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Our Top Tips and Strategies for Using Genie Plus at Disneyland

by Leap on October 5, 2023 6 Los Angeles

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Are you looking to maximize the value of Genie Plus at Disneyland? Our top Disneyland Genie Plus tips will have you using Genie+ like a pro. Have you already used Genie+ or at least read up on it and want to know more? Were you a MaxPass user who wants to maximize Genie+? Well, this is your next step in really getting the most bang for your Genie+ buck.

Disneyland Genie+ Tips - Genie

Keep in mind that all this information is specific to Disneyland Resort. If you are looking for Disney World Genie+ tips and strategies, we have a whole post on that with specific tips for Disney World. The good news is that using Genie+ at Disneyland is easier since there is pretty good Lightning Lane availability throughout most days. But that doesn’t mean you can’t take it to its full potential and get your money’s worth! Using Genie+ is not just about getting those Lightning Lane rides, but freeing your time so you have more time to also experience other rides, shows, characters, dining and experiences in the parks and hotels. When you shave hours off wait times, you can use that time to access more rides and experience so much more of what Disneyland has to offer.

Two new hoppy additions have come to Genie+! Mickey and Minnie's Runaway Railway (at Disneyland) and The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Undersea Adventure (at California Adventure) are now on Genie+.

Our Most Basic Genie Plus Tips

Here is how to make the best of your day in the parks with Genie Plus at Disneyland. There is a lot to go over before you jump into the Genie+ advanced user status. If you feel like we are moving too fast or you have any questions or are unfamiliar with the vocabulary, back it up and visit these posts, which will bring you up to speed on Genie+ as well as individual Lightning Lane:

For those of you left wanting more, our Genie Gurus also did a deep dive into some other Genie+ topics you might be interested in:

Our Top Tips and Strategies for Using Genie Plus at Disneyland - magic bandYou probably already downloaded the Disneyland app, since you'll need to link your park tickets, make theme park reservations and use the app to show tickets to enter the park. Feel free to pick up your phone and play along as we go over things to get familiar with the Tip Board, My Day tab and typical wait times. Bring a phone charger with you to the parks so you stay fully powered all day. Also, make sure you have the latest update for the day of your visit so you can access all new features.

One more post may be hopful now that MagicBand+ has come to Disneyland. You can redeem Lightning Lanes with a tap of your MagicBand.

Know How and When to Purchase Genie Plus

Our Top Disneyland Genie+ Tips and Tricks - Screenshot of where to purchase Genie+ in appThere are a few ways to purchase Genie+. You can buy discount theme park tickets pre-loaded with Genie+ at Disneyland through Undercover Tourist to save some money and time. It's simple and easy, and you get the best price. You can also purchase tickets with Genie+ from Disneyland directly without the savings. No matter where you buy your tickets, you can also purchase Genie+ in the park in the Disneyland app each day if you have tickets that don't already have Genie+ on them. Having Genie+ on your ticket skips a step in the morning. But if you are not sure if you want it each day, purchasing in the park is not a problem and won't really slow you down.

Purchasing Genie+ in the Park

Our favorite way to purchase Genie+ in the park when we do not have a preloaded ticket is to purchase it under "My Day." Scroll down to the purple link that says, "Take Today to the Next Level — Get Genie+ for Today." That way you can edit your party. Disney updated the app so that there is a link to purchase at the top of the Tip Board. You can edit your party there too.

There are other ways to purchase in the app, but they automatically select every valid linked ticket that has been used to enter a park. We don't necessarily want to purchase Genie+ for Lily since she is not tall enough for most of the rides. Also, we only want to purchase for the froggies living on our own lily pad when visiting with other families. Using the links under My Day or at the top of the Tip Board, we can select only the party members we want to pay for who will be using Genie+.

Magic Key holders now get a 20 percent discount on Genie+. That is a nice perk. But if Magic Key holders are visiting with regular ticket holders, they'll have to purchase Genie+ in a separate transaction from other ticket holders because of the discount. But the group can of course use Genie+ together.

