This past weekend we decided to put Disney Genie+ to the test at Hollywood Studios. As luck would have it, our first Genie+ report in quite some time just so happened to be the same day when the service was broken for a portion of the morning. In this article, we’ll cover a play-by-play of our day, including how we managed the morning and the uncertainty of the broken Disney Genie+ service as we started our day. Beyond that, we’ll talk about our Genie+ priorities for Hollywood Studios, which attractions and experiences are fine to use standby for, and we’ll have plenty of photos from our day at the Studios. We’ll begin with some information before we get to the front gate.
- What is Disney Genie+?
- Hollywood Studios Genie+ Priorities
- Pre-Park Opening Genie+ Goals
- A Not-So-Magical Start
- Calling an Audible
- Genie+ Springs Back to Life
- Disney Genie+ Redemption Events
- Shows Save the Day
- Modifying a Genie+ Selection
- Late Lunch and a Mid-Afternoon Break
- Final Selections & Opportunistic Evening
- Genie+ Recap & Is It Worth It?
What is Disney Genie+?
Disney Genie+ is the name of Disney World’s paid FastPass+ option that debuted back in October 2021. Gone are the days of free FastPass+ options. Now, if guests want to skip the line at the Walt Disney World Resort, they will be required to use the Disney Genie+ service.
Individual Lightning Lane Attractions
Before we get to the Disney Genie+ bundle, it’s worth noting that some of the most popular rides at Walt Disney World exist outside of the Disney Genie+ bundle. For rides like TRON Lightcycle Run, Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, or Avatar Flight of Passage, guests can only skip the line by purchasing an a la carte Individual Lightning Lane. We’re not using that for this article, but it is worth mentioning so when we get to our Rise of the Resistance strategy, you’ll understand that there is a skip-the-line option, but it’s separate from the Disney Genie+ bundle.
Disney Genie+ Bundle at Hollywood Studios
When you purchase the Disney Genie+ bundle at Hollywood Studios, here are the attractions and experiences that are included:
- Alien Swirling Saucers
- Beauty and the Beast Live on Stage
- Disney Junior Play & Dance!
- For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration
- Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular
- Meet Olaf at Celebrity Spotlight
- Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway
- Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run
- Muppet*Vision 3D
- Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith
- Slinky Dog Dash
- Star Tours – The Adventures Continue
- The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror™
- Toy Story Mania!
Hollywood Studios Genie+ Price
Starting back on June 27, 2023, Disney World began offering per-park pricing for Disney Genie+. That means you’ll likely pay a different price based on which park you plan to use the service. If you want to purchase the service for a park hopping day, you can buy the multiple parks option, which includes Genie+ access to Lightning Lanes at all four Disney World theme parks.
We’re going to use a lot of data from thrill-data.com, starting with the average price for Disney Genie+ at Hollywood Studios. Since the per-park pricing was introduced, the range of Disney Genie+ pricing at Hollywood Studios is $20 to $26, with a 104-day average of $21.75.
For our day at Studios, we paid $22 for Disney Genie+.
Hollywood Studios Genie+ Priorities
One of the things we found quite helpful when trying to maximize our dollar with Disney Genie+ is creating a priority list of the attractions and experiences at Hollywood Studios. This allows you to get off on the right foot early and even works as a cheat sheet for what you might want to consider as your next attraction selection when you’re in the middle of your day and don’t want to crunch numbers or try to overthink something. In terms of the numbers, our priority list is a combination of how difficult it is to get a Lightning Lane (including how quickly they sell out) and how long of a line you might be skipping to create a total value.
Here’s how we would prioritize your Lightning Lane attraction selections:
1. Slinky Dog Dash
This should be a no-brainer. Slinky Dog Dash is, by far, the most popular Disney Genie+ attraction at Hollywood Studios. Typically, the ride will effectively sell out by noon at the latest but can be gone before the park opens. There will be periodic availability through the early afternoon, but it’s best to get as early of a return time as possible to get started on the right foot. The standby line builds early and quickly, so there isn’t much reprieve from long lines on a typical day.
2. Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster
Next up is a classic…Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster! The attraction received a refresh earlier this year following a multi-month refurbishment. While there was no change to the attraction storyline, there was a lot of TLC on the attraction including refreshed blacklight paint on the sets in the ride. Honestly, it looks awesome and crews did a great job.
