Disney California Adventure Genie+ Lightning Lane Ride Ranks

Our list of Lightning Lane ride rankings for Disney California Adventure covers how you should prioritize the attractions that offer line skipping access. This offers recommendations for the paid FastPass and MaxPass replacement based on time-saved and how quickly reservations fill up at DCA. (Updated April 14, 2024.)

The goal of these DCA Genie+ rankings is to give you the tools and info you need to build your own itinerary with Genie+ at Disneyland Resort. Either for Disney California Adventure alone or in tandem with Disneyland as you Park Hop between the two. Honestly, this list is most useful when paired with Park Hopping. Genie+ is “easy” enough at DCA that, so long as you do the top 4-5 first and relatively early, not much strategy is needed beyond that. It’s Park Hopping that makes things trickier.

Park Hopping to Disney California Adventure is likely going to be popular with a lot of Genie+ buyers, especially given DCA’s relatively low Genie+ ride count as compared to Disneyland. This presents something of a predicament, as how these rankings should be utilized depends upon whether you’re starting your day at DCA or Disneyland.

Before we get to that problem, let’s start with the basic purpose of this post. This is intended to supplement our Guide to Genie+ at Disneyland & California Adventure FAQ for all of the foundational need-to-know info about this paid FastPass replacement. Genie+ can be confusing and convoluted, but it’s a successor to MaxPass at Disneyland. So, it’s not totally untrodden territory…unless you’re new to Disneyland or never used MaxPass, in which case, it is!

These ride priorities are for Lightning Lanes via Genie+ and not Individual Lightning Lanes (ILL), which are pay-per-ride. The only ILL attraction in Disney California Adventure is Radiator Springs Racers (RSR). We are not keen on buying a la carte front of line access, and would instead recommend doing RSR at park opening or shortly before closing. Single rider is also a great option for Radiator Springs Racers, except on weekends or evenings, when locals can clog it up.

If you’re beginning at Disney California Adventure, use the rankings intuitively, booking each Genie+ Lightning Lane selection in the order they’re presented below. You’ll have earlier return times this way, and can possibly knock out all of the DCA Lightning Lanes before Park Hopping time rolls around.

Same goes if you’re staying in DCA all day. In that case, you might actually want to delay booking your first Genie+ reservation for a bit to focus on standby lines early-on, saving the Lightning Lanes for later in the day when crowds and wait times build.

However, if you’re starting at Disneyland and won’t be entering Disney California Adventure until the afternoon, your approach probably needs to be different. This is a bit counterintuitive, but it’ll make more sense once explained.

There are a couple of Genie+ attractions in DCA that sometimes have return times that are multiple hours in the future. Some other attractions have immediate return times until late afternoon on most days. (Obviously, crowds vary and on peak season days, all attractions will have more lag between booking and return times.) For the popular rides, this comes down to ride reservation refills and cancellations.

If you book a Genie+ reservation for an attraction with a return time several hours in the future, you have to wait 2 hours before reserving your next Lightning Lane. During those 2 hours, the clock is advancing on everything else, with the gap potentially growing on current and return times. By contrast, if you book a ride with an immediate return time, you can make your next Genie+ reservation as soon as you scan into that Lightning Lane.

For example, let’s say Soarin’ Around the World has a return time of 6:20 pm as of 1 pm. By contrast, Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission Breakout has a return time of 1:05 pm at 1 pm. You can book the latter, scan into the Lightning Lane immediately, and still book that 7 pm return time (+/- 5 minutes) for Soarin. Attempting to book them in reverse order will not yield the same results. (This isn’t just an hypothetical–we’ve experienced this scenario at DCA multiple times.)

There’s no perfect across-the-board “solution” to this problem, as wait times and Genie+ return times vary, as do each party’s priorities. Our generalized advice would be to look at return times vs. wait times, and use your judgment. If something with a high posted wait time has an instant return time in the afternoon, book that immediately rather than waiting, as the gap will likely grow in early evening.

However, you don’t want to wait too long to book Soarin’ Around the World, as it does run out of Genie+ Lightning Lane reservations. Same goes for Toy Story Midway Mania on many days. We know that’s a lot to digest and it complicates how to approach these DCA Genie+ ride rankings–that is, unless you aren’t Park Hopping, in which case, it’s a pretty easy park!

Anyway, we just wanted to explain this and offer some advice to act dynamically. Although this is essentially a cheat sheet, we far prefer to offer “teach a person to fish” advice so you understand the why of things and can make better informed decisions in the moment. Now on with the ride rankings for Genie+ at DCA…

Genie+ Ride Rankings at Disney California Adventure

1. Guardians of the Galaxy — Mission: BREAKOUT! – For the Halloween season, there are two versions of this attraction: the daytime Mission Breakout and the evening Monsters After Dark. The two have separate listings on the Tip Board, which means you can book Lightning Lanes for both of them.