Arrive Early

Our Top Disneyland Genie+ Tips and Tricks - Girls look at castle before Rope DropOur favorite time of day in any theme park is the first hour after park opening. When you arrive early, you have short to no wait times and cool temperatures. You get the best value for your theme park ticket and Genie+ if you arrive at or before park opening, as opposed to arriving in the afternoon when lines are long across the resort. If you can arrive before rope drop, here are our tips:

  • Enter a theme park ASAP. Entering a theme park is like letting Genie out of the bottle. It doesn't work until you've entered a theme park for the day.
  • Purchase Genie+ if you don't already have it on your ticket and make your first Lightning Lane selection as soon as you enter the park. But don't necessarily use it right away unless you have limited time in the park. Save it for the end of its window.
  • Ride the rides without Lightning Lane in the morning.
  • Use the standby line for rides with Lightning Lane that you’ll want to hit more than once (such as Guardians) now without a long line and then use Genie+ to ride again later.
  • Use your Lightning Lanes at the end of the one-hour window in the morning and take advantage of other short lines while your space in line is secure at a Lightning Lane.
  • Don't blow through all your Lightning Lanes in the morning. Save some for the afternoon and evening when all the park lines are at their peak. That is unless you are hopping or only have a half-day in the park.
  • Take advantage of getting a nice morning PhotoPass photo of the group before roller coaster hair and long lines happen. It's included with Genie+. Remember to link attraction photos in the app too!
  • If you are staying at a Disneyland hotel and have Early Entry access, you can book your first Genie+ ride as soon as you enter the theme park. Then focus your first hour on riding rides without Genie+ or the rides that are most popular on Genie+.
  • Book a late breakfast so you can take advantage of short waits at park opening and work up an appetite.
  • If you are in the park early, book rides that are likely to not open right away. What? Seriously, if you are in the park before Rope Drop, book Indiana Jones Adventure or Toy Story Midway Mania! Those rides sometimes have a delayed opening. If they do not open right away, you'll receive a Multiple Experiences Pass and can then re-book those rides and save the pass for later.

Our Top Disneyland Genie+ Tips and Tricks - Mickey and Minnie at Storytellers Cafe

All Disneyland theme park guests must enter a theme park to start making Lightning Lane selections. That goes for Disneyland Resort hotel guests too. So let’s say you are planning on having breakfast first before heading into the park, if you have time, hop into a park and then leave and go to breakfast. But this way you can start reserving Lightning Lanes before you enter the park after the meal. The Monorail turnstile counts as a park entrance, BTW, if you are planning on breakfast at Goofy's Kitchen and want a shorter walk to scan in.

We usually book a late breakfast or brunch after 10 a.m. so we can take advantage of the morning in the park and then sit down for a good breakfast. During breakfast, we set up our next rides. If you choose a character breakfast, let the characters come to you, saving you time in the park later when you don't have to wait in line to meet them.

Genie Plus at Disneyland: Tips by Ride and Theme Park

Our Top Disneyland Genie+ Tips and Tricks - On-ride shot of Indiana Jones

You can hop on the TIp Board right now and during theme park hours to see in real-time what the wait times and Lightning Lane distribution look like. The default park is Disneyland but you can tap "Change Park" to switch to Disney California Adventure. This can help you prioritize your ride selection for morning, afternoon and evening.

Disneyland Park

Disneyland usually has 12 rides on Genie+. None of them have Lightning Lanes that are distributed as quickly as the most popular rides at Disney World. But some rides get distributed faster than others. It's good to know that so you can choose them strategically. If you arrive early, you'll want to take advantage of the short lines for all the attractions without Genie+.

You may want to grab Indiana Jones Adventure in the morning. This ride and Space Mountain move the fastest in this park, but even they have availability in the evening most days. They move faster at peak times. So you can book them in the morning or pick one of them when you know you have a longer wait for something else, a long meal to eat or a break from the park. Space Mountain is usually open during Early Entry. Sometimes Indiana Jones has a delayed opening, which means you might score a Multiple Experiences pass and can immediately book it or another ride.