In terms of the data, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster is typically the second-quickest to sell out, which is what earns it the number 2 spot on our list. Like many of the top five attractions, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster can average an hour wait or longer, which means skipping the line here will save you some significant time.
If you aren’t rope-dropping Sunset Blvd as part of a strategy to take advantage of lower waits in the first hour of park operations, strongly consider keeping Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster near the top of your list.
3. Twilight Zone Tower of Terror
Another popular Lightning Lane is for Tower of Terror. Also located on Sunset Blvd, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster and Tower of Terror are heavy hitters that remain quite popular in a headliner-heavy theme park. Even with new additions like Runaway Railway and Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, decades-old attractions like Tower of Terror remain very popular and worth it for a Genie+ Lightning Lane selection.
4. Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway
Next on your list should be Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway. You can actually swap this with Smugglers Run as you wish, but data shows that Runaway Railway typically sells out sooner than Smugglers Run. We noticed that was the case on our recent visit as well. So far in 2023, Smugglers Run has a slightly longer average wait time, but with no single rider line at Runaway Railway, we’ll give Railway the nod for the #4 spot.
5. Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run
Next up is Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run. This ride has a single-rider option, which might work for some families, but the second-newest attraction in Hollywood Studios can still demand hour-plus waits. A Genie+ Lightning Lane for Smugglers Run can feel especially valuable if you just waited 90+ minutes in the Rise of the Resistance standby line. Between Rise of the Resistance, excellent food options, and some entertainment/characters, Galaxy’s Edge can demand a decent chunk of your day. Skipping the line at Falcon will be much appreciated.
6. Toy Story Mania
We’ll head back over to Toy Story Land for Toy Story Mania. Toy Story Mania availability not only generally lasts longer into the day, but the ride itself has a higher capacity to churn through guests than many attractions at Hollywood Studios. There are also opportunities to ride this with a lower wait such as first thing in the morning when most guests are preoccupied with Slinky Dog Dash.
7. Alien Swirling Saucers
Staying in Toy Story Land, we’ll head over to Alien Swirling Saucers. This is a lower priority for us given how low the wait times get at the end of the evening.
8. Star Tours
The bottom two attractions are not even really necessary to grab a Lightning Lane return time for. We’ll put Star Tours above MuppetVision 3D simply because the Star Tours line has the potential to get much longer than MuppetVision 3D.
9. MuppetVision 3D
Last on our list, but not in our hearts – MuppetVision 3D.
In addition to the attractions listed above, there are several shows and even a meet & greet that are included with Disney Genie+ at Hollywood Studios.
Generally, you will not need Genie+ for any of the shows if you don’t want to use it. During the vast majority of the year, you’ll be able to walk up to a show 15-30 minutes before it starts and get a decent seat. However, during the busiest times of the year, it might be worth considering a Genie+ Lightning Lane reservation for a show if it’s a must-do during your day at Hollywood Studios.
While shows might not be a huge part of your Genie+ plan for Hollywood Studios, they should be sprinkled into your day at the park. We find it especially useful to watch a show or two while waiting for a Lightning Lane return time as a way to get off our feet, get out of the heat, and slow down the day a bit.
Pre-Park Opening Genie+ Goals
Guests can purchase Disney Genie+ starting at midnight on the day of their visit, and make first selections starting at 7am. This means that you can get a head start on your day before you even step foot in Hollywood Studios and we highly suggest taking advantage of the early selections.
First, your goal will likely be Slinky Dog Dash. If that’s the case, you’ll want to set an alarm for around 6:45am or even a bit earlier to allow yourself time to purchase Disney Genie+ for your traveling party and get ready for the 7am drop. My alarm was set for 6:55am but that’s because I was familiar with the Genie+ checkout process and I was only making the selection for myself. For more on how to purchase Disney Genie+, check out our article below!
Right at 7am, you’ll want to make your first selection of the day, which in our case was Slinky Dog Dash. You’ll want to head to the Tip Board section of the My Disney Experience app to make your Disney Genie+ Lightning Lane selections both at 7am and throughout the day.
