Yesterday, the Disneyland Resort released a new app intended to make navigating the parks a whole lot easier, and here at Babes In Disneyland, we are pretty darn excited. We’ve spent the last 24 hours combing through the app and figuring out what we like, love and hope Disney improves on. The app is currently available for iOS (click here to download it) and for Android (available on Google Play here).
Here are the things we think parents (and grandparents, aunts and uncles) will love about the Disneyland app. Be sure to read all of these carefully, because even with the sections of the app that we love there are some areas that need improvement.
Finding restrooms FAST. When little ones need to go, they NEED TO GO! For those unfamiliar with the park, this app will come in very handy when looking for the closest restroom or while trying to find a spacious companion restroom. It is important to note that the app does not list ALL of the restrooms. Many restaurants (like Carthay) have their own restrooms, but Disney doesn’t necessarily want the entire park populous cruising through to go potty. It also doesn’t list the Tiki Room restroom. I DO NOT recommend looking up restrooms in the “list view,” as they are all listed as being in Downtown Disney (at the time of the publishing of this article). I’m sure this is a bug that Disney will work out eventually.
Finding characters just got a whole lot easier. I can’t tell you how many times we have spent the day trying to find characters–having to ask at the Information Board if they could help us track certain characters down. (Check out one such adventure by clicking here.) The app provides parents the ability to search for characters by name or area/location. When I opened the app yesterday and saw this part, I actually got choked up thinking about how much time and fun this feature will provide families. One thing the app doesn’t offer is the option to search for characters by name. Although Peter Pan is listed in the character section, if you search his name using the search tool, he does not come up. It is important to note that not ALL characters are listed. We noted that characters like Cruella, the Storm Troopers and Stitch couldn’t be found. We will recommend asking at the Information Boards in the parks for help finding difficult-to-track-down characters.
Attraction info and wait times! Gone is the need for third-party wait time apps because now you can have Disney’s official times. They can be displayed by area of the park (shown in the map view) or in an alphabetical list that combines both parks. This can be really helpful for locals looking to gauge crowds before heading to the parks the same day. When digging deeper on each attraction (you must click on it to open up the attraction) moms and dads can read a short description of the attraction and learn about the height requirement (if there is one) and disability access. You can click here for a list attraction height requirements that is a bit more handy.
Basic dining info. The app provides locations and very basic info on each restaurant–including a general price range and description of the type of food. The app does NOT provide information on healthy eating options or menus. It DOES offer the opportunity to “find a table” and make a reservation at the restaurants that accept reservations. (If you are going to make a reservation at a Disneyland Resort restaurant, be sure to read this first about no-show fees.) The app also does not allow you to search for restaurants based on price category, but it DOES allow you to search for restaurants by keyword like “hamburger” or “lemonade” and includes many outdoor vending locations. This is an incredibly handy feature!
Entertainment information. If you love shows at Disneyland–or if you are there on a crowded day and just want a chance to get away from the crowds–the entertainment section is a great way to get a good feel for all of the entertainment and learn about some of the “atmosphere talent” you may not have ever experienced.
PhotoPass locations. If you LOVE PhotoPass locations–especially the very special locations set up for the Diamond Celebration–you will love the PhotoPass section. This part of the app is going to make it a whole lot easier to take full advantage of PhotoPass+ purchases. We encourage you to read all about PhotoPass+ before making the investment by clicking here.
Hotel information! We adore this section for families visiting from out of town because it not only lists the on-property hotels but the Good Neighbor hotels and motels as well. It also allows you to map the local hotels so that you can see where they are located. (Click here for our recommendations on how to pick a local hotel.) Using this info with the mapping on the app will come in very handy for parents planning their trips.) The app does not give price ranges, so you will still need to seek those out on your own.
Find important guest services fast. We really like this section of the app–but not in map form because it is really overwhelming and not terribly helpful. In list form, however, this section of the app provides really valuable information on where to find first aid, the kennels, guest relations, lockers, etc. (The app does not provide information on locker costs or sizes.) It also lists information on ATMs, but we NEVER recommend using the ATMs at Disneyland because of the fees (unless you bank at Chase). You can get around using the ATM by getting Disney Dollars. Click here to learn all about Disney Dollars!
Annual passport information. If you are an annual passholder, you are going to get a lot out of this app. It allows you to sync up all of your family’s passes, plus provides you with blackout dates for your passes AND expiration dates (can I hear a “hallelujah?”) for your passes. (I have experienced some glitches with the blackout calendar, but hopefully that will get worked out with time. Moreover, Kendra from the blog has experienced some glitches while adding all of her family members’ passes.) Having expiration dates handy is HUGE, because let me tell you how NOT fun it is to reach the turnstiles only to find out that your pass is expired (especially if you have a So Cal pass that needs to be renewed BEFORE it expires). Passholders can also check out their discounts at restaurants (but not stores). It is important to note that although you can use your phone at the main entrance to get in because your bar code will be stored on it, you will still need your actual pass for FASTPASS machines and discounts.
The app does NOT provide families the following:
- Complete trip planning information. While the app does show about a month of operation hours, it is not intended to provide parents what they need to sit down and plan their trip with helpful hints and info. As mentioned in #3 above, there is a short description of each attraction if you dig through on each attraction, but I don’t know if it is the best way to “plan your trip.” (We have more user friendly lists with attraction height requirements here on the blog–just as an example.) There is very, very limited planning info in the “Events & Tours” section, but not enough to actually plan a trip. We DO like the “Hotels” section of the app when it comes to planning trips. (See #7.)
- The ability to rotate their phone for a landscape view of the park or information.
- The ability to “favorite” things or plan out the day. I suppose this goes along with trip planning, but it sure would be nice to be able to “favorite” all of the rides and shows you want to do before your visit so that it isn’t overwhelming the day of. You will have to go “old fashioned” on this and write out what you want to do or type it in a notes app on your phone.
- Total ease of use with online ticket purchases. Although we have not purchased tickets through the app yet, there are reports that you may still have to print them–which is never fun from your phone. Moreover, like the annual passes, you will need a hard ticket for FASTPASS machines. They will give you one at the park, but it seems like a lot of extra work.
- Information on businesses outside of Disneyland. Although the app has outside hotel and motel info, it does not include information on the Target a few blocks away from Disneyland, local shopping malls, etc.
- A great internet connection while in the parks. The Disneyland Resort is notorious for having lousy internet service. There are numerous “dead zones” in the parks where I cannot post to social media. Without wifi it remains to be seen how the app will work in the parks. We hope to have a Disneyland app stress test in the parks post up next week.
All in all, we think the app will be helpful for families. We will continue playing around with it and add more information about it to this post as we come across new tips. We definitely recommend parents play around with the app A LOT before heading to the parks so that they can easily navigate it on the go when their hands are full with the kiddos. It takes some getting used to switching from map to list view and getting from one place to another.
Please note that the Apple link in the first paragraph contains an affiliate link. That means that even though the app is free, I may make a small (very TINY) amount of money on any other iTunes purchases you make within 24 hours of clicking on the link.