What is Genie+ Stacking: How to Stack Genie+ Rides at Disney World

Genie+ rides stacking at Disney World is one of the most interesting yet confusing concepts. I was certainly very overwhelmed and confused by the concept of stacking when we started planning our Disney World trip. However after watching a few Youtube videos and experimenting with using Genie+ on our trip, I can confidently say Genie+ stacking can be simply explained and understood!

In this post, I will explain to you what Genie+ stacking is, how it works, and how you can optimize your Disney theme park day using this strategy (although this does require some pre-planning to understand the rides).

What is Genie+ Stacking at Disney World

The concept of stacking basically means line up your Disney World lightning lane reservations one after another in the afternoon and/or evening. This potentially allows you to ride one ride after another without excessive wait in between rides. If done correctly, you can book at least 3 to 4 popular rides to be “stacked” together in the late afternoon/ evening.

“Stacking” can be achieved through using the Genie Plus Lightning Lanes, with a good understanding of how Genie+ works and which rides are popular and “worthy” of reserving first.

How does Genie+ Lightning Lane Works

Disney World Genie+ cost

Disney World’s Genie+ service is an extra-cost add-on service that allows you to book lightning lanes to shorten your wait to ride an eligible ride. Most rides, attractions and shows offer Genie+ lightning lanes (with the exception of a few “premium” rides that require you to pay extra for an individual lightning lane that is not part of Genie+).

You can read my detailed guide on how Genie+ and lightning lanes work but here I will just briefly give you the high level summary:

With Genie+, you can start booking a lightning lane at 7am in the morning (with a valid park ticket). When you book the ride, Genie+ will give you a one hour return window (like 9:30am or 4:30pm). You cannot choose the return window but you can modify it to push it back to later in the day. Modifying return time is the key to your Disney World lightning lane stacking strategy.

How to modify Genie plus return times

Another concept I want to tell you is how often you can make Genie+ reservations. You are only allowed to book another lightning lane at the earlier of:

  • 2 hours after you make a booking (if it’s in the morning, then it’s 2 hours after the park opens)
  • When you redeem (tap in) to your most recently booked lightning lane

The tip board on your My Disney Experience app actually tells you when you can make your next Genie+ reservation, so you don’t need to calculate in your head.

When you can book the next Genie+ lightning lane at Disney World

Why Do I Want to Stack Rides for the Afternoon (Instead of the Morning)

One question I had initially when researching Genie+ stacking strategy was why would I want to push all the rides to the afternoon? Why wouldn’t I just do everything in the morning so I can get more Genie+ reservations in.

This was actually what we did with Hollywood Studios, our first Disney World park. We used Genie+ to book Slinky Dog Dash at 7am and modified the return time to 9:30am, so we could tap in at 9:30am and immediately book our second Genie+ ride, which was Millennium Falcons.

What we did allowed us to finish all the popular rides at Holly Wood studios by 1pm, then we were at a loss of what to do in the afternoon. Since we could only use Genie+ once per ride, our options were to either wait in much longer lines to ride the rides again, or go to shows (which we actually didn’t care about).

So based on our experience, I would say the reason why someone would want to stack rides to the afternoon/ evening instead of the morning include:

  • Stand-by lines are shorter for popular rides in the morning, so you can potentially get a few rides in in the morning without using Genie+ to book
  • You might want to get up late and get breakfast in the morning, and just come to the park in the afternoon without feeling rushed
  • You are doing park hopper, so you want to have rides stacked for the 2nd park in the afternoon
  • You want to take a break/ nap in the middle of the day and come back to the park later, without having to wait in ridiculously long line for rides and shows later in the day
  • You don’t want to run around the park, so you want to concentrate on one area at a time
  • You want to ride a popular ride twice, once in the morning using stand-by lines (or rope-drop) and once again later in the day with a Genie+ reservation

This is not to say booking lightning lanes for the morning is bad, it isn’t, it just really depends on the park and your strategy. If you are a morning person and you want to leave the park by 4pm, then it actually makes sense to do early entry + rope drop + use Genie+ to do book-ride-book-ride starting in the morning.

How Do I Stack Genie+ Reservations

Now that I’ve explained why you might want to stack your Genie+ reservations to the afternoon, let’s explore how you actually do that.

Step 1: Figure out what are the most popular rides at Disney World parks

I would recommend using Genie+ to stack the most popular rides at Disney World, as these rides have the longest stand-by lines and you get the most bang for the buck if you use Genie+ on them.

Each park usually has several super popular rides, and you can figure that out by either:

  • Looking at the wait time of the rides on the My Disney Experience app a few days before you go

In my experience, the most popular rides/ attractions at each of the four Disney World Parks are:

  • Magic Kingdom: Peter Pan, Jungle Cruise, Meet Cinderella, Meet Mickey and Minnie
  • Epcot: Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, Frozen Ever After, Test Track
  • Hollywood Studios: Slinky Dog Dash, Tower of Terror
  • Animal Kingdom: Kilimanjaro Safaris, Na’vi River Journey

Step 2: Buy Genie+ Before 7am and book your first Genie+ lightning lane at 7am

On the day you are going to the park, be sure to get Genie+ before 7am (it is available for purchase starting midnight). I actually encourage you to get up early (like 6:30am) to check on your app that all your parties have a valid park ticket and everyone is linked together.

