Genie+ Priorities at Animal Kingdom

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Everyone wants to talk about Genie+. And a lot of people feel like they need to learn all about Genie+ before their next trip. Our YouTube series of 6 videos about Genie+ has gathered over 70,000 views in just the past two months. Our fancy-pants availability charts have gotten your feedback as must-have tools for this current era of Genie+. And there are many, many Disney sites that are offering prioritized lists of Genie+ attractions at every park.

A lot of those lists are based on gut feel. And some are even based on some pretty thorough testing by the authors or their teams. But here at TouringPlans, we’ve got the math. And I’m finally confident that we’ve got enough data to make some real data-driven prioritized attraction lists for each park. Today we’ll start with Animal Kingdom, and then in the coming days we’ll release similar posts for the other three WDW parks (and eventually Disneyland parks too, but they need some bigger sample sizes first).

This post was last updated on September 13th to account for recent trends. This includes the addition of Meeting Pals at Adventurer’s Outpost

Explain the Math

We can rank the Genie+ attractions in each park in multiple ways. In this post, we are aggregating three of those measures by doing a simple average.

  1. Rank by average availability, ascending – the attraction in each park that typically sells out first will receive rank 1, and the attraction in each park that maintains book now/ride now availability the most through the day receives the lowest rank.
  2. Rank by average time savings, descending – the attraction in each park where Genie+ typically saves the most time compared to standby will receive rank 1, and the attraction in each park where Genie+ typically saves the least time compared to standby will receive the lowest rank.
  3. Rank by attraction satisfaction, descending – the attraction in each park with the highest overall average satisfaction from the past two years will receive rank 1, and the attraction in each park with the lowest overall average satisfaction from the past two years will receive the lowest rank.

The first two of of these rankings are relatively easy to figure out based on our most recent Genie+ analyses. You can find those results and how they were calculated here and here.

The last one is where things get a little tricky. At first, I used a straight rank from highest satisfaction down to lowest satisfaction (average of all satisfaction ratings from all demographics for the past two years). But after looking at the results, it didn’t really appropriately capture all of the complexity. It wasn’t fair to parks where several attractions had significantly higher satisfaction than all of the rest, or when one attraction has worse satisfaction by far than all the rest. So I created a linear regression where the top satisfaction score received a 1, and the lowest satisfaction score received the lowest possible rank (count of the Genie+ attractions in that park).  Then I used the resulting equation to convert the rest of the scores to a relative number between 1 and the worst possible rank.

Update: After feedback from readers, I’m expanding this linear comparison to all three metrics. So all will be linearly distributed between the lowest and highest ranks. We’ll see how this impacts the rankings!

Once I calculated all three ranks, then I averaged the three results and sorted from score that was closest to one all the way to the highest number. I used those averages to come up with the following prioritized list! Phew.

Prioritized List of Animal Kingdom Genie+ Attractions

Happily, the math supports what should have been everyone’s top priority anyway – the unmatched awesome of Kilimanjaro Safaris.

1. Kilimanjaro Safaris

Availability Score = 3.5 out of 7

Time Savings Score = 3.4 out of 7

Satisfaction Score = 1 out of 7

At Animal Kingdom, Kilimanjaro Safaris has the second-worst availability of all Genie+ attractions, and is the option with the highest satisfaction. It’s no longer the top “trifecta” like it once was, but that’s due in part to the attraction being able to stay open longer with later sunsets. That increases availability to help keep up with demand. And its time savings aren’t what they used to be. It only has the 4th-highest time savings of any attraction because its Lightning Lane waits are trending higher – 16 minutes or so.

On high crowd days, it now doesn’t book up until the early afternoon. You can save up to 30 minutes compared to standby, on average. And of the whole seven attractions on this list, it has the top satisfaction.

 

Let’s be honest – as an engineer, I mostly ride Na’vi River Journey so that I can watch the Shaman at work. Oh, and the wonder in my kids’ eyes. That too.

2. Na’vi River Journey

Availability Score = 1 out of 7

Time Savings Score = 1 out of 7

Satisfaction Score = 6.5 out of 7 (ouch)

After Kilimanjaro Safaris, Na’vi River Journey is the obvious second choice. And based on recent data, it not only saves you the most time (41 minutes, on average) – it also sells out about an hour or two before Safaris on most days

But when you factor in satisfaction, the decision doesn’t stay the same. River Journey ranks 6th out of the 7 Genie+ attractions in average satisfaction. On a scale of 1 to 7 (with 7 being worst), it can only manage a pitiful 6.5. But I’m going to go ahead and say it’s worth trying, especially without much of a wait.

