Hollywood Studios Genie+ Priorities & Lightning Lane Ride Ranks
Hollywood Studios is the second-best park for buying Walt Disney World’s Genie+ service. Lightning Lane line-skipping access is available at 15 attractions in DHS, and many are headliners or popular thrill rides. This guide ranks all in terms of time-saved and how quickly they book up. (Updated March 5, 2023.)
For our Spring 2023 update to these rankings, we want to start with a pretty positive update: Genie+ has gotten considerably easier at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. For a long time, Slinky Dog Dash booked up within seconds of 7 am, other rides moved fast starting at 9 am, and it could be difficult to score a worthwhile third Lightning Lane of the day–nevermind good 4th or 5th selection.
To be sure, Disney’s Hollywood Studios is still tough and requires savvy strategy. On peak season days, the above dynamic still exists. However, on moderately busy days (6/10 to 8/10 on the Walt Disney World Crowd Calendar), it is much easier. Slinky Dog Dash can last for hours, not seconds or minutes, and most other attractions have availability through midday. So long as you choose in the correct order, it’s now possible to score Lightning Lane selections for just about every high-priority attraction at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. With that update out of the way, let’s turn to what you need to know about Genie+ at DHS, and cover the best order to make your ride reservations…
The goal is to give you the tools and info you need to create your own DHS itinerary with Genie+, rather than relying on our recently-updated 1-Day Disney’s Hollywood Studios Genie+ and Lightning Lanes Plan. Or, you can utilize “a best of both worlds” approach, consulting that pre-made plan and the rankings here so you understand the why of it, and can adjust the itinerary to account for your Advance Dining Reservations, preferred stage showtimes, Fantasmic Dining Packages or standby, whether you want to minimize walking distances, etc.
As indicated above, crowd levels can heavily impact how an actual day at DHS plays out. To a lesser extent, weather, ride closures, stage showtimes, and more can also impact how things play out. As such, a sample itinerary cannot be replicated step-for-step with the exact same Lightning Lane time slots, etc. This equips you to put together your own dynamic plan of attack for using Genie+ in DHS.
Of course, this assumes that you want to ‘pay to play’ and will use the Genie+ paid FastPass option rather than simply doing standby lines. In Disney’s Hollywood Studios, that’s our recommendation. If you want to know the basis for that suggestion, see My Day at Disney’s Hollywood Studios Using Genie+ with Peak Season Crowds. That illustrates just how tough DHS can be even with strong strategy–it’s a brutal park no matter what your approach.
Additionally, see our Guide to Genie+ at Walt Disney World & Lightning Lane FAQ for all of the foundational need-to-know info about this replacement for free FastPass+. This whole system is confusing and convoluted, so you might have a question or two-dozen. That answers all of the most common ones we’ve been receiving from readers.
Alternatively, if you’re thinking about skipping Genie+ at DHS, that’s possible, too. Our 1-Day Disney’s Hollywood Studios Itinerary covers how you can accomplish everything even if you’re staying off-site and don’t want to spend anything extra on Genie+ or Individual Lightning Lanes.
If you are staying on-site and don’t want to buy or otherwise hassle with the Genie+ service, the one thing we highly recommend is Early Entry at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. (Not to overwhelm you with planning resources, but having an idea of how a day at DHS is likely to play out will help you tremendously!)
As one final (we swear) note before we delve into the rankings, we should note that this offers ride priorities for Lightning Lanes via Genie+ and not Individual Lightning Lane (ILL), which is pay-per-ride. The only ILL attraction is Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance. Previously, Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway was also an Individual Lightning Lane ride, but that’s now a permanent part of Genie+ at DHS.
We are not keen on buying a la carte front of line access, so we recommend doing this attraction either first thing in the morning (if you’re eligible for Early Entry) or towards the end of the night. On busy days, Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance is potentially worth paying for ILL access–it’s the only ride at Walt Disney World we’d even consider paying for that, and even that depends upon crowd levels and wait times.
Now, on with the show & ride rankings for Genie+ at Disney’s Hollywood Studios…
The Best of Genie+ at DHS
1. Slinky Dog Dash – The obvious choice for your #1 Genie+ Lightning Lane selection and not just in DHS, but all of Walt Disney World. It used to be far and away the most popular pick, but lately, it has gotten some competition at EPCOT from Frozen Ever After and Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure.
Whether you’re starting at DHS or Park Hopping later, you’ll want to prioritize this early in the day, as this one books up fast–often within minutes of 7 am. For Slinky Dog Dash, we strongly recommend following our Speed Strategy for Genie+ Selections.
2. Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run – This is the secondary attraction in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, but it still averages a top 5 wait time in Disney’s Hollywood Studios and is usually the second or third-fastest booking Lightning Lane ride reservation via Genie+. It shouldn’t be too difficult to secure this into the afternoon, so you have a little flexibility in booking this strategically depending upon your preferred return time and personal priorities.
3. Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway – This one might be a bit unexpected. Earlier this year, it appeared the “new ride smell” was wearing off Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway. The average wait time was dropping, and the attraction was typically not in the top 5. For reasons unknown, that has changed and Runaway Railway is once again in high demand as of Spring 2023. Its family-friendly and all ages (and heights) nature makes it more appealing for a lot of Genie+ guests, so it tends to be the #2 or #3 Lightning Lane of the day at DHS.
4. The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror – It has been an up-and-down 12 months for the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror’s ranking. It shot up last spring, then plummeted towards the end of summer before quickly rising again in the winter. This dynamic was attributable to a lengthy “stealth” refurbishment that took each elevator shaft down, with a gap in between the downtimes. That meant that the attraction was effectively operating at half-capacity for about 4 months on two different occasions.
During those downtimes, Tower of Terror had the second highest wait time at Disney’s Hollywood Studios after only Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance. It even beat out Slinky Dog Dash most dates! Suffice to say, when Tower of Terror has one elevator shaft down, it became the #2 Genie+ Lightning Lane priority. When operating at full-capacity, it’s ranking drops significantly–to #4.
It’s not ranked #2 here, so you should be able to surmise that the stealth refurbishment is over, and Tower of Terror is back to normal. We only mention all of this because you might see references to Tower of Terror’s increased Lightning Lane popularity or higher wait times elsewhere, or you might’ve been tracking that yourself over the course of the last several months. In any case, it’s no longer part of the equation. You can once again safely save Tower of Terror for your fourth or fifth selection.
5. Toy Story Mania – Every park has one attraction that “soaks up” Genie+ ride reservations, allocating a significant portion of its capacity to line-skipping. Toy Story Mania is definitely that for Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Its standby wait time has spiked since Genie+ launched (making this a good use of the Lightning Lane), but there’s typically easy availability via Genie+ for Toy Story Mania throughout the day.
6. Alien Swirling Saucers – Based on average standby wait times alone, this is a smart seventh pick. Subjectively, most people are probably good to skip the Toy Story Land flat ride.
N/A. Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith – Normally, this thrill ride at Disney’s Hollywood Studios would be a top 5 selection. However, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster is currently closed for a multi-month refurbishment…and potentially a full-scale reimagining. As such, you cannot select it through at least late Summer 2023–perhaps longer.
The Rest of Genie+ at Disney’s Hollywood Studios
Star Tours — The Adventures Continue – This excellent Star Wars simulator can have decently long waits on the busiest days of the year, but most normal days, we’ve found Genie+ to offer almost no advantage here. Get it if you can, but don’t sweat standby.
Meet Olaf at Celebrity Spotlight – There are a few deceptively popular meet & greets at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. This isn’t one of them. Unfortunately, Olaf at Celebrity Spotlight is the only one that offers a Lightning Lane. (Accordingly, we recommend doing Red Carpet Dreams and the Monsters, Inc. meet & greet earlier in the day or later in the evening.)
Stage Shows – Everything else at Disney’s Hollywood Studios–Beauty and the Beast: Live on Stage, Disney Jr. Play & Dance, Frozen Sing-Along Celebration, Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular, MuppetVision 3D–is a show of some sort, or at least not a ride.
While Genie+ offers priority seating, which can amount to a better view, it’s typically not all that advantageous for shows. If you’re not going to Park Hop, you might consider using it for these shows, but there’s not a good way to put Lightning Lane reservations for these into your itinerary during the middle of the day. The opportunity cost of not booking one of the top 6 rides is too high. The vast majority of guests should simply do shows via the standby lines.
Ultimately, you should be able to knock out most attractions via Genie+ using Lightning Lanes on a good day in Disney’s Hollywood Studios. The biggest obstacle might be your first pick, as Slinky Dog Dash goes fast every single morning, especially during peak season.
You will miss out entirely on it if you’re not up and ready to make your first selection at 7 am. Other than that, you shouldn’t have much of a problem scoring slots for the remaining top 5 picks (except maybe Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run), so long as you’re willing to stay all day and don’t mind reservations in the afternoon.
