App Adventures: Good For Planning That Magical Trip.

Just about as overwhelming as planning a trip to Orlando’s multi-theme park destination of Walt Disney World is trying to pick a park app that works best for you.

The good news is – there ARE actually apps for the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Epcot, and Animal Kingdom. (If you’ve never been, these are Disney’s different parks all on one “Disney campus” so to speak. )

The bad news: You have to weed through at least 40 apps to find the one best for you. (There are many apps available to both At&T and Verizon customers.)

So -are these electronic Disney directions worth it? And what do they do?

We just spent 5 days at Walt Disney World, and I think the most helpful app features for families to keep everyone smiling are:

1) Wait times – Wouldn’t it be nice to know the rides with no wait time? With kids in Orlando heat, you know it is hard to drag them all the way across the park for that “special ride” to find there is a two hour wait. Instead, there are apps that tell you in real time what the wait is.

2) Maps: Perfect for the mom who’s child waits until the last minute to go to the bathroom – a map that tells you with GPS where the nearest restroom is.

3) Restaurants: A restaurant guide with menus…. so you can check out the kids’ meals and prices before hand.

4) Ride details: Good to know what age one should be to ride… and any height requirements. Circumvent any disappointment ahead of time. Nice.

5) GPS of parking : So at the end of a long day, you remember where your car is! (My tip would be to stay at one of the resorts that have monorail service from the park!! Worth every penny. Save on a rental car.)

The one quality I didn’t see on any apps that would be cool is to allow park visitors to check in at a ride and get an electronic fast pass without actually going to the ride. Perhaps putting a limit on how many passes one can get for each ride would be a way to do it.  If anyone has seen this feature, please let  me know.

Another way to improve the apps – there were a lot of ride malfunctions that either closed rides for a short time, or just stopped moving, but kept the lines open. Info on changes in ride operations would be helpful also.

You can get some free apps that focus on one aspect above- say the wait times only,  just maps, or just hotels,  but there are other apps that include everything together for some $$$.

For $3.99 one that looks good is by Undercover Tourist – offering all the details for every park all in one app (i.e. maps, wait times, GPS, menus, ..) You just have to decide if you want to spend the $3.99 to have all the info in one app, but it is like having a travel guidebook in your back pocket.

**Undercover Tourist also has a free app, but it is called “lite” – without as many important details.

As convenient as these apps make your trip, they DON’T replace researching ahead. There is so much info, and so much to do at Walt Disney World, you have to have a grasp on all the parks and what each offers before you start using your app to make your trip more magical.

Happy planning – as I mentioned before, this is one of the least crowded times to visit – right before Thanksgiving!

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