Home » Genie+ 101: Your Insider’s Guide To Getting Your Magic & Money’s Worth at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Genie+ 101: Your Insider’s Guide To Getting Your Magic & Money’s Worth at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Magic ain’t gonna make itself!

Theme Park Tourist’s new Genie+ 101 mini-series is meant to help you make the most of your Disney Genie+ service… and more to the point, to get your money’s worth. After all, Genie+ is an untamed upcharge with a whole new learning curve and a lot riding on it. Though it adds back the flexibility and day-of spontaneity that FastPass+ lacked in the 2010s, it also means that one wrong choice can leave you spending your day stuck in slow-moving, swampy Stand-by queues watching Lightning Lane guests race past.

Today, we’ll set out our “best practice” advice for how to use Genie+ at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Set your alarms, because it’s time for some “lights, camera, action!”

Step 1. Understand Genie+

If you’re still not quite sure how Genie is different from Genie+, or why Lightning Lanes and Individual Lightning Lanes differ, you’re not alone. Be sure to swing by our tips and tricks for using the service, and check out our breakdown of the elaborately overcomplicated and ridiculously named suite of services and programs that fall under the Genie roll-out.

Step 2. Buy Genie+

Once you’ve settled on Genie+, buy it. There are two options for accessing the Genie+ service.

  1. Add Disney Genie+ to the length of your stay by upgrading your ticket for a flat rate ($15/day), just like you’d do for adding the Park Hopper option. This can be done at the same time you purchase your ticket, or via the My Disney Experience app/site anytime before or during your visit.
  2. Purchase a la carte days of Genie+ service (also $15/day). For example, if you have a four-day ticket, but only want Genie+ when you visit Hollywood Studios on day 2, you can buy it for just that day, but only on that day. That purchase can happen anytime from 12:01 AM on, but should happen before 7:00 AM because…

Step 3. Set an alarm for “digital rope drop”

Make sure everyone in your party has Genie+, Park Reservations, and is linked in the My Disney Experience app, because the day begins for Genie+ users at 7:00:00 AM on the dot. Everyone with Genie+ – whether staying on-site or off-site – can make their first reservation at the stroke of 7:00. 

Especially at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, you need to be ready. Remember how Boarding Groups for Rise of the Resistance could be completely gone three Mississippi seconds after 7? While the situation isn’t quite so dire, you absolutely need to be logged in, up-to-date, and ready to refresh your phone at 7:00:00 to get a Lightning Lane reservation for Hollywood Studios’ hottest ticket: SLINKY DOG DASH

It may surprise you that a family roller coaster is the big one for this park, but the ride’s entire Lightning Lane capacity will almost certainly be spoken for within one minute of 7:00 AM, and even fast-fingered guests may end up with a late afternoon return time – a very bad thing if you’re hoping to Park Hop out of Hollywood Studios.

NOTE: If you’re not interested in Slinky Dog, your first pick should probably be MILLENNIUM FALCON: SMUGGLERS RUN. It’s a distant second behind Slinky Dog, but it’s the next most likely to sell out through the morning. If you want to ride both, just remember that whichever you choose, you should be ready to wait in the “Stand-by” queue of the other, and remember that you’ll have approximately 0% chance of getting a Slinky Dog Lightning Lane later, and that its “Stand-by” is a much more miserable experience than Smugglers Run’s.

Step 4. ON-SITE: Purchase any Individual Lightning Lanes

One of the little surprise joys of Genie+ is that it doesn’t get you into every Lightning Lane. Part of the reason Slinky Dog Dash is Hollywood Studios’ biggest 7:00 AM draw is because Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance and Minnie and Mickey’s Runaway Railway are both designated as Individual Lightning Lane attractions. You do not need Genie+ to enter their Lightning Lanes at all, and in fact, having paid the $15 per person per day won’t even give you an advantage or discount.

The only way to enter their Lightning Lanes is to fork over real money through the app – $7 to $14 per person, per ride with demand pricing based on the ride and day. If you’ve got cash to burn and have already booked your first Genie+ Lightning Lane, this (which should be, like, 7:01) would be the time to buy priority access to STAR WARS: RISE OF THE RESISTANCE. While the app will tell you the soonest Individual Lightning Lane return window that’s available, with these premium rides, you can choose your own return window out of any available options, like booking a Dining Reservation.

However, note that only guests staying on-site can book Individual Lightning Lanes at 7:00. It’s one of the few perks of staying at a Disney Resort Hotel that’s still around. Guests staying offsite have to wait until park opening (usually 1 to 3 hours later!) which means they may not even have the chance to buy Individual Lightning Lanes, forcing them into the Stand-by if they want to ride Rise or Runaway Railway.

Step 5. Make use of rope drop

Here’s another place where on-site guests get a remarkable advantage. Rather than Disney’s old Extra Magic Hours program, now all Disney Parks open to on-site guests 30-minutes prior to their posted opening time (and typically, it’s more like 45 minutes or an hour, so arrive early.) If you secured a Lightning Lane for either Smugglers Run or Slinky Dog, we’d recommend rope-dropping the Stand-by line for MICKEY & MINNIE’S RUNAWAY RAILWAY.

If you’re staying off-site, your secondary rope drop is still worthwhile… just recognize that lines will have already formed thanks to on-site guests getting first (and often, second) dibs. 

Step 6. Set a timer for your second (and third!) Lightning Lane

Disney’s Hollywood Studios has a frustrating issue: it has very, very few rides, yet nearly every ride it does have would chart as an E-Ticket. That means that Lightning Lane capacity sells out quickly, and by mid-afternoon, you may be stuck booking Lightning Lanes for shows just to feel like you’re getting your money’s worth from the service. So to make the most of your Genie+, stay on top of your plan for your next reservation.

Unlike FastPass (where you could book a second FastPass once the return window for the first had begun), you can’t book a second Lightning Lane until you’ve physically tapped into the first (and usually, it’s the second tap point closer to the ride that registers that). So if your return window is 10:05 to 11:05, it’s a good idea to be there at 10:05. After your tap but before you board, book MILLENNIUM FALCON: SMUGGLERS RUN (if it’s still available). If not, we’d recommend THE TWILIGHT ZONE TOWER OF TERROR or ROCK ‘N’ ROLLER COASTER as number two or three. 

(Despite its popularity, TOY STORY MIDWAY MANIA Lightning Lane availability tends to outlive that of the park’s thrill rides, likely thanks to its third track dedicated to Lightning Lane guests.)

Unless you got Slinky Dog in record time, your return time will probably be more than two hours after park opening. In that case, like with FastPass, you will become eligible for a second Lightning Lane two hours after the park opens. But if your return window straddles the 2-hour mark, tap in during the portion of your return window after the two hours have elapsed and you’ll be able to make two Lightning Lane reservations…! (It’s unclear when or if Disney will close this loophole, so enjoy it while you can.)

Step 7. Have a “magical” day

Keep juggling return times and booking your way through Disney’s Hollywood Studios and you’ll be golden! Granted, it’s far beyond the scope of this quick guide to tell you if a trip furiously setting alarms, checking return times, refreshing apps, and paying into continuous microtransactions to get what used to be included in admission is really “fun” or “magical,” but hey, someone’s got to be the “FastPass runner,” even if that looks a whole lot different (and more expensive) in 2021 than it used to. 

Keep an eye out for our tips for making the most of Genie+ at the rest of Walt Disney World’s theme parks, coming soon…