The time has finally come! We can get our first look at how much time Genie+ can save you based on real data collected at the parks! We hypothesized on these potential time savings back in the fall before anything had actually been released. It’s actually pretty fun (and sometimes humbling) to go back and see what I got right and what I got wrong in that series of posts (MK, EP, HS, AK). And now we’re getting some glimpses of what happens with Genie+ in the real world. Two weeks ago we saw how return times shift throughout the day, which impacts how many reservations you can use in a day. And last week we peeked at actual time savings compared to standby at attractions where we had enough collected data to do that.
That all adds up to our big post to wrap up the year today. Knowing what we know about how quickly rides book up at each park, and adding to that the data about how much time you can save individually at each attraction – what would typical time savings be for each park under low, medium and high crowd conditions? When and where is purchasing Genie+ (assuming that you are interested in purchasing it) going to give you the best value in terms of time saved? And where would it be more of a waste? Let’s find out! (Be ye warned – I’m pretty excited about all of this data coming together – so there will likely be a disproportionately large number of exclamation points as you read on).
Explain the Math
This post is going to require a little homework. If you want the details on reservation availability or time savings, go back to those posts (linked in the intro above) to nerd out with me. It’s fun, I promise.
Today is all about combining the two. How do we take what we know about time savings and make it more realistic by contextualizing it with information about return time availability and how it shifts throughout the day. We know that on high crowd days, while Genie+ will allow you to skip those hideous standby waits, the reservations will book out more quickly. But on low crowd days, you might be able to get every Genie+ reservation that you could ever possibly want … but wait times are also low anyway.
In the real world, we know that there will be a balance between Disney’s constrained supply of Genie+ reservations and the standby wait times that you’re going to try to avoid. But what does that look like when it plays out during a day in the parks? That’s where we have to start making some assumptions.
Every human is going to have different preferences on how (or whether) they use Genie+. Some like to go for the mega stacking strategy (book all of your reservations as late in the day as possible and live your best life in the afternoon and evening walking past everyone), while others want to just shred through as many book now/ride now opportunities as possible. Some will use Genie+ on their favorite rides, regardless of actual time savings, and others will stick strictly to what will help them avoid the largest standby waits.
This post tries to replicate how we think most humans visiting Disney will behave in a typical day using Genie+. That doesn’t mean it will exactly replicate how you would behave. But it means that we assume the theoretical Genie+ user will be going after the most popular attractions first, and then proceeding with their day based on the Genie+ rules and what is still available when they check to get their next reservation.
This post also starts stratifying experiences more into various crowd levels. We have enough data to have pretty good initial estimates for time savings under low, medium, and high crowd conditions at each park. And we also have some return time availability curves under the same conditions. Since we know that capacity/wait time balance is happening all of the time and behaves differently under different crowd conditions, we’ll do our calculations for each of those three scenarios.
One more note: This article assumes “normal” lists of Genie+ attractions – not the bonus ILL attraction that got added to Genie+ from Dec 19th through Jan 3rd.
How Much Time Can Genie+ Save Me at Animal Kingdom?
Genie+ at Animal Kingdom is largely the story of two attractions – Kilimanjaro Safaris and Na’vi River Journey. DINOSAUR and Kali River Rapids can also save you some time, but they’re relative drops in the bucket.
- On low crowd days, you should pretty easily be able to get Genie+ reservations for both Kilimanjaro Safaris and Na’vi River Journey. Using both of them will save you ~70 minutes in line compared to standby, and the other various attractions across the park will tack on another 10 minutes of savings.
- On medium crowd days, you’ll still be able to get Genie+ reservations for both of the heavy hitters, but standby time savings really won’t be that much higher. This is because crowds distribute themselves more evenly across wait and non-wait “attractions”, and also because the Genie+ wait times increased slightly between low and medium crowd levels so that the time savings weren’t as great. So the overall wait time savings only go up by about 10 minutes. Probably not a make-or-break if you’re deciding whether or not to purchase.
