The Disney Genie Plus service is touted as an easy way to make the most of your day in the parks, breezing you past long lines and thick crowds to experience Disney World’s best attractions with little wait. However, for most folks, using Disney Genie+ isn’t exactly what you’d call a fairytale.
Competition for Lightning Lane reservations can be fierce, especially during the busy season, with some slots selling out for the day in a matter of minutes. Luckily, with the help of a few simple Disney Genie app hacks and quick tweaks to your device, you can be well on your way to an early morning return window for some of Disney World’s most popular rides, setting you up for a successful and fun-filled rest of your day.
Just like at Disney, time is of the essence. So, let’s get started.
At Disney World, Genie Plus Isn’t a Marathon – It’s a Sprint
Let loose from its lamp in December 2021, Disney Genie Plus is intended to maximize the guest experience by saving you time spent in line – for a price, of course. While previously free (we miss you, FastPass Plus), that sadly isn’t the case with this new line-skipping service, which starts at a less-than-magical $15 per person per day and increases according to demand.
However, despite the fee, that hasn’t stopped guests from turning to the offering in droves. After all, with the prospect of hour-plus wait times for the most in-demand rides in the parks, who isn’t looking for a way to beat the crowds? Unfortunately, even with the service, all those people fighting to experience the attractions can cause some stiff competition for ride reservations.
Your Early Morning Can Make or Break Your Day in the Theme Parks
Unlike using Genie Plus at Disneyland, where reservations can’t be made until you enter the park for the day, the mad digital dash to book a Lightning Lane return time at Disney World begins bright and early at 7 AM. This results in thousands of guests fighting over the same attraction return window all at once, particularly at parks like Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios. To make matters worse, the success of the rest of your day ultimately hinges on that very first reservation.
In other words, if you aren’t quick with your fingers, that 9 AM-10 AM return time can magically (and disappointingly) turn into a 4 PM-5 PM slot or later. Not only does this put quite the damper on your morning, but as a result, it also limits how much you can accomplish during your day. This is due to guardrails put in place by Disney when it comes to making any subsequent return windows, specifically the 120-Minute Rule and “last action” triggers like checking in for your reservation.
Sounds like a recipe for disaster, right? Trust us, it is. What’s worse, with so many attractions included with Genie+ at the likes of Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios (22 and 15, respectively), splurging for the service is almost a necessity if you want to get a lot done. Needless to say, if you want your investment to be worth it, you need to bring your A-game. That’s where this strategy comes in handy.
A Few Tweaks to Your Phone & the Disney Genie App Can Tip the Scales in Your Favor
During the 7 AM battle for ride reservations, a successful day can all come down to a matter of seconds. As a result, the person with the fastest internet connection and quickest fingers wins. Fortunately, in just a few minutes, you can easily optimize your phone and the Disney Genie+ app to give you the best chance possible to snag your desired ride and return window.
All you need to do is follow a few simple steps prior to making your reservation, including pinning your main-priority attraction to the top of your Tip Board, making sure everything is updated and ensuring your internet connection is optimized. We’ll get down to the details in just a little bit. But first…
Who Should Try These Speed-Boosting Lightning Lane Hacks
In general, the vast majority of people who use Genie+ will likely just fire up the app and book things as they become available without giving too much thought to strategy. Needless to say, even the slightest bit of preparation should give you a pretty big step up in the competition.
While there are certainly more complicated (and time-consuming) hacks out there, such as Genie+ stacking and ride reservation refills, these speed-enhancing strategy ideas are quick, easy and to the point. So, while they may technically be for more advanced Lightning Lane users, they can still be easily utilized by Genie Plus newbies.
Where & When to Use This Disney Genie Plus Strategy
As we mentioned earlier, not all of the Walt Disney World theme parks struggle with Genie+ reservations filling up before the day is done. In fact, apart from especially busy times of year, paying for the line-skipping service isn’t even necessary at parks like Epcot and Animal Kingdom, as there are both fewer rides included and in the parks overall.
For the most bang for your buck, your best bet is to save this hack for your days at Hollywood Studios and Magic Kingdom, especially during the high season. Since these two parks have both the most Genie+ rides and number of attractions overall, getting a head start on your day is crucial for getting as much done as possible.
How to Optimize the Genie+ App & Score an Early Lightning Lane Reservation
Ready to find out how to make it all happen? We thought you’d never ask. Here are our simple Disney Genie Plus hacks to fast-track your day and snag that covetable morning Lightning Lane return time – guaranteed.
Update Your Device and the My Disney Experience App
As anyone who has ever struggled with a finicky app or slow computer can attest, an out-of-date program or device can be a huge, glitchy drag. So, set yourself up for success from the start and make sure both your phone and My Disney Experience app are completely up to date.
This will help prevent any ill-timed functioning mishaps and ensure everything is up to speed. Rather than waiting to do this in the morning before 7 AM, we suggest you plan to do this the night before since updates can sometimes be a lengthy process – ain’t nobody got time for that right before Lightning Lane reservations open.
Pin Your Desired First Attraction So It’s at the Top of Your List
If you can only follow one of the suggestions on this list, let it be this one. As stated earlier, mere seconds can make all the difference between a morning return time and a window that’s halfway through the afternoon. Since the Disney Genie Tip Board – where you go to reserve return windows and scope out wait times – is organized alphabetically, you could be missing out on earlier time slots just by trying to find your desired ride.
