Reservation Stacking with Genie+

Genie+ is the latest and greatest line-cutting tool for Disney parks. It’s a paid service and the price varies based on the day’s expected crowds. With Genie+ you make a reservation to visit an attraction at a later time in the day. Then you will be able to walk directly on and not wait in the (often exhaustingly long) queues. So let’s get started with Genie+ reservation stacking!

What are the Benefits of Genie+?

Well the obvious benefit of this line-cutting tool, is that it allows you to well…cut the line! But the real magic is what you can do with the extra time you would otherwise be spending in line. Let’s face it, you’re still waiting to ride the attractions – but you’re able to do it on your terms! You can catch shows and parades, check out other attractions, stay in standby anyway so you can ride twice, go shopping, take a snack break. The best benefit of all though, is that you can book return windows from the comfort of your hotel room and – by following our tips for stacking – create a perfected plan for an afternoon or evening in the parks.

Yes, that’s right. With Genie+ you can, essentially, create an entire custom cut-the-line itinerary to walk-on all of your favorite rides well rested and ready to go. Have I piqued your interest? Keep reading.

*This is an advanced tactics guide for Genie+ and will not provide step-by-step instructions for purchasing Genie+ or using the app. Don’t worry though! We have another post all about that! If you haven’t used Genie+ before, or at least heard of it, you’ll want to check out our complete guide here.

Picture depicting the Millennium Falcon at the entrance of Smuggler's Run ride in Disneyland California

Genie+ Guidelines

There are a few key guidelines for Genie+ that we need to talk about, before we get down to business.

First Booking

When you can make your first reservation for a Lighting Lane return time varies a bit by resort. At Disneyland you can start book as soon as you enter the park, for all members of your group whose tickets have been scanned. At Disney World, however, you can make your first reservation 2 hours before the park you are visiting opens. Since Disney World parks normally open at 9, you should be able to start at 7am – but make sure to check the park hours for the day the night before.

120 Minute Rule

So, now that we’ve made our first reservation it’s time to start thinking ahead. According to the Disney website, guests who purchase Genie+ can hold just 1 lightening lane reservation at a time – but that’s not completely true. Generally, you will not be able to book a new reservation until your current reservation has expired or been used. That is unless the return time is more than 2 hours in the future, in that case you’ll be able to book again in 120 minutes.

This does not apply to your first reservation at Disney World. If you book your first pass at 7am (and we’ll talk about that), you’ll need to use that pass or wait until 2 hours after park open to make your next reservation.

Image depicting the entrance to the Pixar Pal-A-Round ride in Disney's California Adventures

Reservation Modification

This is a brand new feature that, honestly I’m completely shocked to be available. Once you’ve made a reservation, you can change it. This is a HUGE step up from previous iterations like fastpass or even maxpass. If you are running late for your return window for any reason, you can tap into the reservation on your app and change the return time. Now, there is a caveat. You can’t pick the return time, it’s simply pushed put to whatever the next available time is. That may be 2 more hours or it may be 20 minutes. What’s really great though, is that making modifications does not effect when you can book again.

Broke Down Bonus Reservations

Have you ever wondered what happens of the ride you’ve booked is broken during your return time? Well I’ve got great news! If this happens to you the reservation will be converted into something we like to call a Broke Down Bonus pass. A Broke Down Bonus can be used on any attraction at any park (within the resort you’re visiting) for any time during the same day. You can even use it for rides that aren’t normally available to book with Genie+! However, you won’t be able to use a Broke Down Bonus on rides like Rise of the Resistance or Seven Dwarves that offer individual lightening lane selections.

Using Genie+ Rules to Stack Reservations

So what does all that mean, for you, as you’re trying to plan and prepare for your day in the parks? Let’s put the pieces together.

Start Early

Make your first reservation as early as possible, prioritizing the rides that sell out the quickest. Here are the top 3 for each park.

Magic Kingdom: Peter Pan’s Flight, Space Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain

Animal Kingdom: Kilimanjaro Safari, Na’vi River Journey, Dinosaur

Epcot: Test Track, Mission Space, Frozen Ever After

Hollywood Studios: Slinky Dog Dash, Tower of Terror, Toy Story Midway Mania

Disneyland Park: Space Mountain, Indiana Jones, Big Thunder Mountain

California Adventures: Guardians of the Galaxy, Incredicoaster, Soarin

Of these rides, you’ll want to choose the one with the earliest return time – even if that time doesn’t work for you.

