So many Parks Guests have come to see Genie+ as a necessary evil, but is it really necessary?
Isn’t Genie+ Necessary, Though?
When the Disney Parks reopened following an extended closure due to the pandemic, Guests returned to a Park that was familiar in many ways but unfamiliar in others. Many of us waited and waited for FastPass to return but were content that the Parks were at least open once more! Perhaps banking on that contentment, Disney instituted a new system: Disney Genie and Genie+. While those familiar with Disney Parks didn’t have much use for Genie, an “intuitive” daily planner, Genie+ had replaced many of the free services once offered at the Parks, including FastPass.
If you’ve gone to the Parks in recent years, you’ve no doubt noticed the Lightning Lanes, with Guests who’ve shelled out the extra money to be able to get on attractions faster. This additional “service” can run families $25.00 per person per day for the Lightning Lane, not including hot-ticket attractions like Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance or Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway! So, how do you navigate the Parks when so many people are using Genie+ and getting to attractions faster? The answer is simpler than you might think.
How Do You Navigate Rides and Attractions Without Genie+?
Longtime fans of the Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World Resort will have ridden the World Famous Jungle Cruise dozens, even hundreds of times. Those that have ridden the attraction on the West Coast will remember a joke that was told while passing Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Forbidden Eye for years: “Over there on our right, you’ll see Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Four-Hour Line!” While this joke may fall flat today, it was hilarious when the ride first opened.
In the 1990s, well before Disney Genie+ and even before FastPass, Guests would wait in line for hours at a time in person, not a virtual queue for popular attractions like Indy, or Space Mountain. Now, I know what you’re thinking: “is that your suggestion? Waiting for these attractions for hours? We’ll waste our whole vacation waiting!” Rest assured, while this strategy may involve waiting, there are strategies that Guests have employed for decades to maximize your time in the Parks while not dropping a fortune on things like Genie+.
The Disney Parks Apps
Unlike the 90s, there is a fantastic, free resource available to all Guests: the Disneyland or Disney World App! This little Beauty is going to be your best friend on this adventure, so you’ll want to take your time to familiarize yourself with it. The two tools that we’ll be using more than anything, however, are the wait times and mobile ordering, so focus on those first; the rest are just a bonus for now!
First off: Wait Times. One thing that has arisen in the post-pandemic world of Disney Parks has been an equalization of Wait Times. Whereas before, you could look at the app and see Pirates of the Caribbean or The Haunted Mansion at 10-15 minutes at any time of day, now, generally speaking, every attraction has a wait time of about 20 minutes and up. This doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t see lower times; this is about the time you should be prepared to wait.
So how do you use these to your advantage? This will take a little bit of planning, which can be done while in line! It does take some intuition and knowledge of ride systems, so if you’re unfamiliar, doing a little bit of homework will pay off big time in the parks! What you’re going to want to do as soon as you start your day is choose your first attraction and hop in line. Once you’re in line, it’s time to access that app. Don’t be rude and hold up the line staring at your phone, but you’ll find times when the line has stopped, and you can check out wait times around you.
Be aware most rides take about 15 minutes, so things will change during your time, but taking a look before boarding will give you a good indication of where the crowds are going. Best practice is to start with the attractions closest to you and work your way outward, looking at wait times, distance/how long it will take you, at a brisk walk, to get in line, and the ride system: is it like the Haunted Mansion where it’s an Omnimover? If so, that wait time is going to be fairly consistent, stopping only occasionally. Is it something like Rise of the Resistance, where they take Guests in large groups? That wait time will fluctuate more often.
Every Wait Is Long…What Now?
Occasionally, you’re going to run into this problem, where, despite your planning in line, and your best efforts, every attraction has a long line! What to do now? Rest, and regroup. This can take many forms in the Disney Parks, but, depending on personal preference, this is the ideal time to either A. Take advantage of the delicious treats around the Parks, B. Do some shopping, or C. Do some exploring or some resting!
Your first option is where mobile ordering comes in handy. You can even place a mobile order for a snack while you’re in line, making it ready just as soon as you disembark! It’s also handy to place your mobile order, find a shady place to sit, and start looking at those wait times again. Has something opened up? Has a ride gone down for maintenance? It could be a good idea to grab your snack and wait near that ride because when it reopens, that line is going to be short, but only for a limited time!
The same goes for shopping! Disneyland and Disney World both have fantastic shopping options everywhere around the Parks, and even if you don’t buy anything, this is a great opportunity to get out of the sun, into some air conditioning, and take a look at what the new offerings are. You can also strategically shop around where the attraction you’re looking at is located, making it easy to walk quickly over to the line should something open up!
