Park Hopping is one great way to use Genie+ to make the best Lightning Lane ride reservations. By doing two parks, you can extend your day at Walt Disney World, save even more time, and also save money by not buying the paid FastPass service every single day of your vacation. This post explains how to Park Hop with Genie+, selection strategies for Park Hoppers, and more.
In general, we’re more positive about Genie+ than a lot of Walt Disney World fans. However, that comes with the caveat that it’s not equally valuable at all of the parks–or even worth purchasing. Our recommendations have strongly cautioned against purchasing length of stay tickets with Genie+ already included, because it’s simply not necessary every day of your trip. No sense in wasting money where it’s not needed.
There are two parks where Genie+ is absolutely advantageous: Magic Kingdom and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Even with the latter, you arguably don’t need an entire day of Genie+ to get everything accomplished. Then there’s Epcot and Animal Kingdom, which only offer a couple of attractions each that’ll save significant time via Genie+ and making Lightning Lane ride reservations. That’s where Park Hopping comes into play…
Additionally, see our Guide to Genie+ at Walt Disney World & Lightning Lane FAQ for foundational need-to-know info about this paid FastPass+ replacement. The Genie system is confusing and convoluted, so you might have a question or 17. That answers all of the most common ones we’ve been receiving from readers.
Before we get started, one of the things I want to mention in response to reader confusion arising from Tips for “Stacking” Genie+ Ride Reservations is that all of this advanced strategy is not necessary to successfully using Genie+ and Lightning Lanes. You can go in with a more laid back approach and still do just fine.
Think of Genie+ like air travel. If you’re looking to get from point A to B, one option is booking a flight on Southwest. That’s hopefully pretty easy for most of you. Or you can learn to fly a plane. That’s probably a tad more challenging. With these advanced tips, not only are you trying to fly Genie’s proverbial plane, but you’re trying to learn how to do it by reading a manual…rather than going up into the sky to log some hands on flight time.
As we’ve said before, this all becomes so much easier once you’re using the features in My Disney Experience, and not just reading about them. Thankfully, today’s Park Hopping tips should also have less of a learning curve than the stacking strategy…
There are a couple of elements of the Genie+ system that make it especially attraction and conducive to Park Hopping. First, the no re-ride rule. This means you can’t use Lightning Lanes repeatedly to bypass lines on Na’vi River Journey, or your favorite attraction.
Second, the aforementioned weak Genie+ attraction lineups in Animal Kingdom and Epcot. At best, each of these two parks have 3-4 attractions worth using Lightning Lanes. The rest are holdovers from the FastPass+ days; they’re ‘consolation prizes’ to make sure there were enough attraction selections to go around for everyone booking the park to hold 3 FastPasses. On all but the busiest days of the year, there won’t be any lines to skip for these shows and lower-profile attractions.
Although not a feature of Genie+, there’s also the reality of operating hours, which makes starting the day at Animal Kingdom and ending at Epcot attractive. This allows you to extend your day by up to 4 hours, depending upon the season.
As a general matter, Park Hopping between Walt Disney World theme parks is available starting at 2:00 pm. We typically recommend those with it in their budget purchase Park Hopper tickets, and that’s doubly true now that Genie+ has debuted. (See other recommendations in Tips for Park Hopping at Walt Disney World.)
When it comes to planning in My Disney Experience, you can plan Park Hopping with the free feature, setting your arrival and departure time from the bottom of the ‘My Day’ tab (see above).
Since we view the free Genie itinerary builder as mostly useless at this point, we’re going to gloss over that and instead turn to using Genie+ to Park Hop:
Start by navigating to the Tip Board via the + button at the middle bottom of My Disney Experience or the hamburger button on the bottom right.
From there, you’ll see something similar to the above screen. Towards the top of the screen, you’ll see the park name and the park. Just below that, click “Change Park.”
A pop-up will appear giving you the option to “Select a Park.”
Choose whichever one you want to visit next, or wherever you want to make your next Lightning Lane selection.
You’ll then see the “Tip Board” for whichever park you chose, and its current Genie+ Lightning Lane options.
If you do this early in the day, the times displayed will likely be before 2 pm.
Despite this, you can start making Lightning Lane ride reservations via Genie+ before Park Hopping time, if you so desire.
In fact, you probably should do this, as afternoon waits are worse than morning waits. This means you’re better off doing as many attractions via standby lines at your first park, and building up a stockpile of Lightning Lane selections at park two or three.
In previous posts, we’ve noted that Genie+ is mostly a “dumb” system. Despite the negative connotation, this is actually a good thing. It simply means that Genie+ won’t stop you from double-booking yourself.
If you want to make multiple ride reservations from 3 to 4 pm, for example, it’ll let you do that. You’ll see a warning that you have overlapping plans, but the system doesn’t prevent you from making them like FastPass+ did.
One (positive) exception to this is with Park Hopping. If you have a Disney Park Pass reservation in one park and try to book a Lightning Lane selection via Genie+ for a second park that’s before 2 pm, the system will automatically adjust the time to start at 2 pm. In the above screenshot, you can see with a “time changed due to park hopping” message.
