Want to skip the lines at popular Disney rides? It'll cost you

Christopher Palmeri
Bloomberg

Walt Disney Co. will charge theme park guests as much as $15 a ride to get on an express line at its most-popular attractions, including Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance in Florida.

The company announced additional pricing Friday for Genie+, a broad ride reservation system it introduced in August. The extra charges for fast access apply to as many as two rides at each park and will vary based on the attraction and date. A reservation at the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train at the Magic Kingdom resort will cost $10 on Tuesday and $12 on Saturday, for example.

Disney, the world’s largest theme park operator, has been looking for ways to minimize crowding and wait times at its resorts, while generating additional revenue. The Burbank, California-based company introduced variable ticket pricing in 2016 that charged guests more for tickets during the most popular days. Prices range from $109 to $159 a day per guest.

Genie+ costs an additional $15 a day per guest at the company’s Florida theme parks and $20 a day in California, and allows guests to access shorter lines at more than 40 rides in Florida and 15 in California. Guests can reserve a time to enter through a shorter line, the Lightning Lane. 

Customers who choose the option for individual rides aren’t required to buy the broader $15- or $20-a-day pass. The rides available for individual purchase won’t be the same as those included in the pass.

“We’re really focused on how we max the guests’ desires or what they want to do, and what we have available and what the capacity is,” said Gary Daniels, a Disney vice president of digital experience. “If you wait until later in the day, that attraction actually has less of a wait.” Guests still will be able to get on rides without paying additional fees, he said.

Genie+ replaced a free option called FastPass, which also allowed guests to reserve a spot in line. Many fans responded negatively to the idea of paying for something they used to get for free.

Other theme parks, including Comcast Corp.’s Universal Studios and Cedar Fair LP’s Knott’s Berry Farm, also charge guests extra to enter shorter lines. Disney has been offering the option at its resorts in Paris and Shanghai.