Are These Disney Genie Complaints Fair?
Any time that Disney theme parks do something new, controversy ensues.
Since 1955, Disney fans have grown passionate about protecting Uncle Walt’s legacy.
So, change leads to rigorous debate about whether it helps or hurts. With such a massive undertaking as Disney Genie, such discussions seemed inevitable.
Today, let’s evaluate some of the most frequent complaints about Disney Genie to decide whether they’re fair.
Critics have established a strong negative during the early days of Disney Genie.
I’m not even talking about the paid aspects of this virtual assistant. I mean the core functionality.
At its core, Disney Genie enhances the efficiency of your park visit. In other words, it makes each Disney trip more fun.
Unfortunately, the process isn’t playing out like that for some guests. In fact, YouTube is already overflowing with video demonstrations of the software’s flaws.
People show up at the parks and trust Disney Genie to provide recommendations for them. Then, as they do what they’re told, the situation devolves.
The problem stems from the nature of virtual assistants. These apps learn as you provide additional information.
So, their earliest attempts are vanilla and generic. If you’re near Mad Tea Party, the Genie will tell you to ride Mad Tea Party.
You may hate everything about these spinning teacups, but Genie doesn’t know that yet.
Similarly, the virtual assistant gets a bit too food-happy with its suggestions. For example, some folks have received recommendations to order lunch at 9 a.m. That’s…not great.
I feel the need to defend the software a bit here, though. These same people should use Disney Genie several times and then post updated videos.
At that point, the virtual assistant will have developed a profile about what the customer likes. Until it has that, everybody’s heading to Country Bear Jamboree!
Why will Disney Genie recommend that attraction? Because it has the shortest average wait at Magic Kingdom!
The software isn’t intuitive like people are. You have to train it to understand you. So, this criticism is totally valid for now, but it should change over time.
Doesn’t Suggest Good Rides
Okay, this conversation ties back to the other one, but it’s slightly more nuanced.
In addition to emphasizing locality, Disney Genie comes with hidden rules in place.
Imagineers programmed the software to balance the wait times across Disney theme parks.
Remember how I just mentioned Country Bear Jamboree and its low average waits? That attraction possesses tremendous throughput.
Disney offers three or four shows per hour, each of which fills up an entire auditorium. When more guests watch Country Bear Jamboree, it helps overall park traffic.
Those people aren’t adding to the lines at Splash Mountain, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, and Jungle Cruise, three of the rides with the longest average waits.
So, you and Disney Genie don’t share the same goals. You want to experience the most popular and iconic attractions at the parks.
Your virtual assistant (AI) wants to keep the parks running smoothly for everyone. It does that by balancing the crowds.
Even when you purchase Disney Genie+, the AI will recommend reserving Lightning Lane selections for The Barnstormer and Dumbo the Flying Elephant.
To get the most out of your purchase, you should choose Peter Pan’s Flight or Pirates of the Caribbean instead.
Similarly, even when you’re just waiting in the standby line, it’s better to spend 25 minutes waiting on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad than Mad Tea Party.
Now, the vanilla programming I mentioned remains a factor here. Still, this criticism is more than valid. It’s problematic.
When you use Disney Genie, you need to act assertively. Otherwise, you’ll ride the least popular rides at parks rather than the best ones.
Tax Not Included
I’m getting a dark sense of entertainment from this particular critique. Despite Amazon’s strenuous objections, we pay sales tax on everything.
For this reason, I was caught off-guard by the sheer volume of complaints about the fact that the paid versions of Disney Genie don’t include tax.
Yes, critics are correct that MaxPass’s $20 fee had the tax rolled into it.
However, we’ve spent the entire pandemic learning that California and Florida work much differently.
For this reason, I never expected Disney Genie+ to include tax in its $15 price.
Having said that, upsell options like the ferryboat dessert party DO include tax.
So, I get the outcry. It feels like salt in the wound on top of people now paying for what were once free FastPasses.
This one’s a bit silly, but the extra 98 cents does understandably trigger some feelings of aggravation.
Everybody’s on the Phone
For the past several years, older Disney fans have shared the same lament. They complain that people spend too much time on their phones.
If I had a Bitcoin for every time I’ve heard someone say, “Put away your phone! You’re at Disney!” I’d own The Walt Disney Company.
Disney has stubbornly ignored those complaints, as there’s no turning back the tide on this topic. Society has tethered itself to smartphones.
Even so, I must acknowledge that Disney Genie has turned park visits into an almost comical reliance on phones.
You can watch livestreams or influencer videos from the first few days to verify this fact.
A staggering percentage of guests stare at their phones while walking through the parks.
This turn of events leads to strangers bumping into each other, people not listening to one another as much, and overcrowding at the attraction exits and park entrances.
Also, guests aren’t staring at the immaculate theming that defines Disney theme parks. So, yes, this one is a significant problem.
The Term Lightning Lane Is Confusing
Yes, this criticism is absolutely valid. Disney previously named the shorter line at Disney attractions as the FastPass area.
You’d tap your MagicBand and enter this shorter line queue to get on rides faster.
Now, Disney calls this area the Lightning Lane, but that’s not the perplexing part.
The Lightning Lane comes in two forms. First, when you buy Disney Genie+, you gain access to the Lightning Lane at more than 40 Walt Disney World attractions.
However, Disney, in its infinite wisdom, added a different paid component to ten specific attractions.
At Walt Disney World, you have a choice of eight rides, two per theme park. When you use Lightning Lane here, you pay a price of $7-$15 each time.
Disney limits you to two Lightning Lane attractions of this variety per day. However, you can do one each at two different parks.
Theoretically, you can ride Avatar Flight of Passage and Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance. All it’ll cost you is roughly $25 per person out of pocket.
Anyway, you cannot use Lightning Lanes for these attractions unless you pay for them specifically.
So, the Lightning Lane access you receive with Disney Genie+ differs from the Lightning Lane access you get with…Lightning Lane.
Yeah, that’s really bad, and people have really struggled to understand it.
The one thing I’ll say is that when you’re at the parks, you WILL figure it out.
I say this because you’ll get the hint when Disney tells you that you must pay to ride one of the Lightning Lane attractions.
Still, that’s FIVE Disney Genie complaints that have a lot of validity. Disney has some work to do to address these issues.
However, we always knew that the software would need some time to work out the bugs.
Nobody remembers it now, but MagicBands took about three years to become nearly flawless. Even now, they still have glitches.
DCredit: DisneyWe should calibrate our expectations to reflect this fact. Disney Genie will be a work in progress for a while.
What do you think about these Disney Genie complaints? Let us know in the comments!