When the clock strikes 7am, you can swipe down, or “pull to refresh” the Tip Board page to see updated information. You can see if you’re eligible to make selections when the “When you can book” display says “Now”. In the screenshots below, you can see that our “When you can book” time was 7am. When the clock turned to 7am, we swiped down to refresh (screenshot below, left), and then the indicator said “Now” when the page refreshed (screenshot below, center). From there, we were able to find Slinky Dog Dash and make a Lightning Lane selection. Note that during the first 15 minutes of Genie+ selection availability (7:00am to 7:15am), exact return windows won’t be displayed. This is because the windows change so often that Disney wants to hide the information to prevent early frustration with the service. Instead, the button will say “Check availability” (screenshot below, right). Click the “Book Experience” button to start the checkout flow for the Genie+ Lightning Lane selection.
A Not-So-Magical Start
So, we’ve set our alarm for way-to-early-on-vacation-o’clock, we’ve purchased Disney Genie+, and we’ve done everything right to put ourselves in the best possible position at 7am and then the My Disney Experience app breaks. While we’ve used Disney Genie+ a fair amount over the years, we haven’t written an updated article in some time and decided that October 8th would be the best day to get started. As it would turn out, the My Disney Experience app was broken that morning and we were not able to make our Genie+ Lightning Lane selections like we wanted to right at 7am.
In theory, we would’ve secured a return time for Slinky Dog Dash before 11am and we would have been able to get most of our top Genie+ attraction selections done during a very productive day at Hollywood Studios. Instead, the day was now filled with uncertainty as it related to the Disney Genie+ service and our experience for the day.
When we arrived at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, most of the Cast Members greeting guests at the park entrance were briefed on the Genie+ woes and reassured guests that the IT team was working on it. Throughout the morning, the broken app was the talk of the town at the park. We overheard many families grumbling about the app, wondering what would happen next and if they might be entitled to a refund.
Calling an Audible
What started as a day where we planned to craft the ideal Genie+ itinerary required an audible. Instead of showing how great Genie+ could be, we started to see a return to how great the theme park experience can be without it.
Now, we were still at a disadvantage for the morning because we were not hotel guests taking advantage of Early Entry. We plan on having an Early Entry series in the not-too-distant future, but our focus for today was on Genie+. The first goal of the morning was to understand our options as they related to our Genie+ purchase. With no Guest Experience Team (GET) stand in sight as we walked down Hollywood Blvd, we decided to stop at the GET area near the entrance to Toy Story Land.
There was a growing line when we arrived, but Cast Members informed us that refunds would be available if we didn’t use the service during our day at the park. They told us that while they didn’t have any idea when the service might return, we should enjoy our morning and keep checking the app. If it wasn’t working by the time we left the park (whenever that may be), we could get a refund by speaking with Guest Relations.
With that bit of reassurance, we decided to continue the morning with some standby queues while crowds were relatively low. The idea was that we would give Disney IT until 11am to get the Disney Genie+ service working before we asked for a refund. We figured that if Genie+ was down all morning, it would basically be unusable in the afternoon with guests flooding the service.
Since we were near Toy Story Land anyway, we wanted to check in on the Slinky Dog Dash wait time. By the time we got to Slinky Dog Dash, the queue was overflowing into the walkways of Toy Story Land and the posted wait was 105 minutes. While we still didn’t have a Lightning Lane confirmed for Slinky Dog Dash, we figured that our chances would be good to get one if the Genie+ service returned. Instead of waiting for Slinky Dog Dash, we went over to Toy Story Mania and decided to put the posted 25-minute wait to the test. As it would turn out, the posted 25-minute wait was an actual wait of 8 minutes until we boarded the ride and a total experience time of 15 minutes by the time we exited the ride.
From there, we noticed that Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway was open after being closed for the first hour of the day (including Early Entry). We were close enough to call another audible and head over to a ride that would eventually prove to be more difficult to obtain a Lightning Lane for than we previously thought. The posted wait was 45 minutes, but we assumed it would be much shorter given that the ride only reopened a few minutes earlier. The ride reopened a little before 8:55am and it was 9:02am by the time we made it to the attraction entrance. We made it to the pre-show theater in 13 minutes and were on the ride 24 minutes after entering the line. For those who have never been on Runaway Railway, it’s tough to measure wait time because there is an additional queue after the pre-show room that can add 10-15 minutes to your experience time.
