My family of 3 paid an extra $180 to skip the lines at Disney. It still required a lot of strategy, but it was worth it.

  • Genie+ is a paid skip-the-line service at the Disney theme parks that costs about $30 a day.

  • I always think it's worth it to get Genie+ because of how many attractions use the service.

  • Being able to skip multiple long lines every day is a big time saver for my family.

I've been visiting Disney World in Florida for my entire life, but my parents and I recently took a trip to its California counterpart, Disneyland.

As three of the 16 million visitors set to hit Disneyland this year, we wanted to get the most bang for our buck while checking everything off our to-do list. For us, that meant splurging on Genie+, a paid skip-the-line service that works at both Disneyland and Disney California Adventure.

Two-day admission to the theme parks already costs over $300 a person, and on our two-day vacation, my family spent an extra $180 ($30 a person per day) on Genie+.

Upgraded passes in hand, we set off to see if the pricey tickets were actually worth it.

Navigating Genie+ can be confusing, but we've gotten the hang of it.

screengrab of the disneyland genie+ app on a smartphone
I highly recommend checking out the Tip Board on the app.Megan duBois

Our Genie+ passes allowed us to reserve times for expedited Lightning Lane lines at more than 20 rides.

There are restrictions around how many reservations you can make at a time and not all the rides offer skip-the-line services. But we choose from a list of over 12 rides at Disneyland and nearly 10 at Disney California Adventure.

One thing I love about the Tip Board section of Genie+ on the Disneyland app is that it shows when you can book your next Lightning Lane. My biggest advice is to set an alarm on your phone for this time so you know when you can make another reservation.

I was also the sole person in my family in charge of making reservations, which I think helped all of us get onto the same rides. It can get tricky when there are too many cooks in the kitchen.

There are two different theories for getting the most out of Genie+.

shot of sleeping beauty castle at disneyland
I like getting to the parks before the big crowds. Megan duBois

It was important for us to get to the parks early in the morning because our Genie+ passes wouldn't activate for the day until we scanned our park tickets. But it was even more critical for us to go into each day with a clear plan.

The first popular strategy is stacking, where you make Lightning Lane reservations for later in the afternoon and evening when the parks are busier so you can hop from one ride to the next.

The second strategy is to pair Genie+ with rope-dropping the parks. That typically involves getting in line at the park gates around 45 minutes before opening in the hopes of getting first dibs on Lightning Lane reservations. It's also typically easier to get on rides that don't offer Genie+ early before the park gets busy.

I prefer a combination of the two strategies, rope-dropping to leisurely enjoy smaller attractions in the morning and snagging priority Lightning Lanes for the afternoon.

We decided to try the stacking method at Disneyland on the first day.

exterior shot of it's a small world at Disneyland
It's a Small World is a classic Disneyland attraction. Megan duBois

My family and I started day one of our Genie+ experiment at Disneyland and stacked Lightning Lane reservations for the afternoon. This was particularly helpful for us on this day because we booked Walt's Main Street Story tour for the morning.

By stacking our Lightning Lanes early, we were able to hit Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters, Indiana Jones Adventure, It's a Small World, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Space Mountain all in a few hours after lunch.

These are some of the most popular attractions at Disneyland, so I was glad we got to all of them in such a short amount of time.

If you plan on seeing nighttime shows, like World of Color, I also think this strategy would be best. You can plan when your Lightning Lane reservations end to ensure you have time to grab a good viewing spot.

We rope-dropped our second day at Disney California Adventure.

shot of pixar pier at disney california adventure park in disneyland
Some of the bigger coasters are located in Disney California Adventure Park. Megan duBois

On our second day using Genie+, my family went to Disney California Adventure. We were staying at a Disneyland Resort, so we utilized the early park entry reserved for hotel guests and rope-dropped the park.

My dad and I were able to ride The Incredicoaster with just a five-minute wait and make a Lightning Lane reservation for Web Slingers: A Spider-Man Adventure.

We also rode Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: Breakout, The Incredicoaster (again), and Monsters, Inc. Mike & Sulley to the Rescue with the expedited passes.

By the end of the day, we only had to wait in line for a few other attractions we wanted to do, like Mater's Junkyard Jamboree.

The combo strategy worked incredibly well for my family.

megan and her parents posing with mickey mouse at Disneyland
I'm not mad that we splurged on the upgraded tickets. Megan duBois

Because my family was coming to Disneyland from the East Coast, the time difference had us up early anyway, so the combo strategy of rope-drop and stacking worked well for us.

In addition to riding every attraction we wanted to, we ate at some of the best Disneyland restaurants, did a 90-minute guided tour, and watched my favorite Disney parade, "Magic Happens." I don't think that would've been possible without our $180 passes.

Even though the cost is a little steep, I think Genie+ is worth it, especially for short trips.

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