Our guide to doing Disneyland without Genie Plus

How to Visit Disneyland Without Disney Genie+ 

How to Visit Disneyland Without Disney Genie+ 

Avoid paying a premium to skip the long lines at Disneyland
Our guide to doing Disneyland without Genie Plus

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We’ll never say no to a Disney trip, but these days, we’re trying to save as much as possible. From finding hotels that are “bougie on a budget” to navigating a Disney day without Disney Genie+, we’re developing strategies and tips that are perfect for the budget-minded traveler — or the person who wants to have a great time without breaking the bank. Because more money in your pocket at the end of one trip usually means more money to spend on the next one! If you’re trying to avoid paying a premium to skip the long lines at Disneyland, this is just the guide for you. We’ve created a full guide for how to visit Disneyland without Disney Genie+, so you can save some money on your next trip to the happiest place on Earth.  

If you’ve got a trip on the books or you’re strategizing for your 2023 Disneyland vacation, here’s how to go standby-only at Disneyland. 

What is Disney Genie+? 

What is Genie at Disneyland

Disney Genie+ is the new, paid version of Disneyland’s FastPass/MaxPass system. For a starting price of $25 per person, per day, you can bypass the standby queue for several rides at Disneyland and Disney California Adventure. The catch is, the price will fluctuate by date, so whether you’re traveling as a single rider or heading to the parks with your loved ones, an extra $25+ can be a big expense.  

In addition to Disney Genie+, there are also individual Lightning Lane options. Certain rides — namely the ever-popular Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance — require an additional upcharge if you want to bypass the standby queue. This will also cost you a pretty penny on top of your park admission.  

That’s where this guide comes in. This guide will walk you through how to visit Disneyland without Disney Genie+, so you can save some cash on your next trip to the happiest place on Earth (or perhaps put that money toward fun souvenirs or extra snacks).  

When Should I Visit Disneyland?  

How to do Disneyland without Genie

Whether you’re purchasing Disney Genie+ or not, there are a few factors to consider when planning your visit to Disneyland. 

If you’re aiming for the lowest possible crowds, the middle of the week is your best bet. Typically, Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday tend to be the least busy days in the park. If your travel dates are flexible, pay attention to holiday weekends, spring break, and winter break. Check out Mickey Visit for some more helpful tips! 

Something else to keep your eye on when planning your visit is the Disneyland entertainment schedule, special events, and park hours. The Disneyland website is generally up-to-date with the latest information on park operations. If you are adamant about seeing the fireworks, visiting during a special event like Halloween Time, or ensuring the park will be open until midnight, then stay tuned to the Disneyland website’s holiday & events calendar. When you’re not paying for Disney Genie+, you can get a lot more done on a day when Disneyland is opening from 8 a.m. to 12 a.m. than a day when the park closes at 9 p.m.  

If You Aren’t Paying for Disney Genie+, When Should You Arrive at Disneyland?  

It’s been said before, but it’s truer than true. If you want to maximize your time at Disneyland, you’ve got to get there at park opening, AKA rope drop. This is when the wait times are the absolute shortest. If you’re staying on property in one of the Disneyland Resort hotels (Disneyland Hotel, Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel, or Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa), then you’re in luck. Hotel guests get to enter the parks 30 minutes before everyone else, every single day. So, you should definitely take advantage of that if you’re staying at a Disney-owned hotel!  

This Early Entry perk for hotel guests is why, if you’re just heading to Disneyland for the day, rope dropping is your best bet for success. If the park opens to the public at 8 a.m., that means that hotel guests can enter at 7:30 a.m. So, make sure you budget enough time to park, walk or take the tram to the gates, and wait in line before you’re allowed in. A 6:30 a.m. arrival at the Mickey & Friends parking structure, for example, is a great goal. Hit up a coffee shop on the way and ease into your day for a smooth park experience early on! 

If you’re not a morning person — or you know for certain that you won’t make it to Disneyland in time to hit a ride right when the park opens — don’t worry. Not all is lost if you enter the parks at 10 a.m. (or later!). In these cases, the Disneyland app will be your best friend. Monitor the wait times as you’re heading to the park gates and set a game plan for what you want to prioritize. You might not get to the parks when the wait times are at their lowest, but you can still have a magical Disney day.  

