New to DCA and DLR and Hoping to Leverage Genie+ and ILL as well as Rope Drop for a Short Trip

Hey all - first time poster, but I’ve been reading through some older posts and am floored by the amount of detail and good advice being dispensed. Apologies in advance if I flub acronyms/verbiage. Thank you very much for the wisdom.

I am doing a solo day at DCA on 5/21 followed by a day with my buddy at DLR on 5/22. I purchased Genie + for each and plan to rope drop each. I’m wondering what is the best approach in each park to leverage rope drop with Genie + and ILLs.

First off, I plan to arrive by 7:00 AM each day. I don’t need to be the first person in line at the rope, but I’d like to take advantage of the perks of rope dropping. It was awesome to do and knock out 3-4 rides before the lines pick up at WDW (before early theme park hours). Should a 7:00 AM arrival set me up nicely in (hopefully) sunny CA?

Second, if things are similar at DLR and DCA as they are at WDW, lines don’t really start to get long until around 60-90 minutes after park open. If that holds true, understanding that it will be dependent on actual crowd levels and the idiosyncrasies of any given day, does it make sense to hold off on using Genie + and purchasing ILLs until return times are after that 60-90 minute rope drop sweet spot window?

Third, for DLR, I am debating which rides to target for rope drop. I’ve read that crowds move aggressively towards Rise, that it generally has a slower start to the day in terms of ride operation and I understand that the ride is long (I’ve ridden it at MGM and it is the coolest–I can’t get enough). That being said, I am with a first timer and I wouldn’t mind riding it twice if it doesn’t waste too much of the first hour in the park. My instinct is to target the most popular rides that I’d like to ride twice, other than Rise, at rope drop. Those are Space, Indy, Haunted Mansion, Splash and Thunder Mountain (bummer that Pirates is undergoing refurbishment). If I can knock out 3 or so of these before the lines start to get deep, I figure it will put me ahead of the game. I can monitor the return times for the ILL for Rise and maybe even try to pair that with a Genie + return time for Smuggler’s Run. I understand that I won’t be able to line everything up perfectly, but I would really appreciate some guidance on what is feasible and what makes sense to target before the crowds pick up. I also imagine that attraction location matters, so I’m not running around like crazy.

Fourth (no idea why I am numbering these, but I already started so I feel like I need to keep going), for DCA, I am also debating which rides to rope drop. Radiator Racers and Web Slingers, I don’t think, suffer from the same timing drawbacks as Rise. I’m sure I will want to ride at least Radiator Racers more than once, although I have never been to this park, so I’m pretty excited about getting to experience everything. I also understand this park is smaller than DLR, and I don’t plan to park hop, so I should be able to cover a lot from 8 AM to 9 PM. Then there is the added wrinkle of single rider lines, which seem to be way more available at this park, and should help me take better advantage of standby lines. My priorities are Radiator Racers, Web Slingers, Incredicoaster, Soarin’ (although have ridden this multiple times at WDW), TSMM (same as Soarin’), Guardians and Grizzly. I definitely plan to ride other rides. What do you think? Which rides should I target for rope drop?

Lastly, I’ve seen some suggestion that the lines app is less useful in CA than in WDW. If that is true, do people use it combined with the posted wait times, assuming those are inflated by 15 or so minutes? Not that it is fail proof, but I relied hard on the lines app in WDW and it has generally done right by me. I’m just wondering the best advice in DCA and DLR. I am not experienced at either park. The last time I was in DLR was 20 years ago and I’ve never been to DCA, so any advice is much appreciated.

Thank you!


PS - my brother already let me know that I screwed up some verbiage. DLR is meant to refer to Disneyland, the park. My bad.

Yes that should be great! But to be clear, are you arriving by walking, car, Uber, etc.? I would make sure you’re at the security line no later than 7:15am so arriving at the parking garage at like 6:45 or earlier.

