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Is Disney Deliberately Inflating Wait Times to Help Disney Genie? Here’s What We Found Out

We all have family games, conversation topics, and other fun methods to avoid the boredom of long queues at Walt Disney World and Disneyland Resorts.

Recently, however, Disney Guests are noticing longer wait times for their favorite attractions, especially since the phased reopenings of the theme parks after pandemic closures.

With the launch of Disney Genie, many Guests are worried that Disney now has a financial incentive to increase wait times in its theme parks. We set to investigate if these rumors of inflated wait times were true with a recent visit to Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida.

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Credit: Zach Riddley

On October 19, 2021, Disney Genie officially launched on the My Disney Experience app, along with Disney Genie+ and Lightning Lane access, the new paid iteration of what was previously the FastPass service.

It’s a new service that has left Disney fans divided. Both FastPass/FastPass+ at Walt Disney World Resort and FASTPASS/MaxPass at Disneyland Resort are now officially retired, and instead, Disney Genie+ (with Lightning Lanes, the new FastPass queues) is taking its place — a paid service.

Disney Genie+ charges Disney World Guests $15 per person per day to utilize the Lighting Lane — the old FastPass+ queue. The new system has baffled Disney Guests, with many commenting on how Disney has replaced an originally free service, changed a well-established name (FastPass), and caused confusion among Disney World and Disneyland visitors.

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Credit: Disney

The big question many Guests are asking lately is whether Disney is deliberately inflating wait times to encourage Guests to purchase Genie+.

Disney Tips was at Walt Disney World last week to investigate, and experienced vast disparities between the posted wait times for attractions and the actual time we waited in line.

From January 13 to January 18, we enjoyed all four Walt Disney World theme parks and monitored the time we waited in line for attractions. Here’s what we noticed:

EPCOT

  • Mission Space – posted wait time 30 mins, actual wait time 5 mins.
  • Frozen Ever After – posted wait time 70 minsactual wait time 40 mins. 

Disney’s Hollywood Studios

  • The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror – posted wait time 50 mins, actual wait time 16 mins.
  • Star Tours – posted wait time 25 mins, actual wait time 4 mins.
  • Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run – posted wait time 55 mins, actual wait time 21 mins.
  • The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror (again) – posted wait time 55 mins, actual wait time 7 mins.
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Credit: Disney Tips

Disney’s Animal Kingdom

  • Kilimanjaro Safaris – posted wait time 45 mins, actual wait time 13 mins.

The theme park with the largest differences in posted and actual wait times was Magic Kingdom, with only Space Mountain showing an accurate wait time:

Magic Kingdom

  • Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover – posted wait time 25 mins, actual wait time 6 mins.
  • Mickey’s Philharmagic – posted wait time 30 mins, actual wait time 5 mins.
  • Jungle Cruise – posted wait time 40 mins, actual wait time 21 mins.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean – posted wait time 30 mins, actual wait time 12 mins.
  • Haunted Mansion – posted wait time 60 mins, actual wait time 32 mins.
  • It’s a Small World – posted wait time 45 mins, actual wait time 5 mins.
  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad – posted wait time 40 mins, actual wait time 14 mins.
  • Seven Dwarfs Mine Train – posted wait time 70 mins, actual wait time 44 mins.
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Credit: Disney Tips

Many Cast Members told us that Disney usually increases wait times by a little so that Guests can enjoy some surprise and magic when their wait time is actually less than what was posted.

Most of these wait time differences we experienced, however, were more than 50% – and would definitely affect how a Guest plans their day if they were more accurate.

In particular, Haunted Mansion, “it’s a small world”, Frozen Ever After, and The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror showed huge inflations of wait times throughout the day.

Frozen Ever After and Seven Dwarfs Mine Train are both Lightning Lane attractions that have to be paid for separately than the $15 a day Disney Genie+ service, and so it seems less surprising that these posted wait times are dramatically longer than what we actually waited.

The general consensus among Disney Guests we talked to is that Disney seems to be “increasing the wait times to encourage Guests to purchase the Lightning Lane add-ons”.

The frustrations of the new paid-for Genie+ service have left Guests questioning the background workings of Disney theme parks, alongside the reputation of new Disney CEO Bob Chapek.

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Credit: D23

With so many cuts and changes being made to Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom, many Disney fans have been debating recently Chapek’s approach to the quality of the Park experience.

With ticket prices increasing, food portions decreasing, and Disney’s FastPass being replaced by the paid-for Disney Genie+ service, Disney Guests have become quite vocal with their opinions on Chapek, and the Chairperson of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, Josh D’Amaro.

Chapek revealed in an interview recently that he dislikes this “cost-cutter” reputation he has gained as Disney CEO, but that “cost-cutting” and data-focused approach has led Guests to believe there are some dodgy behaviors happening behind the scenes of attractions.

In the My Disney Experience App, Disney has a statement regarding Disney’s Genie+ and Lightning Lane:

Because we cannot guarantee the accuracy of these wait time estimates, you should not rely on them when making purchase decisions

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Credit: Disney

Additionally, when asked about the inflated wait time, a Cast Member in Disney’s Hollywood Studios admitted:

“We usually always increase the wait time near the end of the day no matter what the actual size of the line to discourage Guests from joining near the end of the night.”

Disney was also revealed recently to deliberately switch off the bottom of the Main Street, U.S.A. Christmas tree at the end of the night to encourage Guests to leave, so this wait time inaccuracy aligns with this approach.

During the week Disney Tips was at Walt Disney World, Twitter user @IsGenieWorthIt reported the crazy differences between posted wait times and the actual time spent in line for Guests:

Two days ago (1/18), actual wait times at Disney World were 56% of what was posted at the line entrance. By Park: MK 54%, EP 49% (!!), HS 62%, AK 67% You could’ve expected to wait 15.7 minutes less than what they told you for each ride, every time throughout the day.

We didn’t get to ride new attractions like Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway, or Slinky Dog Dash, but many Guests told us they suffered the same wait time disparity that would have affected how they managed their day in Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

Recently, a Cast Member took to Reddit to defend the wait time system. Aiden981 works at Disney and reported that nothing has been changed to how they measure and post wait times in the theme parks:
Ive been a cast member in Attractions at Magic Kingdom for 3 years now. I know how the old FP+ system works and I know how Genie+ and LL works. I can tell you right now with 100% certainty that literally nothing with wait times has changed. They didn’t suddenly make every CM become a salesperson to sell Genie+.
We are still using the same methods we used to use to gauge wait times and the main thing we do is inflate the wait times? Why? Because 1) Its hard to get an actual accurate wait time and 2) It makes guests happy when they walk in a 45 minute line for them to only wait 20 minutes instead. Trust me if Disney was actually messing with the wait times you would hear it from thousands of CMs, not some random guy on the internet. If you have any more questions feel free to ask.

We’ll keep monitoring wait times on future visits to Walt Disney World in Florida, but we are not sure that Disney would inflate times this much for profit in a way that goes against their Cast Member mantra of “We Create Happiness”.

About Melissa Cannioto

Melissa is an author, adventurer, and chatterbox, who loves to enjoy Disney's theme parks with a Mickey Premium Bar in hand! A British native, she has traveled the world seeking new experiences, and now resides in Florida with her Air Force pilot husband. Find her children's book at @thebearandthehug_book