First Day Reactions to Disney’s Genie+ System

Genie+ Walt Disney World Disneyland

Disney has launched their new Genie+ program at Walt Disney World, and it’s expected to roll out at Disneyland in the next few months. Florida based Disney park fans have already taken to the Internet to share their first impressions of the new system.

The first day of anything new is bound to have a few problems, and Disney’s new Genie+ system (which we talked about in our previous Disneyland guide) is no different in that regard. The update rolled out overnight for the Walt Disney World app, and park goers immediately began testing the system, gauging how it’ll work, and looking for potential flaws. These hot takes have made their way onto social media, and we can get a bit of an idea for how this app could function moving forward.

It was immediately off to a shaky start even before the parks opened as some keen-eyed fans spotted filler text in the legal disclaimer field minutes after the app launched. Once people began to actually be able to use the app, more complaints flooded in on social media and the collective ire of park fans began to grow. Complaints ranged from the difficulty of use, to the morality of the system, to the accuracy of the app, and everything in between. A lot of people are incredibly displeased with the app, which isn’t exactly a surprise considering Disney’s track record with new tech (or even just opening day problems in general) and the negative buzz preceding it.

It wasn’t all bad, however. While the reactions generally skew negative, it seems to work out well for some people, and some of the complaints may gradually fade away with time and app improvements. If you sort through all the commentary online, some people are enjoying it and making the most out of their day at the parks. Their praise may be drowned out at this early stage, but it’s there if you look for it.

It’s hard to tell how this system will work out in the long term, but at the very least we can see how things might work out in the short term, and perhaps get a glimpse at what awaits Disneyland guests later in the fall when it adopts the system itself.

First Of All, Negative Reactions Need Context

It’s important to note that much of the criticism so far is coming from Disney park bloggers, many of whom are notoriously resistant to change and tend to make their displeasure known loud and clear. The reaction of hardcore Disney park enthusiasts may not hold true for regular park goers, so your mileage with these opinions may vary. That said, these people do tend to know what they’re doing, so it’s worth listening to them even with this context in mind. Their input is valuable, as long as you take it in context.

It’s also important to note that the app could get better with time. A lot of the technical glitches and bad advice that people are getting could be corrected by either Disney app engineers, or the app itself if it uses machine learning technology. At this time I’m not sure if the app uses MLT, but I strongly suspect Disney would be eager to learn more about their guests so they can market stuff at us, so I assume that it likely does. This means the more data that gets fed into it by today’s guests, the better it’ll be for future guests.

But let’s do a rundown of the common themes from today’s app launch, and figure out if the system will be right for you.

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly for Disney’s Genie+ System

Getting Help Is Difficult

If you do have technical issues with the app, getting help could be a bit difficult. Getting in touch with support by phone and via the app could take an incredibly long time, which will cut into your precious vacation plans. Going to Guest Relations seems to be the best option, though even that has a bit of a line. While I don’t expect the phone and app options to get too much easier (it was already difficult before), the confused guests at the kiosks may fade away as the app improves and people learn how to use it.

Genie+ Isn’t Always Accurate

As mentioned above, context is required for this particular complaint. The inaccuracy of the app could be attributed to the newness of it all, and if you use it a few weeks or a few months from now, it might be a lot better. That said, some of these suggestions have been downright hilarious.  Even if it’s frustrating poking around an imperfect app, you may get a chuckle out of some of the suggestions.

If you get a wildly inaccurate suggestion, you can tell the app that you aren’t too keen on a particular response and dismiss it. If Disney is using MTL for this app (which, again, I don’t see why they wouldn’t), you’ll be helping future guests by doing so. So please, if the app is wrong, tell it that it’s wrong and help us out!

In addition to attraction suggestions being a bit off (and a bit hilarious), the ride times have been both longer and shorter than noted, and occasionally right on the dot. The inaccuracy of wait times isn’t new. The Disneyland app has been off frequently since the parks reopened at least (though I admit, I’m not as clear on if this was a problem for Walt Disney World as well). I’m not sure if this aspect of it will ever improve, but it’s possible.

The Demand Is High

This is only day one, but we’re already seeing potentially increased wait times for standby queues and popular attractions filling up very early in the day. Line times fluctuate daily, though, and the ones I have been tracking for comparison were only up by 10-20 minutes on average, which could just be a normal fluctuation. I did not track every single ride, so these statistics are not hard numbers, and are more my general observations.