Yes-ish. I would get a LL for a headliner first thing, but don’t use it right away. E.g. get a LL for Indiana Jones, but ride Space Mountain first. Maybe Star Tours or Buzz as well. Then go to IJ, tap in, and get a new LL for Millennium Falcon. And so forth.

I would keep an eye on return times and get your ILL for the early afternoon. It won’t take too long to get there - maybe an hour or two after park opening.

Here are some rides I would prioritize:

  • Rise of the Resistance
  • Space Mountain
  • Indiana Jones
  • Haunted Mansion
  • Millennium Falcon
  • Matterhorn
  • Splash Mountain (when hot)
  • Big Thunder Mountain

In approximately that order. Get a LL for half of them and wait standby for the other half at RD or other times throughout the day.

Tip: Lines at SWGE surge about an hour after park opening (when people arrive back there) and then wane in the late afternoon and evening. The lines are actually usually not too bad, especially compared to WDW.

Use single rider line if you are alone or are ok to ride separately at the following rides:

  • MFSR
  • Splash Mountain
  • Matterhorn
  • Indiana Jones (I think?)
  • Grizzly River Run
  • Radiator Springs Racers
  • Webslingers
  • NOT on Incredicoaster - standby is usually faster

I’ll get to your DCA questions later.

Good luck!


For DCA, I would use ILL for Webslingers and RSR if you don’t mind blowing extra cash, SR line for RSR, WS and Grizzly, and RD TSM, Soarin, or GotG. Get LL for whichever ones you don’t rope drop. You’ll be able to ride everything pretty quickly using this strategy as a single rider.

That’s probably true. There are less users in CA so there is less data being input into the app to feed into their algorithms, and in general the app gets less love from the developers. But it’s still useful and the wait times can be good to refer to in combination with the DL app. But you will need to use the DL app most of the time anyway since that is where you make LL reservations.

Great, thank you! Taking this all on board. I’m likely arriving by Uber one day and driving the other. I’ll make sure to be at the security line by 7:15.

I guess I’ll just need to make the call whether to use part of the rope drop advantage on a longer ride like rise or whether to potentially get in one additional headliner during that period by targeting shorter rides first.

I appreciate all the help.

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I would not buy ILL for WS or RSR, but use single rider lines for both. If for some reasons RSR has really long SR lines all day, you can then decide to buy the ILL. The only one I might consider is Rise, especially if you want to ride it twice.

RD at DCA … I might be tempted to do GotG. Especially since it’s a unique ride to California. You can definitely knock out a ton of the lesser rides in that first hour or two. I’m thinking the rides along the pier as well as Mater and Luigi in Cars Land.

When using Genie+, if you book a ride that is down and it is still down when your window opens, it will convert to an anytime pass. Keep an eye out for opportunity here. You can use those anytime passes on rides that do not even take Genie+! We ended up stacking 6 anytime passes last Friday and used a lot of them to ride in Fantasyland. In DCA, I think Monsters Inc. is a ride that will frequently go down and that also will have a quick return time. :wink:

RD in DL … a plan we used with a lot of success a few months ago, was to go straight to Matterhorn, then Space, then Buzz, then Star Tours. But there are a lot of of RD options and none of them are bad. If you’re into the dark rides of FL, that is also a good area to RD since none of those rides have LL. Just don’t RD PPF as the line builds almost instantly. However, you can get everything else done in the first hour or so.


I forgot they had SR line for this one! I will amend my post above. That was a recent-ish development.

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Awesome, thanks. I was definitely eyeing the single rider lines for WS and RSR and was going to wait and see before shelling out money for the ILL.

In terms of targeting/prioritizing, I hadn’t thought about the added wrinkle of which rides have LL and which don’t, or that you could choose to ride any ride, LL or not, if there is a ride breakdown. I appreciate the tips.