The last option exploring or resting is something so many Guests take for granted. In each Park, in each land, there are so many Easter Eggs planted by the Imagineers over the years that you could spend an entire trip and not find them all! Go find the house of the Little Man of Disneyland, take a closer look at the art and architecture in EPCOT, take it all in, and enjoy the amazing level of detail in each Park! The other option, if your feet are getting tired, is to find a cool, shady spot to sit and rest while you regroup. Grab some snacks, drink some water, and be fully rested and ready for your next foray!
You’ve Covered Snacks, What About Meals?
Meals are going to be an integral part of your trip and, if planned strategically, can also help maximize your time at the Parks. Whether you choose to eat at one of the many restaurants inside the Disney Parks or you’ve brought your own food, timing is everything! Realize that you’re sharing the Park with thousands of other people who are all going to eat their meals here too, and most of them will be choosing to eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner at fairly stereotypical times, meaning that crowds are going to thin out during meal times!
If you can arrange it so that you’re taking your meals before or after typical mealtime blocks, you’ll find that wait times for rides and attractions go down significantly, and you’ll be inside eating during the hottest or coldest parts of the day! This is also why you’ll want to pack in some snacks to tide you over between meals. While it may seem like a bit of a sacrifice, going the extra mile does pay dividends and saves you at least $25 per person per day, if not more!
Still, there’s one more thing that can help maximize your time at attractions: it’s extremely simple, doesn’t take much effort, and will guarantee you get on your favorite ride or attraction at least once!
Rope Drop or Closing the Park? Which Is Better? Is There Another Option?
If you’re looking to ride something new and popular at a Disney Park, like Rise of the Resistance, Runaway Railway, or Avatar Flight of Passage, your best bet is going to be during one of the following times: Rope Drop, Park Closing, or a lesser known time: the afternoon sag. Each time has its own benefits, and we’ll take a look at each and where you should go/what you should do at each time.
Rope Drop is a very popular time to come to the parks, and it’s effective to get on at least one ride without having to wait hours. There are different routes to take when it comes to each Park, but the idea is to stay focused. Pick the attraction you’d like to go on before you get to the Park, and be in place when that rope drops so that you can be among the first few hundred people to get in line. Generally, this time of day will work for one ride, maybe two, but not really more than that.
If you’re not a morning person, closing out the Park might be the route for you. By this time, most of the kiddos have left the Park, leaving only the most die-hard Guests. The lower attendance at each Park is supplemented by Parades, Nighttime Spectaculars, and Fireworks shows. Schedule a time that you can go and enjoy these offerings, but be aware: many crowds will be drawn there and away from the more popular attractions.
Extremely popular attractions have seen wait times as low as 10-15 minutes during the fireworks, so this is prime riding time! At the end of the day, you’ll just need to keep an eye on closing time and be courteous to Cast Members, but those wait times plummet as you get closer to closing. Lastly, the Afternoon sag, it can be hit or miss, but it’s definitely worth looking into!
During the mid-to-late afternoon, many Guests’ energy starts to flag, and some families even start to leave the Parks. If they haven’t left the Parks, they’re dining, either inside or outside the Parks, leaving quite a few rides open for standby Guests. This can be an extremely narrow window, so you’ll want to keep on top of it!
All of these tips should help to maximize your ride and attraction time without dropping serious money on a “service” that used to be free. You’ll no doubt have noticed that there’s quite a bit of work and planning that goes into a Disney day like this, so the question is:
Is All the Effort Worth It?
As with anything that saves money, there’s a tradeoff. Sure, you could paint your house yourself, but there are trained painters out there that could do it, but that does cost money…Yes, you could pay Disney over $25 per person per day during your trip, and it might save you some time Might being the key word, as there’s no guarantee, or you could exercise a little more effort, still enjoy your favorite rides, and save a chunk of change!
Ultimately it comes down to personal preference: Are you the sort of Disney Guest that wants to go for it, put in the time and effort, and get the most for your money? Or would you rather plunk down the cash and let Genie+ do the heavy lifting to get through the Lightning Lane? While there may be no right or wrong answer, if enough Guests stop using Genie+, there would be less of a reason for them to keep charging for it, meaning that they may have to explore other options, such as returning the free FastPass system, or something like the Max Pass. Food for thought!
Do you have any other tips and tricks to maximize your Disney Day without Genie+? Let Inside the Magic know in the comments below!