Set an Alarm

After you’ve booked your first return window set an alarm on your phone for 2 hours later, even if you think you’ll remember! It’s so easy to get caught up in something, especially if you are at the parks, you’ll thank yourself for the reminder.

When Should You Use the Reservation Stacking Strategy?

Back to back reservation windows and Broke Down Bonus passes are a fantastic option for visiting the parks, but it may not work for every situation. Since each member of your party needs Genie+ to participate, it can get pricey fast. This strategy also requires some admin work, and a lot of time in the app. It may not work for everyone, but we think it’s ideal for the situations below.

Image depicting Trader Sam's Gift Shop prop at the end of the Jungle Cruise ride in Disneyland California

Slow Starts and Moderate Mornings

If rope dropping sounds more like a nightmare than a vacation, this is probably for you. It’s a no brainer if you’re at Disney World because you don’t even need to be in the parks. Even at Disneyland, where you need to scan into the park before you can start, you can turn around and exit to go back to bed or make a breakfast reservation for character dining.

Multiple Ridings

If you know what you like and you like what you know, reservation stacking is a great strategy to make the most of Genie+ and rope drop. By managing all of your return windows in the afternoon, you’re free to take advantage of the reduced rope drop queues!

Park Hopping

If you’re pressed for time and trying to fit multiple parks in each day of your vacation, you’ll love reservation stacking. You can rope drop one park while stacking the second. Unfortunately, with the current 2pm park hopping rule, you’ll only be able to book attractions in your second park that have a return time after 2. With that in mind you’ll want to pair one of the busier parks (such as Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios) with a less crowded park (like Epcot and Animal Kingdom).

Reservation stacking with Genie+ is one of our favorite tactics for maximizing a day in the parks. Pair it with rope dropping and an early afternoon break, for a great day that will keep you out of the heat and spending less time on your feet!

Got a secret hack for visiting the Disney Parks? Share your expertise in the comments below or by messaging us directly!

Modify Your Reservation

Likely, you’ve booked a reservation with a return time in the near future. Now, you could use that pass and go ride. But there’s one more rule that we should probably mention. Unlike fastpass or maxpass, Genie+ can only be used once per ride. So if you would like to ride something twice or more, you’ll want to take advantage of the early morning for quick standby. Alternatively, you could go get breakfast. Or lounge around at the hotel pool. Whatever you decide to do with your time, you’ll need to go back and modify your current lightening lane reservation to push out the return time. Early in the day, return times tend to be slow moving sp you may need to do this a couple times.

Photo of multiple raft ride vehicles arriving at the docking station of Grizzly River Run in Disney's California Adventure. A large grizzly bear made of rocks looms in the background above the ride.

Rinse and Repeat

You’ll be able to make a new reservation every 2 hours for the rest of the day. Keep setting your alarms and modify your selections as needed to generate a stack of back to back reservations. As the list starts to grow you’ll want to think about when you’ll begin to leverage then all. In our experience, 2pm has been a great time of day to start – provided you have reservations at that time. But you can also start a few hours later, which we’d suggest especially if you rope dropped.

Book the Broke Down Bonus

As you’re booking your way through your day, keep an eye out for rides marked as closed that are stil offering reservations. It seems a little counterintuitive, but remember if an attraction is broken during your return window it will convert to the Broke Down Bonus. Book these attractions as soon as you see them.

In fact, if the return time is within the next 15 minutes you might even want to modify your current selection to chose the closed attraction. If it stays closed when your return window starts, boom! Instant bonus pass. The best part? You can do it over. And over. And over again.

Entrance signage to the WEB Slingers ride in Avenger's Campus at California Adventure

We once noticed Matterhorn at Disneyland was broken around 10am, and reservations were still being offered with return windows just 10-15 minutes away. We’d book it, 10 minutes later it converted to a Broke Down Bonus and we’d do it again. In fact we did it 4 times in a row!!

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