Reading excerpts from yesterday’s earnings report, for a moment I put my cynicism about Disney IT aside and I had a vision of a Disney Genie that could improve my experience, the experience of first time visitors AND increase the revenue of Disney Corp, without making me feel nickeled and dimed. Fantasy, I know, But I could see it so clearly.
But instead of just describing this mythical app, I thought it would be fun to discuss from the perspective of “if you had three wishes to make Disney Genie the perfect park optimization app, what would they be?”
(Note: It can assumed that everyone wishes touringplans gets a massive payout after hearing Chapek describing the lines app to investors but calling it Disney Genie, so you don’t have to use one on that.)
Here are mine:
My first wish for a Disney-run app would be that it make my family’s experience in the parks its top priority. I know that this probably can’t happen if they are doing it for everyone in the park at the same time. We know the beauty of touring plans is that it tells you when to zig when everyone else is zagging. But these logistics aside (these are magical wishes after all), the “users park experience”, not how “Disney wants to control me” and get me to do things that go against my best interests" would be the driving force. The app could achieve both goals by suggesting things like “on your way to Pandora, you should check out the small clawed otters! They are adorable”. This would enrich my family’s experience; otters ARE adorable. It would also help me as a planner - I wouldn’t have to have pages of notes in my phone reminding me to check out the otters when I walk past Pizzafari. And it would help Disney because it would keep me out of line just a little bit longer.
I would be able to enter in a general time I would like to eat or snack, and when I optimize my plan, it suggests places to eat or snack in that area, based on my preferences.
Full liner disclosure here. I am terrible at spotting places to eat and snack unless they are an obvious cart in the middle of a path or a massive quick service restaurant. To me, all the snacks and most of the QS places in Animal Kingdom look like they are part of the ambiance. The name of the place fades into the theming. In AK, the names do not indicate what they have to eat there. Dino-bites has amazing ice cream cookie sandwiches. Who would ever know? (I am not suggesting they rename it Dino-bites ice cream and chipwhich stand, but “Dino-bites” sounds like a mini pizza roll, not ice cream).
I also tend not to go out of my way for places that have 1 specialty item. I like choices. I am that person who never orders the same thing off the menu, so I tend to ignore these places when others talk about them. I am amazed people know about snack places because I tend to walk past them on my one from one ride to the next, even if I am hungry.
But what if I could put into my plan that my family will probably want a snack at 2:00. And maybe I have even put in our snack preferences (savory vs sweet for example). Then in my optimize plan it would pop up a couple of snack places I might be interested in that are right there in the vicinity. "After the carousel at 1:45, you could check out the loaded potato barrels at Friar’s Nook (me), or a Peter Pan float at Story Book Treats (my daughter).
In a super magical universe this would interface with mobile ordering and tell me things like, “it looks like you are going to be at Haunted Mansion at 12:00 which is when you said you want lunch time. If you want to eat at Columbia Harbor House, mobile orders are filling up - you should order now, so it will be ready when you want it.”
- The app would suggest I stop at a specific shop when I am in the vicinity, based on my preferences, (including frequency of such messages, I wouldn’t want them all the time) Here’s an example of when that would have been helpful. My daughter and I do pin trading. When we were in Epcot, I knew to look for Pin Traders, near Spaceship Earth, for the limited edition pins (it was still hard to find because of the construction). But in Magic Kingdom I had no idea where these were. I had to google it, and by the time I googled it, I was finished with Frontierland and not going back. Frontierland Trading Post was probably somewhere in one of my Sansung Notes, but it just slipped my mind.
If Genie knew I was interested in Limited Edition pins, it would have told me that between visiting Tom Sawyer Island and the Tiki Room, I should stop by the Frontier Trading Post. This would be a win for me and a win for Disney. Imagine that you are interested in a Dooney and Bourke, but you don’t want to have to look in every shop. Genie will tell you when you are walking past a shop with high end hand bags, so you can go step inside.
Again, I think the theming makes everything run together for me, and I don’t feel like wading through crowds to peer into shops to see if they have the one thing I am interested. But if you told me that there are LE pins over there, I am going to go check it out. And my husband would greatly appreciate this direct approach as he wants to keep shopping browsing to a minimum.
So those are my three wishes for a Genie that I think would improve my park experience by maximizing my ability to take advantage of everything the parks have to offer, without having to plan for months to discover these places (or spend 6 years in chat and on the forum). It would help to highlight unique snacks, shops and experiences instead of just focusing on the lines, and whether or not I want to wait in them.
What would your 3 wishes for a Genie app be?