Last week was the third busiest of the year at Walt Disney World, and that predictably-high attendance brought with it a substantial price increase to the Genie+ service. This came after Disney announced last month that paid FastPass would be subject to surge or demand-based pricing.
When that change first occurred, Walt Disney World indicated that Genie+ prices would range from $15 to $22 plus tax for the rest of that month. However, that was the price range for the month of October, and no details were provided about the minimum or maximum over the course of the year.
Aside from fall break and the mid-month holiday, October doesn’t tend to be as busy as November. Certainly no weeks are as bad as Thanksgiving, which is typically one of the 5 worst weeks of the year at Walt Disney World. With an average wait time of 49 minutes for the week, it ranks only behind the weeks of Presidents’ Day and peak Spring Break season, each of which averaged 51 minute waits, so far this year. It’s possible that the weeks of Christmas and New Year’s Eve will surpass this past week–but that would still put it in the top 5.
Consequently, the price of Genie jumped to a new high of $29 per person at Walt Disney World for the entire week. This started November 21 and continued through November 26, 2022.
That was up considerably from the previous high water mark for the Genie+ service, which was $22 per person at Walt Disney World. It had hit that mark a number of times, starting over fall break in October and continuing on various weekends and holidays in November 2022. However, it had never gone above that amount–so Thanksgiving week marked a $7 increase over the previous high.
The week of Thanksgiving also brought with it several record high prices for Individual Lightning Lanes.
Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance also reached an all-time high of $25, but came “untethered” from Genie+ pricing. In the past, the high water mark for both that ILL and Genie+ has been the same, which suggested Rise of the Resistance would hit $29. It did not, but definitely could’ve given demand, as that Individual Lightning Lane sold out most days during its on-site early access window.
Over at Animal Kingdom, Avatar Flight of Passage also set a new record high at $16. This was $2 higher than its previous top price of $14, and $5 above the low end of the spectrum for that E-Ticket. Clearly, lots of Walt Disney World visitors are hyped out of their minds to see The Way of Water…right?!
For its part, Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind matched a high of $17, which was its high during fall break. Recently, it’s been around $15, so that was $2 above the norm. Surprisingly, the virtual queue is still in use here–you can read how to improve your chances for success in scoring virtual queue spots by reading our Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind Virtual Queue FAQ & Ride Guide.
Finally, there’s Seven Dwarfs Mine Train at Magic Kingdom. That family-friendly roller coaster once again hit $12, which is $1 more than it has been on average recently. Despite being the most popular ride in Walt Disney World’s most popular park and the “cheapest” Individual Lightning Lane, SDMT is also the least popular. We expect to see it downgraded to Genie+ once TRON Lightcycle Run opens in Spring 2023.
By comparison, today’s Individual Lightning Lane prices are as follows:
Seven Dwarfs Mine Train – $11
Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind – $15
Avatar Flight of Passage – $14
Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance – $20
As of 1 pm EST, all of these Individual Lightning Lanes were available for purchase. (However, Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance was thanks to a ride reservation refill–it had sold out earlier this morning. The rest had not.)
As for the Genie+ service, its price plummeted to $17 yesterday (November 27), which was a drop of $12 from the previous day. Perhaps it was an early Cyber Monday sale?! Honestly, if you asked me to predict the price before it was released, I would’ve guessed $20 or $22. That has been the recent trend on weekends, so this was actually “low” comparatively. With that said, it is significantly higher than the cost of FastPass+ (free), which was offered 3 years ago this same week.
Relative to the previous week, this lower price for Genie+ was presumably driven by internal attendance forecasts at Walt Disney World. Yesterday only ended up being a 2/10 on the crowd calendar, with a resort-wide wait time average of 31 minutes. The Sunday after Thanksgiving is always a ‘time of transition’ with markedly lower crowds, but we were not expecting that big of a drop!
This brings us to today. Genie+ is back up, costing $20 per person at Walt Disney World on November 28, 2022. (As a reminder, there is tax on Genie+ purchases and it is not included in the advertised price–meaning this is actually over $21.)
It’ll be interesting to see what happens tomorrow. Since we’ve been tracking this, Tuesday through Thursday have tended to be least expensive (Saturdays being most expensive). My guess is that it’ll be $18, but honestly, nothing between $17 and $20 would surprise me. I truly have no clue.
What I will say is that if Genie+ remains in the $17 to $18 range, I’ll test it 2-3 days this week. I haven’t done this during the holiday season yet, and this week should be slightly above-average, so it seems like a good time. If you’re interested in more ‘My Day with Genie+’ posts, please let me know what’s of most interest:
Magic Kingdom on a Party Day
Magic Kingdom on a Non-Party Day
Disney’s Hollywood Studios
If you’re not interested in any of that, please also feel free to say as much. It seemed like readers were losing interest in these over the summer and fall, so I don’t want to waste my time. In the absence of feedback, my inclination is to do MK on a non-party day, DHS, and (maybe) EPCOT. I will not be testing at Animal Kingdom–it’s a waste of time and money.
