Disney World Hacks for The Summer of 22 - My Family Travels

These Disney World hacks, tips and tricks, picked up during a whirlwind, two-day visit to Walt Disney World during the July 4th week, guarantee a successful visit this summer. Keep in mind that you have more than Orlando’s summer weather and pent-up demand working against you.

It is also the park’s 50th anniversary celebration (through March 2023) with new events and attractions luring more park-goers than ever. Fortunately, Disneyworld shows no signs of the staff shortages seen elsewhere. Happy, kind and caring cast members work to make every day memorable – for all the right reasons. When you get discouraged, turn to them.

Dumbo the Flying Elephant at Magic Kingdom, Disney World. Photo c. Ron Bozman for Media Noche.
By midday, the waiting line for Dumbo the Flying Elephant at Magic Kingdom gets very long. Photo c. Ron Bozman for Media Noche.

Disney World Hacks to Reduce Wait Times

Lines are long but there are now three ways to speed the queues at each attraction. The first way to maximize your time and avoid grumpy, over-heated family members is to use the My Disney Experience mobile app and follow its Genie Service, which lists real-time waits at each attraction. It’s not only the easiest way, but also the cheapest.

The second way is to purchase a Disney Genie+ day pass ($15 per person per day) and reserve available wait times. Lastly, buy a one-time use Lightning Lane Pass (fee varies) to enter one ride at an available time.

Read on for details about each time-saving tool and 11 more hacks that, along with kindness, are sure to come in handy.

Disney World Hacks 1: Plan Your #WDW50 Adventure Ahead.

Plan ahead. I say this all the time (I’m a mom and a tips writer) but I never actually do it myself. This time, I did my homework and decided which attractions were essential to experience during our 50-hour visit.

People sitting inside a restaurant in an aquarium at Epcot.
The My Disney Experience app lets you make reservations for cool restaurants like Coral Reef, inside The Seas with Nemo & Friends at Epcot.

Disney World Hacks 2: Use the My Disney Experience Mobile App Genie Service.

This complimentary app has Artificial Intelligence programmed into it that is quite brilliant. Before arrival, download the app from Apple’s App Store or the Google Play Store. (The Android app is buggier but they’re working on it.) Then set up your profile and link your app to other family members so Bluetooth can find them in the parks. Note that none of the following hacks will make sense until you’ve tried the app for yourself.

Disney World Hacks 3: Decide who’s going be the decision maker.

Every party needs a party planner. If that’s you, tell the Genie service about your favorite Disney things. Prioritizing Character experiences? Attractions for preschoolers? Might be thrill rides, superheroes, Pixar movies or Star Wars. The Genie’s AI is going to take your preferences into account and help you plan every day on the Tip Board tab.

Disney World Hacks 4: Book your Resort Hotel and Park Hopper Theme Park Tickets.

Book each park’s entry reservation. If you have a great hotel pool (and the Disney World Resort hotels do), start your days early and go back for a swim and nap in the afternoon. Theme Park, Disney Resort hotel and dining reservations are automatically linked in the app because the Genie works best when it knows which theme park you are visiting and when.

Close up plate of crepes with nutella at Walt Disney World France Pavilion.
Disney World hacks #5: Pay attention to ride wait times and you may be able to score a Nutella crepe while waiting to board Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure at Epcot.

Disney World Hacks 5: Follow the Genie Wait Times at each attraction.

Once the Genie digests your data, it displays current wait times on the My Day tab. Heading to an attraction when the wait time is shortest (likely early in the day) will save you a bundle in added fees. For example, at wake-up, we noticed a 20-minute wait time for Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, one of the newest rides at Epcot World Showcase. So, we went straight there and grabbed breakfast at the Creperie de Paris next door. We enjoyed delicious Nutella crepes while touring Paris in the ride’s air-conditioned entry room, then boarded in 25 minutes.

Disney World Hacks 6: Buy a Genie+ Day Pass if You’re Time Pressed.