- On the highest crowd days, you should still definitely be able to book at least one of the two major attractions, but you’ll probably only be 50/50 on whether you’ll be able to get and use the other. That means your average wait time savings take a bit of a hit. Thankfully (?) high crowds means that the next tier of attractions have much higher waits for you to avoid, and so the wait time savings at those attractions even out the loss of time savings from potentially not being able to book both Kilimanjaro Safaris and Na’vi River Journey.
How Much Time Can Genie+ Save Me at EPCOT?
EPCOT is the park that sees the biggest difference in what time Genie+ can save you, and what time it probably will save you. Because even at the highest crowd levels, its attractions are the least likely to book up quickly (or at all). But it’s also the park that’s most spread out, and so a lot of visitors will view Genie+ reservations that aren’t buy now/ride now as a hassle that requires them to add even more steps to their day. So these numbers represent what you can save, if you’re willing to walk back and forth to use everything that is available to you.
- At low crowd levels, almost nothing at EPCOT books up completely during the day. And the vast majority of attractions do stay book now/ride now for a significant portion of the day. That means you can easily grab and use Genie+ reservations … but wait times are also really low for most of those attractions. So even if you use Genie+ for every eligible attraction in the park, you still only save 44 minutes compared to standby. That’s the worst time savings of any park under any crowd conditions.
- When the crowd level starts to rise, time savings become a little happier. As long as you book Test Track as your first reservation of the day, you should still be able to book and use Genie+ at every eligible attraction during the day. It’ll require a bit more planning (and walking), but it’s easily doable. And wait times will be a little heavier around the park, so you could save 74 minutes compared to standby. Still not astounding, and still the second-worst time savings of any park under any crowd conditions. Ouch, EPCOT.
- At high crowd levels, EPCOT actually starts to shine … a little. And that’s only by virtue of few of its ridings actually booking up for the day very early in the day. You’ll still have to make Test Track your first reservation … and then Soarin’ … and then Mission: SPACE or Spaceship Earth. But if you do that, you can still – surprisingly – get and use a Genie+ reservation at every attraction. On most days, even at these highest crowd levels. That’s crazy talk. So you could save over 2 hours compared to standby waits – with the vast majority of those savings coming from Test Track, Soarin’ and Spaceship Earth.
How Much Time Can Genie+ Save Me at Hollywood Studios?
Here’s where things get downright weird. And maybe initially counterintuitive. But we’ll work through it together – stick with me! Hollywood Studios is probably the park where the most people are tempted to purchase Genie+ – and it’s also the only park that sees diminishing returns for your money as crowds increase. Yikes! So statistically speaking, the best days to use Genie+ at Hollywood Studios are on the lowest crowd days. On high-crowd days, you’re better off spending your Genie+ money at EPCOT than at Hollywood Studios. Mind boggling! But the numbers don’t lie, so what’s happening?
- On low crowd days at Hollywood Studios, things are nice for Genie+. Only the big big headliners book up somewhat quickly. But it’s not so quickly that you can’t book both. In fact, on most low crowd days, you can definitely get and use Genie+ reservations for every eligible attraction. And because there are many attractions at Hollywood Studios that draw hefty waits no matter the crowd level, that means you can still save over three hours compared to standby waits by making good use of Genie+. I’ve personally given people advice to skip paying for Genie+ at Hollywood Studios on low crowd days because you can still avoid lines with a good rope drop or park close strategy. And I think that’s still true. But if you’re someone that likes touring during peak hours … it’s hard to deny that avoiding 3 hours of wait is worth $15 per person.
- On medium crowd days at Hollywood Studios, if everything was fine and dandy and no attractions booked up early in the day, you could potentially save even more time (over 210 minutes, in fact). But things aren’t fine and dandy. More than most other parks, Hollywood Studios struggles with Genie+ capacity. A lot of people are buying and using it, and Disney has kept the supply constrained. So there are more people fighting over a limited number of reservations. That means on medium crowd days, there’s only about a 75% chance that you’ll be able to get reservations for Slinky Dog Dash and Millennium Falcon. And you’ll probably only get to use 2 or 3 of the next tier of four attractions (Rock’n’Roller Coaster, Tower of Terror, Toy Story Mania and Alien Swirling Saucers). That dings your overall average time saved because you just can’t maximize your time savings, and it results in an average savings of “only” 150 minutes. Still, that’s 2.5 hours and nothing to blink at.