On a bad day, you might not only miss out on Slinky Dog Dash, but also on another headliner or two in the top 5. Plan accordingly based on the crowds when you’ll be visiting, and also give yourself as many other advantages as possible–like Early Entry, rope drop, or staying late when crowds tend to die down at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
Regardless of when you’re visiting, Genie+ will save you the second-most time at DHS, behind only Magic Kingdom, which earns that distinction because of its higher eligible attraction count. This is what makes buying Genie+ our recommendation for most people and on most days of the year at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Even if it requires a bit of a splurge, cut the cost out of your Walt Disney World vacation budget somewhere else.
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!
How would you rank your ride priorities using Genie+ and Lightning Lanes in Disney’s Hollywood Studios? Surprised by any of the rankings in our top 5, or that Slinky Dog Dash takes the #1 spot? 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!
So do you book your LL first and then buy ILL for ROR? Or vice versa?
Now that Fantasmic is showing again, I am curious as to if and how that has changed the dynamics of evenings at Hollywood Studios. We have been pretty successful at stacking a couple LLs and getting on several rides including Rise without long waits. Any insight into how Fantasmic has or has not affected the rest of the park? Thanks
Has anyone had issue trying to book lightning lanes while in transit to a park on a bus or private vehicle or booking outside the park entrance? Curious if trying to be at parks slightly before early entry will create issues booking lightning lanes due to cell service etc.
Great question – I’ve had the same question as we plan on doing EE and will need to leave the hotel before 7am.
As a long time AP, I can assure you one thing is absolutely pointless anymore… rope dropping. EVERYONE rope drops and it is almost always the busiest time of day at the parks. So when my family goes, we sleep in or go to a sit down breakfast… take our time. However during that time, I start booking Genie+ rides for the park we have a reservation for, stacking them for later in the day. By the time we end up at the parks (normally around 3-4pm), I have 4-6 rides already booked and we practically walk on to everything. Last time we were at HS during a busy time, we rode every ride with a Genie+ and paid for Rise. Started at RR, then Tower, then Runaway, then Slinky, then Toy Story, then Aliens, then Millennium Falcon, and finally Rise. Absolutely the way to go. And had time to have a few drinks along Hollywood Blvd, a little shopping in between, and some other snacks. We’ve done this at Magic Kingdom and Epcot also. MK is a little more in depth bc there are so many more rides, but we don’t do the small kid rides anymore (son is 11). Stacking has definitely been the best method we have found and we’ve tried all the “hacks” and tricks listed on these websites, with little to no luck. And the single day plans are also bogus unless you like standing in long lines.
I don’t agree with this at all. There’s still a ton of value in rope dropping the parks—the key is not to follow the herd.
Thank you for sharing this approach. I’m not a morning person. How do you “stack” your rides? I have not used genie+ before? Do you get to select times like the old FastPass? Can you book 6 rides in the morning? Or do you have to compete a few rides and then book the rest?
Thanks for the confirmation this strategy works. I’ve done experimental days from home where I “book” a Slinky Dog LL at around 5:15pm and then follow the two hour rule the rest of the day and theoretically arrive at the park with five evening LLs in hand, six if you include Rise.
I have followed you for a long time and always appreciate your insight! We just returned from a six night stay at the Riviera. Prior to that, February 2020, just before the pandemic, was our laser trip. So much has changed! We were up early each day and at the parks for early entry. Overall we had a wonderful time BUT I was disappointed in the number of headliners down throughout the trip. This included ROR, Slinky Dog, Mickey and Minnie’s Railway, GOTG, Frozen, Ratatouille, Everest and Test Track. We wound up returning on other days (changing our park reservations) and ultimately rode all of those, but I would think with the amount of $ park tickets cost more rides would be working. Is this more common now? If so, I wonder why.
Same experience. Tons of breakdowns and after waiting an hour in line in several parks. Happened way too many times. Just one example, frozen broke down then test track then remy. Over half the headliners. The morning was lost for so many people. Ridiculous and costly.
Hello, we are planning a WDW trip (first timers) at the busiest time of the year (Dec 27th – 31st), and although we are staying on property and planning Early Entry and utilizing ILL + LL, our main focus is Star Wars Edge for our 13yr old. However, I also don’t want to miss out on Slinky Dog Dash, Rockin’ Roller Coaster, and TOT. Are my expectations to high for that time of year, or can I book LL waiting for Early Entry for ROR? Thanks!
