Disney Head Honcho Bob Chapek Talks Fast Pass Replacement And Why He Thinks It’s A Positive

The remnants of fireworks can be seen behind Cinderella's castle during a performance at Disney World.

There have been a lot of changes at Disney parks over the last couple of years. One of the most significant has been the end of Disney World and Disneyland’s FastPass program. While its replacement, Genie Plus, has inspired some backlash from fans, the company’s CEO, Bob Chapek, still believes it offers a lot of upsides.

When Disney announced that its long-standing Fastpass program would soon be a thing of the past, it marked a new era for their beloved parks and legions of fans. In its place, the Disney Genie app's new features will give visitors the ability to reserve spots on rides during available windows of time, for an additional daily fee per ticket. In an interview with Seeking Alpha, Bob Chapek explained how park closures due to COVID-19 drove their decision to these decisions, and why he thinks they’re a step in the right direction:

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. 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.

Bob Chapek also made it clear that the Genie Plus program is a work in progress. With this, he believes that it will improve as the parks continue to reopen and as the higher-ups at Disney continue to gauge its effectiveness:

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. 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.

Since Disney World, Disneyland and other Disney parks have begun to reopen over the last several months, the company has faced an uphill battle in terms of attracting visitors. They continue to experiment with attractions and incentives to bring guests back, some of which appear to be working better than others. It will be interesting to see how Genie Plus helps (or hinders) those efforts after it launches this fall.

Katherine Webb