- Some Disney-focused travel agents say Disney’s new Genie+ service could make or break a client’s vacation.
- Genie has the potential to enhance the guest experience with flexibility the previous offering lacked, the agents say.
- One agent worried their clients will have to alter vacation plans to offset the cost of the new system.
Disney’s new Genie+ service will be pay-to-use, but it could still offer flexibility to guests that FastPass lacked.
Disney revealed its new Genie+ app on Wednesday, which will replace its free FastPass service. FastPass allowed guests to bypass the line at up to three attractions in Walt Disney World Orlando. However, rides had to be preselected and booked for a specific time.
Many people have railed against the new program on Twitter. In dozens of comments posted online, critics accused Disney of trying to squeeze more money out of guests with the Genie+ program and doubted its value in improving the park experience. “How much money is enough for you?” wrote one user. “Honestly disgusted in this.”
As some customers fume over the new program, several Disney-focused travel agents told Insider that Genie could genuinely improve guests’ park experience, despite the extra cost. These agents earn money off of guests’ Disney bookings, but Genie could also cut into their commissions in cases where customers cut certain costs to offset Genie expenses.
“We do so much for our clients with bookings and reservations, but no amount of advanced planning can help with contingencies. However, now there’s this little genie on their shoulder that we’ve always wanted to be, so when things don’t go according to the plan, like weather or ride closures, there’s an app that can help clients pivot,” Juliana Castelli Grohman of Kingdom and Cruise Travel, a travel agency focused on Disney-related vacations, told Insider.
According to Disney, the Genie app works like a roadmap. The basic version is free for everybody and clients can work with their travel agent to decide what is most important to them, and the app will provide a route based on their wants. Genie+, which costs $15 at Walt Disney World and $20 at Disneyland per person per day, is the skip-the-line feature needed to bypass ride queues.
While guests may be upset about paying to skip the line, some agents told Insider they think that the new system will actually maximize people’s time in the parks. Genie+ allows guests to choose one Lightning Lane attraction at a time, and continue to jump ride to ride throughout the day via a virtual queue. Disney is providing training and education to travel agents throughout the launch, including a webinar hosted last week that had over 6,000 participants, a spokesperson said.
Grohman believes this will keep guests out of line longer and give them more time to enjoy other activities like character meet and greets and shows.
“I’m really excited about Disney Genie. It will help me guide clients through the parks, as if I was there with them, and give more flexibility and spontaneity than FastPass, which relied on specific ride times,” said Kathryn Finkelstein of Mickey Travels.
Darren Wittko of Magical Vacations Travel said he expected Disney to start charging for FastPasses. While he understands that customers may see the move as a cash grab, he hasn’t experienced that with his clients.
“Disney hasn’t raised ticket prices or hotel prices since 2019, and I’m actively booking throughout 2022, and those clients are getting 2019 rates. So, I didn’t really understand the financial part of it, but I understand the concern from guests,” he explained.
One agent, who chose to remain anonymous because they were not authorized to speak to the press by their agency, believes the cost is going to impact Disney-exclusive travel agents in particular because clients may want to offset the cost of Genie+. One way to do this is to book an offsite resort, which typically means less commission for the agent, but she has been encouraging her clients to do this to save money.
“They have cut so many things, character meet and greets, dining plans, parades, airport transportation, and now taking away FastPasses. There will be a tipping point for when enough is enough,” she said.