Mobile phones with Genie App

Disney World Ride Reservation Refills Hack For Genie+

The Disney Genie+ Hack You're Not Using Yet

Recently, the magic makers over at Disney World put a bit of a damper on the pixie dust when they said that most guests should expect to get Lightning Lane access for only two to three attractions per day with Disney Genie+. For a previously free service that now costs at lest $15 per person per day, that isn’t exactly what we’d call a worthwhile tradeoff, particularly for those trying to travel on a budget. 

Well, folks, we’re here to tell you that, unless you’re using Genie+ and the Lightning Lanes all willy-nilly without leveraging its quirks and loopholes, that ride average is hugely underestimated. And since you’re here reading this, we can only assume that you aren’t one of those people.  

From the 120-Minute Rule to “stacking” Genie+ ride reservations, a few strategies are available to help you make the most of your visit and maximize your investment. Another great way to level up your Disney World vacation with the Lightning Lanes is by taking advantage of periodical ride reservation refills. 

Ride Reservation Refills: An Advanced Lightning Lane Strategy to Save Your Sanity

Attraction entrance sign and fountain

…but not your screentime. That’s right – if you’re looking for a laidback travel hack that lets you forget about your phone for most of the day, this is not it. But if you come ready to refresh and refresh and refresh again with a charger in hand (and a go-with-the-flow attitude, should this unpredictable strategy go awry), you and your crew could be handsomely rewarded with more rides and shorter waits. 

A Word of Warning

As we just mentioned, this Lightning Lane hack requires you to spend a lot of time on your phone to fully take advantage of ride reservation refills. So, this isn’t a great strategy for those hoping to unplug and just hang out with their family. Though let’s be honest, foisting My Disney Experience and the Disney Genie service on guests really isn’t helping in this department anyway. (Quality time while on vacation – what a concept!)

To do this strategy right, you’ll also want to spend some time doing your research and getting a feel for what we’re talking about before you even get to the park. This, mixed with the inconsistency that swirls around reservation refills, makes this Disney travel hack something that should really only be attempted by advanced Genie+ and Lightning Lane users, not first-time visitors just trying to have a good time. 

What Are Ride Reservation Refills? 

First things first: What exactly do we mean when we say ride reservation refills? As a refresher, Genie+ and Individual Lightning Lane reservations can be made starting at 7 AM on the day of your park visit. At parks like Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Magic Kingdom, return windows can climb from 10 AM-11 AM to 4 PM-5 PM within seconds, booking up completely in just a few minutes.  Genie app with attraction selections

But does that mean once those first reservations are filled, no more will become available the rest of the day? Not at all! Just like how Disney released more FastPass+ times throughout the day to accommodate guests who hadn’t booked ride reservations a month or more in advance, Disney World also drops more Lightning Lane reservations during the day to throw a bone to guests who weren’t up and ready for the 7 AM rush. 

In other words, the key to this strategy is checking in throughout the day to take advantage of these reservation drops. Now, don’t get these confused with ride cancelations, which can also become available during your time at the park. While cancelations do happen, these one-off slots fill up fast. In contrast, since Disney releases more ride reservations en masse, they’re easier to book. 

Why Use the Ride Reservation Refill Strategy?

One of the biggest downsides of using Genie+, particularly when making reservations at the 7 AM start time for parks like Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios, is that the reasonable return time you think you’re booking often isn’t the one you end up with at the end of the reservation process. Instead, you wind up with a return window that’s hours later, potentially even halfway through the afternoon. For example, a 9 AM time slot can often become 3 PM or later by the time you finish booking.

This is because everyone is competing for the exact same time slot – and the person with the fastest fingers and internet connection wins. So, if you aren’t aware of the 120-Minute Rule or the fact that more reservations could be released in just a few minutes, you really could end up with those measly two or three rides that Disney said guests should expect when using Genie+

Genie screen application

Instead, by leveraging the times when Disney typically releases more ride reservations, especially the first refill of the morning, you can snag a return window that’s actually closer to the initial time you’re given and is usually earlier in the day. Not only does this make it easier for you to plan out the rest of your time in the parks, but it also gives you more time to work with when making ride reservations and, as a result, the ability to squeeze in more attractions. 