- On high crowd days, the availability picture is even bleaker. If you could get and use Genie+ reservations for every attraction and use them all in the same day, you’d save over 4 hours on high crowd days. But … you can’t. Reservations for Slinky Dog Dash are basically a lottery. If you happen to get one, you almost certainly won’t be eligible to get a reservation for Millennium Falcon. And you will also only likely be able to get one out of the (Rock’n’Roller Coaster, Tower of Terror, Toy Story Mania) set. After you get one of those, there’s still only a 50% chance you’ll be able to get Alien Swirling Saucers. So you’ll get two or three worthwhile reservations, and save yourself 106 minutes of waiting by doing it. But it might be more frustrating that you’re blocked out from getting more reservations.
How Much Time Can Genie+ Save Me at Magic Kingdom?
Magic Kingdom benefits the most of any park from the sheer breadth of Genie+ attraction options. It’s a little bit of a double-edged sword because it requires more strategy about which to pick in what order to make the most of a day. Thankfully, the abundance of attractions protects Magic Kingdom slightly from the crush of crowds that doom time savings at Hollywood Studios.
- On low crowd level days, it’s technically feasible to get and use Genie+ at every eligible attraction in Magic Kingdom because so many of the lower-tier attractions stay book now/ride now almost all day. Unfortunately, the low crowds spread out throughout the park also mean that you’ll save negligible time at those same attractions compared to standby anyway. But a few hefty time savings, with a bunch of little time savings add up. You can still save almost 3 hours on average with Genie+ at Magic Kingdom on a low crowd day. That’s mostly thanks to 40 minutes saved at Jungle Cruise, 30 minutes saved at Peter Pan’s Flight and 20 minutes at Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.
- At medium crowd levels, Genie+ capacity still is able to handle most of the demand for Genie+, at least in the past couple of months. You probably won’t get to use Genie+ at every eligible attraction, but it’s still possible to use 12 or 13 of them if you really set your mind to it. And the increase in standby wait times with medium crowds more than offsets the inability to use every single reservation in the park. That means you’ll be able to save more than 3.5 hours in line – the biggest time savings of any crowd conditions in any park.
- At high crowd levels, availability starts to break down again – but not quite as much as at Hollywood Studios. You’ll only be able to get 2 or 3 of the attractions that book up most quickly (Peter Pan, Jungle Cruise, Big Thunder Mountain and Haunted Mansion). And then you’ll also probably only be able to get 2 or 3 more attractions with any significant wait time savings before everything books up for the day. That means you’ll have bigger time savings at each attraction, but will only realistically use up to 6 reservations effectively during your day. Even so, that can still amount to 2.5 hours of wait time savings compared to standby!
What Does This Mean For You?
- The three best times to use Genie+ in order to save the most time for your money, are medium crowd days at Magic Kingdom, and low crowd days at Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios.
- The three worst times to use Genie+, as far as time saved compared to money spent, are low and medium crowd days at EPCOT and low crowd days at Animal Kingdom. Even so, the only situation where making good use of Genie+ saves you less than an hour compared to standby is on those low crowd days at EPCOT. If an hour of time saved is worth $15 (+ tax) per person to your party, especially if you are rope-drop-averse, then Genie+ isn’t a bad purchase under most circumstances.
- Under the highest crowd conditions, due to constrained capacity/supply, you won’t save the largest amounts of time. That being said, you can still save over 2.5 hours at Magic Kingdom and over 2 hours at EPCOT, making those the two best uses of Genie+ on very crowded days.
- Constrained capacity specifically at Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios mean that as more and more people decide that they want to purchase and utilize Genie+ at those parks, the reservation supply just can’t keep up.
Did any of the time savings results surprise you? Have you experienced the constrained Genie+ capacity during your recent trips? Let us know in the comments!