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Disneyland Finally Lets Its Genie Out of the Bottle

If you think Disneyland is a money machine now, come back tomorrow. Walt Disney's (NYSE: DIS) original theme park resort will roll out the Genie, Genie+, and Lightning Lane+ offerings that made their debut in Florida two months ago.

The new in-app platform will allow guests to pay up for access to expedited queues and other experience enhancers. The critics have been and will continue to be vocal about the new premium add-ons, but it's a shrewd move to generate incremental revenue. It's essential these days with so many rising input costs at the House of Mouse.

Disneyland knows what it's doing. After surprising the market with back-to-back quarters of profitability, the media giant's theme parks segment ready to raise the bar in the monetization.

Image source: Disney.

Catching Lightning Lane in a Genie bottle again

Let's briefly go over the new Disneyland offerings that will become available to park guests starting on Wednesday. Genie is the name of the basket of free app features that help make it easier to make the most out of a day at Disneyland and its adjacent Disney's California Adventure gated attraction. Genie will generate a customized trip itinerary, and suggestions are updated perpetually through an in-app tip board based on user preferences, park trends, and even dining favorites.

Genie is slick, and in a perfect world it would be enough to silence the critics. It does improve on the previous app experience. It's particularly useful for first-time or infrequent visitors that don't know the lay of the land or the tips and tricks to maximize a day at the park.

Now let's dive into Genie+ and Lightning Lane+, the upcharge features for access to key attractions even faster than guests that aren't willing to pay for the convenience of saving time. Genie+ allows guests to pay for smartphone access to reserve expedited Lighting Lane queues that move faster than the standby lines used by most guests. Genie+ patrons reserve return windows, and have to wait a certain amount of time or until they use up a current ride reservation before making a new selection. Genie+ costs $20 a day per guest, $5 more than what they are charging at Disney World in Florida. It's similar to the MaxPass premium offering that Disneyland had before the pandemic, only now it's the only way to get into the FastPass lines that have been rebranded as Lightning Lane queues.

Not every ride that has a Lightning Lane is on the Genie+ menu. Some of the more popular attractions offer what is called Lightning Lane+, and guests pay a one-time fee between $7 and $20 to access the Lightning Lane for either Radiator Springs Racers, Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, or Web Slingers: A Spider-Man Adventure. Lightning Lane+ access can only be purchases for two of three attractions a day.

The math is reasonable if you're already paying at least $104 for a one-day ticket to Disneyland. It's a different story for annual pass holders paying between $2 and $4 a day for year-round access to the popular theme parks. Spending as much as $60 a visit for Genie+ and a pair of Lightning Lane+ reservations can add up over repeat visits, but you can't blame Disney for testing its pricing elasticity. Folks are willing to pay for expedited access, even if those who don't pay may not realize or appreciate that their admissions are being subsidized by the buyers of Genie+ and Lightning Lane+.

Most of Disney's theme park rivals and even most regional amusement park operators offer the ability for guests to pay for access to faster-moving queues. It's not what Disneyland fans had before the pandemic, but it's a whole new world right now for the media stock bellwether.

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Rick Munarriz owns shares of Walt Disney. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Walt Disney. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.


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