Even before I leave home for my Disney trip, tech already has played a huge roll in my vacation. Typically this involves the expected general items: getting my tickets, Booking the hotel, flight, booking my FastPasses and Dining Reservations via the MyDisneyExperience website. But there are a number of things I use tech for before my trip to help myself later on.
First up is TouringPlans.com. This site not only is great for minimizing your wait times (which we will get to in a bit), but also for figure when the best times to go are. I’ve had a subscription to this website for years now, and although my vacation options are often constrained due to school schedules, during the summer months it’s a necessity to try to find the least busy times at Disney. Len and his team do a great job identifying not only when the parks as a whole are less busy, but also what parks each day are more or less busy and why. Knowing to avoid Animal Kingdom because it’s ranked a 8/10 and instead login to Magic Kingdom because it’s a 610 will save you tons of time even if you don’t do any other planning.
I also use this site to plan out my more full days at the parks. There are days you want to relax and just do a couple rides. Then there are days you want to try everything! They have pre-planned out versions that are free to use, but if you are a subscriber then you can customize your own, both with what attractions, meals, shows (and breaks) you want, along with your existing FastPasses. As well as customizing it to the exact day and time you will be going.
I also like to make sure I have this little page at OurLaughingPlace bookmarked while I’m down in Disney World. it’s the OLP WDW Transportation Wizard. Curious how long it will take to get from The Studios to Art of Animation? Will that be by car, bus, or boat? (answers are 8min, 12min, and 34 min respectfully). A must have resource on hand when planning things and making sure to get somewhere on time.
Little bit of Planning
People often forget things on their trips. Then you end up hunting for that reservation time, or hotel reservation number. Take screen shots of the items that you will need on your trip and keep them handy! If you take a few moments to do things when your not frantic, it will make your vacation even more enjoyable. I go one step further and create a spreadsheet that has all my FastPass times, dinner and hotel reservations, even the crowd calendar information all in one place. I keep that on my phone and even print out a copy or two for the hotel room.
I also like to download the current digital maps to the phone. Most people don’t realize that you can get the maps for each of the parks downloaded digitally! I’d include links but they are constantly changing. Luckily over at wdwprepschool.com seems to keep anup to date list with the official files from Disney. I use the iBooks app on my iPhone to keep them all organized, but any PDF reader or image library application will allow you to see them.
Another item people often forget to do is to clear out their camera…. Errr phones… You picture taking device, whatever that might be. You will be taking a ton of images and video while on your trip. Be sure to have space for it all! Nothings worse than trying to take a picture of little Jack and Jill and realize you first need to clear off space from your phone.
Speaking of your phone, there are a number of items you’ll want to put on there or turn on before heading out on your trip. What you want will depend greatly on what sort of person you are, and who all you are going with.
The first is a no brainer – My Disney Experience (Cost: FREE Available: iOS Android). The ability to make and change reservations and FastPasses on the fly is a must have. And once you sign in you will see all your items (and any linked users) in one place.
Disney has a couple other apps that you will likely find very useful to have on hand. ShopDisneyParks (Cost: FREE Available: iOS Android) will allow you to find everything in the park, and where you can find it. And if for some reason they don’t have your size in stock, you can just scan it and order it for delivery later. And for more generic Disney stuff you can always use the full Disney Store App (Cost: FREE Available: iOS Android) for more generic Disney items form the online store.
Another, that I’ve already mentioned but worth reminding about, is that touringplans.com has a mobile app for you to use called Lines (Cost: FREE Available: iOS Android). There is a subscription to get the full use of this app, but even the free version gives tons of information and access to the free preplanned touringplans.
You don’t necessarily need this specific app, but you need at least 1 weather app. The Weather Channel (Cost: FREE Available: iOS Android) has been the standard for a while now, and given how quickly the weather can change in Orlando, knowing the 2pm rainstorm now is getting there at 1, will be a life saver.
If you are flying down, you’ll want a few different apps on your phone. Beyond your airline’s application I recommend 2 additional apps. First up is FlightView (Cost: FREE Available on iOS Android). You can enter in all your flights into one place regardless if they are on different airlines. This app will keep you up to date on where you plane is coming from, what gate it’s going to show up at, and if it’s on time or not. There is also a premium “Elite” version, but i find the free app is just fine. The second flight app I keep on hand is the MCO app (Cost: FREE Available on iOS Android). Although I usually know where I’m going when i get to the Orlando Airport, having a list of all the restaurants, gates, and any other up to date info on the airport can come in quite useful
If you are driving down, or just renting a car when you get there, currently my go to app is Waze (Cost: FREE Available on iOS Android). It allows you to use events in your phone calendar, add stops to an existing trip, as well as up to date crowd sourced items (such as crashes, blocked roads, police, and traffic). A lot of this tends to be paid service on other apps, but since Google uses this as a global resource, it’s free in the app.
If you’d prefer not to drive yourself, you might want to try either Uber or Lyft to get around and avoid the Disney Buses. I tend to still use the busses but I still find it good to have in a pinch if you find yourself needed to get to Hoop De Do Review and don’t want to mess with the multiple buses you’d need to take. The difference between these… is a whole post in of itself. But the short version is that either one should get you were you need to be going.
Finding people when in the parks can be a bit of a pain. Depending what everyone has you can either take advantage of the built in Find My Friends app in iOS. You can give temporary access to meet up at a spot, or completely friend them so can come and go as you like. For the more cross platform of the groups, Google now has their built in app called Trusted Friends (Cost: FREE Available on iOS Android) to be cross platform. So regardless what platform you all can meet up. There are tons of other meet up apps, but these two just deal with location vs other apps such as Facebook, WhatsApp, or iMessage. For any of these apps, make sure you have allowed it to actually share your location. Don’t want an app running and people confused why they can’t see the location you re trying to share with them.
This one you probably have noticed if you’ve been in the parks the last few years. Heads Up! (Cost: $0.99 on iOS, FREE on Android) is a great game to play while waiting in line with a best of your family or friends. You get a name on the phone you can’t see and they have to make you guess it. Quite that simple. And for those at Disney, you can unlock the Disney Park decks for free! And if you get bored, you can download additional packs for a fee, or make your own.
Don’t worry only 2 more here….
2nd to last is some music to keep you going while at the hotel room (while not watching the Disney Today TV channel). My go to for background, ride, and song audio from the Disney World Parks is the srsounds.com‘s app Sorcerer Radio (Cost: FREE Available on iOS Android). I’ve been listing to this for years either in the car, or on my computer, and when i’m in the hotel getting ready to head out i usually thought this on while showering to enjoy more of the Disney magic.
Last on my app round up is the Hidden Mickeys: Walt Disney World Edition (Cost: $7.99 Available on iOS Android). Made by the same people that brought the Hidden Mickey Field Guide, these mobile version of the app shows you all the 1200+ hidden mickeys at Walt Disney World, and an easy way to keep track of the ones you’ve found and those that are still hiding.
Did I miss your favorite app or pre-planning resource for your Disney Trips? Leave a comment below!
And Check out the other articles from this week’s series:
- Prepping for Disney overview
- Pre-gaming Disney Planning
- Tech In the Parks
- Things to leave at the Hotel (or at home)
- Odds ‘n Ends of Disney vacation tech
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