Yesterday we took our first big look at Genie+ return times and how they shift throughout the day at Animal Kingdom and EPCOT. Since that post was such a resounding success, lauded everywhere by everyone as the coolest thing ever (or the voices in our head said at around the 10th hour of looking at charts and graphs), we’re treating you to round 2 today. Animal Kingdom and EPCOT are interesting and all, but the real money-makers for Genie+ are Hollywood Studios and Magic Kingdom. They have the biggest time-saving potential, and are therefore the parks that you, the savvy reader, should care the most about. Something tells me that today’s post is going to have more than enough words for us all to read, so let’s cut to the important stuff.
Explain the Math
(Pat on the back if you read this yesterday. Proceed to the actual analysis if you want.)
I work all day every day with data, and I can tell you – data is always messy. And Disney data is no exception. No magical wand to wave to get clean Disney data. If you’re wondering why Lines doesn’t yet support suggestions for which Genie+ reservations to make and when, this is part of the reason why. We need data on these return times, and we also need data on wait time savings. That means you can help by submitting your Genie+ and standby wait times if you’re in the parks.
But if we choose to simplify our math today down to the very basics, we’re looking at two data points:
- Time – This is what we’re calling the time that you scroll through MDE and decide which Genie+ reservation to make.
- Return Time – This is the return time window you’re given once you book your Genie+ reservation for an attraction. In this case, it’s the time at the beginning of the hour you have to arrive at the attraction to enter the Lightning Lane.
With just those two data points, we can make some cool little scatterplots of time that you make the reservation and time that you can return. But even with those plots, things start to get complicated. Each attraction has a different plot, and each day has a different plot. To get really predictive, we have to combine all the days together and extract some meaning out of them. On top of all of that, we have to deal with the messy, dirty data. Often, return times will follow a pretty nice curve or line of some sort, but any time that a guest cancels one of their return times, that one shows up as available and then the curve or line gets jagged and not as clean.
That means that for today’s post I’m doing some really awesome and not boring at all data cleanup to present a peek into some trends and what you might be able to expect. We’ll look through each park on three different days to see if the lines and curves change. Then we’ll be able to see if you can use this little preview to already help inform some strategies and expectations.
Genie+ Return Times at Hollywood Studios
October 27th – Crowd Level 1
A few tips on how to interpret these graphs – the X axis (horizontal) shows our Time variable – that’s when you’re opening up your app to make a Genie+ reservation. The Y axis (vertical) shows our Return Time – that’s the return time that the app was offering when you opened the app to make your reservation. The black dashed line shows when Time = Return Time. So if a dot appears on that line, you could immediately get and use a Genie+ reservation for that attraction. If the dots appear above the line, the attraction is booking out ahead of the current time (to be expected). If the dots appear significantly below the line … Genie must need a reset. You shouldn’t get a return time in the past. So what can we learn from this graph?
- One very clearly popular attraction has a return time curve that looks like a rocket ship taking off. That’s good ole Slinky Dog Dash. And it makes sense – it’s easily the ride where Genie+ will save you the most time at Hollywood Studios under normal conditions. Even on the lowest crowd level day, it’s totally sold out for the day before 11 am.
- Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run is the next obvious choice. Quite a few people chose to book it around 7 am, and it stays booked ahead by 4 or 5 hours throughout most of the day. It too eventually sells out, but not until between 7 and 8 pm.
- Most other attractions stay booked up about an hour ahead (your return time will be ~1 hour away from when you make the reservation). The two exceptions are Muppet*Vision and Star Tours, which stay book now/ride now all day long.
November 22nd – Crowd Level 7
- Return times look incredibly different during holiday week crowd conditions. The first thing that jumps out to me is that Slinky Dog Dash has a single dot on this graph. There was a 6 pm return time that popped up just after 7 am. But effectively, Slinky Dog Dash sold out for the entire day almost immediately.
- After Slinky sells out, people very quickly opt for Millennium Falcon instead. And then it sells out within half an hour of the park opening. So in these crowd levels, there is virtually no way to get Genie+ reservations for both Slinky and Falcon. You will be forced to choose. Or, actually, you should consider yourself lucky if Slinky hasn’t sold out and you get a choice.
- Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, Tower of Terror, and Toy Story Mania all follow similar return time curves, and they all start disappearing very quickly at 11 am – which, incidentally, is 2 hours after park opening right when all of those Falcon and Slinky guests are eligible to pick their next attraction. All three sell out before 1, quickly followed by Alien Swirling Saucers.
- Star Tours is obviously third-tier, and then Muppet*Vision is the bottom of the heap. Unfortunately, any time after 3 pm, Muppet*Vision will be the only thing that you can book.
December 3rd – Crowd Level 3
- Back down at crowd level 3, we see an interesting mix of behavior. Slinky Dog Dash still sells out very quickly – gone well before the park opens. Millennium Falcon also books out all the way to 5 pm before the park opens.