Save Star Tours, Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters, "it's a small world" and Autopia for the afternoon and early evening as those are the slower movers of the group and often have upcoming Lightning Lane windows with a short wait. Both Haunted Mansion and "it's a small world" move faster than usual during their holiday overlays.

Disneyland Park individual Lightning Lane Rides:

One of the most popular rides in the park is Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance. It has an individual Lightning Lane and a free standby line. We have a whole post on the best strategies for accessing this ride.

In the morning, you can hit a lot of Fantasyland rides before lines form. Jungle Cruise is another good ride to hit early. If you are not using Genie+, ride "it's a small world" early because the standby line can get long after 11 a.m.

Disney California Adventure

Our Top Disneyland Genie+ Tips and Tricks - Pixar Pier at night

This park has eight Genie+ rides (nine as of November 2023, when The Little Mermaid joins the Genie+ lineup). Having fewer rides with Genie+ means they can be distributed a little faster than at Disneyland since there are fewer of them to go around. But again, don't worry. You'll still have a great selection most of the day. Guardians is sometimes a walk-on for the first hour of park opening and then the Lightning Lane selection times tend to speed up. However, this ride is open during Early Entry and may now see a surge just after park opening, especially if Radiator Springs Racers is down.

By early evening, you may not see any availability for Guardians, Toy Story Midway Mania! and Incredicoaster, which also have lower morning wait times. Keep an eye on Soarin' as well.

The lower priority rides are Grizzly River Run, except on hot days, Goofy's Sky School and Monsters, Inc. Mike & Sulley to the Rescue! When The Little Mermaid joins the Genie+ lineup, it may also be a low-priority choice. If you acquire any Multiple Experiences passes, Pixar Pal-A-Round, Mater's Junkyard Jamboree or Luigi's Rollickin' Roadsters may be good replacement options. Those are also great rides to hit in the first hour of park opening. Of course, you can save your Multiple Experiences passes for hopping to Disneyland or use them to ride a favorite ride a second time at Disney California Adventure.

The most popular rides in this park have an individual Lightning Lane for a separate fee. It is not included in Genie+ but it also has a standby line and a Single Rider line.

  • Radiator Springs Racers

Genie Plus at Disneyland: Tips for Park Hoppers and Repeat Riders

If you are park hopping, Genie+ really pays off. For us, it's all about setting ourselves up for success in the second park when afternoon crowds are highest. Nobody likes to enter a park and encounter long wait times. But you if have set up one or more Lightning Lanes for just after you park hop, you’ll skip to the front of the line! But there are a few new changes in place for park hoppers who book Lightning Lanes.

If you are booking a Genie+ Lightning Lane or purchasing an individual Lightning Lane when park hopping, you now have to watch the times if you want to book a ride in the other park before you can hop at 11:00 a.m. You will not be able to book or purchase until the ride you want to select has a distribution time of 11:00 a.m. or later. You can keep watch of this under the Tip Board for the other park. In the following screenshot, as of 10:00 a.m., we were able to select a Lightning Lane for Indiana Jones Adventure from Disney California Adventure but not Haunted Mansion. Then we set our alarm for noon (two hours later) so we could reserve our next Lightning Lane.

Our Top Tips and Strategies for Using Genie Plus at Disneyland - genie hoppingHere are our best park-hopping strategies:

  • Arrive in the first park before rope drop (everyone can enter the theme parks 30 minutes early).
  • Use a combination of finding the shortest standby lines and using Genie+ in the morning.
  • At about 9:30 or 10 a.m., book your first Lightning Lane for the other park. (The ride must be showing a ride window that is at or after 11 a.m.) Set an alarm for two hours later to remind yourself to book the next Lightning Lane unless you can ride before two hours is up.
  • Park hop, as early as 11 a.m.
  • If you acquire any Multiple Experiences passes, save them for the second park (find out more under "Take Advantage of ride breakdowns”).
  • Start in Disney California Adventure.
  • If you don't see a time that works for you, book one anyway, and then modify (not cancel) it to a time that does work or a different ride. Why? When you modify, it does not affect the time you are next eligible to select a new ride.

