If you’ve got questions about how the promise of Walt Disney World’s Lightning Lanes live up to the reality, follow along as we put the Unofficial Guide’s game plan for optimal afternoon touring at Disney’s Hollywood Studios with Genie+ into action, and experience every ride at the park in one E-Ticket evening!
To recap the first installment of this series, our goal was to arrive at Disney’s Hollywood Studios on a recent afternoon and ride as many attractions as possible before closing time using Genie+ Lightning Lanes.
Here’s the basic Disney’s Hollywood Studios Genie+ reservation priority list we planned to follow, taking advantage of the “2 Hour Loophole” to stack multiple return times before arriving at the resort:
- Slinky Dog Dash (book at 7 a.m.)
- Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run (book at 11 a.m. for 9 a.m. park opening)
- Rock ’n’ Roller Coaster (book at 1 p.m.)
- Twilight Zone Tower of Terror (book at 3 p.m.)
- Toy Story Mania! (book at 5 p.m.)
- Alien Swirling Saucers (book at 7 p.m.)
- Star Tours
That was the strategy; read on to see how it turned out.
Reserving Disney’s Hollywood Studios Genie+ Return Times
Our carefully laid plans went awry almost instantly when I discovered that, despite purchasing Genie+ after midnight the prior evening so I would be all set to go in the morning, all the coveted Lightning Lane slots for Slinky Dog Dash had sold out within seconds after 7 a.m.
Refreshing the Genie+ Tip Board screen can sometimes make sold-out attractions suddenly reappear, but each time I attempted to grab a Slinky Dog reservation, it was claimed before I could click. Therefore, I resigned myself to instead snagging a return time for the second attraction on our priority list, Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run, which was already distributing reservations for late afternoon.
At 11 a.m., 2 hours past the park’s official opening time, I was eligible to make a second Lightning Lane selection, and I picked Rock ’n’ Roller Coaster.
Then at 1 p.m., it was time to make a third Genie+ reservation, this time for Twilight Zone Tower of Terror.
By the time I arrived at Disney’s Hollywood Studios shortly before 3 p.m., I already had reservations at three major attractions lined up. I reached the park just in time to grab a seat for the recently returned Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular, and I secured my fourth Lightning Lane for Toy Story Mania! while waiting for the show to begin.
At this point, it was time to start redeeming my Lightning Lane reservations, but I made a point to pause around 5 p.m. to pick up a return time for Alien Swirling Saucers. Genie+ reservations were initially listed as unavailable, but after a few minutes of hitting refresh I finally found one.
The only remaining Disney’s Hollywood Studios Genie+ ride I didn’t get a Lightning Lane for was Star Tours, which offered no advantage thanks to an essentially empty standby queue.
When all was said and done, here are all five of the Disney’s Hollywood Studios Genie+ Lightning Lane return times we were actually able to acquire during our day:
- Rock ’n’ Roller Coaster (3:20-4:20 p.m.)
- Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run (3:50-4:50 p.m.)
- Twilight Zone Tower of Terror (6:10-7:10 p.m.)
- Alien Swirling Saucers (7-8 p.m.)
- Toy Story Mania! (7:50-8:50 p.m.)
Redeeming Disney’s Hollywood Studios Genie+ Return Times
Now that we have all our Lightning Lane ducks in a row, how well did the Genie+ promise to minimize wait times actually work? Fairly well, and far better than the former free FastPass system, at least in this instance. Here’s the breakdown:
At Rock ’n’ Roller Coaster, the posted standby wait was 55 minutes, but we waited only 10 minutes (including the recording studio preshow) using Lightning Lane.
At Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run, the posted standby wait was 60 minutes, but we waited only 15 minutes (including Hondo’s preshow briefing) using Lightning Lane. The single rider wait was even shorter, but using Lightning Lane gives you a shot at being a pilot or gunner, instead of being relegated to the rear engineer seats.
At Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, the posted standby wait was 40 minutes, but we waited only 10 minutes (including the library preshow) using Lightning Lane.
At Alien Swirling Saucers, the posted standby wait was 25 minutes, but we waited only 5 minutes using Lightning Lane.
Finally, at Toy Story Mania!, the posted standby wait was 30 minutes, but we waited only 5 minutes using Lightning Lane.
In addition, we also experienced three rides using standby for which we were unable (or unwilling) to get Lightning Lane reservations:
At Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway, the posted standby wait around 5 p.m. was 55 minutes, but we waited only 32 minutes (including the cartoon preshow).
At Slinky Dog Dash, the posted standby wait around 6:30 p.m. was 90 minutes, and we waited 66 minutes total.
Finally, at Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, the posted standby wait was 70 minutes, but we waited only 35 minutes to reach the first preshow, then boarded the final ride vehicle after a total of 50 minutes.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios with Genie+: Dollars and Sense
Now that all the data is in from our evening using Genie+ at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, how did Lightning Lane do on a dollar-per-minute basis? If we add up the total theoretical time saved (as compared to the posted standby waits), then Genie+ saved us almost 165 minutes, or 2.75 hours, during the 6 hours we spent in the park.
Since Genie+ at Walt Disney World costs $15.98 (including sales tax) per person, when calculated on a dollar-per-minute basis, we paid approximately 9.7 cents per minute saved in a queue, or about $5.81 per hour saved. On a dollar-per-attraction basis, we paid about $3.20 for each of the 5 attractions for which we utilized Lightning Lane.
All of those metrics would have been improved if we had been able to secure Lightning Lane return times for Slinky Dog Dash, but even without that headliner, the time savings we experienced with Genie+ was a good value, especially for visitors using daily tickets (as opposed to annual passes) with a high average cost per hour.
On the other hand, spending $15 on Individual Lightning Lane to skip about 35 minutes worth of queue at Rise of the Resistance would have cost almost 43 cents per minute saved, while paying $10 to use Individual Lightning Lane at Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway would have only saved about 20 minutes at an even steeper cost of 50 cents per minute.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios with Genie+: The Bottom Line
As you can see, using Genie+ at Disney’s Hollywood Studios worked out fairly well for us, and it can for you, too, if you’re planning an evening visit to the park. You can also take advantage of this strategy if you’re visiting a park in the morning where Genie+ is less valuable—such as Disney’s Animal Kingdom or EPCOT—and park-hopping to DHS in the afternoon. Just don’t be surprised if you try using Genie+ when rope-dropping Disney’s Hollywood Studios and find yourself exhausting all eligible attractions before midafternoon.
For all there is to see and do at Walt Disney World, check out The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World, or to plan your family’s trip to Orlando, check out The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World with Kids. If you enjoyed this post, please subscribe to our YouTube channel and sign up for our newsletter here. Be sure to follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and YouTube.