- There is still a small smattering of late evening availability for Tower of Terror, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, Toy Story Mania, and Alien Swirling Saucers around 3 pm. But because they’re all booking out around 4 hours in advance, that means that the 2-hour rule is going to be in place. So there’s very little chance of actually being able to book and use all four even on a crowd level 3 day. In reality, you’ll probably either get Slinky Dog Dash OR Millennium Falcon, and then perhaps 2 of that second tier.
- Even with all of the other demand, Star Tours and Muppet*Vision still stay close to book now/ride now throughout the day, so that can be your consolation prize.
Genie+ Return Times at Magic Kingdom
Strap in folks. Prepare yourselves for many, many little colorful dots. It’s gonna be awesome.
October 27th – Crowd Level 1
- You get two graphs for each Magic Kingdom day so that everything isn’t just a total jumble of dots.
- On the lowest crowd level days at Magic Kingdom, the only two attractions that sell out before the park closes are Jungle Cruise and Peter Pan’s Flight. Peter Pan books out about 2-3 hours in advance, and Jungle Cruise hovers in the 3-4 hour range.
- Otherwise, only 3 or 4 attractions pop up above their peers – Splash Mountain, Winnie the Pooh, Haunted Mansion, and it’s a small world all book between 30 and 90 minutes in advance during peak hours.
- The rest of the pack is pretty solidly in the book now/ride now category. Which is great – you should technically be able to burn through a ton of Genie+ reservations at Magic Kingdom on the lowest crowd level days. The caveat is that standby waits are also likely very low at most of those same attractions.
November 22nd – Crowd Level 6
- Genie+ return time distribution at crowd level 6 is not anywhere near as nice as crowd level 1. Shocker. Even with these 17 different attractions for Genie+ users to choose from, every single option is sold out by around 5 pm. Not ideal when the park is open for 5 more hours after that.
- In this more crowded world, there are four different attractions that see the most demand – Jungle Cruise (sells out ~1 pm), Big Thunder Mountain (sells out ~2 pm), Peter Pan’s Flight (sells out ~2:30 pm) and Haunted Mansion (sells out ~3 pm). It’s possible to get and use two or three of these in a day based on the 2 hour rule and them booking out so far in advance, but you couldn’t do all four.
- Problems really start becoming apparent around 3 pm when the “big 4” have sold out and everyone starts considering other attractions. Most likely, no matter what attraction you pick (unless it’s PhilharMagic), your return time that you get at 3 pm will be more than 2 hours away, which means you don’t get to pick again until 5 pm … when everything is sold out.
December 3rd – Crowd Level 5
- At these sort of mid-level crowd conditions is where savvy strategy can really come into play. Jungle Cruise and Peter Pan still fly above the rest, with Jungle Cruise selling out around noon, followed by Peter Pan at 3 pm.
- If you book either of those two attractions first thing in the morning, you would be eligible for your second reservation at 10 am (two hours after park opening). At that point, Big Thunder Mountain is booking out two hours in advance, but almost everything else is book now/ride now. It’s a clever move to take advantage of that real-time availability and try to burn a few reservations before things pick up in the middle of the day.
- By 1 pm, several attractions are booking 1 to 2 hours in advance, but Mad Tea Party, Mickey’s PhilharMagic, and Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor stay close to book now/ride now.
- Splash Mountain sees a very interesting distribution curve throughout the day, hovering around book now/ride now (I’ve written that so many times … should’ve just abbreviated it to BNRN–lesson learned) until 2 pm where it starts rocketing out to 3 hours in advance. Keep that in mind if you’re wanting to ride.
What Does This Mean For You?
- Under most conditions, you are going to have to choose between Slinky Dog Dash and Millennium Falcon for Genie+ access at Hollywood Studios. On the very lowest crowd days you may be able to do both, but otherwise you will have to get lucky with a hard-to-find early morning Slinky Dog return time followed by an immediate booking for Millennium Falcon while you’re in line.
- At Magic Kingdom, Jungle Cruise is in the highest demand. This makes sense – it regularly sees the longest standby waits of any Genie+ attraction in that park. It’s definitely worth booking, but will book out pretty far in advance.
- Splash Mountain’s popularity depends a lot on temperature and weather. So if that’s important to you, do a little advance planning, look at when the sun is supposed to pop out and warm things up for the day, and book your return time before that happens and demand skyrockets.
- If you’re using Genie+ at Magic Kingdom on a crowded day, start being really picky about which reservations you pick up around 1 and 3 pm. Those might very well be your last two selections of the day, so make them align to what you really want to do and what will save you time.
- If you’re using Genie+ at Hollywood Studios on a crowded day, you’ll likely only be able to use Genie+ to skip standby at two attractions from the (Tower of Terror, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, Toy Story Mania, Alien Swirling Saucers) group, so plan in advance for which two you want to aim for.
Did you use Genie+ during Thanksgiving week and run into issues with low availability of return times? Which choices would you make when you run into these situations where you have to decide between a few attractions, knowing that they tend to sell out around the same time? Let us know in the comments!