How to Have a Great Day at Disney-Without Waking Up at the Crack of Dawn!

Genie+ and Stacking

  • What to do if you don’t want to rope drop
  • Genie+, Stacking, and the 2 Hour Rule
  • My Stacked Genie+ Day
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How to Have a Great Day at Disney-Without Waking Up at the Crack of Dawn!

“You have to get there early.”

The most common strategy for getting in as many attractions as possible when you visit Walt Disney World is to arrive at the theme parks early–30-60 minutes before it opens.  And if you’re staying onsite and not utilizing your Early Entry perk, well then, you’re doing it wrong!

But I’d like to suggest another method.  One that will appeal much more to those Disney guests who don’t like getting on a bus at 6:30 in the morning on their vacation.

RIP Fast Pass Plus

I am a morning person by nature. I wake up at 5:30 almost every day so it’s not a stretch for me to also wake up early on vacation, especially when I have that magical Disney World adrenaline going. However, I am not married to a morning person and one of my children is also not usually his best self early on in the day.  So when we go to Disney World we have to compromise.  We rope drop some days and we take it slow some days as well.  With the old Fast Pass Plus system, this was pretty easy to manage.  60 days before our trip, I would just reserve our three Fast Passes for the afternoon, grab more one at a time once those were used up and we would still have a great day!

The New Genie+, “Stacking,” and the “2 Hour Rule”

But now instead of Fast Passes, we make Genie+ selections to skip the standby lines at our favorite attractions.  Most people who have researched Genie+ at least a little bit, know that you can reserve one Genie+ selection beginning at 7am and once you have used your Genie+ selection, you can make another selection.  But there is a way to hold multiple Genie+ return times at once.  This is called “stacking” and it uses what we call the “2 Hour Rule.”  The 2 Hour Rule says that if your current selection is more than 2 hours away, you can select another ride 2 hours after park opening OR 2 hours after you made your current selection.  Confused?  No problem.  Let me show you how I used this strategy to have a great day at Magic Kingdom that didn’t start until 1pm.

Last month, I went on the Keys to the Kingdom Tour, a 5 hour walking tour of the Magic Kingdom where we learned all about the creation of Disney World, fun facts about many of the attractions, and a few special glimpses of backstage, cast member-only areas!  We were able to ride 2 attractions during the tour, but since the tour wasn’t over until 1:00, we “lost” 4 hours of time in the morning when lines are typically the shortest they’ll be for most of the day. 

How I “Stacked” an Afternoon and Evening at the Magic Kingdom

At 7:00am, when we were able to reserve our first Genie+ rides and purchase Individual Lightning Lane selections.  For the stacking strategy to work, you need to make sure that the selections you make at 7am are at least after 1:00pm (or even later!).  First I purchased an ILL for 7 Dwarfs Mine Train at 3:05.  I could have purchased an ILL for Space Mountain too but I knew I didn’t want to ride it that day so I didn’t.  

Then I went to select my first Genie+ time.  The most important ride for me on this day was Splash Mountain because it had just come back from refurbishment and I haven’t ridden it in years.  But the return time listed for Splash was in the 9:00 hour and I knew I would be on my tour at that time.  So I started to refresh my app every few minutes. I started to notice the return times begin to get later.  Once the return times got close to 1:00pm, I started refreshing over and over until a 1:05 return time popped up.  I selected this one and so now I had 2 Lightning Lanes lined up for a busy afternoon at the Magic Kingdom.  

Using the “2 Hour Rule”

Here is where the first part of the 2 Hour Rule came into play.  The 2 Hour Rule says that if your first Genie+ selection is more than two hours past park opening, you can make another selection 2 hours after the park opens to the general public (not just resort guests). On this day, the Magic Kingdom opened at 9am, so at 11:00 I was able to reserve a return time of 1:35 for Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.  

And here is where the second part of the 2 Hour Rule helps you out.  The 2 Hour Rule also says that if your next Genie+ selection is more than 2 hours away, you can make ANOTHER selection 2 hours after you made that previous one.  So far I had selected return times at 7am and 11am.  And since my first Genie+ ride wasn’t until 1:05, I was still able to make another selection at 1:00.  On the way over to Splash Mountain, at 1pm, I chose a return time for Pirates of the Caribbean for 2:45.  We were finished with Splash and Big Thunder by 1:30 so we placed a mobile order at Aloha Isle and enjoyed our Raspberry Pineapple Floats outside of the Enchanted Tiki Room while we waited for our time to check into Pirates.  We checked in to Pirates at 2:40 (because you can check in up to five minutes before your time) and I immediately made another Genie+ selection for Small World at 4:05.

