On Wednesday, Disney introduced a fancy new schedule planning feature for its theme parks: Disney Genie. While free, the Disney Genie eliminates the time-management mainstays FastPass and FastPass Plus. Now, in order to skip Disneyland and Walt Disney World’s long lines, guests will now pay for “Genie Plus,” which adds audio, image and augmented reality features to the basic app, along with the new line-skipping “Lightning Lane” feature. The add-on will cost $15 at Disney World and $20 at Disneyland.
The FastPass was introduced in 1999 as a way to bypass the often huge attraction queues. Back int he day, guests picked up passes at kiosks and returned at the time specified by the pass in order to access the shorter line. Eventually FastPass became integrated in other park planning mobile apps, but Disney will now move its focus to Genie and Genie Plus. While the might be a shock to Disney World regulars, Disneyland actually got rid of its FastPass system in 2017, rolling out the $20 MaxPass. Disney notes that most rides will be included with the Disney Genie Plus perk, though some will have a la carte options instead, such as the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. Disney has not revealed pricing for those additional line-skipping options.
Disney vacations are already an expensive excursion, with tickets at Disney World starting at $109 for adults and going up to $224 for the full Park Hopper option. On social media, many have pointed out that charging extra for what once was a free perk makes the Disney experience inaccessible to those who can’t afford it. Others have argued that the FastPass system is actually the reason for the backed up lines and that getting rid of it may help streamline the waiting process.
Disney intends for Disney Genie to help guests plan their days, showing current wait times and forecasting future ones in order for visitors to maximize their experience. The app will also serve personalized recommendations based on what guests are interested in. The service will roll out sometime this fall. The full breakdown of its services can be found on the Disney Parks blog.