For example, arguably the most in-demand Genie+ attraction of all is Slinky Dog Dash at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, which frequently runs out of return windows for the day within minutes of 7 AM. Notably, the ride also lands almost all the way at the bottom of the alphabetized list of attractions, meaning that by the time you finally click “Book Experience,” you could already be out of luck.
Fortunately, you can easily shave off a few seconds simply by cutting down on your scrolling time when making reservations. The easiest way to do this is by pinning your ideal first ride of the day (more on that next) to the top of your Disney Genie app. Here’s how to make it happen:
- Open Disney Genie on My Disney Experience. While there are a few different ways to do this, the easiest is to tap the hamburger menu icon ☰ then select the My Genie Day button in the upper-righthand corner.
- Next, you’ll need to set up Genie+ for the day. Depending on how you are prompted to do this, either select Start Now or Get Started Now.
- From there, select the current date, indicate which theme park you will be visiting and choose your party.
- You will next be prompted to choose your Top Picks from a list of your chosen park’s attractions (conveniently labeled with Lightning Lane access). But, don’t be tempted by that long list of rides. Instead, the only attraction you’re going to pick is your very first Genie+ ride of the day and, if you’re paying for Individual Lightning Lanes, then your first choice for that, too.
- Next, you’ll be asked to Personalize Your Day Even More by choosing from different interests, including characters and dining. For our purposes, none of this matters. So, feel free to Skip for Now.
- Lastly, if you haven’t already purchased Disney Genie Plus, you’ll be prompted to do so. Once you pay, Genie will work its magic and you’ll be directed back to the service’s main landing page.
- From there, tap to see your Tip Board. If you did everything right, your desired first ride of the day will be pinned at the top, waiting for you to book your reservation.
Reading through, this may seem like a lengthy and cumbersome process. However, it should really only take you a couple of minutes. Really, as long as you plan to wake up by around 6:45 AM, you should have plenty of time to pin your first ride to the top of your Tip Board and follow the rest of the suggestions on our list. Plus, keep in mind that you can also go back and edit your Top Picks throughout the day to pin the next ride on your list to the top.
Rides to Prioritize for Your First Genie+ Lightning Lane Reservation
Wondering which attraction you should book first? Even though choosing something you’re interested in is important, you should instead prioritize the most popular Genie+ ride at whatever park you’re going to. Keep in mind that although it can be, this isn’t always the most in-demand attraction in the park.
For instance, while Slinky Dog Dash and Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run are very popular Hollywood Studios rides, they’re eclipsed by Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, an Individual Lightning Lane Attraction. These are the rides we recommend you focus on first:
- Top Priority – Jungle Cruise
- Other Popular Genie+ Rides – Peter Pan’s Flight, Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Caribbean, Splash Mountain, Space Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain
- Individual Lightning Lane Attractions – Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Space Mountain
- Top Priority – Test Track
- Other Popular Genie+ Rides – Soarin’ Around the World, Mission: SPACE (Orange)
- Individual Lightning Lane Attractions – Frozen Ever After, Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure
- Top Priority – Slinky Dog Dash, Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run
- Other Popular Genie+ Rides – Toy Story Mania, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, Tower of Terror
- Individual Lightning Lane Attractions – Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway
- Top Priority – Na’vi River Journey
- Other Popular Genie+ Rides – Kilimanjaro Safaris, Expedition Everest, Festival of the Lion King
- Individual Lightning Lane Attractions – Avatar: Flight of Passage, Expedition Everest
Maximize Your Internet Speed
As you’re waiting for 7 AM to roll around, take some time to make sure your internet connection is up to speed. Walt Disney World wi-fi can often be iffy. So, if you’ve noticed spotty service when hanging out in your hotel room (the connection can be weaker in some lower-level rooms), feel free to move to the lobby or even outside your hotel.
Compare your cellular data with that offered by Disney wi-fi to see which has stronger service. If you’re a really serious about those milliseconds, you can even run a speed test on the night before. Just shoot for speeds of at least 40 Mbps or more.
Force Close Everything Except My Disney Experience
As someone with a bad habit of constantly having at least 20 tabs open at a time, I know all too well how bogged down things can get if you have too many things running all at once. The only thing your phone should be focusing on right now is My Disney Experience and that first ride reservation. So, force close any other apps you might have running to free up some memory.
Sync Your Clock and Ready Your Refresh Finger for the 7 AM Start Time
With reservation time closing in, there’s only one thing left to do: Watch and wait for 7 AM. And no, we don’t just mean on your phone. Instead, just like Disney, we’re getting down to the millisecond. My Disney Experience follows time.gov to mark the time, including for Genie+.
For your best shot at booking an early return window, sync your device with the time on the website or consider bringing up the website. That way, you won’t miss your moment.
As the clock strikes 6:59:59 AM, “pull down” on the screen to initiate a force refresh and let go right at 7 AM. With any luck, your chosen first attraction will be there at the top of your Tip Board with a return time right around park open. Then, tap “Book Experience” and click through like your vacation depends on it – because it kinda does.
Well, folks, that’s all there is for this Genie+ hack. Does it feel a bit like overkill at times? Absolutely! However, with reservations selling out in mere seconds, we don’t know about you, but we’re happy with any way we can get a leg up on the competition.
What Lightning Lane strategies do you like to use? Let us know in the comments! Then, find out how to save some cash for Genie+ with our discount Disney World tickets.