This also effectively cuts the capacity for each in half since it’s the same ride–just with day and night versions. Consequently, ride reservations book up fastest for Mission Breakout, which only runs through mid-afternoon.

2. Guardians of the Galaxy – Monsters After Dark – It’s a similar story with Monsters After Dark, which takes over each day at 3 pm and continues until park closing. This Halloween overlay is incredibly popular, and with Lightning Lane availability for only half the day, it fills up fast.

Monsters After Dark stops running on Halloween, and Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT! resumes running all-day starting November 1. Even outside of the Halloween season, Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT! arguably is #1, but these are the clear top picks from late August through October 2024.

3. Toy Story Midway Mania – While theme park scholars and historians will debate whether Toy Story Midway Mania is a worthy successor to Malibu-Ritos for centuries to come, there’s little arguing its superior staying power. The interactive shooter ride has only gotten more popular since its debut, making Toy Story Midway Mania high-ranking. If you or your kids will want to play multiple times, consider hitting it via standby early in the morning, too.

4. WEB Slingers: A Spider-Man Adventure – Another interactive shooter ride, Web Slingers just moved over to the Genie+ service. Previously, it was an Individual Lightning Lane (like Radiator Springs Racers) that charged per ride. Web Slingers and Toy Story Midway Mania have nearly identical Lightning Lane availability, to the point that which ranks higher is almost a toss-up.

5. Soarin’ (Around the World or Over California) – This is potentially one to watch, as Soarin’ has had issues with one of its theaters going down, which pushes it to the top of this list. On a normal day, it’s still easily a top 5 attraction–and the last of the truly “tough” Lightning Lanes at DCA. Everything else on this list should be fairly easy on most days of the year, even in the mid-afternoon (or beyond).

6. Goofy’s Sky School – If you want the bodily punishment offered by the Matterhorn but without anything that makes that roller coaster so iconic, Goofy’s Sky School is for you! It not ranking last isn’t any form of endorsement, just a reflection of the reality that its return times tend to be more delayed than Incredicoaster.

7. Incredicoaster – Despite being a downgrade as compared to California Screamin’, this is still a great roller coaster and one that’s incredibly popular. However, FastPass and MaxPass availability was always fairly easy and that continues to be the case with Genie+ Lightning Lanes. Quick return times are the norm on all but the busiest days of the year.

8. Grizzly River Run – Demand for Grizzly River Run is skewed by season, and winter weather can cause it to drop to the very bottom of this list. Historical wait times and MaxPass experience suggests Grizzly River Run is a more popular attraction during the rest of the year, but it still struggles to crack the top 5 except on the hottest days of the year.

9. Monsters, Inc. Mike & Sulley to the Rescue! – In a park with a dearth of family-friendly attractions, the stock of Superstar Limo: Monstrous Edition increases a bit. Long standby wait times have become the norm here, with a boring outdoor queue that moves at a glacial pace. Be sure to get a Lightning Lane reservation here.

10. The Little Mermaid – Ariel’s Undersea Adventure – This Lightning Lane should not exist. Seriously. The Little Mermaid dark ride is a high-capacity attraction with a fast-moving standby line and rarely more than a 5-10 minute actual wait time (regardless of what’s posted) except on the busiest days of the year. All of that’s past tense now, as the Lightning Lane has slowed down standby. Regardless, this has nearly-perpetual ride reservation inventory, even well into the evening.

Ultimately, you should be able to knock out all attractions via Genie+ using Lightning Lanes during a full day in Disney California Adventure. So long as you use a modicum of strategy, it should be relatively easy to accomplish them all when starting in the morning. On a good day, you can knock out all of these after 1 pm–or at least, all of them that are worth doing. That’s likely going to be the key consideration for many parties, as buying Genie+ for DCA alone likely isn’t going to be worth the money for a lot of people.

Of course, all of this is also subject to change. It’s also entirely possible that Genie+ will be tweaked at DCA, adding the ability to re-ride attractions or becoming available as an add-on to Magic Key Passes. Those are the biggest potential changes, and neither are even being rumored at this point, so you should be fine. Otherwise, you shouldn’t run into too many problems!

Planning a Southern California vacation? For park admission deals, read Tips for Saving Money on Disneyland Tickets. Learn about on-site and off-site hotels in our Anaheim Hotel Reviews & Rankings. For where to eat, check out our Disneyland Restaurant Reviews. For unique ideas of things that’ll improve your trip, check out What to Pack for Disney. For comprehensive advice, consult our Disneyland Vacation Planning Guide. Finally, for guides beyond Disney, check out our Southern California Itineraries for day trips to Los Angeles, Laguna Beach, and tons of other places!


How would you rank your ride priorities using Genie+ and Lightning Lanes in Disney California Adventure? Will you Park Hop to DCA, or spend the whole day there when using Genie Plus? Surprised to see Mission Breakout at #1, or is that the obvious top pick given its popularity? Are you planning on buying Genie+ or skipping it at DCA? Do you agree or disagree with our rankings? 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!

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