At this point, it was just after 9:30am and we had experienced two attractions with significantly lower actual waits than the posted waits. Our attention had shifted from a Genie+ day to a day that explores what’s possible when Lightning Lane isn’t in use. The thesis was that with little to no allocation to a skip-the-line offering, the standby line would be downright pleasant. Obviously, a skip-the-line offering is great for guests who can use it, but it significantly impacts the standby line and guest experience for the majority of visitors. To prove our thesis, we decided to head down Sunset Blvd and tow attractions that were high on our Genie+ priority list. With no Genie+, we wanted to see what was possible with a “pure” standby line in fall 2023.
Our first stop was Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster. The posted wait was 45 minutes, but just looking at the line suggested an inflated posted wait time. Combine that with no Lightning Lane allocation, and you might be set up for success. We entered the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster line at 9:39am and we made it to the pre-show room just 18 minutes later! To recap our no Lightning Lane morning:
- Toy Story Mania: posted 25 minutes, actual wait 8 minutes
- Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway: posted 45 minutes, actual wait 13 minutes (24 minutes to vehicle)
- Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster: posted 45 minutes, actual wait 18 minutes (26 minutes to vehicle)
Unfortunately for our new plan of exploring a Lightning Lane-less park, Genie+ was fixed around 9:45am. That promptly ended our experiment of checking wait times for pure standby and threw us back into our Genie+ day.
Genie+ Springs Back to Life
Backing up just a bit, it wasn’t until around 9:15am that Disney World would add in-app messaging about the Disney Genie+ service being broken. That led to long lines at Guest Relations and quite a few confused guests. The communication wasn’t great that the Disney Genie+ service wasn’t working, and hopefully, timely communication can be something that Disney can improve should service instability be a trend moving forward.
To that end, we refreshed our app at 9:43am and noticed that Lightning Lane return windows were jumping into the early afternoon for Slinky Dog Dash. That signaled that the service was working for some guests, so we tried to book a Lightning Lane. Our first Lightning Lane selection of the day came at 9:43am for a 5:05pm return window for Slinky Dog Dash. Not great.
Unlike a reliable 7am drop where we could generally expect to get a return window in the first half of the day, we were in the line for Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster and happened to be lucky to catch the Disney Genie+ service springing back to life. Because we weren’t able to secure our return window in seconds, the Lightning Lane return time slipped into the early evening and we had to take what we could get. What started as a day filled with optimism about creating an article with ideal Genie+ selections had turned into a rather average day. In the end, you, the reader, likely benefit more from a less-than-ideal day, so let’s push forward and see what we can make of it.
Disney Genie+ Redemption Events
Before we go much further, we want to make sure that we’re all on the same page about Genie+ redemption events. Unlike FastPass+ of yesteryear, you currently cannot select more than one Genie+ Lightning Lane at a time. That’s not to say you can’t hold more than one Genie+ Lightning Lane at a time – you can, and that’s the basis of Genie+ stacking, but you can’t make more than one Genie+ selection at a time. That will be changing in 2024, but we’ll cross that bridge when we get there. For now, know that you can only select one Genie+ Lightning lane at a time until a redemption event occurs. Here’s how Disney World describes the redemption events:
Disney Genie+ service Lightning Lane selections can only be made one at a time. You must redeem an existing Disney Genie+ service Lightning Lane selection or wait 2 hours—whichever comes first—before making another Lightning Lane entrance selection through the Disney Genie+ service. Please note: the 2-hour wait to make another selection begins when the park opens, even if you made your first booking at 7:00 AM.
There is another redemption event not included in the description above, and that’s the expiration of your Genie+ arrival window. Here’s an outline of the redemption events:
- Once you’ve redeemed your initial selection, OR
- The arrival window has passed, OR
- 120 minutes elapse from your previous selection (or park open)
We will mention redemption events again in this article, so now we have a clear definition of what that means.
Shows Save the Day
After we were done with the standby line at Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, it seemed obvious that our pure standby line experience was over, although we may have benefitted from one or two more standby line attraction experiences before the queues got really bogged down by Lightning Lane. That said, we decided to fill some of our midday time with shows and character experiences. This is probably a good strategy regardless of the Genie+ stumbling out of the gates.
