Here’s our list of Lightning Lane ride rankings for Disneyland, with how you should prioritize the 12 attractions that offer line skipping access. This offers recommendations for the paid FastPass and MaxPass replacement based upon a combination of time-saved and how quickly reservations fill up.
The idea behind this post is giving you the tools and info you need to build your own Disneyland itinerary with Genie+. That’s in part because we don’t yet have an integrated 1-day step-by-step plan for Genie+ and standby attractions. For those who have asked, that’s coming very soon.
We’re knocking this out first because it’s easier, and also predicated on wait times data and Lightning Lane availability–not just our firsthand experiences. To that point, we’re in the midst of testing Disneyland and Disney California Adventure itineraries with and without the paid Genie+ service and it has been…interesting.
Genie+ launched in the midst of the holiday season at Disneyland, right as Walt Disney World was having its own issues with crowds overwhelming Genie+ and Lightning Lanes. Rather than booking a quick trip to California to test the system amidst peak Christmas or New Year’s crowds, we opted to wait until Winter 2022.
This seemed like a more sensible approach, as Genie+ had already evolved since our initial fall testing at Walt Disney World, necessitating a lot of editing to guides on the topic. Plus, January and February looked like they’d still be busy given reservation availability calendars at the time and just the general sense of pent-up demand. Nevertheless, we started tracking Genie+ and Lightning Lane times in order to have a good foundation and hit the ground running when we made it out to California.
It’s a good thing we did that. In typical Disneyland fashion, Genie+ is way easier to use and just generally more “laid back” in the California parks than its Florida counterparts. So much so that we’re actually having a difficult time stress-testing itineraries, even with moderate (4/10) crowd levels. Hopefully the weekend is more “fruitful” in that regard, with higher attendance helping our endeavors. (Never thought I’d be wanting heavier crowds!) For real/normal people, this would be a good problem to have. As has been demonstrated time and time again, we are not normal.
Additionally, there are unique wrinkles with the holiday overlays of Haunted Mansion and “it’s a small world” that has caused us to tweak some of the rankings. All of this should illustrate how crowds, weather, season, refurbishments, downtime, and more can impact how an actual day at Disneyland plays out, which also can throw a monkey wrench into Genie+ Lightning Lane priorities. Regardless, this equips you to put together your own dynamic plan of attack for using Genie+ in Disneyland.
This is intended to supplement our Guide to Genie+ at Disneyland & California Adventure FAQfor all of the foundational need-to-know info about this paid FastPass replacement. This whole system is confusing and convoluted, but the good news is that it’s a near-direct 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!
Before we get started, we should note that this offers ride priorities for Lightning Lanes via Genie+ and not Individual Lightning Lanes (ILL), which are pay-per-ride. At present, the only ILL attraction in Disneyland is Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance. We are not keen on buying a la carte front of line access, but that one in particular can be a decent use of money as that’s far and away the longest wait time in Disneyland–and there’s no great way to beat those crowds and also knock out the Fantasyland dark rides.
Anyway, on with the ride rankings for Genie+ at Walt Disney’s original magic kingdom…
Genie+ Ride Rankings at Disneyland
1. Space Mountain – No huge surprise here, as Space Mountain is the #2 wait time on average since the launch of Genie+ at Disneyland (#1 is Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance–by ~50% margin). It’s also the Genie+ Lightning Lane that books up first.
2. Indiana Jones Adventure – While Space Mountain is the clear #1, it’s not by a wide margin. In fact, both in terms of average wait times and Lightning Lane distribution, the two attractions are incredibly close. Fortunately, you should have no difficulty whatsoever booking both.
3. Matterhorn Bobsleds – Rising wait times as of Winter 2022 give the Matterhorn a slight edge here, as does more abundant Lightning Lane availability. This was not true during the holiday season, so we’ll keep an eye on things here.
4. Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run – The other Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge attraction is also fairly popular, likely owing to its status as a “consolation prize” for those who balk at Rise of the Resistance wait times or Individual Lightning Lane pricing. Smugglers Run availability via Genie+ seems to accelerate later in the day, but you should have no issue whatsoever if you book it within your top 5 or so.
5. Splash Mountain – Nothing since Genie+ launched supports this ranking. Not recent wait time data and not Lightning Lane distribution times. However, there’s also this thing called “winter weather” that skewed demand before Splash Mountain went down for its annual refurbishment. Historical wait times and MaxPass experience tells us Splash Mountain is a top 5 attraction when it reopens, and top 3 once summer hits.
6. Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin – Demand is currently spiking for this underappreciated Toontown gem, which is almost certainly a result of it closing for a year in the near future. Until that happens, Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin is a higher priority than normal.
7. Big Thunder Mountain Railroad – Despite being a headliner thrill ride and classic ‘mountain range’ attraction, FastPass/MaxPass/Gene+ Lightning Lane availability for Big Thunder Mountain Railroad has always been fairly easy. Quick return times are the norm on all but the busiest days of the year.
8. Haunted Mansion – Similar story here, as OG Haunted Mansion usually has good availability and near-immediate return times, except when crowds are really high. The Halloween meets Christmas version, Haunted Mansion Holiday, that runs from September through December ranks considerably higher.
9. Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters – Lines can fluctuate dramatically for Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters (plural but not possessive, and no spinning of space rangers!). Some days, waits approach an hour and other days it’s a near walk-on. If you’re visiting when it’s busier, using a Lightning Lane reservation here will be important–especially since the overflow queue is outdoors and offers minimal shade. Most days thus far, Genie+ has had instant return times.
11. Star Tours – The Adventures Continue – A mix of minimal standby wait times, near-instant return times via Genie+, and its location directly across from Astro Blasters push Star Tours – The Adventures Continue to this spot. On peak days during the spring and summer season, it could move up a spot.
10. “it’s a small world” – This famous–or infamous, depending upon your perspective–Fantasyland boat ride has not had long wait times historically, but they spike during November and December for the holiday version of the classic attraction. Even then, we recommend holding off for a later Genie+ reservation here, as doing “it’s a small world” holiday after sundown is optimal.
12. Autopia – Same deal here. Autopia is very low priority most days, probably because it doesn’t appeal to a lot of guests.
Ultimately, you should be able to knock out all 12 attractions via Genie+ using Lightning Lanes on a normalday in Disneyland. On an awful day, you’ll be lucky to accomplish 8-10. So plan accordingly based on the crowds when you’ll be visiting, and also give yourself as many other advantages as possible–like rope dropping Fantasyland and staying late to accomplish other attractions.
Of course, all of this is also subject to change. As noted throughout the recommendations, there are fairly significant seasonal shifts. It’s also entirely possible that Genie+ will be tweaked at Disneyland, 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. At this point, the biggest variable really is crowds. Visiting during peak tourist seasons–when guests are more likely to purchase Genie+ at Disneyland–is going to mean more “competition” for Lightning Lanes. Otherwise, you shouldn’t run into too many problems!
How would you rank your ride priorities using Genie+ and Lightning Lanes in Disneyland? Surprised to see Space Mountain at #1, or is that the obvious top pick given past popularity with FastPass and MaxPass? Are you planning on buying Genie+ or skipping it? 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!