I haven’t been to WDW for Christmas since 2017 so I will leave that to better experts. I would only emphasize that I was surprised at how many people headed to Magic Kingdom on Christmas Day. They ended up shutting down access to MK at noon. Plus, the street traffic to the park was crazy. Now that they have the park reservation system that will definitely help with crowd numbers but definitely plan your park reservations early and make them asap. Knowing that MK was popular, we did the Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party on our first night. Best move ever. Way less crowds in that park so we were able to hit so many of the must-do rides without long lines. If it’s not already sold out, strongly consider adding that. When we had our Christmas Day Magic Kingdom visit we didn’t miss out on all the great rides due to crowds because we’d done many of them at the party. If you are staying at a deluxe hotel check into extra late hours too. Another way to hit favorites without the crowds. Of course you’ll be an expert at Genie+ after a day or two – a definite must for MK and Galaxy’s End rides. If I can make one definite suggestion for your time on Bantuu, it’s lightsaber building at Savi’s. It’s pricy but so worth the entertainment, experience, and the excitement my two kids had when we walked up and surprised them (ages 20 & 13). You could bring in one guest to observe with the builder – we were taping every second – it was that good. And all the awesome photo’s afterward in Batuu. Worth every penny – an experience that your son will never forget. We are so grateful we splurged on Savi’s for the kids. They also have the Star Wars Bounty Hunter game with the Magicband+. Have heard good things about that too but you must have the MagicBand+ to play it. Have an awesome time!
We are headed to Disney the 2nd week of September (5 days, but all weekdays). I know it’s hard to predict because last year was far from normal, but we are hoping that things like ILLs and perhaps Genie+ wouldn’t be as necessary. What are your thoughts on this? Thanks!
Since you haven’t had responses and trip is so close I would say if you are staying at Disney hotel and you can do early morning and/or last thing at night , you can maybe get away with no genie + or ILL early September. The exception is probably rise because not only is it still usually first reservation to sell out but the ride is probably the most likely to break . At least with paid lightning lane you can come back later. For that reason I think it’s prudent to get the ill for rise at least once if you’re interested in riding.
If you aren’t staying at Disney and rise sells out before you can buy, I’d probably buy genie+ for HS so at least you’re not risking spending your whole day waiting in line. Just one person opinion
I also think the priority order for the rides has changed and millennium falcon is no longer second or third ride to sell out. Also the repairs are over for tower and runaway May fill up before tower. I’d suggest you start monitoring on app to get a sense about whether the wait times would be doable for you if you’ll be at park a lot mid day.
No expert but hope this helps a little bit
CL 4 day ROTR showed 20 minute wait at 8 pm the other day (I suspect a typo by CMs lol) so we hopped in line and the wait was a pretty easy 40 minutes. Seems towards end of day ROTR is doable without ILL.
Hi there. I wanted to thank you for all this great info! We just came back from a 4 day stay during busy Easter weekend. Our main goals were to get on the RTR as we had never been on it, been a few years since we came to WDW and also Pandora rides at AK. I spent a lot of time here reading up on what is new and strategies to maximize our time and heavy investment on this trip. We did pay for Genie +, stayed on site and took advantage of early entry and rope drop at MK, DHS, and DAK and it was so worth it. We went on all the rides at DHS including Slinky Dog and got to go on RTR twice! We also got a recovery ticket that was used on Rockin Rollercoaster twice due to a breakdown in the Runway Railway ( only ride we missed). All in all your tips made this a memorable trip. We were able to book simultaneous at times and took advantage of the genie time rules, much easier while doing than reading about it. Rope dropping was fun and worth it to ride, eat, and take pics with low crowds early in the AM. We even went back to hotel two of the days and back to parks at night. I don’t think our trip would have been half as successful without your blog!
My daughter and I will be in Orlando from May 25 to June 4 (25th and 4th are non park days for sure). Because we are AKL from May 28th to June 4th, I was assuming we should do our 4 Disney park days in that window (we are Univeral pass holders this year so doing those, too). We don’t usually hop at WDW but between possible Cosmic Rewind opening, Memorial Day holidsy crowds, extended evening hours for deluxe guests (AKL qualifies), etc., I’m wondering if it makes sense in this case. Do you think it’s worth bigger crowds on Memorial Day at Epcot. For example, for the extended evening hours? This is not our first trip and universe-dependent, hopefully not our last.