In a perfect world, we would’ve secured a Slinky Dog Dash Lightning Lane before the 11:30am park-wide 120-minute rule redemption event and been ahead of the wave on making Genie+selections, but perhaps we’ll have better luck in another update later this year.
For now, we have to wait for our 120-minute rule redemption event, which puts our next selection window at 11:43am. Make sure that you check out the top of your Tip Board for the latest info on when you can make your next Genie+ selection. I will typically set an alarm on my watch for a few minutes before my selection window to make sure I’m ready for the next drop.
Going back to our advice from earlier, while the shows and some meet-and-greet experiences are part of the Genie+ skip-the-line bundle, you won’t really need to use the Lightning Lane to experience those. That said, if you want better seating, Lightning Lane typically has first dibs on the theater before standby is allowed inside.
We start our block of shows with the Frozen Sing-Along at the Hyperion Theater. This was more a function of timing than anything else. We were done with Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster around 10:10am and there was a 10:30am Frozen Sing-Along show. It was time to practice what I’ve been preaching and show up to a show without a Lightning Lane or significant waiting. This was the scene about 10 minutes before showtime. The Lightning Lane and standby guests had been loaded into the theater and we walked right in to find plenty of seating.
Keep in mind that we visited on a Saturday and experienced sort of middle-of-the-road crowds. Certainly not light crowds, but not peak or heavy crowds either. If you only visit during school holidays, you will likely find a more crowded situation than we did, but it’s also possible to find much lower waits too. Again, a very average day minus the Genie+ hiccup at the start.
The Frozen Sing-Along wrapped up around 1am and we decided to head over to Red Carpet Dreams, which is the Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse meet & greet at Hollywood Studios. When we entered the line, the posted wait time was 20 minutes, but Cast Members were advising it would be closer to 45 minutes. Sure enough, after waiting just a few minutes in line, the posted wait time jumped to 45 minutes. It really is quite amazing how a posted wait time for a non-headliner experience can impact guest behavior. Because you can’t see the line from the entrance, guests make a knee-jerk reaction to skip a lower-priority experience beyond a self-determined posted wait time.
The Red Carpet Dreams meet and greet is a perfect example of that. We had nothing better to do, so we accepted the posted wait time of 45 minutes knowing that it would likely be less than that. However, not very many people joined the line behind us for the next 20 minutes or so. That meant that the posted wait time would drop down to 25 or 30 minutes again and then guests might be more willing to join the line than when it was at 45 minutes. Unlike headliner attractions which demand a wait throughout the day with peaks and very few valleys, you might be able to time some of the filler experiences to find some low waits.
Back to our wait in progress, we waited 26 minutes to meet with Minnie Mouse and an additional 8 minutes to meet with Mickey Mouse. Red Carpet Dreams is an unavoidable two-part experience with Mickey and Minnie meeting separately and a small queue between the meet and greet rooms. It’s essentially a forced 2-for-1 experience.
Our 11:43am booking window opened as we were waiting to meet Mickey and I grabbed a Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster return window for 1:35pm. While I had already experienced the attraction via standby earlier in the morning, I wanted to get back on track with the Genie+ day, and Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster not only was #2 on our priority list, but it also had a decent return window that wasn’t outrageously far into the evening. Other options included:
- Mickey & Minnie’s Runway Railway | 3:45pm return time
- Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run | 2:00pm return time
- Toy Story Mania | 1:25pm return time
- Tower of Terror | 2:30pm return time
The only thing that really surprised me about those return times was how far removed Runway Railway was from the rest of the pack. In fact, Runaway Railway outpaced the rest of the group throughout the day and we might have called a priority audible had we not already experienced the attraction with a low wait time earlier in the day. And yes, I realize how that might not jive 100% with the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster pick I made above. Just go with it.
My new selection window was now set at 1:44pm which meant I had a couple of hours before my next selection and while I could’ve certainly done a ride or two in that time, I wanted to be a bit stubborn and save some of the rides for later Genie+ selections.
To that end, it was off to see another show. The Mickey & Minnie meet and greet took me from 11:03am when I stepped foot into the line until my last photo of Mickey at 11:38am. From there, it was a short walk to the Indian Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular for the 12pm showtime. I wanted to get as close to the stage as possible for some photos, which meant going to an extreme side of the theater as the middle was mostly full 15 minutes before noon.