One of our favorite tips for using Genie Plus at Disneyland is to start your day in DCA. Why? You can accomplish a lot in that park in the morning, especially if you rope drop or can take advantage of Early Entry. By using Lightning Lane and a few other time-saving strategies, you can accomplish everything you want to do in that park in the first few hours of the day. Then when you hop to Disneyland, there is still plenty of Lightning Lane availability in that park.

How to Ride Your Favorite Lightning Lane Rides More Than Once

Our Top Disneyland Genie+ Tips and Tricks - Single rider sign at Matterhorn

You can only use your Lightning Lane to book your favorite ride once per day. But once is not enough sometimes. How can you ride again without waiting in a long standby line? Here are a  few strategies that work for us:

  • Use Single Rider if available (only at select rides).
  • Ride early morning or late at night. You can walk on rides such as Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Matterhorn Bobsleds, Guardians of the Galaxy — Mission: BREAKOUT! or Toy Story Midway Mania! at park opening. Save the Lightning Lane for these rides for later.
  • Use Multiple Experiences passes (if a ride breaks down during your return window, you'll receive one of these) to ride your favorite ride again.
  • Use Rider Switch — Have a small child who is not tall enough or brave enough to ride? Let the attendant know and you can set up the first riding party and the second party, which includes the first babysitting person (and up to one other, which can include a member of party one). When the babysitter gets to ride, one lucky person gets to go twice! The babysitter's Lightning Lane will be noted as a Rider Switch. If the person is in a waiting period to book another ride, that will be released so the whole group can select the next ride together.
  • If you visit during Halloween Time, you can book a Lightning Lane for Guardians in the morning and then book the Halloween version, Monsters After Dark for the afternoon or evening.

Our Top Tips and Strategies for Using Disney Genie Plus Service at Disneyland - Guardians of the Galaxy Monsters After Dark Wait Times

Hacking the Disney Genie Plus Stacking Strategy

You may hear the term "stacking." What does that mean? You can usually book only one Lightning Lane selection at a time. However, there is an exception. Lighting Lane windows are given out on a rolling basis. You'll get the first available Lightning Lane. But if the window you choose is more than 120 minutes away, then in two hours, you can choose another. If that window is over two hours away, you can book another even before you use the first two. So you might have three Lightning Lanes lines stacked up in your app for the afternoon or evening.

We use stacking a little before we hop to the afternoon park. But it's also easy to do if you take a break from the theme parks for a bit.

We recently stayed at Disney's Grand Californian Hotel and Spa. We rope-dropped Disney California Adventure. We enjoyed an efficient morning before leaving the park for Character Dining brunch at Storytellers Café, followed by pool time. From the time we redeemed our last morning ride, through breakfast and pool time, until we hopped to Disneyland we used Genie+ to select rides for the afternoon at Disneyland.

You don't have to be in a park to make selections. You just have to have entered a park to make them! You also have to wait until the ride you want to reserve shows a distribution time that is 11 a.m. or later when park hopping. We set an alarm every two hours to remind us to set up the next Lightning Lane. We looked for rides in either park that were temporarily closed to reserve them to score a Multiple Experiences pass since those can be used for all kinds of rides and have no time limit until the park closes. When we dried off and headed back to Disneyland in the mid-afternoon, we had multiple rides ahead of us without a wait. It was a very efficient but also relaxing day!