Things to Remember for This Disney Genie+ Hack

Ready to try the Lightning Lane reservation refill strategy? There are a few things you need to keep in mind.

Ride Reservation Refills Aren’t Guaranteed

It’s risky. This is arguably the most important point about this entire strategy. For some rides, Lightning Lane reservations are typically refilled multiple times throughout the day, while other attractions only rarely get a return window boost. It depends on guest demand, which can vary substantially depending on the season or even from day to day. 

So, needless to say, it’s sort of a follow-the-trends-and-hope-for-the-best kind of situation. This is why we highly recommend that you do a test run one morning (for free) in the days leading up to your vacation, as it will allow you to get a feel for when reservation refills usually happen for the rides you’d like to go on. 

Ride Reservations Can’t Be Modified and Cancellations Take Forever

Genie App Screenshot

Previously, guests could modify FastPass+ reservations to book earlier return windows offered by refills and cancelations. However, that sadly isn’t the case with Genie+. The only way to swap out your reservation for an earlier time or different attraction is by canceling and starting fresh. Sounds easy enough, right?

Well, it’s not. Instead, Disney makes canceling your Lightning Lane reservation a lengthy, tedious process. So, by the time you’re able to book, the window you want will probably already be spoken for by someone else. Rather than going through this annoying chain of events, consider just waiting it out for the reservations to (hopefully) refill.  

The Size of Your Group Doesn’t Matter

If you’re worried that your party size is affecting the return times that are available to you, particularly for reservation refills, don’t be. Genie+ isn’t smart enough to match the number of reservations with ride or theme park capacity. 

So, you aren’t missing out on a return window because your group is too big. Instead, it’s simply because you weren’t fast enough to claim the time slot. By waiting for the reservations to randomly refill, you can score a reservation without too much competition. 

The Strategy Isn’t Right for Every Theme Park

Star Wars Robot Statues

Just like how paying for Disney Genie+ isn’t worth it for parks like Epcot and Animal Kingdom, this ride reservation refill hack isn’t a good match for every Disney World theme park. You’ll spend a wildly unnecessary amount of time looking at your phone to accomplish the same things you could with a well-thought-out standby strategy. 

If you’d like to leverage those random reservation drops, your best bets are at Hollywood Studios and Magic Kingdom since these two parks have the most Lightning Lane rides. Plus, due to all those attractions and, consequently, the high demand for Genie+, this is also where those inconsistent return windows we talked about earlier (e.g., a 10 AM-11 AM window for Slinky Dog Dash turning into 4 PM-5 PM) usually happen. 

How to Hack Your Disney Vacation with the Genie+ Ride Refill Strategy

Ok, if we haven’t scared you off with all those warnings and caveats, you’re probably wondering how to make this strategy a reality. Let’s get down to brass tacks.

Which Disney World Rides Usually Get Reservation Refills?

As we mentioned earlier, not every attraction at Walt Disney World will have its Lightning Lane reservations refilled. So, rather than wasting your time waiting for something that may never happen, these are the rides that have been known to have more return windows released in the past:

Magic Kingdom Reservation Refill Rides

  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
  • Haunted Mansion
  • Jungle Cruise
  • Peter Pan’s Flight
  • Pirates of the Caribbean
  • Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
  • Space Mountain
  • the upcoming Tiana’s Bayou Adventure (formerly Splash Mountain)

Epcot Reservation Refill Rides

Hollywood Studios Reservation Refill Rides

  • Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway
  • Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run
  • Slinky Dog Dash
  • Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance
  • Toy Story Mania
  • Twilight Zone Tower of Terror

Animal Kingdom Reservation Refill Rides

  • Avatar Flight of Passage
  • Expedition Everest
  • Kilimanjaro Safaris
  • Na’vi River Journey

As you might have noticed, this strategy doesn’t just apply to Genie+ attractions. It also works for Individual Lightning Lane rides, too. This comes in handy if you want to book two in-demand rides, one Genie+ and one Individual Lightning Lane, right away in the morning.  

When Are Ride Reservations Typically Refilled?

Pandora trees and greenery

We’ve already said it a few times in this Lightning Lane strategy guide, but we’ll say it again: There is no guarantee that a ride’s Lightning Lane reservations will be replenished after booking up in the first morning rush, particularly for Genie+ attractions. 