It’s hard to tell if the increased ride wait time issue will linger, but popular rides being snatched up quickly could be a problem that lingers for a while. The demand for certain rides with virtual queues was already high, and when they switched to standby (looking at you, Rise of the Resistance), the waits tended to be well over 2 hours anyway. 

I expect this aspect of it to be the most in flux complaint as I’m certain the crowds going for this option on day one will not be the same as the crowds going for it on day one hundred. As noted already, a lot of today’s attendees are Disney park enthusiasts, but they’ll likely be spread out much more after launch day and won’t be quite a strain on the system. Additionally, a lot of regular guests simply don’t know about it yet, and it’s hard to judge how many will opt for it once the system becomes more widely known. It could go either way. 

This is a complaint today. Will it get worse? Will it get better? Who knows. If this is a concern for you, I’d keep checking in on chatter to see how the situation evolves.

Disney’s Genie+ Feels Like a Cash Grab

The biggest complaint about the app is less about the technology and more about the cost and morality of the system. People already pay hundreds and often thousands of dollars to visit the parks, so asking them to pay even more to jump the queue is rubbing people the wrong way. Both Disneyland and Walt Disney World used to have a free Fast Pass option, which would allow anyone to reserve a spot in line for select attractions by simply walking to the Fast Pass kiosks and scanning their ticket for a pass. Now in order to use this system, you have to pay, and you have to use the app. This eliminates the budget-conscious travelers from the system entirely, as well as some of the more technology-challenged park goers who simply don’t use or have trouble with smartphones.

Additionally. if you choose not to use Genie+ or Lightning Lanes but choose to use the free Genie system, the app will tempt you (or flat out annoy you) with pop-ups and potentially false information. This has the potential to drag down your morale as it starts to feel like Disney is trying to squeeze every penny out of you that they can. No amount of MTL is going to fix this issue, so I can see these complaints continuing in the long term. This is generally part of a much wider discussion about the trajectory of Disney overall. 

Genie+ Is, However, Efficient

All is not lost! LaughingPlace.com has been testing the system today at the Magic Kingdom and has been having a pretty easy time of it. In four hours they were able to get 9-10 attractions in, which is a pretty impressive number. If you only have a single day in the parks, his report of the experience is generally pretty positive. You’ll get a lot done with Genie+!

The Lenses Are Fun

Despite all the complaints and questionable future of the functionality of the app, one aspect of it seems to be loved without complaint: the filters. You can use some fun filters through it and, if nothing else, it’s kind of cute. And we can all use a bit of cute right now.

 

Is Genie+ Worth It?

If you’re only going to Walt Disney World or Disneyland once, or only get to go every few years, it might be worth it to splurge on the new system and purchase Genie+ or individual Lightning Lanes. It seems to be functioning well enough for those that can afford it. Affording it, however, is the biggest complaint, and nothing much can be done on our end as consumers. 

If demand goes down, however, prices may go down, just like they did at Disneyland Paris. I suppose you can look at this as an opportunity for consumers to have an impact by simply not buying it at this price, but right now the demand seems high so I’m not sure we can count on that. I know there’s a movement among some to boycott the app in the hopes of sending this type of message to Disney, but I’m not sure the average consumer will care much about such an effort.

If you visit the parks frequently, it may not be worth the added cost. While wait times have appeared to increase a bit today, it hasn’t been severe enough to make things entirely miserable. A little bit more frustrating? Yeah, I’ll give it that. But as a former passholder to Disneyland I can say with confidence that we can manage longer waits a lot easier than one-time visitors, and we should remember how fortunate we are (or were, as I’m no longer a passholder) in that regard.

It’s not perfect. But there’s room to grow. Hopefully, the growing pain period will be a short one and the kinks will be worked out before it launches at Disneyland later on in the season. We’ll see, I guess.

And with all that said, I will leave you with this tweet and wish you well on your future Disney park adventures…

Author: Angel Wilson

Angel is the admin of The Geekiary and a geek culture commentator. They earned a BA in Film & Digital Media from UC Santa Cruz. They have contributed to various podcasts and webcasts including An Englishman in San Diego, Free to Be Radio, and Genre TV for All. They’ve also written for Friends of Comic Con and is a 2019 Hugo Award winner for contributing fanfic on AO3. They identify as queer.


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