Know When You Can Make the Next Ride Selection

Our Top Disneyland Genie+ Tips and Tricks - Person redeeming Lightning Lane

Knowing when you are eligible to make a new Lightning Lane selection is one of the most important parts of the stacking strategy. You can make a new Genie+ Lightning Lane selection:

  • As soon as you have entered a theme park.
  • As soon as you redeem the previous Lightning Lane, or
  • If it's been 120 minutes since you booked a ride window that was more than 120 minutes away (even if you have not used it yet), or
  • If you tell the cast member at the Lightning Lane entrance that some people are doing Rider Switch.
  • You do not have to be in a park to book. Once you enter a park, you can leave and book from anywhere you have a cell or Wi-Fi signal.
  • Genie+ Lightning Lanes are unaffected by individual Lightning Lane purchases, which have no waiting periods attached to them.

You should also know when you can redeem your Lightning Lane:

  • You can scan in at the Lightning Lane entrance as soon as you see the "redeem" button, about 5 minutes before your window begins.
  • If you are running late, you can usually redeem about 10 to 15 minutes late. But try not to be too late because some rides, such as Matterhorn Bobsleds or Guardians, can have a long line just to scan in later in the day.

Set Alarms

Set an alarm or timer on your phone for two hours away as soon as you book a Lightning Lane that is far off. That way, you won't froget to make the next one. You can maximize the number of Lightning Lane selections you can make.

Modify Plans Rather Than Canceling Them

Our Top Tips and Strategies for Using Genie Plus at Disneyland - modify or cancelBe careful when you cancel a ride selection to rebook something else when you have stacked times. Let's say at 11 a.m. you picked Guardians for 1 to 2 p.m. At 1 p.m. you selected Soarin' for 2 to 3 p.m. But at 1:30 p.m., you realize you might not make Guardians in time and want to cancel and rebook that ride for later. Even though your 120-minute waiting period for Guardians has ended, you cannot rebook Guardians until you redeem Soarin' or 3 p.m. rolls around. Why? You are still in a waiting period for Soarin' and cannot make any more selections, even to replace canceled rides. If you cancel Guardians, you will not be able to rebook it until those times or you cancel Soarin' to remove yourself from the waiting period. Yep, we learned that lesson the hard way.

Enter the new "Modify Plan" option that arrived one year to the day after Genie+ launched at Disneyland. You can now modify your selection to the first available time for the same ride or a different ride in the same park. Is someone new joining you for the new time? You can edit your party size during that change. The benefit to modifying over canceling is that modifying does not affect the time you are next eligible to book a new ride. It doesn't reset the clock. This way you don't lose the ability to replace a ride like you would in the above cancel scenario if you are in a two-hour waiting period for a different Lightning Lane selection.

If your time to ride expires, you can now tap "Cancel Plan" to reschedule it, saying there's still availability for that ride. You can also try asking at the ride if they can accommodate you before you cancel. Present your tickets for scanning.

Our Top Tips and Strategies for Using Genie Plus at Disneyland - faq toggleUse Rides with Later Return Times Strategically

If you are choosing a ride that won't be available for a few hours, do it when you have a plan to enjoy a meal, wait in a different ride, see a show or take a break during that time.

Use the Toggle Switch to View Only Rides with a Lightning Lane

On the Tip Board, you can now toggle between viewing all the rides in a park or just the rides that offer Genie+ and individual Lightning Lane. That way you can find and book your next ride faster and easier.

More Expert Tips to Save Money with Genie+

Our Top Disneyland Genie+ Tips and Tricks - Family takes PhotoPass pic in teacup

We green frogs are all about budgeting and saving money on a trip. We feel that Genie+ is a great value for most families, especially since it includes PhotoPass. If you are a PhotoPass photo buyer, then you will save right there. Here are tips to save money and get the most for your money with Genie+.

