For the past several months, Disneyland Resort fans have had to pay extra to avoid the longest lines for the theme park’s most popular attractions.
The higher prices to use the Genie+ feature on the Disneyland app to skip the traditional stand-by queues comes as fans inundate Disneyland and California Adventure Park during one of the resort’s most popular times of the year: the Christmas holidays.
Disney launched Genie+ in 2021 to address the extended wait times at sought-after attractions — such as the Haunted Mansion and the Matterhorn Bobsleds — while generating additional revenue on top of $104 minimum daily ticket prices. Park visitors who buy Genie+ get access to an expedited “Lightning Lane” instead of the standard queues to enter the rides.
The line-cutting feature is the latest Disney feature to let visitors book a time to use a shorter line to get on their favorite ride. The first version was the FastPass system that offered a paper ticket to designate the time when visitors could use a shorter line. That system was replaced in 2017 by a digital version called MaxPass, which sold for $10 a day.
Genie+ rolled out at a price of $20 per day last fall. But in October the company raised the price to $25 and transitioned to demand-based pricing for the service, which means the more fans get Genie+, the higher the daily price tag.
The O.C. Register reported last week that Thrill Data, which tracks wait times at amusement parks around the country, shows Disneyland has hiked Genie+ costs to $30 at least 16 times since switching to its variable-model.
The data show that the price has reached $30 most often on weekends, particularly Saturdays, which tend to have the longest wait times, along with Thanksgiving week. The price is highest on days with the longest wait times for rides, the data shows. The average price for Genie+ on Saturdays since demand pricing began is $28.50, according to the data.
The higher Genie+ prices have been noticed by Disneyland fans who say visiting the park has become a pricey investment.
Sean Nyberg, a 40-year-old Seattle resident who visits Disneyland several times a year with his family, told The Times that he likes the service and uses it, but believes adjustments need to be made.
Instead of functioning like a perk or a way to move through lines faster, Genie+ feels like an increase to the ticket price, Nyberg said.
“The way it is right now, it’s almost as if you have to buy it to enjoy the park,” he said.
At current pricing, the service is still affordable enough to be used by many park visitors, and that, Nyberg said, means the “Lightning Lanes” are sometimes not much faster than the regular lines.
Disney should either do away with the feature so that all ride lines move at an equal pace, or they should increase the price of Genie+ so that fewer people use it, Nyberg suggested.
A Disneyland official said in a statement that the pricing model was introduced to customers via the company’s website on Oct. 11.
The spokesperson declined to comment on whether there was a price cap on Genie+, but said that guests can purchase the feature in advance of their visit or once they enter one of the parks, starting at $25.
The Genie+ shifted to demand pricing on the same day Disneyland announced a price hike of as much as 9% for admission tickets and 11% for preferred parking.
Times staff writer Gregory Yee contributed to this report.