jungle Trek is a walking-trail in Animal Kingdom’s Asia which many long-term visitors have never experienced. Yet it includes some of the most beautiful and immersive theming on Walt Disney World property. The Liberty Square Riverboat provides views of Frontierland, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, and more which one would not see any other way. Complaints frequently abound that attractions like Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway are too dependent on screens. But overlooked attractions like the Discovery Island Trails still rely on showing us the natural world and three-dimensional figures. If the Disney Genie and Genie+’s Lightning Lanes are increasing traffic to these attractions, their longevity and place in the parks may be more secure.
Building your day around existing plans (the third goal of the Disney Genie) and funneling guests to low traffic spaces helps to plug holes in one’s day. Directing a guest to enjoy the Treehouse thirty minutes prior to a dining reservation at the Crystal Palace fills time during which a group might otherwise be idle. A full day consisting of beloved and new experiences should result in a guest concluding their day satisfied with their visit.
I am seeing an uptick in the crowds visiting these attractions and spaces and believe the Disney Genie may be responsible. Are you inclined to agree? Are you a less experienced visitor who learned about a previously unknown space via the Disney Genie? Have you also noticed an uptick in the number of guests visiting previously overlooked areas and attractions? Please feel free to leave a comment!