  • If you just want Genie+ for the PhotoPass photos, then just buy for one person.
  • Don't buy for toddlers. Your little ones are not tall enough for most of the Genie+ rides. Ages 2 and under do not need a park ticket. They can just hop along on Genie+ rides without a height requirement.
  • Buy discount multi-day Genie tickets.
  • Use Rider Switch if you have small children. Parent 1 and older kids can ride first. Parent 2 and up to one older kid can sign up for Rider Switch. The older kid can ride with Parent 1. Then when it's time for Parent 2 to ride, the big kid can join Parent 2 to ride again to skip the line while Parent 1 babysits the tadpoles. Let the cast member know you are doing Rider Switch before you scan in.
  • Use when park hopping to get the most Genie+ rides for your money.
  • Only use Genie+ select days of your trip. Focus on Genie+ rides and PhotoPass photos the days you have it. Focus on rides, shows, parades and table-service dining on the days you don't have it.
  • If you know you want to use Genie+ every day, purchase tickets with Genie+ to lock in the lowest price as the price to purchase each day can vary.
  • Since Genie+ is a cost per person, per day, find ways each person can save money to pay for Genie+. Bring snacks from home and refillable water bottles. Drink free water at restaurants instead of soda. Find small ways to save at home before your trip so you can splurge on Genie+ at the parks.
  • If you want to avoid the cost of Genie+, look at our post on the best time to visit Disneyland to predict the lowest crowd levels, arrive at rope drop, take advantage of short lines during nighttime entertainment and the last hour of park opening and follow our Disneyland Touring Plans.
  • Take advantage of Disney PhotoPass! Genie+ comes with unlimited PhotoPass downloads for the day. That includes on-ride photos as well as shots from professional PhotoPass photographers around the park. Our PhotoPass post has all the details so you can take home hoppy memories with everyone in the shot!
  • Be sure to update to the latest version of the Disneyland app before your visit.

Have you uncovered any other tips for using Genie Plus at Disneyland? Share them in the comments sections below. You can save on multi-day Disneyland Resort Genie+ tickets when you purchase from your favorite froggy friends. Ribbit!

Related: Tips to Maximize Time at Disneyland

Keep Hopping!

Keep hopping, Leap!
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Nov 1, 2023 at 5:56 a.m. Aubrey Says...

There is one bit of information in here that is inaccurate according to information I have received from numerous people. You said "The babysitting parent does not need to have Genie+ to use Rider Switch when the other parent uses a Lightning Lane." This is not true. If the first person/parent uses a lightning lane, the second person/parent must also have a lightning lane. This prevents people from only paying for genie plus for one person instead of both.

Nov 17, 2023 at 2:13 p.m. FrogBlog Says...

Thanks for the head's up, Aubrey! Processes have changed, and we've updated the post accordingly.

Keep hopping!


Aug 21, 2023 at 1:11 a.m. Gregory B. Says...

Here’s a step-by-step hack for Disneyland using the ‘Modify’ feature ;there might be a version of this for DCA as well): As soon as you enter the park (let’s say you’re there early; 7:30am for an 8:00am rope drop) book a Lightning Lane for Indiana Jones. Once the park opens, spend the first two hours doing standby rides (say, mostly the rides in Fantasyland without lightning lanes). Meanwhile, continue to monitor Genie+ return times for Indiana Jones; you want to ‘Modify’ your booking once there is a return time around two hours after park opening (in this case, after 10am). Then, at 9:30am, you’ll be able to book a second LL via the 120 minute rule (say, Space Mountain). The idea here is that when the park begins to get busier at around 10:00am, that you’ll already have two LLs to use. If you use your Space Mountain one first, you’ll then be able to immediately make a third one (maybe Big Thunder Mountain…which you can hit while walking to the other side of the park to redeem your Indiana Jones LL).

Aug 21, 2023 at 8:13 a.m. FrogBlog Says...

Great tip, Gregory! Thanks for sharing.

Keep hopping!


May 29, 2023 at 5:53 p.m. Dan Says...

For California Adventure, what effect has keeping Incredicoaster open during World of Color on distribution? I'm looking at the tip that suggests Lightning Lane reservations are sold out by 6pm. Thanks!

Jun 5, 2023 at 8:37 a.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Dan!

Thanks for calling that out! Since rides have been open during World of Color, we've been noticing later Lightning Lane times for Incredicoaster and most other rides around the water so we'll update our tip.

Keep hopping!


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