Yesterday, I woke up here in Sydney to my phone dinging relentlessly. Notification after notification rolled in with news of Disney price increases being introduced for additional services, followed by the unraveling of the guest community as they collectively lost their minds. I scrambled to see what was blowing up my phone, one eye open, reaching ungracefully for my glasses only to see that Genie+ had moved to a scaled system based on demand. And?
Sure, there is the usual argument we can all agree on, no one wants to pay more for any aspect of Disney. The experience is already a premium product that we pay top dollar to enjoy. I get that part, but on the flip side, who exactly couldn’t see this coming? Regardless of your thoughts on Genie+ as a product, the bottom line is that it’s Walt Disney World’s first paid skip-the-line service in place of FastPass and it entered at a price point that although many resented, almost all could afford. Even with an element of disgust for it, guests are already opting into the system in droves, creating the age-old problem; if everyone is special, then no one is. How do you provide a premium experience if everyone has it?
The only way is up, up in price that is, until it reaches the tipping point that only the intended percentage of guests choose to access. Of course in the more crowded and popular times (like the holidays for example), more people will engage with service, which will put even more pressure on the system to perform as expected and provide ample opportunities to be used, spread between a higher percentage of guests. It’s a problem they needed to get ahead of before diving into the October – January seasonal festivities.
My point isn’t so much against those who are disappointed; more in the shock I noted from the comments that rolled through my feed yesterday. I wanted to reply, is this really shocking? Though a genuine question, I am sure it would have been taken as an aggressive or sarcastic comment when read without the context of what I am sharing here.
Some were quick to blame the Disney company, using phrases like “price hikes”, and “money grab” as though these economic practices are limited to the Disney enterprise alone. Compared to other parks, including their Orlando counterpart, Universal, Disney is late to the jump-the-queue paid services. Many of their competitors began this process years ago and have inflated the premium service to heights well above the max $22 Disney released yesterday. They have done this to retain the key feature of this product. Premium. Something that a guest can obtain that gives them more than the majority. If everyone has one, the company might as well move to a completely virtual line-based system and simply up the base price of all tickets. Though no doubt that wouldn’t go down well either.
As much as I hate to say it — despite seeing it coming, I don’t want to pay it any more than you do — I can see this going much further, with a price point well above what we are seeing now. One positive to be drawn from this is that if you are a guest choosing not to pay the extra amount for Genie+, these increases will slowly see a drop in the number of guests using it, thereby reducing a little bit of the disadvantage felt as droves of people skip past you in the Lightning Lane entrance. Less of them means fewer delays for you as they are placed in the queue ahead of you.
Zoë Wood is a travel writer from Sydney, Australia. Since her first visit to Disneyland at the age of 6, she has spent her years frequently visiting Disney Parks and traveling around the world.
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