Since reopening after the pandemic, there have been a number of changes at Disney Parks around the globe. One of the biggest changes is the elimination of the free FastPass system to one that required Guests to pay. In August 2021, Disneyland Paris began using a paid system called Premier Access, which charged front-of-the-line fees per ride. Then, in October 2021, Walt Disney World introduced Disney Genie+ and the reactions have been mixed.
Some Guests love being able to make Lightning Lane (FastPass) reservations through their phones. They love being able to see what rides are available and when. Not having to run around the Parks to look at Lightning Lane times was worth the price. However, many Guests are upset that Disney is charging for something that used to be free. They feel that the free FastPass system had put everyone on a level playing field. Now, only those who can afford the extra fee will be able to skip the line.
Disney Genie+ is $15 per day per Guest at Walt Disney World and $20 per day per Guest at Disneyland Resort. That can quickly add up, and many families simply cannot afford to add that on to their already expensive vacation.
Disney CFO Christine McCarthy recently spoke at Morgan Stanley’s 2022 Technology, Media & Telecom Conference. During the Q&A session, McCarthy was asked how the new Genie app was improving the Guest experience. McCarthy responded:
“Some people have more money than they have time and others have more time than they have money.“
This is not the first time that McCarthy has made a statement that some will take issue with. Months ago, McCarthy said that Disney was looking into possibly cutting portion sizes as a way to save money. She then said that eating smaller portions (while paying the same amount of money for it) would be beneficial to some Guests’ waistlines.
Despite the controversy, McCarthy generated with the waistline comment, Disney announced that they were extending her contract into 2024.
Over the past couple of years, many have accused Disney of becoming a place that is more focused on catering to the wealthy. Ticket prices continue to soar and free services are becoming a thing of the past. Walt Disney wanted Disney to be a place that average families could enjoy, but many feel that is no longer the case. This statement by McCarthy is sure to generate conversation amongst those who feel the Park is pricing them out on purpose.