It seems like your RD suggestions revolve around 1-2 headliners paired with some potentially nearby non/less-headline (not sure the right terminology) attractions. Is that just based on location? I wondered whether it could be useful to try for more headliners during the RD window since those rides will have the longest lines as the day progresses (with the potential exceptions being in FL). The headliners are also the rides that will generally have LL, so it probably matters how many times we’d like to ride specific rides and what we’d like to accomplish. I’m more thinking out loud here–multiple layers to consider.

I’ve seen the FL RD recommendation before. It makes total sense to me, but we are less interested in general in those dark rides. To the extent we need to cut things from our day, I think that is where we would look first–although, FL does seem like the most efficient use of RD in terms of number of attractions that can be ridden.

I think your thought about PPF applies to Rise as well, at least from what I’ve read and from what makes sense in terms of the ride’s popularity. My only guess is that it takes folks a little longer to get back to that portion of the park than it does to get to FL.

This is all really good food for thought, thank you.

Speaking of food and sorry to do this mid thread, but in general, the places below are the ones that I am targeting. I’m too late to book sit downs. I would really appreciate any feedback/recommendations. I’m trying to narrow things down a bit.


  • Bengal BBQ
  • Jolly Holiday Bakery Cafe
  • Tropical Hideaway
  • Tiki Juice Bar
  • Plaza Inn
  • Docking Bay 7/Ronto - have been to each in WDW and like
  • French Market


  • Pacific Wharf
  • Pyms
  • Cozy Cone
  • Clarabelle’s
  • Jack Jack Cookies (these seems similar to/the same as a stand in MGM)

Also, does anyone have a tried and true early morning breakfast stop along/not far off the road from LA to Disneyland? We’ll be leaving around 6 AM and figure it might make sense to fuel up a little bit before hitting the ground running.

Thank you!

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Honestly, I would not try to stop midway on your drive. Instead, find something in LA and eat on the road. I’ve made that drive a few times and you don’t want to get off the freeway if you don’t have to!

If you’re less interested in FL rides, definitely don’t RD there. I see your point about rushing from Headliner to Headliner in the early hours. That could be a decent strategy. If you try it, let us know how it goes! With Genie+, rope-dropping, staying all day, you won’t have any issues riding everything you want more than once.

Food choices look pretty solid. We ate at Flo’s the other day and had a club sandwich. It was really good, so don’t count them out. You’ll probably have better luck riding everything than you will eating everything! But don’t sleep on the Bengal BBQ skewers. Those are a big favorite for my family.


Totally stalking this thread for suggestions for my upcoming 1st timer solo trip!

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Don’t worry, I’ll report back on what I do and how it goes.

For DCA, it is possible to get all the rides along the Wharf done in less than an hour before heading to Carsland. You might be able to do RSR single rider 2x in less than 30 minutes before knocking out the little rides in Carsland. Keep an eye on Genie+ availabilities for the other rides and/or if you are interested in ILL. If you want to eat at one of the TS restaurants, you might be able to get a last minute reservation online as people cancel or walk up and ask about waitlisting.

For DL, you could go left and may be able to knock out JC, IJ, POTC, HM, Pooh ride, and SM within 2 hours. Keep an eye on the Genie+ and ILL availabilities for other rides. Or if you are interested in the Fantasyland rides, I would go there first because they are not on Genie+, unless you get an anytime any ride pass from one of your Genie+ reservations that is down. Most of those can be used on those Fantasyland rides that do not have Genie+. You can really milk these! I got 6 of them in a few hours by milking it! Read the exclusions on those. My Buzz Lightyear anytime passes were not good for TSMM but my IG ones were good for TSMM. :thinking::roll_eyes:

Have a fabulous trip! And welcome to the Forum!

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Hey all, I wanted to report back on my trip. Thank you again to everyone who provided advice/guidance. I am going to include a bunch of detail, so bear with me.

