Disney CEO Defends Replacing FastPass With New Genie Program

Back in 2019, Disney announced that the long-standing FastPass program utilized at Walt Disney World and Disneyland theme parks would be discontinued with the new Genie program taking its place. While the is described as a "complementary and convenient new digital service" that offers "personalized itinerary planning," "restaurant wait list, check-in, and reservations," a "virtual assistant," "attraction virtual queues" and more, the premium features of the program come with additional costs that prompted backlash from Disney fans who see Genie as another way for the park to get more money from guests. Now, Disney CEO Bob Chapek is defending Genie, saying he thinks it will continue to improve over time.

In an interview with Seeking Alpha (via Cinemablend) Chapek spoke about how the COVID-19 theme park closures allowed them to "re-engineer things" and build the needed systems for Genie, something he said will allow them to maximize guest enjoyment of the parks.

"Well, our goal is to improve the guest experience, while at the same time being able to yield that in ways that we haven't done before. And again, the shutdown enabled us a chance to sort of reengineer things and build the systems necessary to do that," Chapek said. "The backbone of the whole thing though is our reservation system because it gives us the ability now to really on a real-time basis, direct people, ensure that we have the right mix of guests in the park and control the demand in ways that frankly we've never been able to do that then enables all the consumer interfaces that we've recently put in place, things like Genie either the free part of Genie, the complementary, if you will, part of Genie that's going to improve everyone's visit to our parks and ensure that they minimize wait times and maximize the fun, if you will."

While fans of the Disney parks may be skeptical of those claims, Chapek also said that Genie is something that will continue to evolve over time.

"Well, I think the benefits of it will unfold and will continue to add utilities. Genie is what Genie is when we launch it, but it will continue to become even more and more robust over time," Chapek said. "So this is not something that you pour the concrete and it dries, and it is what it is. We learn over time. Every day is going to be a different situation, and Genie is very responsive to that. And I think we will continue to add utilities over time as we continue to learn about how to use this new utility."

What do you think about Disney replacing FastPass with Genie? Let us know in the comments.