For those keeping score at home, Walt Disney World’s bold bet on demand remaining high even at the $29 per person–or nearly $31 after tax–for the Genie+ service proved correct. In analyzing availability and return times courtesy of Thrill-Data.com, last week was actually worse than the last month as a whole.
Of course, attendance was significantly higher and so too were crowds. However, this supports our previous position that, unlike the elimination of the Genie+ ticket add-on, the price increase would not do much to reduce demand for the paid FastPass service. In the grand scheme of a multi-thousand dollar Walt Disney World vacation, Genie+ is still not that large of an amount, and few people who would’ve bought it at ~$18 are going to skip it at ~$29 and “risk” ruining all they’ve spent on the expensive trip.
Not to belabor or rehash the point too much, as we’ve discussed this at length recently in Disney Doesn’t Want Lower Crowds and then again a bit in the commentary to the most recent price increase post. In a nutshell, one common (albeit mildly contrarian) viewpoint is that price increases are actually good because they decrease attendance and help cut crowds. Although it’s a go-to line when raising ticket prices–and one that has been mindlessly parrotted by a certain subset of Walt Disney World fans–it is erroneous.
There is ample evidence to the contrary, as attendance has increased by millions of guests per year in the pre-closure decade. If Disney really wants to reduce crowds, there are ways to accomplish that: building more attractions, not taking 84 years to open a cloned roller coaster in an otherwise empty warehouse, extending operating hours to spread attendance throughout the day, or adding entertainment and other diversions to help soak up crowds. In reality, Disney has little desire to reduce attendance–they want to “optimize” wait times, staffing, and pricing.
Whether it be for park tickets, resorts, or the Genie+ service, date-based pricing is an effective way for the company to accomplish its desired optimizations at Walt Disney World. There are certain times of year that experience higher demand for a number of reasons–school schedules, seasonal events, weather, etc.
Charging incrementally higher prices for these times of year allows Walt Disney World to capitalize on and profit from that inherently higher demand. That’s the goal–not redistributing attendance or whatever the talking point might be. There’s a reason spring break, summer vacation, and fall/winter holidays continue to see heavier attendance than any other time of year and have not leveled off with random dates in mid-January, early May, late August, etc. Increasing prices on that quasi-captive audience is simply savvy business or opportunism, depending upon your perspective.
Now that we’ve experienced the $29 per tax price point for paid FastPass, we know that exactly has happened with the Genie+ service. The more expensive dates don’t necessarily have a better guest experience–they are worse. As expected, demand for Lightning Lanes is higher when attendance is higher.
Worse wait times creates a higher incentive for bypassing lines, meaning higher uptake of Genie+ even when it costs more. Keep in mind, those visiting during these peak weeks are already paying more for their vacations. The difference between $16 and $30 (after tax) is relatively insignificant in the grand scheme of things, and won’t cause many guests to balk at pricing. What’s another “few dollars” (or even a few hundred dollars!) on top of a multi-thousand dollar trip if it’ll offer a competitive advantage?!
This isn’t necessarily to argue against Walt Disney World moving to date-based pricing for the Genie+ service or charging whatever the market will bear (in this case, over $30!). It’s simply to refute the misconception that Disney is doing guests a favor with price increases by (supposedly) reducing demand, crowds, or whatever.
That probably would be true if the cost jumped from $16 to $80 per day, but that’s not the case here. Instead, it seems that Walt Disney World is trying to walk a tightrope by incrementally increasing prices in an effort to keep demand relatively inelastic.
Ultimately, it will be interesting to see how demand for Genie+ continues to play out this Christmas season at Walt Disney World. Even more than that, we’re curious about theimpact of market-pricing for Genie+ come 2023 since a sizable chunk of current visitors have the Genie+ ticket add-on, and are thus insulated from the price increases, anyway.
As we’ve written before, it’s hard to fault Walt Disney World for not leaving money on the table. While we hate all of the price increases of the last 2-3 years and believe there will be negative long-term ramifications, it’s also patently obvious that Disney has pricing power and no shortage of demand right now. Hopefully that starts to reverse itself, and things normalize in the coming year. In the meantime, if you’re already balking at Genie+ and Individual Lightning Lane prices, see our Best Time-Saving Strategies at Walt Disney World, which covers the best & worst ways to approach each park. (It’s essentially Genie+ v. everything else.)
If you have questions about the basics of using–or not using–the paid FastPass service, see our Guide to Genie+ at Walt Disney World & Lightning Lane FAQfor all of the foundational need-to-know info. This whole system is confusing and convoluted, so you might have a question or two-dozen. That answers all of the most common ones we’ve been receiving from readers.
What do you think of Genie+ pricing over the course of the last week at Walt Disney World? Glad that paid FastPass “only” costs $17 to $20 now that Thanksgiving week is over? Surprised that demand was just as high at the ~$31 after tax price point, or is that what you expected? Disappointed Disney is using ‘surge’ or demand-based pricing on Genie, or do you see that as better than the service selling out? Thoughts on our perspective that demand for Genie+ will continue to be highest on the busiest/most expensive days? Any other considerations we failed to take into account or details we missed/got wrong? Do you agree or disagree with my assessment? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback–even when you disagree with us–is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!