DCA - 5.21.22

  • I started the drive from downtown LA around 6:40 AM and arrived at the parking deck at 7:10 AM. I parked in the Pixar Pals deck at 7:20 AM. I arrived at security at 7:25 AM and was through on the tram by 7:27 AM. I got to the entrance of DCA by 7:35 AM and the line was about 40/50 people deep. All in all, everything was pretty efficient and quick
  • I was let into the park at 7:42 AM (it seems like they start letting people in around 7:30 AM) and put my bag in a locker. I was at the rope for Guardians by 7:47 AM, and it wasn’t too crazy. There were people there but I wasn’t too far back and the crowd wasn’t that big.
  • I made it to Guardians by 8:02 AM and rode it at 8:17 AM. While I was waiting (awesome queue and pre-show–liked it better than Tower of Terror), I grabbed a TSMM LL at 8:09 AM for an 8:15 return. This ride was very fun. I was missing the scene from Tower of Terror where you roll through the trippy hallway with tons of effects before you start going up and down, but otherwise this one is a gem. The LL for this ride was the first to sell out during the day.
  • I headed over to Web Slingers next and the SR line was not yet open at 8:25 AM. I am not sure if this is an everyday occurrence or not, but it’s something to note for this ride if SR is part of your rope drop strategy.
  • I pivoted to riding the Incredicoaster. Hopped on the line at 8:35 AM and rode by 8:43. While on the line I bought an ILL for RSR (bought at 8:37 AM for a 9:05 AM return). I feared that the SR line would not be open for this one as well, so I sort of panicked. It turns out that I should not have panicked.
  • I went to TSMM since I was on the pier and wanted to free up my LL. In retrospect, I did not need to grab a LL for this. The standby line was 5 minutes and did not build until later in the day, but I didn’t care about riding this one twice. I arrived at 8:51 AM and rode by 8:58. While on line, I grabbed a LL for Soarin at 8:52 AM for a 10:05 return
  • Next I had breakfast at Pym’s. It was one of the few options near where I was that was open for breakfast. I was curious about the breakfast burrito at the cappuccino cart but the mobile order return time didn’t line up for me. I ordered the egg/focaccia/bacon plate and thought it was just OK.
  • I then headed to Cars land (the most impressive/immersive in the park in my opinion). I used the ILL and noticed that it was exactly the same length as the SR. This was not true later in the day but it was true at 9:41 AM. I rode by 9:48 AM. Standby line was 70 minutes. This was my favorite ride in the park–perfect mix of fun, theming, immersion and variety. Blows Test Track out of the water for me.
  • I went back to Web Slingers at 10:02 AM. The SR was open, but they then closed it down while I was waiting on it.
  • I then went to Soarin’ at 10:15 AM and used my LL. I rode by 10:32–standby line was 20 minutes. I picked up a Goofy LL after scanning in.
  • I got on line for Goofy at 10:48 and rode by 10:51. The standby line was 45 minutes. The SR rider look like it was practically walk on speed. This ride is pretty whippy. I grabbed a Monsters LL after I scanned in.
  • I gave Web Slingers another try and the SR was open and finally worked. I got on line at 11:02 AM and rode by 11:29 AM. The standby line was 70 minutes. I enjoyed myself on this ride. It is a next gen Buzz/TSMM, and I found it really fun.
  • I went to Monsters next at 11:39 AM and rode by 11:47 AM using LL. The standby line was 60 minutes. I thought this ride was a really cute dark ride.