The show is roughly 25 minutes long which meant we were on the hunt for our next theater show to watch shortly after 12:30pm. It was a bit of a walk, but the Beauty and the Beast show would start at 1pm and it was a good excuse to be in the area for my 1:35pm Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Lightning Lane. The idea was that I would spend some time on Sunset Blvd to try and knock out this section of the park before heading back to Toy Story Land for my 5pm Slinky Dog Dash Lightning Lane.
When I arrived at the Theater of the Stars for Beauty and the Beast at 12:35pm, Cast Members had only let Lightning Lane guests into the theater and there was a short standby line. Around 12:40pm Cast Members let standby into the theater and there were plenty of seats to choose from. We ended up in the center section, relatively close to the stage for the 1pm performance.
Beauty and the Beast Live on Stage tells the same familiar story as the animated classic and has been a staple at Hollywood Studios, debuting the same day as the film back in 1991. The only thing that was new to us was an updated costume for the Enchantress that more closely represents her appearance in the animated film.
When the 25-minute show was over, it was time for our Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Lightning Lane. Once we tapped into our Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Lightning Lane, a redemption event was triggered just before the 120-minute rule came into effect. Next on our priority list was the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror attraction. We were hoping for something rather immediate for Tower of Terror, but the return window was from 5:00pm to 6:00pm. Enter: Genie+ modifications.
Modifying a Genie+ Selection
For the most hardcore users of the Genie+ system, you can spend hours on your phone hunting for better Lightning Lane return times by using a modification feature. Any Genie+ Lightning Lane selection that you make can be modified – either to a better return window at the same attraction or to an entirely new attraction. A modification does not reset your 120-minute rule, which makes it a super attractive option for guests looking to completely optimize their day at the parks.
The screenshot below shows our (unsuccessful) attempt at getting a better Slinky Dog Dash return time shortly after securing it. To find the modify option, we went to the My Day tab and clicked the “…” menu for our Lightning Lane reservation. This brings forward a slide-up menu that has the “Modify Plan” option. Clicking that takes you to one of the best pages on the My Disney Experience app (seriously). This “Modify Experience” page presents useful information in an easy-to-understand and easy-to-use page that is rather elusive in the My Disney Experience design.
In the third screenshot below, you can see your currently booked Lightning Lane time in green text and the new option directly below it. If you don’t like the new time, pull to refresh and you’ll get a new option (if available). Additionally, you can see other experiences available to switch to. These experiences will be presented alphabetically or in a “Top Picks” section based on how you set up the (optional and separate) Disney Genie touring plan. If you like the new time or experience, simply tap on the time and confirm the details.
We used the modification option successfully just once during our day at Hollywood Studios. That was partly because Lightning Lane selections were tough to come by given the early morning system struggles, but also because we didn’t want to keep our heads in the phone all day.
That said, only a few minutes of refreshing led to a much better time for Tower of Terror and we were lucky enough to snag it to try and create a better flow for our afternoon and evening.
Late Lunch and a Mid-Afternoon Break
It was almost 2pm and I hadn’t stopped to eat yet, so I opted for Fairfax Faire to stay in the Sunset Blvd section of the park. The initial goal was to eat something healthy and keep it light to set myself up for success knowing it would be a long day at the park. Instead, my finger must have slipped as I ordered a Korean Pork Belly waffle bowl on a bed of mashed potatoes. It was divine. Just when I thought I had found the last of the pork belly bites, another would pop up from under the veggies. There was perhaps a disproportionality large amount of mashed potatoes, but an unexpectedly fun finish of the flavorful waffle bowl with some mashed potatoes made for a combo I probably otherwise wouldn’t have experienced in life.
In total, the bowl was a bit smaller than I would’ve liked for the $15 price tag, but it hit the spot and beat a hotdog or hamburger.
After a fairly eventful morning with few breaks, I took a little more than an hour “break” where I did some more traditional news blogging after spotting a new marquee for Sid Cahuenga’s earlier in the day.
