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Interview with the Creator of Standby Skipper – PREP 369

Interview with the Creator of Standby Skipper – PREP 369

Shannon chats with the Captain of Standby Skipper. She shares their Disney family origin story and how that led to optimizing park touring and eventually to the creation of Standby Skipper, the app that lends a hand to planners using Genie+ at Walt Disney World so visitors spend less time on their phone during vacation. The Captain also answers questions about the security and legality of the app and how their family uses the app’s tools.

The Basics

Captain is a Disney-loving parent who developed the app. Both Captain and her husband continue to work full time as they do not know how long Genie+ will be around. In order to protect the sensitivity of their day job, she goes by Captain.

Captain’s background is in healthcare and her husband’s background is in technology. Their family has always loved Disney. Her husband grew up going to Disney and she got on board with the Disney love.

They have always been a Disney family and have been going for the past 15-20 years. They’ve learned a lot over the years and her husband has helped make their Disney trips as relaxing as possible.

Due to the demands of their job, Captain’s husband has done the planning so that they can have the most optimized trip as possible. They also make several plans so that they can pivot depending on their mood and desires in the moment.

How Standby Skipper Came to Be

Because Captain is in Healthcare, when Covid hit, they were in complete lock-down due to her going into the hospital. Their first trip after the pandemic was January of 2022, only a few months after Genie+ launched.

Their trip included their two children and her 20-something brother in law. This was a once in a long time trip for him so they wanted to make it a good experience for him.

They stay at the Contemporary and love the convenience of the monorail. When they arrived, Captain noticed that her husband was stuck to his phone, which was unusual as they normally put their phones away on vacation to be in the moment.

A few days into the trip, Captain is feeling like having to be on phones feels more like work than vacation. They decided there had to be a better way and Captain’s husband felt like he could develop a better way.

They began researching and by February they were back in the parks testing Standby Skipper on a laptop in the parks. Captain’s husband wanted it to be web-based and Captain wanted it to be an app. They aren’t app developers but they watched a lot of youtube videos and learning how to create it into an app.

They did a lot of testing and asked others about how they would use it. They also spoke with attorneys to be sure they were following all of the rules. In July of 2022 they had beta users begin to test it before it was available for purchase in September of 2022.

Now they have incredible stories of people utilizing Standby Skipper to enhance their trip. Captain says she is surprised at how well it will be received. They weren’t sure it would be a for real business.

Disney Changes

Captain says in the beginning of their launch, she worried about changes Disney made. They went down in December 2022 because Disney had made changes that impacted them. They decided this was going to be their side project.

Because of that, they don’t spend a lot of time worrying. They want to improve the experience, but they know that changes will happen. They roll with the changes and do their best.

Concerns

Captain says she is very worried about security. People are concerned about security because they think Standby Skipper is logging into their account. However, that isn’t what is happening. Captain is very concerned with security.

They do not hold any of their information and security is a huge priority for them. Captain’s husband is in internet security so they have a lot of experience in this area. They are detailed rule-followers.

How to use Standby Skipper

Captain’s family uses Standby Skipper by deciding what kind of day they will have. They will choose their favorite ride as their first choice. They will go back to Standby Skipper as they pass a ride if they want to ride it.

Captain and her family will fill the time between lightning lanes with a snack, show, or walking around. They are not rope-droppers, but they do arrive within the first hour or so of opening and will stay all day. They do not plan out their day or have a strict structure.

They’ve found through their data and research, how another family will use it. They have found that a lot of families will be more rigid in their options and the way they use the app.

The app was designed so that you can give your options, allow Standby Skipper to find the lightning lanes, and then not look at your phone again all day. However, many families are using it to book numerous lightning lanes throughout the day.

Standby Skipper wasn’t designed to completely maximize Genie+ because a human can do just the same things Standby Skipper does. However, it can be used as an extra set of hands.

Because people all use Standby Skipper in different ways, it was designed to be utilized in many different ways. It is simple enough to use it how you want.

Future Plans

Will there be a version for Disneyland? Captain says that they would need to test it out at Disneyland and that’s a bit more travel for them. She also says that the demand might not be the same as it is in Disney World.

Captain also says that they are always looking at improvements and new integrations. It’s very exciting. Disney has announced some changes in January and that might mean more planning options.

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