We’ve already seen “organizational” changes announced for the Walt Disney Company due to Iger’s return, indications that Iger could make a change that’ll reverse a Chapek decision, and other adjustments made as a result of his return. Fans are hoping for MANY, many more changes though. So here’s a full look at just what Iger could change about Genie+ (and whether he actually might do it).
Wait…What’s a “Genie+?”
Quickly, for those who may not be familiar with it, Genie+ is the PAID service that has replaced FastPass+.
There are really 3 services that fall under the Genie umbrella — the FREE Genie planning service (creates a custom itinerary for you to follow in the parks), the PAID Genie+ service (allows you to skip the lines at many rides), and the PAID Individual Lightning Lane service (allows you to pay to skip the lines individually at select, very popular Disney rides).
Remember, Genie+ Didn’t Get Developed Overnight
The first thing we need to point out whenever anyone mentions Iger potentially making changes to Genie+ is this — while Bob Chapek gets much of the “blame” for Genie+’s introduction into the parks (because it happened while he was CEO), Bob Iger was technically still around.
The paid Genie+ service (along with Individual Lightning Lanes and the free Genie planning service) was introduced in October of 2021, while Chapek was CEO. But, let us not forget that at the exact same time Iger was still Chairman of the Board for the Walt Disney Company (he didn’t leave Disney officially until the end of 2021).
So, it’s not as if Genie+ was introduced at a time when Iger had no control over (certain) things at Disney or insider knowledge of what was happening at Disney. Sure, he wasn’t the CEO and his powers were different, but he still was part of the Company at that time. It’s not as if he’s walking into something he had no idea about.
Plus, the Genie+ service was likely in development for several years before its 2021 release, potentially even back to a time when Iger was CEO. These things take time to develop and build — it’s not as if it would have happened overnight.
In fact, the FREE Genie service was actually announced at 2019 D23 Expo — when Iger was still CEO. Granted, at that time it was really just the free planning service that was announced, but it still indicates that something related to Genie was already in the works.
People Have High Hopes that Iger Will Change Genie+
A LOT of fans are hoping for significant Genie+ changes or even a full removal of Genie+ under Iger. Many have complained about the fact that Genie+ is not free, and that it’s too difficult to use since reservations have to be made one at a time (that is more similar to the old paper FastPass system, but FastPass+ allowed guests to make up to 3 selections in advance, which some really enjoyed).
Fans have expressed their desire to have the cost standardized (one set price for ALL of it — rather than separate costs for Genie+ and Individual Lightning Lanes), allow for some rides to be reserved before the vacation begins, lower the cost, or abolish the system entirely.
And some may be hoping that Iger’s reported opinion that Chapek was “killing the soul” of the Company indicates he could make some changes to things introduced during the “Chapek era,” like Genie+.
Some reports indicated that Iger previously felt like Chapek had “given priority” to Disney’s streaming business “at the expense of other parts of Disney,” like the parks.
Some shared that Iger was reportedly “alarmed by increases in prices at Disney theme parks.” And Iger apparently told more than one person that Chapek was “killing the soul of the company.”
Though the report from which these quotes came did NOT mention Genie+ whatsoever, some may be hoping that the Genie+ price increases are enough to alarm Iger too.
Some Changes Have ALREADY Been Made
One thing that could be a “good sign” for future Genie+ changes is the fact that certain changes have already been made since Iger returned as CEO.
Iger became CEO again on November 20th, 2022. The following day, a change was made that Disney fans likely did NOT enjoy. On November 21st, 2022, Genie+ hit a record-high price in Disney World ($29 per person per day). It’s likely that this price adjustment was put into place before Iger’s return and was something he couldn’t change on such short notice even if he wanted to, but it’s still something worth noting.
But, there was another modification announced not long after Iger took over as CEO. On December 6th, 2022, Disney announced that Genie+ selections could be MODIFIED. This marked a big change for the service as selections previously had to be canceled before a guest could make a new one.
The change went into effect in Disney World on December 9th, 2022, making Genie+ a bit more convenient!