  • After all that morning madness, I took a Starbucks and lunch break at Award Wieners. Each took a long time. I ordered the southwest cheesesteak at Award Wieners and it was really good, but it took more than 30 minutes after I ordered. Definitely do this on mobile order–those seem to be put ahead of in person orders. Also, they make these sandwiches to order so be prepared to wait. That being said, a cast member gave me a refund for how long it took and a free churro–all in all not so bad, especially since this was my favorite food of the day.
  • I rode the Little Mermaid at 2:09 (got in line at 2:00 PM and standby said it would be 20 minutes). So long as there are no breakdowns, this ride has a lot of capacity. It’s a people eater, so the wait shouldn’t be too bad.
  • I then changed into a bathing suit and sandals for Grizzly River Run. I used a LL and then immediately turned around and rode it again using the SR line, which is not really a line. They just let you walk back through the exit and it’s walk on speed. You could likely ride this ride 20 times in a row without having to wait if you use SR. There was a 55 minute standby line. I found this ride to be really fun. You definitely can get wet depending on the luck of where you sit. It’s not I just jumped in a pool wet, but it can soak your sneakers if you are wearing them and/or your jeans or shirt. I was happy to have the change of clothes. The logistics and cost of having a locker to store the change of clothes, an external phone battery (which I needed) and some other things were totally worth it to me. The lockers are right by a bathroom as well, which makes it easy to change.
  • I headed to Clarabelles next for a dipped custom ice cream bar.
  • I then used a LL to ride the Incredicoaster again. Jumped in line at 4:20 PM and rode it by 4:27 PM. The standby line was 70 minutes. The early morning is slow at DCA but lines build steadily throughout the day.
  • I then went back to Cars land. I wanted to try the Luigi ride but it kept breaking down throughout the day. I hopped in line at 4:37 PM and rode it at 5:11 PM. Standby said it was 30 minutes and it was pretty accurate. It’s a cute ride, but it’s definitely more geared towards children. I don’t know that I would wait 30 minutes to ride it again.
  • I wanted to ride RSR again and I used the SR line at 5:15. The standby line was 120, but I waited for 33 minutes. The cast member at the start of the line estimated the SR line at 30 to 35 minutes and she was spot on. To give you a sense of how long the SR line might be at any given time, it was almost out to where the entrance of the ride is when I rode it–just a data point.
  • After RSR, I grabbed some friend chicken and mashed potatoes at Flo’s and they were yummy.
  • I had grabbed a LL for Guardians earlier in the day (forgot to note the time, but it was hours before I rode it). I joined the line at 6:40 PM and rode it by 7 PM. The standby line was 125 minutes.
  • I wanted one more Web experience before I left, so I hopped on the SR line at 7:11 PM and rode it at 7:39 PM. The standby line was 45 minutes.
  • This was a great and exhausting first time at DCA. It seemed like Guardians and RSR are the most popular rides at the park. You can do great work with SR rider lines, but it’s possible they may not be open on all rides at rope drop. I found the park got busier and busier throughout the day–not a shocker. The Pier was empty in the morning, but really stayed crowded as the day went on. I wanted to try the quesobirria tacos at the Mexican place on the wharf but did not get a chance to. There is a virtual queue for the World of Color show at noon. I successfully joined the queue, but I was too tired to stay for the show especially since I went to DL the next day.