Depending upon how and what you book ride reservations, this means you could potentially end up with multiple selections in that 2 to 3 pm window.
During most normal park days, things won’t work out that way. Rather, you’ll be booking Lightning Lanes for your first park so long as it’s advantageous, before moving on to the second park, prioritizing the most popular attractions in that park.
However, you might want to spend morning at the pool or outside the park, in which case booking a Disney Park Pass for a different park and then switching is a potentially savvy way to “force” the clock forward. (Hopefully this cumbersome workaround isn’t necessary for too long. My suspicion is that the Park Passes will be eliminated by 2022 for regular ticket holders, making reservations only necessary for Annual Passholders.)
There are probably other potential use cases where you’d want to start booking the second park early–so much of this is circumstantial. The point is that you should be mindful of return times, overbooking yourself, and time slot availability.
Most of the time, you’re not going to run into this issue. If you’re outside the park, you’re going to be using Genie+ to book Lightning Lane ride reservations once every 120 minutes. The return time clock will likely advance beyond 2 pm for your second-highest priority attraction after that 120 minutes has elapsed.
Another thing to keep in mind when making Disney Park Pass reservations and using Genie+ is that the clock doesn’t start ticking on the 120 minute until park opening time.
Currently, there are days when Epcot isn’t scheduled to open until 11 am. This means that you could get up at 7 am, make your first selection for Epcot…and not make another until 1 pm. This is one of several reasons why Epcot isn’t an ideal starting park.
It’s probably possible to hack this and ‘force’ reservations by making and cancelling Genie+ reservations elsewhere and rebooking them at Epcot, but we haven’t tested this. There’s also the reality that a stockpile of Lightning Lane selections at Epcot isn’t going to do you a ton of good…so what’s the point?
At the other end of the spectrum on time slot availability is Slinky Dog Dash.
Right now, this is far and away the most popular Genie+ reservation in all of Walt Disney World. It’s always gone before 2 pm, and frequently unavailable as early as 11 am.
If you’re planning on Park Hopping to Disney’s Hollywood Studios, you will want to pay attention to how quickly Slinky Dog Dash is distributing Lightning Lane return times.
You should potentially book this as your second Genie+ reservation of the day. During the holiday season and other peak times, Slinky Dog Dash might need to be booked first, regardless your starting park.
Other than that, we’d simply recommend paying attention to return times. Let’s illustrate this with a common scenario: starting the day at Animal Kingdom, which opens earlier and closes earlier, and finishing the day at Disney’s Hollywood Studios or Epcot.
In our experience thus far, Genie+ is only useful for a few attractions at Animal Kingdom. If you arrive for Early Entry, it may not be necessary for anything. Don’t book Lightning Lane reservations with immediate return times “just because” at Animal Kingdom when standby would be almost as easy–especially when this comes with the opportunity cost of a quickly-advancing clock for multiple rides at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
To illustrate, here’s an extreme example. Dinosaur has a return time only 1 minute into the future, but a 5 minute standby wait. If you’re going to jump into line immediately for Dinosaur, there’s probably minimal harm in booking this–you’ll be able to get another Genie+ ride reservation immediately upon tapping in at the Lightning Lane.
Conversely, if you’re thinking of doing Dinosaur towards the end of the window, you’re likely being wasteful–the clock is actually quickly advancing on multiple Disney’s Hollywood Studios attractions, whereas Dinosaur will be a near walk-on until 10 am most mornings. (On this particular day, it was dispatching time rovers with empty rows as of 10:15 am.)
Ultimately, combining Park Hopping with Genie+ is unquestionably the best way to use the paid FastPass replacement for Animal Kingdom and Epcot. It’s arguably a stronger strategy than doing all day at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, too. This could change with higher crowd levels or if/when Walt Disney World finally gets around to restoring entertainment, but for now, none of these three parks require a full day if you’re using Genie+ and are primarily concerned with rides.
Disney’s whole goal with Genie+ is to increase per guest spending. Ironically, I could see the service enabling many families to cut a day from their Walt Disney World vacations thanks to it, or at least reallocate park time to pools. We’ve also been fairly strong advocates of Park Hopping, and Genie+ further reinforces that. Like the paid FastPass feature, there’s an up-front cost to buying Park Hopper tickets, but the option opens up more strategic and time-saving possibilities, while also stretching your vacation dollars further. Spending more money saves more time, which in turn can save you more money.
Planning a Walt Disney World trip? Learn about hotels on our Walt Disney World Hotels Reviews page. For where to eat, read our Walt Disney World Restaurant Reviews. To save money on tickets or determine which type to buy, read our Tips for Saving Money on Walt Disney World Tickets post. Our What to Pack for Disney Trips post takes a unique look at clever items to take. For what to do and when to do it, our Walt Disney World Ride Guides will help. For comprehensive advice, the best place to start is our Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide for everything you need to know!
Did this help you understand how to Park Hop with the Genie+ system? Thoughts on strategy for making Lightning Lane ride reservations and the ability to stack selections for later in the day at a second or third park? Do you agree or disagree with my assessment? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback—even when you disagree with us—is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!