Genie+ seems to have granted Disney CEO Bob Chapek’s wish, as the paid skip-the-line service drove Disney’s U.S. theme parks to a record-setting quarter.
In the quarter ending Jan. 1, 2022, Walt Disney World and the Disneyland Resort reported $4.8 billion in revenue and $1.55 billion in operating income. In contrast, the same quarter in 2021 saw only $1.48 billion in revenue and $798 million operating loss, as Disneyland was still closed during that period.
While hardcore Disney parks fans have complained loudly and openly about the new Genie+ and Lightning Lane services, the financials paint a much rosier picture. Guest spending was up 40 percent compared to pre-pandemic levels, and that was without the services being available for the entire quarter. Genie+ launched in Disney World on Oct. 19 and in Disneyland on Dec. 8.
“While we anticipated these products would be popular, we have been blown away by the reception in the quarter, when more than a third of domestic park guests purchased either Genie+, Lightning Lane, or both,” Chapek said, adding that during the busier holiday season, Genie+ usage rose above 50 percent.
The overall Parks, Experiences, and Products division, which Chapek led before replacing Bob Iger as CEO in 2020, reported its second-best quarter ever with $7.2 billion in revenue.
Other positives from the first quarter, including beating financial analysts’ projections for overall revenue and subscriber growth on Disney+, may take some of the heat off Chapek.
While headlines circulated this week suggesting a burgeoning shareholder revolt against re-electing Chapek as CEO at Disney’s annual meeting on March 8, the outrage was limited to anonymous fans on a Disney Parks forum on Reddit. Nevertheless, it was promoted as a legitimate threat by Disney-centric blogs such as WDW News Today (which has repeatedly described itself being “at war” with Disney) and was even picked up by national outlets.
Chapek hyped upcoming attractions during the earnings call, mentioning Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind opening at Epcot this summer and the Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser hotel experience that will debut March 1. While the Disney CEO said he was “pleased with demand for this premium groundbreaking experience,” there have been reports of large numbers of cancellations while a negative response to previews of the ultra-expensive hotel.