DL 5.22.21

  • I took fewer notes on this day because I was way more tired and was with a buddy all day. I decided not to rope drop Rise. I think it’s doable, but it requires getting to the park very early and it eats up a lot of the rope drop period. If you have to wait an hour (get to the park entrance by 7 AM) to be front of the rope drop so that you can have a reasonable wait for Rise, is that any better than waiting an hour later in the day for the ride and using the rope drop period to hit multiple other priorities? My ultimate rope drop strategy didn’t work out that well. I thought I could hit 2-3 headliners before the lines became long. That did not work and I had to pivot quickly. I’ll lay out what happened below.
  • I started the drive from downtown LA around 6:35 AM and arrived at the parking deck at 7:16 AM and was in the park at 7:46 AM. There were way more people rope dropping this park than DCA. After dropping off my bag at the lockers, we got to the rope heading into Adventureland by 7:55 AM. There were hundreds of people ahead of us. I was surprised at how big the crowd was especially after how little it was at DCA the day before.
  • My goal was to hit Indy first, but it wound up being closed when we arrived. This definitely threw off the timing. We quickly pivoted to Thunder Mountain and arrived at 8:05 AM. We rode at 8:22 AM. The standby line quoted 5 minutes.
  • We checked Indy again at 8:30 but it was still down and we noticed that Space had a 45 minute line, which was our next target, so we pivoted to Matterhorn with a LL at 8:42. We grabbed a Space LL while in line. This was a tough start given my plan was to hit Indy, Thunder and Space during rope drop. I don’t know if it is always like this, but my plan was too ambitious for that day. Lines for headliners escalated very quickly. I think you can target one or two of those rides with some smaller rides and/or LLs thrown in. That is what we eventually pivoted to.
  • We next went to Buzz at 8:56 and rode it at 9:03. Standby line quoted 5 minutes
  • We went to Star Tours next and waited about 20 minutes (consistent with the standby quote). While on line we bought a Rise ILL with an 11:00 return.
  • We then used our Space LL. The ride broke down while we were on it and they turned on all the lights. We did not get evacuated, they just pushed us down the rest of the ride and we were able to re-ride it immediately, which wound up being pretty cool. I grabbed a LL for Smuggler’s while on line
  • At 10:38 AM we made it to Smugglers and waited for maybe a couple of minutes (standby line was 50). This ride made my buddy motion sick, which caused us to slow down a bunch.
  • We grabbed some Blue Milk and an early Docking Bay 7 lunch (way more limited menu than WDW version–no ribs!).
  • We then tried to go to Rise for our ILL but it was down, so we made our way to the Tiki Room to get some classic Walt feels. I hadn’t done this show in years and it was delightful. Of course, we got a dole whip to enjoy as well.
  • We then went to Rise and used our ILL. As always, it was awesome. It was my buddy’s first time and he was floored. It is a bummer that the cannons no longer seem to move and animatronic Kylo is no longer part of that last scene on the ship, but the ride is still such a cool experience. If this is where headliners are headed in the future, count me in.
  • At some point (sorry my notes are bad for this day), I grabbed a LL for Indy and we rode it at 1:46.
  • We followed Indy with some Bengal BBQ and tried all the skewers. I liked some of them but didn’t love
  • We then went to great moment with Mr. Lincoln to enjoy more nostalgia, grabbed some Mint Julep Beignets and rode Splash on a LL. My buddy’s motion sickness had turned into a migraine so we wound up leaving the park just before 5 PM. I would’ve been down for a few more hours–I didn’t get to do HM (really bummed), Small World and some Fantasyland dark rides. I also wouldn’t have minded riding Thunder again since we didn’t have to use a LL for it.
  • All in all it was a great day. In terms of advice, I’m sure I’m preaching to the choir, but it’s important to remain flexible. Use LL early and often if the park is crowded or if you otherwise don’t care about riding a ride you are targeting in the morning again later that day. Look to book additional LLs as soon as you scan in to your current LL. Keep an eye on return times when thinking of which LLs to prioritize. Definitely mobile order for food when possible and keep an eye on those return times as well.

Hope all this helps and thanks again for helping me.




First, thanks for reporting back on your RD strategy of trying to hit 3 headliners. Honestly, on a mid-week day it might have worked a lot better. IJ is notoriously unreliable so don’t know if I’d ever RD that without a pretty solid back-up plan. All in all, it sounds like you accomplished a lot! Everything in DCA and a lot of DL. If your friend had been up for staying, you would easily have been able to hit it all.

We rode Rise at DL on 4/24 and the first cannon was moving and firing, but not the other two. I agree, it would be so much more impressive if they all would fire! Kylo’s animatronic was also working, so I think you just hit it on a bad day. I think they have created the ride such that they can remove Kylo if he needs a tune up and the ride still goes on, but they always put him back eventually. :wink:

I should add that I haven’t seen the other two cannons firing in a long time or maybe ever? I can’t remember now.

Thanks for the detailed report. This helps a lot, especially when trying to figure out how much I can do at DCA between RD and noon-ish when we need to grab some lunch and then head to the airport.

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