Disney’s theme parks are full of magic. From character sightings and amazing Imagineering to showstopping entertainment and delicious food, there is always something to be gazing at in awe.
We have the new “Beacons of Magic” in Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom as part of Walt Disney World’s 50th anniversary celebration and Disney Enchantment at Cinderella Castle.
Walt’s vision for his Parks was for Guests to leave reality and enter a world of fantasy, and with all these magical sights to see, no one ever needs to be consumed by their phones, right?
Well, with the launch of the new digital service Disney Genie, Disney Guests are debating whether this new tool stops Guests from being fully engaged in the Park experience.
Cameras have been replaced, and we all now mainly use our phones now for taking photos. And, of course, sending those photos off to family and friends who want to share in the magic.
But with so many other features now on the My Disney Experience app, it seems that Walt’s dream of keeping Guests immersed in fantasy is slowly fading away.
On October 19, 2021, Disney Genie officially launched on the My Disney Experience app at Walt Disney World, along with Disney Genie+ and Lightning Lane access, the new paid iteration of what was previously the FastPass service.
Featuring intuitive technology to help Guests plan their day, the digital tool has been suffering issues following its launch last year. From sold-out attractions like Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance at Galaxy’s Edge to app failures on their phones, Guests have been quick to share their opinions on Disney Genie on social media.
Now, the big question involves whether Disney Genie distracts Guests from spending time together in the Parks and being fully engaged.
We were at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida this President’s Weekend, and alongside crazily long wait times and some magical memories, we realized that we were on our phones most of the trip.
And even though we tried to avoid it so we could focus on our children’s faces and the new Adventure character cavalcade, there were so many things we had to do on our cellphones to ensure we got everything done.
With all the digital services at Walt Disney World and Disneyland Resort, including MagicMobile, My Disney Experience, maps, mobile orders, wait times, virtual queues and now Disney Genie, Guests have a lot of screen time while in the Parks. Even just keeping your cellphone charged can be an issue with a long day in a theme park.
Guests will soon see an improvement in the Wi-Fi service at Walt Disney World in the near future as Disney has filed several permits, all relating to the Disney World complimentary Wi-Fi service.
And this is desperately needed with how overloaded cell towers seemed this weekend when trying to load the wait times on the app, make a Mobile Order at Backlot Express in Disney’s Hollywood Studios, or make a Disney Genie reservation.
We found we were always looking down at our phones the day we were at Magic Kingdom and had paid the $15 per person for the Genie+ service.
We were constantly refreshing the app to get Genie reservations, while also buying food and managing wait times.
Interestingly, something that came to mind was the episode of Modern Family, which @christoperrip mentioned on Twitter:
One of the subplots for the Modern Family episode “Disneyland” was Manny learning to have fun on vacation and to stop using his cellphone. Skip forward 10 years and Disney now actively wants you staring at your phone and not having fun at all times
One of the subplots for the Modern Family episode “Disneyland” was Manny learning to have fun on vacation and to stop using his cellphone. Skip forward 10 years and Disney now actively wants you staring at your phone and not having fun at all times pic.twitter.com/i7J1EvGrCv
— Christopher Ripley (@christopherrip) October 25, 2021
We kept seeing so many Disney Guests looking down, and this boils down to the major issue of Disney Genie. With the only method to get the new “FastPasses” to use your phone, it has become quite a significant change in the Park experience.
Other Disney fans we spoke to, however, had the opinion that these technological advancements in Walt Disney World had made the Disney Park experience easier.