 

Originally 5th out of 6, but I said it was Most Likely to Move Up … and it did!

3. Kali River Rapids

Availability Score = 3.5 out of 7

Time Savings Score = 1.9 out of 7

Satisfaction Score = 4.6 out of 7

Kali River Rapids was originally pretty low on the list, thanks to easy availability all day and not-spectacular time savings (hovering around the 10 minute mark with somewhat low sample sizes). The bright side was that its satisfaction score was … not as terrible as some others. I called out during the original release of this list that this ranking was the most likely to change with the higher temperatures of late spring and summer … and it did! Hooray for good Becky hypotheses!

The average 10 minute time savings of winter have rocketed up to almost 30 minutes of average time savings in the past couple of months. I expect these savings to remain on warm days through at least the early fall. After temperatures drop, so will the ranking. And it sells out quicker than any attractions other than Kilimanjaro Safaris and Na’vi River Journey. That puts it in a solid third place.

 

4th place for now, but it’s the new most likely to move up!

4. Meet Favorite Disney Pals at Adventurers Outpost

Availability Score = 6.5 out of 7

Time Savings Score = 2.9 out of 7

Satisfaction Score = 2.8 out of 7

A new entry on our list for Fall 2022! Character meet and greets have returned to normal, and are incredibly popular. Unfortunately, staffing levels still haven’t returned to normal. Which means that high demand meets low supply … and high wait times are the result. Adventurers Outpost has the third-highest wait time savings of any Genie+ attraction in the park because of those higher wait times. Its satisfaction is very high for this park as well, once again coming in third.

But, its availability is not a problem at all. People don’t know that they should be booking this option (or they don’t care about characters), so you should be able to book Adventurers Outpost pretty much all day. As we move into late fall, expect more people to realize they should prioritize this, and for wait times at Kali River to drop – helping these two to flip-flop their spots.

 

The mark of a great attraction, IMO: excellent addition to the geography of the park from afar, and exciting to experience.

5. Expedition Everest

Availability Score = 6.5 out of 7

Time Savings Score = 4.5 out of 7

Satisfaction Score = 1.3 out of 7

Ohhhhhhh … Expedition Everest. Which as of the first rankings was in 2nd place. Surprisingly, Everest has relatively pitiful time savings compared to the entries above it here, with something like 15 minutes saved on average. It also sells out after most attractions at Animal Kingdom, including DINOSAUR. Weird. That being said, its satisfaction score is MUCH higher any other attraction on the rest of this list other than the Safari. As far as satisfaction goes, you’re better off not making any other reservations and exploring the animal trails or watching the shows. Or playing Wilderness Explorers!

 

I’m a scaredy-cat, and therefore never ride DINOSAUR. This is where my personalized Genie+ priority list would stop abruptly for this park.

6. DINOSAUR

Availability Score = 5 out of 7

Time Savings Score = 4.7 out of 7

Satisfaction Score = 6.2 out of 7

DINOSAUR ranks in 5th place for availability (booking up 3-4 hours after Na’vi River Journey does, so it’s not really close) and 6th place for time savings compared to standby (not a big sample size, but still in the 10-15 minute range).

In this case, out of the seven Genie+ attractions we’re ranking, DINOSAUR also happens to have the fourth-best overall satisfaction from the past two years. On our 1 to 7 scale, it scores a 6.2. Better than Na’vi River Journey, but not by enough get very high on our priority list.

 

Terrified by this picture? Yeah, everyone else is too.

7. It’s Tough to Be a Bug

Availability Score = 7 out of 7

Time Savings Score = 7 out of 7

Satisfaction Score = 7 out of 7

It’s tough to recommend It’s Tough to Be a Bug (see what I did there?). At all. Ever. To anyone. Genie+ reservations have almost immediate availability all day every day, and the cost savings are close to zero on all except the very most crowded days of the year. It also has really low overall satisfaction, performing especially poorly with the young kids set who tend to be scared of all of the in-theater elements. I’d say don’t ever waste your time on this one unless you’re not park-hopping, have already purchased Genie+ for the day, and have already used reservations at basically every other eligible attraction or show.