So at this point, we still had Seven Dwarfs to ride and after we had done that, we took a water break and then went to ride Small World. We checked in around 4:15 and it was then that I made a reservation for Peter Pan’s Flight for 9:05pm.  After Small World, we watched Mickey’s Philharmagic on standby and then walked over to Steakhouse 71 at the Contemporary Resort where we had a truly excellent dinner.  While we were enjoying our meal, I was able to make yet another Genie+ selection at 6:15 because it had been 2 hours since I last made a selection.  I chose an 8:45 for Winnie the Pooh.

After dinner we walked back to Magic Kingdom and watched the fireworks before heading over to Winnie the Pooh, Under the Sea (where we walked right on with no wait), and  Peter Pan.

Our Stacked Genie+ Day

For those of us who love a good list, here is how our day went in a quick and easy cheat sheet format:

7:00am Bought 7 Dwarfs Lightning Lane for 3:05, Selected 1:05 return time for Splash Mountain, set alarm for 10:55

11:00 Selected 1:35 return time for Big Thunder, set alarm for 12:55

1:00pm Selected 2:45 return time for Pirates

1:05 Rode Splash

1:35 Rode Big Thunder

2:00 Dole Whip break!

2:40 Rode Pirates

3:15 Rode 7 Dwarfs

3:45 Water break 

4:00 Rode Small World

4:15 Selected 9:05 return time for Peter Pan

4:30 Mickey’s Philharmagic

5:30 Dinner at Steakhouse 71

6:15 Selected 8:45 return time for Winnie the Pooh

9:00 Watched Disney Enchantment

9:30 Rode Winnie the Pooh

9:45 Rode Little Mermaid

10:00 Rode Peter Pan

Some Things to Note:

  1.  I was able to ride Jungle Cruise and Haunted Mansion on my tour.  Jungle Cruise is a ride that tends to “sell out” fairly quickly, so if you want to ride that with the stacking strategy you’ll have to be careful that you don’t wait so long to book an afternoon time that you miss out on all the reservations.
  2. We definitely didn’t do everything.  This strategy doesn’t mean you’ll get to do everything.  It’s a good strategy if you go to Disney frequently and don’t need to do everything every time.  It’s a good strategy if you’re doing more than one day at this particular park and don’t need to do everything all on one day.  It’s also a good strategy if you want to get to the park early, use those early hours to ride standby when the lines are shorter, and then either stay in the park all day or go back to your hotel in the afternoon to rest and then come back in the evening.
  3. To get even more rides stacked for the evening, reserve your first ride for after 3pm or even 5pm.  If you plan on a quick service dinner instead of a sit down meal outside the park like we did, you’ll be able to stack even more evening rides.
  4. The ride that you reserve first shouldn’t necessarily be your favorite, but rather the one that typically sells out the fastest.  At Magic Kingdom, this will definitely be Jungle Cruise. 
  5. This strategy works best at Magic Kingdom, where there are a lot of attractions.  But it may not work as well at other parks like Hollywood Studios, where the Genie+ selections tend to run out by early afternoon on busy days.  However, you still could end up stacking 3-5 rides depending on whether you wanted to pay for the Individual Lightning Lanes.  With those 3-5 rides, plus shows that have little to no wait, you’d be setting yourself up for a very nice evening.
The castle is beautiful at night! This is reason enough for me to visit the Magic Kingdom at night!


An important thing to remember at Disney World is that it is almost impossible to do everything in one day.  Think about your top 5 priorities for the day. If you are able to do at least those things, call it a win! The most important thing is that you are spending time and making memories with your people.

Still Confused?

And if you’re still a little confused about Genie+, Lighting Lanes, “stacking,” or anything else that goes into planning a Disney vacation, please fill out a quote request by clicking “Get a Quote” at the top of this page or email me at  My services are completely free when you book your vacation with me–nothing is added to the cost of your trip!  Let’s get started planning!