Park Hopping is a good 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 more time, and also save money by not buying the paid FastPass service every day of your vacation. This post explains how to Park Hop with Genie+, selection strategies, and more. (Updated April 24, 2022.)
It’s important to understand that Genie+ is 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 at DHS, using Genie+ doesn’t work the same way (or as well) as at Magic Kingdom. Then there’s Epcot and Animal Kingdom, which only offer a few attractions each that’ll save significant time via Genie+ and making Lightning Lane ride reservations. That’s where Park Hopping comes into play…
Let’s start by discussing how to Park Hop in the Genie+ service, which is to say how to book Lightning Lane reservations in a different park than where you’re starting. Since the system defaults to wherever you’ve made your Park Pass reservation, you’ll need to switch away from that park.
Do this 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. 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.
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–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.
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 3 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.)
Then there’s Disney’s Hollywood Studios, which has 6-7 worthwhile Lightning Lane attractions that are worthwhile uses of Lightning Lane. (See our Genie+ Priorities & Ride Ranks for DHS.) The problem here is almost the opposite of what you’ll encounter at Epcot and Animal Kingdom. (Sort of.)
Instead of running out of good Lightning Lane options early in the day, these attractions run out of early in the day return times. After your first ride reservation, almost all of the return times at Disney’s Hollywood Studios will be in the late afternoon or evening. If you’re doing all day at DHS, this means you’ll have several hours to kill without any Lightning Lanes during that late morning to early afternoon window.
In addition to that, crowds at Disney’s Hollywood Studios are worse in the morning, usually peaking by 11 am. As such, it can be a better course of action to start at a different park and do attractions there via standby (or enjoy a morning at the pool, Disney Springs, or whatever). While doing that, book Lightning Lane reservations as eligible for Disney’s Hollywood Studios in the afternoon and evening.
(Speaking of which, see our Tips for “Stacking” Genie+ Ride Reservations. While Walt Disney World officially states you can only have one Lightning Lane ride reservation at a time, that’s not technically accurate. That post covers what is and is not possible in terms of stacking.)
By the time you arrive to Disney’s Hollywood Studios at 2 pm, you can have a stockpile of 4 Lightning Lane ride reservations (made at 7 am, 10 am, 12 pm, and 2 pm pursuant to the 120 minute rule, assuming a park opening time of 8 am). Realistically, you probably won’t be able to book anything good after 2 pm, but 4 solid attractions isn’t too shabby for a day with Genie+ at DHS.
If you’re able to score Slinky Dog Dash, Tower of Terror, Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway, and Toy Story Mania, this will save you well over 4 hours waiting in line. Mix in a couple of stage shows, and then do other attractions via the standby when wait times are lower during the last 2 hours the park is open.
Ultimately, combining Park Hopping with Genie+ is one of the best ways 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, but that’s largely because it’s so difficult to book more than 3-4 Lightning Lanes at DHS, and due to return times usually being later in the day there.
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.
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.
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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!