What Does This Mean For You?

  1. I’d generally not recommend using Genie+ at Animal Kingdom. But on high crowd level days, and especially if you tend to miss rope drop, it could be worth it even if you only get reservations for Kilimanjaro Safaris and Na’vi River Journey. (bonus points for Kali River Rapids)
  2. There are so many other things to do in Animal Kingdom that have higher overall satisfaction than the Genie+ attractions that I’m tempted to just say forget Genie+ in all circumstances and go hit the trails or watch Flights of Wonder and spend your time getting Wilderness Explorer badges. You’ll have a full and informative day without the hassle of long queues and booking reservations.
  3. What is most likely to change here between now and the winter? Expect meeting pals at the Adventurers Outpost to increase in demand as people figure out that it will wave them a lot of time, and Kali River Rapids to decrease in demand as the weather eventually starts to cool off.
What can I say? It’s okay. You’re welcome.

Have you used Genie+ at Animal Kingdom? Do you agree with these rankings or would yours be different? Let me know in the comments! And check back on the blog for similar lists for the other three WDW parks.

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Becky Gandillon

Becky Gandillon was trained in biomedical engineering, but is now a full-time data and analytics nerd. She loves problem solving and travelling. She and her husband, Jeff, live in St. Louis with their two daughters and they have Disney family movie night every Saturday. You can follow her on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/becky-gandillon/ or instagram @raisingminniemes

12 thoughts on “Genie+ Priorities at Animal Kingdom

  • April 13, 2022 at 5:45 pm
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    LOL I agree that it’s tough to recommend It’s Tough to Be A Bug. Ever.

    Reply
    • April 13, 2022 at 8:54 pm
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      There are very few attractions I feel this way about. They will all come to light in this blog series. Ha!

      Reply
  • April 14, 2022 at 7:21 am
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    I really want a t-shirt, a sticker, something that says “Touring Plans. We have the math.” 🙂

    Love these posts and series about Genie+. We’re headed there in June and these have helped so much with understanding the process and planning. Thanks!

    Reply
    • April 14, 2022 at 8:04 am
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      Surely _someone_ could make that happen 😉

      Reply
  • April 14, 2022 at 1:49 pm
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    Um… I *love* Na’vi River Journey! *ducks for cover*

    Reply
  • April 14, 2022 at 4:18 pm
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    Where would we guess that Expedition Everest will rank on this list when it returns (hopefully soon)?

    Reply
    • April 14, 2022 at 10:56 pm
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      Of course Disney would open the ride 3 days after I press publish! I plan on updating the blog with a data-driven ranking tomorrow 🙂

      Reply
  • April 20, 2022 at 7:01 pm
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    What about Flight of Passage? Is that a rope drop scenario?

    Reply
    • April 20, 2022 at 9:48 pm
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      Flight of Passage is an Individual Lightning Lane attraction, so you would have to pay for it separately anyway. Or you could rope drop (only if you have early entry), or wait until late at night.

      Reply
  • April 26, 2022 at 9:59 pm
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    What about the Celebration of the Festival of the Lion King? Is that just not in the running because it isn’t really needed? I know it had long lines when I was there in last June but didn’t know if that has changed. Thanks!

    Reply
  • September 14, 2022 at 9:34 pm
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    Hi Becky,

    On a friend’s recommendation based on his many successful Touring Plans vjsits, we are using your strategies exclusively for our family’s first trip to WDW on the incredibly busy week of 10/9-10/15. We have been deep diving the blogs, the YouTube videos, optimizing touring plans, and studying the data to hit try to hit all the headliners for our “one and done” WDW trip with our 8 and 6 year old boys.

    I find the G+ return time data you’ve reviewed this September 2022 particularly useful.

    The only recent data I have not seen is on return times for the ILL rides. The last data I’ve seen was before Disney changed to having only 1 I’ll per park, which I’m assuming has had an impact on the return times. Can you direct me to recent data or if you haven’t yet reviewed it, can you please let us know if you’ll be reviewing and releasing this data soon? It would be very useful in planning my trip.

    Thank you,
    A Reluctant Visitor

    Reply
    • September 15, 2022 at 8:19 am
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      Ah, A Reluctant Visitor. I knew you all existed 😉
      Next week I’ll be updating the Genie+ availability charts _and_ the ILL ones. Thanks for the reminder!

      Reply

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