By Jeffrey Epstein
Today, Disney Parks, Experiences and Products announced a new tool to make planning easier, more flexible, and more fun at Disneyland and Walt Disney World Resorts: Disney Genie. D23 has all the details on Disney Genie, which will live within the Disneyland and My Disney Experience apps. We had the opportunity to get a deeper dive with Disney Parks, Experiences and Products chairman Josh D’Amaro, who provided D23 with even more of what fans need to know.
Can you talk about the idea for Disney Genie and why it will be a great tool for Disney fans?
There is nothing more important, obviously, than our fans—and particularly our super fans. What I want to make sure people know is that this is better. This is going to be a better experience for all of our guests. One of the things that was important to us as we embarked upon this transformation in the theme park space is that we took input from our fans and from our super fans. That input has resulted in where we are headed. Genie is a tool that I’m very bullish about and know will materially improve the guest experience. What our guests have asked for and what our fans have asked for is simplicity, to be able to plan easier, with more flexibility… and this is what we are going to deliver. Genie lives on your phone; it’s an app that will live within the existing Disneyland and My Disney Experience apps this fall when it launches. And you are basically telling Genie what you are specifically interested in, whether you’re with young kids or a bunch of friends and you’re interested in kids attractions or princesses or superheroes. Genie is going to take all the input and tell you, “This is what you should do and how you can have the most fun possible in a Disney park.” That’s game changing. It takes all the pressure off you to create a spreadsheet and think, What do I do now? What do I do next? It’s all right there. Not only is it all right there, but if you decide that you’ve changed what you’re interested in or what you want to do when you’re there, Genie can get to work in the background to do that for you. That relieves pressure to make sure you’re maximizing your time. I think that changes everything. We are taking more than 60 years of experience and data and applying artificial intelligence on top of that. And now you’ve got a tool that is game changing.
And Genie+ is within Disney Genie…
If you want to be even more flexible and have more convenience, there’s Genie+. The easiest way to think about this is MaxPass at Disneyland, which I think as the D23 fans know, was highly successful and highly adopted. You can think of Disney Genie+ as the next evolution of MaxPass across our parks. It’s super easy and convenient. And above and beyond that, there are some attractions that use the Lightning Lane queue—which you can purchase individually—which is the ultimate in flexibility. Think about Rise of the Resistance as an example. It’s a highly demanded attraction. Guests show up in the morning and they try to get into the virtual queue. We get as many people on there as we can, but inevitably someone is disappointed. Now there’s another option on top of the virtual queue so if Rise of the Resistance is the reason you’re at Disneyland or Disney’s Hollywood Studios, there may be an option for you to purchase Rise of the Resistance. So again: flexibility, optionality, better guest experience overall.
There are some great new tools for guests in Genie such as forecasting wait times and fun ways to plan your day, and there are a lot of elements that guests already enjoyed, such as current wait times, MaxPass (for Disneyland), and mobile order. Why did it make sense to put this all under the Genie banner?
First of all, coming out of this COVID era, we had an opportunity to create a completely new ecosystem and experiential suite of products, and we want them to all work together. We have the benefit of taking advantage of these learnings we have and products we have had. And we wanted to make sure it was comprehensive and complete—that it wasn’t piecemeal. So that’s why it comes under the Disney Genie ecosystem. It gives guests and fans an amazing amount of flexibility and it’s all simple; it’s all right there. If I don’t want to engage at all, I don’t have to. If I just want to engage in Disney Genie, I have everything, and my experience is improved. If I want to engage with Disney Genie+, it’s right there integrated. And if I want to use a [à la carte] Lightning Lane, it’s right there, as well. It was important to us that it be seamless, integrated, and flexible. So that’s why we’re doing what we’re doing under the Genie banner.
For fans, hearing all of this is a lot of new information. What do you say to the guest who hears this and is overwhelmed?
Number one, our focus is on a better guest experience. So we started with that premise. Change, particularly with Disney and our super fans, is hard to take in. Experience, though, suggests that when we introduce these new products, like MaxPass, we markedly improve the guest experience. We are operating in the best interest of our super fans. This Disney Genie suite of products will make the experience better. Change is not simple, but we will be in a better position once this is introduced to market.
Can you give us a little insight into the decision to have some Lightning Lane attractions be à la carte and some included in Genie+?
We’re trying to make sure we have ultimate flexibility in allowing our fans to cater their experiences as they see fit. Some attractions are in more demand than others, so what we wanted to do was create a mix within that ecosystem whether it be with Disney Genie+ or Lightning Lane individually.
Why is Genie+ at Walt Disney World $15 and $20 at Disneyland?
When we went into the pandemic, at Disneyland MaxPass was priced at $20, and we know that was working well. So we are starting with Genie+ at $20. At Walt Disney World, the product is just coming in so it’s new for a lot of our fans. We also know that the length of stay at Walt Disney World is longer. So we’re thinking about pricing as related to all those factors.
In the before-time, guests at Walt Disney World could book their Fast Passes in advance while guests at Disneyland would book through Max Pass or get a FASTPASS on the day the go to the park. How did the team decide to stick with day-of planning for both resorts?
What our guests were telling us was that they wanted more simplicity and spontaneity. They wanted it to be a more convenient tool for them. We’ve done that with the Genie suite of products, so you don’t need to be scrambling and worried. Let the tool do the work for you. And then, show up and enjoy yourself. It’s that idea of simplicity that we love at Disney, and it’s what our fans told us they want. So this applies perfectly to Walt Disney World.
What would be the day Josh D’Amaro would ask Disney Genie to plan for him?
I love everything Disney. So if I went into Genie, I would be looking for a comprehensive day that gives me the classics, some of the cutting-edge attractions that cut across franchises. I would be looking for that whole Disney day. I would certainly buy Disney Genie+ because I would want that added convenience. And there would be some special attractions I’d want to make sure I get on. Rise of the Resistance would be one of those for me!