For all the Disney fan community’s grumbling about the new Genie+ system at Walt Disney World, one-third of guests have opted to buy the $15 per day, per guest service, according to Disney CEO Bob Chapek.
In the company’s fourth quarter earnings call, Chapek emphasized that guests are spending 30 percent more per capita compared to pre-pandemic levels — and that was without any help from Genie+, which didn’t launch until Oct. 19.
“I am not sure if everyone appreciates the gravity of this to the Genie+ success, one-third of our guests at Walt Disney World are buying the Genie+ upgrade at $15,” Chapek said. “That’s per guest, per day, and that is a very, very material increase for [per-capita guest spending], but also in margins.”
Genie+ is a new paid option replacing the former free FastPass+ ride reservation system. After paying the $15 fee, guests can get what are now called Lightning Lane selections to shorten their waits at more than 40 rides across Disney World’s four parks. Another tier, called Individual Lightning Lane, requires guests to pay a la carte for the most popular attractions, including Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. (If you’re confused, we don’t blame you: read our explainer here.)
Genie+ has not yet launched in Disneyland, but Chapek said that debut is coming “very soon.”
The financials were largely positive for the fourth quarter when it came to Disney’s Parks, Experiences, and Products segment. The division generated a $640 million profit, compared to a $945 million loss between July and September 2020, when COVID-19 kept some parks under strict capacity limits or closed entirely.
Chapek talked up other new offerings at the parks. At Disneyland, he said the new Magic Key replacement for annual passes is “resonating strongly with legacy annual passholders, while also attracting new passholders,” stating that 40 percent of sales have been to new customers who weren’t previously passholders.
The ultra-expensive Star Wars Galactic Starcruiser at Disney World has “virtually sold out” its first four month of dates, Chapek said. The lowest prices revealed by Disney for the 2-night, immersive hotel experience cost $6,000 for a family of four.
Near the end of the call, Disney chief financial officer Christine McCarthy remarked on how the company plans to manage rising inflation, hinting at more reductions and changes within Disney parks.
“We can adjust suppliers, we can substitute products, we can cut portion size, which is probably good for some people’s waistlines,” McCarthy said. “We can look at pricing where necessary, but we aren’t going to go just straight up across and increased prices. We’re really going to try to get the algorithm right to cut where we can, and not necessarily do things the same way.”