The next way to accelerate your wait time is buying a Disney Genie+ Pass. (It’s a confusing name, so think of the + sign as adding money to AI.) The Disney Genie+ passes are $15 per person per day and allow you to book entry times when available. 

Crowd watching the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Show at Disney World in Orlando.
Crowd watching the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Show at Disney World in Orlando.

Disney World Hacks 7: Learn the Genie+ Pass Rules.

The Genie+ Pass has limitations. You can only book a second attraction reserved entry time, either every two hours, or after you’ve used the first reserved entry time. Study the pass benefits and be strategic. We booked an early Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular at Hollywood Studios. While relaxing in the shade, we keyed in the next Genie+ reserved wait time for Mickie & Minnie’s Runaway Railway. However, more people buy the service throughout the day. In our very limited trial, by lunchtime, Genie+ only offered late night reserved entry times.

Mom and daughter at the controls of the Millennium Falcon on Smuggler's Run ride at Walt Disney World.
Disney World Hacks #8: Single Rider line allows Star Wars’ fans to skip the lines and round out the crew for Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run.

Disney World Hacks 8: The Single Rider Bonus.

Here’s a secret tip from Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. We wanted to experience Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run but there were no Genie+ passes available and the walk-up wait was 182 minutes. That’s when we noticed the “Single Rider” sign, a tool that ski resorts use to efficiently fill their chairlifts. A cast member told us it is being tested on that ride right now. Our party quickly split up. Each of us had a one-minute wait prior to boarding Millennium Falcon with a crew of strangers. Thrilling!

Guests waiting to ride the Guardians of the Galaxy- Cosmic Rewind ride at Epcot, Disney World.
Plan ahead and be willing to pay a premium to board “Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind” at Epcot this summer.

Disney World Hacks 9: The Only One Attraction Crisis.

The only other way to reduce your wait time is Lightning Lane. It’s currently in use at about 40 attractions, either booked through the Genie+ program or as single attraction pass for a fee. At the 50th Anniversary celebration, there was one attraction we had to try. To guarantee that we could ride Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, we paid $17 each. No regrets.

Disney World Hacks 10: All about the Virtual Queue.

The “virtual queue” works like this — at least, it worked like this at our visit and specifically for GGCR. We were notified by our My Disney Experience mobile app that starting at 7am on our reserved Epcot day, we could join a virtual queue to get on that ride at no extra cost. Mom woke up at 6:30, brushed teeth and kept trying to refresh the app’s virtual queue at 6:53, 6:55, 6:57, 6:59. It said come back at 7am and when she did, it said the virtual queue is full. The app offered us another virtual queue at 1pm. We are not lucky people. When the app suddenly announced at 10am that we could purchase a Lightning Lane entry pass for GGCR for 12:05pm, we jumped at it.

New fireworks show called Enchantment soars over Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World.
The new fireworks show “Enchantment” can be viewed lighting up the sky above Main Street or above all of Magic Kingdom from the California Grill Restaurant. Photo c. Ron Boaman for MediaNoche.

Disney World Hacks 11: March to Your Own Beat.

Explore at your own pace. Take advantage of the half-hour bonus early entry times at select parks offered by participating Disney Resort hotels. Or just go early.

Dine at odd hours. We scarfed up a baguette and quiche at Les Halles de Paris in the France Pavilion at 11am, before the lunch crowds. At Magic Kingdom, lunching at 2pm was the only way to try the legendary lobster rolls at Columbia Harbor House.

Try attractions you’ve never heard of. Between Genie+ pass bookings, we killed time and saved energy at the delightful Disney and Pixar Short Film Festival. For a great view of the Enchantment Fireworks, we booked a special prix-fixe meal ($89) at California Grill in Disney’s Contemporary Resort and watched from the rooftop balcony.

Bottom Line on Disney World Hacks

Given the 50 hours we had to celebrate the parks’ 50th Anniversary, we’re delighted with how the My Disney Experience mobile app, the Genie AI tools, the Genie+ Service and the other premium experiences worked.

Try them — and our 11 magical hacks – and we bet you will have the time of your life despite the heat, the crowds and the cost.

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