We Need to Talk about Disney Genie
Let’s be honest. Disney fans love everything about D23. And their favorite part is the Disney Parks, Experiences and Products presentation. During that show, nobody wants to hear about software. In fact, I can say as a former member of the IT field that nobody ever really wants to hear about software at all. Acknowledging that in advance, friends, we need to talk about Disney Genie.
Siri, What Is Disney Genie?
This answer to this question will vary by reader, but I’ll ask it anyway. How often do you ask Siri or Alexa or Google for help? For some people, the answer is rarely if ever. For many consumers, however, these virtual assistants are an integral part of our daily lives. I would never know what to buy at the grocery store without Alexa, who kindly keeps a running list for me. Also, I don’t know anyone’s phone number anymore, because Siri remembers.
Some of us have grown to rely completely upon our virtual assistants. Companies like Google, Amazon, and Apple value them much more, though. For these giant corporations, consumers provide invaluable information. When you add trash bags to your grocery list, you’re telling Amazon that they could sell you trash bags. It might seem like an insignificant transaction to you, but in combination with millions of other queries, this big data tells a story. Corporations can create algorithms and mine such information for profit.
Companies have performed a bit of wizardry with these digital trades. They’ve maximized profits in revolutionary ways while providing better service to you, their customers. Disney wants in on this action, and it’s easy to understand why. More efficient park visitors earn them more money while delivering a better vacation experience for you.
No matter what Disney calls it or how they describe it, Disney Genie is their virtual assistant. That’s great for us as customers. Let me explain why.
The Disney Genie Plan
How many times have you visited a Disney theme park? Do you consider yourself a vacation amateur or expert? Do you sometimes feel overwhelmed when you’re at the parks because you don’t know what to do next? Friends, that’s where sites like MickeyBlog come into play. We do everything we can to inform you about the best strategies during your visit. Imagine our advice as a virtual assistant, and you understand the purpose of Disney Genie.
From Disney’s perspective, this piece of software is arguably the most important app they’ve ever created. Yes, I’m including My Disney Experience in that. At some point, Disney Genie surpassed and possibly even replaced My Disney Experience. It’s the same concept extended to its logical extreme.
What do you do with My Disney Experience? You book FastPasses, schedule dining reservations, order food, get directions, and plan your itinerary. This app delivers remarkable utility in the palm of your hand, and I strongly recommend it to all my friends visiting Walt Disney World. However, it’s imperfect. My Disney Experience’s natural limit is the awareness of user. Guests who are less familiar with Disney theme parks simply cannot get the most out of the program.
Disney Genie appears to be all-encompassing. It will do the heavy lifting for you in ways I’ll explain in a moment. From the perspective of park officials, it’ll turn every park guest into a seasoned Disney pro. And there’s a ton of money in this transformation for Disney.
How Disney Genie Works
Obviously, this section will require a bit of projection based on a few minutes of a D23 demo. Since vaporware is an ongoing problem in software development, the finished Genie product may not be as good as what we’ve seen so far.
I’m inclined to give Disney the benefit of the doubt, though. Their last three major technological advances are Magic Bands, My Disney Experience, and Max Pass. All these devices experienced relatively smooth rollouts. Also, Imagineers perfected the products over time. I expect the same development cycle for Disney Genie.
What can Disney Genie become? Disney has promised an app that will become your personal park advisor. It’ll be like having a MickeyTravels agent in your pocket. Where did they get the idea? Since the advent of the Internet, people have shared advice online about the best ways to do Disney.
Some of the cleverest advisors, like Len Testa at TouringPlans, have monetized the concept. They’ve created algorithms for personalized Disney itineraries. Also, the site has calculated attraction wait times to a degree of accuracy that has impressed even Disney cast members. Disney has sat on the sidelines and watched third-party services become trusted resources for Disney itineraries. With Disney Genie, they can and will replace such services.
As demonstrated, Disney Genie will provide real-time suggestions for having the best park experience. When you open this app, it’ll suggest an itinerary for any time of the day. Whether you arrive at rope drop or don’t show up until a couple of hours before closing, the Genie will magically fulfill your greatest Disney wishes.
Why Disney Genie Matters to You and to Disney
Let’s use a real-world example. Your family of four is spending the day at Walt Disney World. Your daughter loves Toy Story and must visit all the attractions in that themed land. Your son has a huge crush on Merida and wants to meet her, even though you know he’ll spend the entire conversation blushing and muttering. Meanwhile, you and your significant other want to do some adulting at the Germany pavilion, where Biergarten and beers will make your day.
Presuming that Disney Genie works as intended, the app will tell you the best itinerary for a Disney’s Hollywood Studios visit. It will identify the perfect times to ride all three Toy Story Land attractions with the least possible wait times. It’ll also know when Merida is receiving guests at Magic Kingdom and the best reservation for a dinner at Biergarten.
Without expert advice, you might spend all day on this itinerary. Disney Genie could conceivably cut the total time investment to four or five hours. These real-time park plans elevate even first-time guests into Disney experts.
The remarkable part of the itineraries is that they are adjustable, and this is crucial from Disney’s perspective. Balancing park traffic is critical to the guest experience. Guest satisfaction surveys mean everything to company management, as they should. When you’re happy, Disney’s happy.
The company’s current technologies face limitations. My Disney Experience can display a wait time, but it won’t tell you that the line for a Mickey Mouse character greeting is the shortest it’s been all week. However, the Genie is all-knowing, and can/will tell you where to go. Let’s explore why that’s an important distinction.
The Value of Smarter Customers
Why was FastPass so important to Disney? You may not realize it, but the FastPass system is based on something physically impossible. You can be in two places at once. Disney perceives you as physically standing in one line while virtually standing in another. The FastPass is the virtual one.
Why were Magic Bands so important to Disney? These devices relay a wealth of information to Imagineers about your park behavior. They know where you are, what you plan to do for the day, and what your spending habits are. This was Disney’s first major attempt at big data acquisition. For some reason, they never completely mined Magic Bands for information the way that many analysts, including me, had projected years ago. Disney Genie is the explanation for why.
Park officials determined at some point that Magic Bands weren’t the best tool for their grand vision. Presumably, it had something to do with the sudden omnipresence of smartphones. Disney’s wearable, while useful, became somewhat redundant. Everyone at the parks became glued to their phones anyway.
My Disney Experience became the product that matched the company’s original intention. It could provide guests with a better user experience while still relaying information back to Disney. In execution, it’s the combination of My Disney Experience and Magic Bands that works the best, though. Disney learns all the data while making your visits more efficient. And make no mistake on the point. Your park efficiency matters so much to Disney that they’ve spent more than a billion dollars on these two products.
How Disney’s Virtual Assistant Helps Them and You
What value would Disney place on a product that combines the two? With a virtual assistant, park officials gained greater control over congestion, attraction wait times, and even dining times. For you as a park visitor, this kind of optimization allows you to do more during your visit. You’ll shave minutes from each wait, and those add up to hours over the course of a full vacation. Disney likes that, but it LOVES the additional layer of control.
When the app tells you to go ride Slinky Dog Dash and then eat at Woody’s Lunchbox, Disney knows where you’re going to be and can accurately project how much you’ll spend. Since more than 100,000 people visit Walt Disney World theme parks each day, these moderate improvements for each individual user lead to huge savings for Disney.
They may safely allow more guests into the parks, thereby earning more money without sacrificing the quality of your park visit. From Disney’s perspective, the Genie could revolutionize their entire Parks and Resorts business model.
Simultaneously, Disney will optimize your visit in a way that makes you want to visit the parks more often. Disney Genie is the ultimate win/win technological advance.