From there, I still had a bit of time before my 3:50pm Tower of Terror Lightning Lane and 3:33pm 120-minute rule redemption event, so it was off to Lightning McQueen’s Racing Academy. Lightning McQueen’s Racing Academy is more akin to Mickey’s PhilharMagic than other shows at Hollywood Studios. The Academy doesn’t have showtimes and the roughly 10-minute shows play from park open to park close. It’s a fun distraction mostly meant for families with kids not tall enough to ride Tower of Terror or Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, but it also serves to distract bloggers who are waiting for a Lightning Lane return time.
Final Selections & Opportunistic Evening
Before we jumped on Tower of Terror, we could make our next Genie+ selection after our 120-minute rule redemption event. It was time to start turning our attention to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge after avoiding it for most of the day.
While we won’t be purchasing an Individual Lightning Lane as part of our experience at Hollywood Studios, it’s probably worth noting that it is an option to skip the line at Rise of the Resistance by purchasing an a la carte skip-the-line pass.
As you can see below, we actually had the option to secure a Lightning Lane for Runaway Railway. In this instance, we didn’t grab it simply because we already experienced it with a minimal wait earlier in the day. Also, a 105-minute wait for Smugglers Run is a tough pill to swallow if it comes down to being forced to use the standby line.
Ok, time to hop on Tower of Terror to wrap up our afternoon on Sunset Blvd. When we got to the entrance of Tower of Terror, the posted wait was 75 minutes, which was certainly longer than we’d be willing to wait on a normal day. That actually brings up a good point.
When discussing Genie+, we often try to ascertain value by how many minutes you may have saved by skipping a standby line, but what if Genie+ gets you to ride something that you would’ve otherwise skipped? If you were walking through Galaxy’s Edge after just waiting 90+ minutes in standby to ride Rise of the Resistance and felt exhausted by that wait, would you give Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run a second look with a posted wait of more than 75 minutes? How about if you had a skip-the-line pass? Smugglers Run is a great ride and something absolutely worth experiencing, and if Genie+ is able to get you to ride it when you’d otherwise skip it, there’s certainly value there.
With that sidebar complete, we still haven’t ridden Slinky Dog Dash yet, so it’s time to head to Toy Story Land and redeem our 5:05pm Lightning Lane. Actually, we were able to modify Slinky Dog Dash to a 4:45pm return time earlier in the day, so we saved ourselves 20 minutes. Not really a notable time savings, but notable in the sense that if you find yourself with a few extra moments throughout the day and want to try and optimize, you might get lucky. Our time savings was only 20 minutes, but it could’ve been more significant should there be a wave of new times distributed during the day.
The posted wait at the attraction entrance was 90 minutes, but the queue only looked to be an hour at most. It’s increasingly more difficult to guess wait times based on queue length given the sometimes unbelievable Lightning Lane ratios at attractions. We’ll talk more about that when we get to Rise of the Resistance, but suffice it to say that if a popular attraction experiences any sort of downtime during the day, Lightning Lane ratios could be tipped heavily to disproportionate punish actual standby wait times. It’s nothing personal, it’s just business, and ever since skip-the-line has had a business aspect to it via the paid Genie+ system, there is less leeway for Cast Members operating the attractions.
We were done with Slinky Dog Dash around 5pm, which meant it was time to make the trek to Galaxy’s Edge. As luck would have it, Rise of the Resistance was down. What should you do when Rise of the Resistance is down? Head to the Rise of the Resistance page on thrill-data.com to see how long it has been closed for. Typically, Rise of the Resistance is down for about 45 minutes at a time. If the “last operated” time is roughly 45 minutes ago, it might be worth waiting around for another 15 minutes or so to see if you can get lucky and jump in line right when they reopen. Don’t worry, not many people will have made it this far into the article to find this actually useful tip, so there won’t be too many people waiting around doing the same thing as you. Here’s a mobile screenshot of the Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway page showing the piece of data that pops up when the attraction is experiencing downtime.
Here’s a look at the crowded walkway in front of the attraction shortly after 5pm when we arrived. At this point, the ride had been down since around 3:45pm, so we were just outside of our suggested 1-hour window. To that end, I decided to walk around Galaxy’s Edge a bit and get caught up on the popcorn bucket news. While taking some photos and working on the article, I noticed that Rise of the Resistance was operating again. A posted wait time returned to the app around 5:20pm and we made it to the attraction entrance a couple of minutes later. By the time we arrived, the crowds seen above were already in the queue, but even if that entire plaza was packed with guests, I knew it wouldn’t be more than an hour wait. An acceptable wait time given that I was otherwise waiting until 6:45pm for my Smugglers Run Lightning Lane time.