So, there is no “usual” time when these reservation refills happen. In other words, proceed at your own risk. (As for Individual Lightning Lane Attractions, reservations are typically replenished on a more consistent basis, with the refill tending to occur at 7:17 AM.)

Having said that, these reservation drops do typically follow a few patterns when they do happen. For Genie+, the first, most crucial return time replenishment tends to happen between 7:05 and 7:25 in the morning, with the refill commonly occuring right around the 7:08 AM. Yes, that is quite the lengthy window, so you better have your refresh finger ready. 

Start refreshing the app right away at 7:05 AM and keep refreshing until the next round of reservations is released. Afterward, you’ll want to keep checking back for refills throughout the day. These Genie+ return window drops usually happen just a few minutes after the hour or 30-minute mark—for example, 10:02 AM or 12:33 PM. 

Remember, those aren’t actual times, just estimates. So, don’t quote us on this or plan your trip around it. The real reservation refill times will depend on guest demand the day you visit, and other factors like crowd levels and technical difficulties. 

Just keep in mind that following the initial refill, there’s usually a lull, with the bulk of the reservation drops usually happening from 9 AM to 1 PM. And by the time 3 PM rolls around, feel free to stop refreshing, as a refill is unlikely to happen that late into the afternoon. 

Tips & Tricks for Hacking Lightning Lane Reservation Refills

Exterior view of white building at night

All set to try this strategy for yourself? Here are some tips and tricks to get you started. 

Hollywood Studios or Bust

As we said earlier, the best parks to use the reservation refill strategy are Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios. However, if you can only choose one (and we really suggest you do – no one needs that much screentime while on vacation), then make it Disney Hollywood Studios. 

Unlike Magic Kingdom, which requires even more time looking at your phone, Hollywood Studios is pretty reasonable considering how much time you can save. Rather than waking up for the 7 AM battle royale, feel free to sleep in a few extra minutes and get your Slinky Dog Dash reservation when the first refills drop at 7:08 AM. 

Afterward, if you’d like, claim your Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance Individual Lightning Lane reservation when they refill at 7:17 AM. From there, just keep booking more return times as you redeem your reservations and according to the 120-Minute Rule

Do Your Research and a Test Run Before You Go

To use this strategy to the fullest, you’ll need to have a sense of when reservation refills generally happen for the rides you’d like to go on. Since things can vary quite a bit based on guest demand and park capacity, making it impossible for us to just lay out a bunch of times, the easiest way to do this is with a test run before you even get to the park. 

We suggest you set aside a morning one day before your vacation – as near your travel dates as possible is best. Ideally, aim for a week out on the same day of the week you plan to go to a park and use Genie+. 

Mickey and Minnie Runaway Railway Entrance

This will allow you to test out the strategy for free and monitor any reservation drops that may occur in similar conditions to when you will visit. Then, note the times when these refills happen and use them as a guide for your own visit. 

Refresh, Refresh, Refresh

Force refreshing is your friend. While Genie+ does automatically refresh, it won’t necessarily happen right after a reservation refill. So, instead of waiting for the next auto-refresh, force refresh the app by “pulling down” on the screen. 

We also recommend that you pin the first ride you want to go on that day to the top of your Tip Board. Resist the urge to pin anything else – you want that first ride and any reservation refills to be the first things you see. Competition is fierce for these reservations. So, while it may seem trivial, those milliseconds can make all the difference in whether you snag a return time or not. 

You can do this when you’re setting up Genie+ for the day. After selecting your party, you’ll be directed to select your “top picks.” As we said, this should be the first ride you want to go on that day. Feel free to skip anything that follows to keep your eyes on the prize. 

Bring a Power Bank to Charge Your Phone

Peter Pan attraction at night

As we said, this Lightning Lane strategy requires a lot of screentime and refreshing, and as a result, can use up a lot of juice. If your phone is running on an old battery or you’re planning to frequently use your phone for other things like pictures, the Play Disney Parks app or My Disney Experience map function, you’ll want to bring something to charge your phone. 

That’s a wrap on this complicated Genie+ strategy. Is it frequently inconsistent and frustrating? You betcha! But, the payoffs can be huge when it comes to saving you time in line. Which Lightning Lane hack is your favorite? Let us know in the comments! Then, save some cash for Genie+ with our discount Disney World tickets