This change has led to a modification in the 120-minute rule that could benefit you (if you know what to do). Essentially, if you use the modification tool to modify the time or experience you want to use Genie+ for, your 2-hour window (which determines when you can book your next Genie+ selection) remains the same. If you cancel the Genie+ selection and then make a new one, the 2-hour window resets and updates.
It’s a bit complicated but, if used right, the modification tool could actually help you get in MORE Genie+ selections than you would have gotten if you canceled and made a new selection.
And soon Genie+ will be changing again, in a way. Starting within the next few months, those who buy the Genie+ service in Disney World will get an extra perk — FREE digital downloads of their PhotoPass attraction photos and videos from select rides (this is for photos/videos taken on the day of the Genie+ purchase and park visit).
Genie+ has already changed some under Iger’s watch as CEO (for the second time), so could more changes be on the way?
Could He Significantly Change Genie+ MORE?
Certainly, Iger could change Genie+ in a number of way.
He could take a dramatic step and make Genie+ totally free, or maybe partially free (with respect to certain rides). We have recently seen free overnight self-parking return for Disney World Hotel guests, so that might signal the return of other “free” perks (considering FastPass+ was once free).
Iger could also reduce the Genie+ price or make it a standardized price again (initially, Genie+ was one set price per day, but it has since shifted so that its price varies daily depending on expected demand, etc.).
He could also decide to make Genie+ free for certain guests (like Annual Passholders), or include it as a free/bonus “perk” if you purchase certain vacation packages with hotels and tickets (like how Disney once offered those Free Disney Dining Plan promotions).
Or Iger could make more internal changes to Genie+ — streamlining the service by simplifying when guests can book reservations, removing or simplifying the 120-minute rule, or making other adjustments that would make the system simpler and easier to understand for new guests.
And one Disney executive has fully admitted that Genie+ is not perfect. Josh D’Amaro, Chairman of the Disney Parks, Experiences, and Products division, when talking about Genie+ said, “is it perfect? Absolutely not.”
He went on to say, that Genie is still learning and that there have been TRILLIONS of iterations of Genie, each helping it to get better. D’Amaro admitted that while it may work for guests who haven’t been to Disney before, it’s “not perfect” and probably not the most intuitive for Disney pros. So he seems to acknowledge there’s room for improvement.
So, there are many ways that Iger could change Genie+ and Iger is likely aware of its shortcomings and why it’s “not perfect.”
But the Question is Really Will He Change It
The question we should be asking ourselves, however, isn’t how could Iger change Genie+, but rather will he change it?
The plain fact is that Genie+ is a HUGE driver of revenue for Disney Parks. Christine McCarthy, Disney’s Chief Financial Officer, explained (during the 4th quarter earnings call for fiscal year 2022) that when announcing that there had been an increase in spending per person in the parks. She shared that the increased spending reflected “the continued popularity of premium offerings, including Genie+ and Lightning Lane.”
In a time when some are worried about a potential financial recession, Disney+ and streaming are losing the Company some serious money, and the parks are bringing in the cash that may be helping other things stay afloat, why kill (part of) the cash cow?
All of these may point to a stronger likelihood of Genie+ sticking around in some form, despite the change in CEO, particularly when it comes to the money-making portion of the paid parts of the service.
If Disney feels like the monetary value that comes from guests paying for Genie+ is too big to give up, then, realistically, the changes we might see with Genie+ might only make it less expensive, or simply might be within the system itself that would make it more convenient for individuals to use.
Iger is only back as CEO for 2 years (according to the current deal), and he may feel like he has “bigger fish to fry” like the brewing proxy battle over a seat on the Board of Directors, the impending dissolution of the Reedy Creek Improvement District, and the need to make streaming profitable — making Genie+ free or “better” might not be at the top of his list.
What do you think? What changes do you think could realistically be made while Iger is CEO? Tell us in the comments.
For more Genie+ help, check out our posts below and watch our video!
What changes do you think could realistically be made while Iger is CEO? Tell us in the comments.