The Walt Disney Co. (HAZE) – Get a free report have to balance quite a few things when it comes to the theme parks. First, it must deliver an experience good enough to make park visitors want to return, while also telling their friends about their positive experience.
Second, the company must maximize revenue. It’s not always about charging the most for park tickets (although the company has worked on that). Disney wants the most money possible, but it’s content that pushes some of that revenue out of the core ticket price and into expensive add-ons.
After-hours events, for example, have been a huge revenue driver for the company. These involve paying a separate fee for admission to one of the company’s Disney World or Disneyland theme parks for a limited-ticket event that usually starts at and some additional character appearances.
Disney has also boosted its bottom line by getting rid of the free FastPass+ system and replacing it with Genie+, a paid product. Basically, you pay $15-$22 per guest, per day for access to a system that works much like FastPass+ did. You can choose a time for most rides (one at a time) and by purchasing Genie+ you can add “Lightning Lane” purchases, which cost more but give you quick access to the most popular attractions.
More or less, you pay extra – and then you pay even more – if you want to have a good experience in Disney World or Disneyland. It’s a de facto backdoor price hike for anyone hoping to ride a lot of rides during their Disney visit.
Now, the company has quietly changed the rules for this popular-because-you-need-it-costs Genie+ service, and the change could be bad news for your vacation.
Disneyland is making a Genie+ change
Genie+ has become an essential purchase for anyone visiting Disney’s American theme parks who wants to spend the day on rides and meeting characters. You can choose not to have it and just wait in line, but your park experience will almost certainly be worse without it.
Currently, you cannot purchase Genie+ in advance. It becomes available for purchase at midnight on the day of the visit. In the past there was no reason to literally stay up late and buy it, but that may just have changed.
Journalist Scott Gustin, which covers Disney, noted that the company had quietly changed some language about Genie+, essentially in the fine print on its website. It added a pretty meaningful disclaimer.
“Please note that there may be days when Disney Genie+ sales are discontinued based on demand for the service.”
Disney used to allow pre-purchase of Genie+. It ended in June. The company previously included language that said Genie+ was subject to “limited availability and is not guaranteed.”
The new language suggests the company may be hitting those capacities at Disneyland and wants to be more explicit in sharing that you may be locked out.
Genie+ showcases a Disney problem
The problem with selling special access is that at some point, if enough people have it, it’s no longer special. Genie+, like FastPass+, can only handle so many people before more people wait in the “special” line than in the regular line.
It happened a few times in FastPass+ at less popular attractions. You might have a FastPass, but the regular line had few people in it, so it wasn’t necessary. But you had to use it, because not doing so would limit your ability to get another FastPass for a subsequent ride choice.
By recently raising the price of Genie+ and making it variable (probably based on expected demand), Disney can maximize revenue while maintaining a good experience. Some people will pay pretty much any price for special access, so Disney might make more money selling Genie+ to them at higher prices.
It’s actually a model similar to how Disney prices tickets to its parks and how its after-hours events work.