How many people would pre pay for genie + for their whole trip if they could book their first ride at a normal time. Like when they buy them or 24 hours ahead at noon.
If it was fast plus I would.
I just returned from a trip to WDW (1/23 – 1/28). Monday, 1/24 was a 10/10 day at MK — ride times rivaled New Years times — I have no idea why. I can firmly say Genie+ worked for us for MK, DHS, and even EPCOT one day. I closely followed the strategies identified on this site and created a spreadsheet that I followed closely. My daughter and I worked the Genie+ / ILL at 7:00AM every morning. Yes, Genie+ costs more money, and yes it takes planning — but I was willing to pay-to-play (including ILL’s) because the amount of money we were already spending just staying at WDW was more than justified to me. For those of you curious, I spent an extra $419 over 6 days in the parks on Genie+ and ILL’s for 3 people — but, this preserved my sanity and tremendously maximized our rides by following the strategy I created from the many blogs on this site. We talked to a wonderful mother from Alberta Canada while at DHS, and she described the same crazy 1/24 Monday at MK, where she rode a *maximum* of 4 rides spending an average of 2 hours at each ride. That is 8+ hours waiting in line doing nothing else!!! For us, this saved us time (not money) by maximizing our time on rides — we rode 12+ rides including most “headliner” rides. On the crazy Monday at MK, we did many rides and ILL’ed Seven Dwarfs. Unexpectedly, Seven Dwarfs was down when we went to the LL but were rewarded with a return time of *all day* — we kept that in our back pocket so that worked out to our advantage as we rode this ride when it suited our schedule. Bonus! We did Jungle Cruise Genie+ and that ride reached a crazy 125 minutes.
All of this to say something to think about when deciding on whether to buy Genie+ and/or ILL’s. I did use Genie+ pass stacking and pass-and-ride strategies. For all parks we did early entry rope drops (we were Disney resort guests) and closed many of the parks. For DHS on 1/25, at early opening we did Tower of Terror x 2 (one after another), followed by Rockin’ Roller Coaster. 3 rides without spending a dime by getting there early. Granted we don’t mind getting up early and staying to closing — we averaged 24,000 steps per day with a high of 26,800 steps on a park hop day (we park hopped and continued to use Genie+ in the other parks — by the way, don’t discount the use of Genie+ with a park hop option — this is often overlooked but yields many late rides).
Money aside, Genie+ works *with* a strategy. This blog site helped immensely with creating a strategy in a spreadsheet. We also packed plenty of patience with the crowds. And for those who think there is no downtime, there is plenty of time to shop and rest (we had reservations for table service at all parks, and did the MK After Party and EPCOT Rose & Crown Dinner Fireworks combining both — this was my favorite meal / fireworks after a long day of cold and rain).
One other point — this was perhaps the best trip we have taken over 20 years where the crowds were well behaved. Seriously! I only saw several gaming the system attempts — the newest example is people taking “service dogs” to the parks. One service dog vest was so fake you just had to laugh at the brazenness coupled with the breed. But this was minor — I experienced no bad line cutting attempts at all — even with the high crowds. It was an unexpectedly good experience.
Sorry for the long post, but having a solid strategy for Disneyworld makes ALL the difference in maximizing your time and experiences.
I hope this doesn’t sound too forward, but I’d love a copy of the spreadsheet you made for your WDW trip. I am taking my family for the first time in June and am a big believer in planning ahead!
Thanks so much,
Thank you for this field report post. Appreciate the detail. A couple things do stand out for my situation is that I have a family of 5 not 3 so I’d be looking at even more dough spent on genie and also we like to enjoy the pool in the late afternoon and not just go to the parks early to close.
Same as Chriti. I’d love to see your spreadsheet as I try and do things like that myself. We have a trip coming up with 6 and we will have to pay if we are doing any Geni+.
My daughter is old enough so this would be the 1st time she would have her own account.
So at 7am we can both try and get that 1st LL for the 6 of us and whoever gets it then it will work for all 6 of us correct?
Do you mind sharing your spreadsheet. We are going to WDW in June for the first time with our daughter and I like to plan ahead of time. Thank you so much in advance!
Just got back and bought Genie+ for DHS not sure it was worth it. Park was Packed on a rainy cold Tuesday and while we did score SDD for midday almost every other ride only had after 3pm available when we became eligible at 11am for a second pass. By 1pm half the rides were sold out or 6pm or later returns. Rope drop continues to be the best strategy here I’ll buy ROTR usually the same price as Genie+ and continue to make this a half day park.