Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The iPhone, Apps, & Walt Disney World

This summer has been full of friends emailing, Facebooking, and calling me asking for tips for traveling to Walt Disney World.  My theory is "if I can't go there myself, at least I can help someone else enjoy their time in my happy place!"  My advice ranges from places to eat to can't miss events.  Recently a friend told me that my suggestion of Magic Kingdom's Rope Drop really made their trip!  Nothing warms a Disney fanatic's heart quite like hearing they helped spread the pixie dust!  Hopefully in this post I can spread some pixie dust with some Disney iPhone app tips.

Any organized techie can agree that the iPhone (or any smart phone) can be a useful tool especially when traveling. My iPhone stays quite busy when I'm at Walt Disney World.  You all know me, I love to organize, so my iPhone has really opened the doors to planning made easy (and fun)!  However, before I tell you about my favorite Disney apps, I must warn you that the last thing you want to do on vacation is be constantly "in" your cell phone.  Any apps you decide to download need to be easy and fast to use as well as worth taking time away from your vacation to look at them.

When I started searching for Disney iPhone apps, there were so many that I was easily confused!  You can spend a small fortune searching for just the right one, so I recommend starting (after you read this blog post) by looking at the compilation of Disney iPhone/iPad apps on Stitch Kingdom.  Like any app out there, you have to find the ones that work for you and your needs, so be sure to read the reviews, check out the screenshots, and try any FREE versions first before you buy the app.  Also, I recommend loading your apps WEEKS before your trip, so you are used to how they work.
Above is the WDW Apps folder on my iPhone.  I did not use all of these apps while I was in Walt Disney World in June, but I find value in all of them.  Let's talk about my favorites though!

WDW Waits (Disney World Wait Times Free by VersaEdge Software) is quite possibly the app I used the most while actually in the parks.  I love free apps that only have a tiny ad on them!  This app does just what it says: it tells you the wait times for all of the attractions in all of the parks at Walt Disney World.  While in the parks it loaded fast and was highly accurate.  Often we'd be at the bus stop and check the wait times for the park we were headed to in order to know which attraction we should go to first.  It also helped us when we wanted to park hop: "Ack! Disney's Hollywood Studios has become super crowded! How's Epcot looking?"  Added bonus? When you're not at WDW, you can still check the wait times and daydream about what rides you would go to if you were in the parks!

WDW Hours (Disney World Park Hours Free by VersaEdge Software) is another of my favorite in park apps.  Again, it's FREE (and free is a very good price), and it has tiny ads.  I know we all grab the Times Guide when we walk into a park, so we know the hours of the parks, the parade times, and other event times, but this app has all that in one location!  I can put my hands on my phone almost instantly. That little piece of paper?  Not so quickly. It lists park hours, Extra Magic hours, parades, and some shows.  It's not quite as extensive as the Times Guide, but it gets the basics to you fast.

WDW Dining (Disney World Dining by VersaEdge Software) is an app that's completely worth the $1.99 you will pay for it.  Not only does it have every menu (with prices) for every counter service and table service in the parks, but it also has them listed for the resorts.  Want to make sure the restaurant you want to eat at has chicken nuggets for the kids?  Pull out this app!  Wondering where to find a cupcake in Magic Kingdom?  This app can tell you!  

Want to know about your dining reservations like the time, location, date, and reservation number?  Oh wow are you in luck!  I cannot even begin to tell you how many times we checked this app!  Below are the dining reservations that Kyle and I made on our last trip.  One evening before the trip I quickly entered them in the app, and voila! Instant reference sheet!  It will even email this list to anyone in one email instead of having one email per reservation.  Usually one prints all their dining reservation emails or makes a list on a scrap of paper that needs to be found to head to dinner.  This way your list is always with you along with your reservation number.  Invaluable tool!  This part of the app alone is worth the $1.99.
On a side note, I didn't realize until now how many VersaEdge apps I have on my phone!  Those folks sure know their stuff when it comes to Disney apps!

The three apps listed above are the apps I used the most while in the parks.  Apps do drain your iPhone battery, and I tend to prefer to enjoy the parks in person instead of through an app.  *wink*  However, the fun with Disney apps is not limited to the parks!  Some apps help make waiting for your trip even more magical!

WDW Pics (WDW Pics - Walt Disney World Wallpapers by PowWows.com) kept my iPhone (and iPad) dressed in gorgeous WDW wallpapers leading up to and during my trip for only $0.99.  They update and add to the photo library often, and the shots are always breathtaking and high quality.  I could change my background daily and always feel like I was at WDW!

Mouse Trivia (Mouse Trivia: Disney Edition by x19 Studios) has over 1,000 questions about Disney!  While waiting for your trip (or killing time in the line for Soarin') you can brush up on your Disney knowledge about the parks, movies, characters, music, and more!  Challenge your travel buddies to see who can get a high score!  Play alone before your trip to learn tidbits to impress your friends in the parks!  Even better?  It's another free app, and they have multiple versions in the app store (like my favorite: Tangled).

Countdown (WDW Countdown by PLR Concepts, LLC) is my final favorite. Everyone waiting anxiously for a Disney World vacation needs a great way to countdown to the trip.  Kyle posted a screenshot of this app on Twitter one day, and I happily paid the $0.99 to have this app to help me countdown to my vacation.  It comes with pre-loaded WDW images for the background of your countdown, or you can load your own photos.  There are a lot of countdown apps out there, but this one had a Disney vibe and has a beautiful look to it.  You can customize quite a bit on it, and it adds just a bit more magic to your wait (and believe me, when you start your countdown over 100 days out, you need more magic)!

Any time you're at Walt Disney World and out all day in the parks, you run the risk of running your battery into the ground well before you are ready to go back to your resort.  I recommend checking out Amanda Tinney's iPhone Battery Saving Tips before you leave for your trip! I know those tips sure saved me when I was in the parks! Also a portable battery charger is a good idea.

Those are my 6 favorite Walt Disney World apps.  Remember to enjoy your vacation more than you enjoy your phone while you're on your trip!  What apps have I missed that you can't live without in the parks?


  1. Thanks so much for including MouseTrivia in your article! There'll be an updated version out in about a month with some long requested feature additions, and of course even more questions.

    Inside tidbit—I'm working on another version of MouseTrivia now that features the villainous side of Disney :-) Expect to see that in mid-August.

  2. Great post! My husband just got an iPhone right before our honeymoon and he decided to bite the bullet and download TouringPlans.com. It's a bit of money, but we are also going down 3 times this year so it's worth it... but omg, the information was really helpful when it came to navigating parks and figuring out what attractions to go on. You should definitely check it out. Best investment we made for our whole trip. - Stelle

  3. Thanks to you both!

    @MouseTrivia - Totally worth including you! Love the app! Can't wait for the update!

    @Stelle & Chelle - I'd include the TP app except for the fact that you have to pay for a TP subscription to use it. I'd rather pay once for an app and then be done spending my money. I found other apps that could do the same, so I went with the free ones instead. :)

    For anyone else reading this: the app S&C is talking about is called Lines. I did try it out and like it, but like I said above, having to pay for (and continue paying for) a subscription to TouringPlans.com to use the app's features bothered me.

  4. Any chance you have an updated post?

    1. I've considered working on one, but this one is still fairly accurate. If I went tomorrow, I'd still use most of these apps.