Choosing Your Rides: Minimize Backtracking 

It’s important to prioritize, so ask yourself what are your personal must-ride attractions for your day at Disneyland. Do you want to start your day with the thrilling Space Mountain, the classic Peter Pan’s Flight, the fan-favorite Haunted Mansion, or the new-kid-on-the-block Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance? Each of these rides can rack up long wait times later in the day, so choose your vibe and stick to it. Trekking from land to land can get exhausting, and walking back and forth all day can be a total time waster. Instead, tackle the park section by section and work around it in a loop.  

Disneyland with no Genie - the entrance to the Jungle Cruise

For example, if Haunted Mansion is your priority, hit that ride first, then hop on Pirates of the Caribbean. Next, you can hit Big Thunder Mountain Railroad in Frontierland before making your way to Indiana Jones Adventure in Adventureland. There, you can tackle Jungle Cruise, grab a Dole Whip from The Tropical Hideaway, and take a mid-morning rest in the Enchanted Tiki Room or grab a quick-service lunch at Bengal Barbecue. 

Similarly, if Fantasyland is your jam, head straight to Peter Pan’s Flight at rope drop, then hit up Snow White’s Enchanted Wish, Alice in Wonderland, “it’s a small world,” and, if you’re seeking thrills, Matterhorn Bobsleds. From Fantasyland, it’s an easy walk over to Tomorrowland to tackle rides like Star Tours and Space Mountain. Then, you can grab a classic corn dog from the Little Red Wagon for lunch before crossing the castle hub area and heading straight to Adventureland for more fun in the afternoon.  

If you kick off your day with the incredibly immersive Rise of the Resistance, you’ll want to head straight to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Rope Drop. Keep in mind that the wait times for this attraction are the lowest at the beginning and end of the day, so if you don’t hit it first thing, don’t fret. You can head back over to Galaxy’s Edge at around 8 or 8:30 p.m. and still hopefully score a wait time that’s under an hour. With this one, you’ll typically have to prepare for longer waits, but it’s worth it.  

Planning Around Wait Times 

All of these recommendations are based on tackling the rides you love in an order that eliminates unnecessary back and forth around Disneyland. But, this strategy is not for everyone. If you’re the ultimate thrill seeker, you don’t mind backtracking, and you’re trying to hit each ride during its lowest average wait time, then you’ve got to check out Thrill Data. No joke, this is one of the best resources for your theme park vacation. The site has everything you need to do about theme park crowd levels and ride wait times. You can check out the Disneyland page here and search for any ride you’re curious about. That way, if short wait times are what you want, you can plan your whole day around the lowest average wait times for each ride and then use the Disneyland app for up-to-date wait times once you’re in the park.  

Skip the Entertainment 

With rides being the priority, you may want to skip the entertainment offerings. A large portion of Disneyland guests will watch the parades and firework shows (and, often, camp out for them hours in advance!). If attractions are what you’re after, plan to ride some of the big-ticket rides during the parades and fireworks. We love Disneyland entertainment, but sometimes, we love short ride wait times more.  

Aim for a Table Service Lunch or Dinner 

An entire day at Disneyland without Disney Genie+ is a great way to save some money on your park experiences. But even the most strategic park planner will end up waiting in line throughout the day, especially since standby is your only option. Rest is always a good idea, so try for a table-service dining reservation (Mouse Dining is great for getting alerted if you can’t snag a reservation at the 60-day mark!). If you can’t get a reservation in advance, use Mobile Dine Walk-Up, a mobile waitlist feature in the Disneyland app. Join the waitlist for a table-service restaurant or head straight to the restaurant yourself to get your name down in advance. A nice sit-down meal at Cafe Orleans or Carnation Cafe does wonders on a busy Disney day. Give yourself a chance to rest and recuperate before an evening of fun and fireworks.  

Table-service dining for lunch and dinner also guarantees you one less line you’ll have to wait in throughout the day. The lines for quick-service food can be just as bad as the lines for popular rides, so make at least one sit-down dining reservation, if you can, and use Mobile Order for the rest of your food and drinks.  

Follow Perfecting the Magic to Perfect Your Days at Disney 

Looking for the best Disney tips for your next trip? We’ve got you covered. Follow PTM on Instagram and TikTok for all the best strategies and quick tips for tackling Disneyland, Walt Disney World, and beyond.  

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