You should’ve figured out which ride you want to book first (usually the most popular rides) and pin that ride to the top of your Tip Board. Ready to refresh your app right at 7am and grab that lightning lane.

When you book the ride, Genie+ will give you a specific return time window, you cannot choose the return time.

Step 3: Modify Your Genie+ Lightning Lane Return Time

In general Genie+ will give you the next available time for that particular ride, and most likely it will be in the afternoon. Like I mentioned earlier, you can always modify your return time window to get a more desirable time. Based on my experience, occasionally you can modify to get an earlier time slot (like what happened to us with Slinky Dog Dash), but most of the time you will get a later time slot.

For example, If I know I want to start redeeming my Genie+ lightning lanes at 2pm (after a nice lunch), then I would keep modifying until I can get something close to 2pm. If the original Genie+ time I got was 4pm for example, then it is possible I cannot get a 2pm time slot no matter how long I try to modify. But if the original time was 10am, you can just wait a bit and modify and you can probably get a 2pm return time.

You can modify a return time until your return window expires.

Step 4: Book Your Second Genie+ Lightning Lane 2 Hours After Park Opens

Remember I mentioned there is a 2 hour rule when it comes to booking your second (or third or fourth) Genie+ lightning lanes? If you are stacking the rides to the afternoon, then you can book your 2nd Genie+ ride 2 hours after park opens.

Assuming the park opens at 9am, so I can book my 2nd Genie+ lightning lane at 11am without having redeemed my first one. So then I need to decide what ride I want to book beforehand, and at 11am book the second ride.

Let’s say my first Genie+ reservation gives me a return time of 1pm, so now my schedule looks like:

  • 1pm: Ride 2
  • 2pm: Ride 1

I am not entirely happy with this because I have lunch plans between 12pm and 2pm, so I try to modify my second ride and aha, I get a 2:30pm return time. So my new stack looks like this now:

  • 2pm: Ride 1
  • 2:30pm: Ride 2

This is perfect for me, so I can go from ride to ride. My app will tell me I have an overlapping plan, but it’s ok, this is enough time for me to make it to my rides.

Disney World Genie+ overlapping plans

Step 5: Continue to book more Genie+ rides

So based on the 120 minute rule, the next time I can book a Genie+ ride is 2 hours after I booked the 2nd ride (let’s say I tried to book at 11am, but I was a little slow and actually booked at 11:01am), so the next time I can book something is at 1:01pm. Since 1:01pm is before I can go on Ride 1, I can just make my third Genie+ lightning lane reservation at 1:01pm.

You can look at the top of your Tip Board and book your next Genie+ lightning lane based on the time it shows you, and that’s how you stack Genie+ lightning lanes.

Backward Stacking Strategy for Genie Plus

A very popular Disney Genie+ stacking strategy is a “backward” stacking strategy.

An example of this strategy can give you the following scenario:

  • 7am: Book the Ride 1 and modify until I get a return time of 4pm
  • 11am (2 hours after park opens): Book Ride 2 and modify to get a return time of 3:30pm
  • 1pm: Book Ride 3 and modify to get a return time of 1:45pm
  • 1:40pm: I redeem my most recent (Ride 3). Remember you can redeem your Genie+ lighting lane 5 minutes early
  • 1:40pm: Book Ride 4 after tapping into Ride 3, for a 2:15pm return
  • 2:10pm: I tap into Ride 4 (my most recent booking), and book Ride 5 for 3pm
  • and so on…

With this strategy, the first ride you book is for way later in the day, then each consecutive ride you book you aim for a slightly earlier return time.

The scenario above is a backward stacking strategy combined with a book-ride-book approach. You can enter the park early and just do stand-by lines in the morning or you can come to the park late at 1:40pm and still have a fruitful afternoon.

Well, hopefully I didn’t confuse you more with this backward stacking strategy, but it really depends on what you are looking for and also kind of based on luck (you may not get the return time you want).

What Are Risks of Stacking Genie+ Rides to the Afternoon

Stacking Genie+ lighting lanes is not without risk, especially on high crowd days. Here are some risks I can think of:

  • Lightning Lanes can sell out: On super crowded days (like peak spring break or Christmas to New Years week), lightning lanes for popular rides can sell out by 8am (yeah it’s crazy), then you really need to figure out what ride you want to book first and what ride you want to rope-drop or do stand-by lines early in the morning.
  • Rides tend to break down more later in the day: Disney uses some pretty cool trackless technology that relies on sensors to move the vehicles around. Well, these fancy technologies often break down, especially later in the day. If your lightning lane return time is 8pm and the ride happens to break down and the park closes at 9, I would not be surprised if this ride cannot be fixed by the time park closes.
  • Your return times may not align: Since you depend on modifying the return window to stack all your rides. Well, bad news, you may not always get the return window you want. I spent 20 minutes trying to refresh a lightning lane I booked for Peter Pan and literally could not get the time I wanted.
  • You might get stressed out: I think everyone agrees that refreshing lightning lanes and figuring out what to book next is not relaxing. In fact I was on my phone so much at Disney World trying to figure out what ride to book and where to go I don’t think I fully enjoyed my time there.

    There are people that visit the park every month or so, but for the average person that goes once every 3-4 years, along with the constant changes to Genie+ rules, it is not the easiest to navigate, let alone figuring out all these “strategies”.

Hopefully my overview on how to stack your Genie+ lightning lanes can help you plan a very fun Disney World trip. I have a few other articles on Disney World that you can check out:

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