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!