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The Best Time-Saving Strategy for Genie+ at Animal Kingdom

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We looked at 5,040 ways you could’ve obtained Genie+ reservations for each of the last 475+ days at Disney’s Animal Kingdom –  more than 2.4 million possibilities. Here’s a cheat sheet with the best Genie+ strategies we found for every crowd level. 

One of our 2024 goals is to improve the Genie+ recommendations made by our touring plan software. The first couple of tasks in that project are to:

  1. Benchmark where we’re at now
  2. Identify the “best” set of Genie+ recommendations, so we know when we’re done.

That second task requires a lot of historical data on Genie+ return times and a lot of computer time to crunch the numbers. The result of doing all that ended up being a really simple “Genie+ Cheat Sheet” that showed the best sequence of Genie+ reservations to get at any time of year.

This post describes how we created those cheat sheets for Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park. The cheat sheet is below.

Analyzing Historical Genie+ Return Times for Animal Kingdom

Since Genie+ rolled out, we’ve collected just under 15,000,000 Genie+ return times from My Disney Experience from every attraction, every few minutes, every day of every year. Based on this data, we know how often a Genie+ reservation sells out and when it will run out. A Genie+ reservation can sell out if all reservations are claimed or an attraction closes before the park closes.

Using the Genie+ return times data, we know when and what Genie+ reservations were available for every attraction on any day. So, for example, if you got a Genie+ reservation for Kilimanjaro Safaris at exactly 10:15 a.m. on March 15, 2024, your return time would’ve started at 1:25 p.m.

Since Safaris’ return time is more than two hours later than when it was obtained, you can get another Genie+ reservation at 12:15 p.m. You could’ve got a Genie+ reservation for Na’Vi River Journey with a return time of 6:10 p.m. or Meet Favorite Disney Pals at Adventures Outpost with a return time of 3:30 p.m.

The data are interesting because they allow us to see what would’ve happened for any sequence of Genie+ reservations you could’ve asked for on any day since Genie+ started. So that’s what we did.

Simulation Design

The Animal Kingdom typically has ten Genie+ attractions. When all ten attractions are operating, there are 3,628,800 different ways you could obtain Genie+ reservations for that day. Each of those different ways is called a permutation.

To make that number more manageable, we excluded the Animal Kingdom shows Finding Nemo, Feathered Friends in Flight, and The Animation Experience. These attractions rarely make good use of Genie+ and almost never run out anyway.  That leaves 7 attractions and 5,040 different ways (permutations) you could get Genie+ reservations for them.

Our design helped us answer two questions:

  1. What are the best attractions to use Genie+ at in Disney’s Animal Kingdom?
  2. In what order should I get those Genie+ reservations to save the most time in line?

Simulation and Analysis

Our analysis considered all Genie+ attractions for every day since January 1, 2023. We adhered to Disney’s rules for obtaining the next Genie+ reservation for each permutation, and we simulated what would’ve happened for every permutation for each of the last 475+ days.

The simulation starts at 7:00 a.m. with the first attraction. We then select the next attraction two hours after the park opens or 15 minutes after the return time, whichever is sooner. This process is repeated for each step, waiting two hours or 15 minutes after the return time.

To calculate how much time we saved using Genie+, we added up the posted wait time at the attractions at the Genie+ return time we got.  That gives us a “time saved” score.

That “time saved” score is an estimate. We know you’ll still have to spend a few minutes in Lightning Lane before experiencing the attraction, and we know Disney’s posted wait times are often wrong. Our approach allows us to compare the relative “time saved” scores for every Genie+ permutation every day.

A higher “time saved” score indicates a better sequence of attractions. To compare multiple days, we normalize the “time saved” score by dividing all scores by the maximum value of all permutations.

Results: The Best Genie+ Picks at Animal Kingdom for Any Crowd Level

After running more than 2.4 million Genie+ simulations for Animal Kingdom, here is how many minutes in line a Genie+ reservation would save at various crowd levels:

The chart shows Na’Vi River Journey is the most useful Genie+ option at the park.

The next question we had to answer was, “If these are the most useful Genie+ attractions, which ones should we get first and second?” That answer is below.

Pick Your Animal Kingdom Genie+  Attractions in This Order

Below are the best first steps when selecting Gene+ attractions. The lists includes the top three attractions. A higher-ranked attraction will save more time overall. Skip any attraction that:

  • Isn’t available
  • Has a return time that doesn’t fit into your day
  • Or that you’re not interested in experiencing

The Best First Genie+ Selection at Animal Kingdom

The table below shows the best attraction to select at 7:00 a.m. The most interesting thing about the recommendation for the first attraction is that Na’vi River Journey is not on the list. Doing Na’vi River Journey a bit later will give you a higher “time saved” score and allow you to obtain more Genie+ reservations for the day.

The Best Second Genie+ Selection at Animal Kingdom is Na’Vi River Journey

The table below shows the recommendations for the second attraction. This is where Na’vi River Journey comes in – it’s the #1 second Genie+ pick regardless of crowd level or the first attraction you picked.

The Best Remaining Genie+ Selection at Animal Kingdom

Once you’ve picked your first two attractions, use the Animal Kingdom Genie+ cheat sheet to select your remaining attractions for the rest of the day. This Cheat Sheet ranks the Genie+ choices that consistently lead to the least time waiting in line on a typical day at the crowd levels shown.


Next Up: Magic Kingdom

The next park we looked at was the Magic Kingdom. Things get more complicated with the Magic Kingdom’s 22 Genie+ attractions, resulting in over 1 sextillion (1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000) permutations per day. One of the interesting things we found there was that on a handful of past days, it was theoretically possible to get over 20 Genie+ reservations on the same day if you knew the correct order to request them. We’ll have that write-up soon.

In the meantime, let us know if you use the Animal Kingdom Genie+ cheat sheet!



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Steve Bloom

By helping continue to reach the most accurate crowd level predictions, Steve finally found a way to meld his training in statistical analysis with a lifelong passion for Disney. He first visited the Magic Kingdom in 1972, just a few months after it opened. Now he enjoys frequent trips with his two kids. At age four his son insisted on wearing cowboy boots to reach the height requirement for Test Track, and his daughter believes that a smoked turkey leg and Dole Whip make a perfectly balanced meal. Even though she doesn't quite get it, Steve's wife is supportive of his Disney activities.

4 thoughts on “The Best Time-Saving Strategy for Genie+ at Animal Kingdom

  • These blog posts are why I come here!

  • This is incredibly helpful and very well done. The cheat sheets are especially helpful for being in the park. It would be great if these could also be incorporated into the lines app in some way.

    My question relates to your first table on Genie+ Availability. I can’t quite reconcile the expected time the Genie+ sells out. For instance, I notice for the lower crowd volume days, Everest tends not to sell out of Genie+. For crowd levels 8-10 it sells out 25% of the time. However, I note the expected sell out time is at 11:30 am. I would have expected that if it only sells out 25% of the time it would sell out far later in the day

    By contrast, on lower volume days Kali sells out with about the same frequency (23%), but at a much later time in the day (5:12). Can you help reconcile how to think about the variance in sell out times for attractions with similar sell out expectancies?

  • I like this quite a bit, thanks. You’re optimizing for the highest “time saved” score, which is not the same as fewest total minutes in line; is that correct?

    How does saving Navi for second help you get more reservations over the course of the day? Doesn’t that more or less guarantee you’ll be getting your third reservation later than anyone who got an early Navi return time with their first and chose something else second?

  • This is why I read the Touring Plans blog almost daily! I love this stuff!


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