We didn’t stop walking until about 75% of the way through the cave system queue. This was excellent progress and while the posted wait time was 45 minutes (and climbing), we figured it wouldn’t be more than another 5-10 minutes before we made it to the first pre-show room.
A five-minute walk from the attraction entrance to first contact with the standby line turned into a 25-minute total wait until the first pre-show room with Rey and BB-8. Now, a 25-minute actual wait for Rise of the Resistance is pretty awesome. We thought that Rise would be the last ride of our day, and we were hoping for anything less than an actual wait of 45 minutes or so. That said, we saw the real-time effect of Lightning Lane ratios putting standby at a disadvantage.
There are three phases of attraction operations for Standby vs Lightning Lane ratios:
- Phase One: 10 standby, 40 Lightning Lane
- Phase Two: 10 standby, 50 Lightning Lane
- Phase Three: 10 standby, 100 Lightning Lane
When an attraction like Rise of the Resistance experiences downtime, you can guarantee that you’ll be in phase two, if not phase three depending on how many Lightning Lane guests come flooding back at one time. When that happens, a relatively short standby line like the one we experienced can turn a 5-minute wait into a 25-minute wait or more in the blink of an eye.
From roughly 5:30pm to 7:30pm, the posted wait time would be more than 100 minutes before starting to ease up in the final 60 minutes of park operations. While we were in the right place at the right time for the Rise reopening, another option would’ve been our original plan of saving it for the last ride of the night for the lowest possible wait times. The only risk when saving Rise for last is that it will be down for the remainder of the day and you miss it completely. For more on our advice for Rise of the Resistance strategy, check out our article from 2022 which remains the same now.
After riding Rise of the Resistance, I was able to grab my final Lightning Lane of the day – Toy Story Mania. I would’ve been eligible to select another LIghtning Lane at 7:34pm, but with just 90 minutes left in the operating day, I wouldn’t have faced long standby lines. Data shows that there wasn’t a single attraction where I was able to get a Lightning Lane with a posted wait time of more than 30 minutes during the final 90 minutes of park operations. The usefulness of Genie+ has effectively run its course and we called it a day.
Genie+ Recap & Is It Worth It?
If you’ve read the roughly 7,000 words it took to get here – thank you, and I’m sorry. If you simply skipped here from the table of contents at the top of the article – welcome, it’s been a long day. Here are the Genie+ selections we were able to secure (and their return times) on a (mild) holiday weekend with significant Genie+ app struggles during the first half of the morning:
- 9:43am – Slinky Dog Dash (5:05pm to 6:05pm, later modified to 4:45pm)
- 11:44am – Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster (1:35pm to 2:35pm)
- 1:33pm – Tower of Terror (5:00pm to 6:00pm, later modified to 3:50pm)
- 3:34pm – Smugglers Run (6:45pm to 7:45pm)
- 5:34pm – Toy Story Mania (8:05pm to 9:00pm)
- 7:34pm – no selection
We bypassed 270 minutes of posted wait times by using Genie+, with the greatest time savings being a 90-minute posted wait at Slinky Dog Dash. That rounds up to just under $5 per hour for Genie+. We probably would’ve found a bit more success without the Genie+ system issues in the morning, but we had a pretty successful day overall. Disney officially sells the Genie+ service with the promise of “2 or 3 attractions or experiences per day”. We were able to beat that average, and I’m pretty confident that you will too.
Unfortunately, Genie+ requires some amount of planning and somewhat constant monitoring to be successful, but it can be quite useful to add to your day at Hollywood Studios. The best advice I can offer is to make sure that you get up early, secure Slinky Dog Dash, and then work through your priority list throughout the day. Make sure that you keep in mind that you can modify Genie+ selections at any point to optimize your day.
In the coming weeks, we’ll continue to test Genie+ at Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, and Animal Kingdom to help you plan your upcoming vacation or to just bring you along for the ride. If there’s something you’d like to see us cover when it comes to Genie+ or general touring plans, please leave a comment below or reach out on social media!
As always, keep checking back with us here at BlogMickey.com as we continue to bring you the latest news, photos, and info from around the Disney Parks!