So, very few of us, especially those who travel, do so without some form of SmartPhone or tablet in tow. From iPhones to iPads, Google Tablets to Galaxys, the smart technology available to help our daily lives is prolific in almost every facet of our existence. Is that such a good thing? That remains to be seen...but as a practical matter, the smart technology can help you in so pretty spectacular ways.
Today, I'm going to talk briefly....VERY briefly....on the smart technology available to you for your next Disney vacation, whether that is to one of the parks, a cruise, or Aulani Resort.
First off, let's talk a bit about the actual technology. I am certainly no techno-wizard (my friend Matt is who I use for all my tech questions....and he's a fellow Disney Super Freak too!!), but you can't help but become familiar with certain technologies that are available through your every day life. I will not touch much on any one piece of technology, as there are too many to go into. I'll just refer to them by their generic names of SmartPhone, Tablet, Laptop, etc.
For any of these technologies to perform, there must be a certain amount of familiarity with the functionality of each one...but I'm no expert, so I won't be touching much on that. I'll ask you to refer to your specific item's manual for that. BUT...and this is a big but....the basic building block for all of the smart technologies is the application. There are many available, but how do you know which ones are good, and which ones are best...and which ones you don't want to bother with.
The short answer is...you don't! It's a basic trial-and-error situation, and, like most things in life, I find that this is one of the better ways to navigate. To accomplish this, it basically boils down to what you are willing to do to try something. Many of the apps are free, but some are paid. Are the paid ones worth the cost? Maybe...maybe not. Others who have purchased can give you some insight through reviews and the like, but, unfortunately, there is no substitute for just getting in there and figuring things out on your own.
At this point, I feel it's necessary to state that I am in no way affiliated with any of the apps I'm going to share, nor do I get any benefit from recommending them. I am just going to list the ones I've used (through that handy dandy trial and error again) and whether or not I think they will help you in your Disney travels.
My favorite app, hands down, is the Undercover Tourist App, available on both iOS and Android platforms. This app features both a free and paid version of the app, and is available for not only Disney, but other attractions as well. The features I find most helpful with this app are the crowd calendar, reservation organizer, wait times, and, most importantly, the friend finder. Their website (www.undercovertourist.com) has a plethora of fantastic information, a great blog, and links to helpful tools as well as the apps available. My recommendation is to purchase the paid app...the functionality is much more abundant on the paid version, and, in my opinion, very worth the cost.
As far as free apps go, there are many available. WDW Wait Times, Tink's Favorites, WDW Ride Tracker, and many others can provide you with information that will help you with your trip, as well as to help organize your visit once in the parks. A simple search on any device will show you the apps available.
For Disney World, the most important application to get currently is the My Disney Experience app. With the inclusion of RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) tags in tickets as well as the MyMagic wristbands, this app is a true MUST HAVE for anyone going to Disney. You can track all aspects of your trip with this app, from FastPass selections to dining reservation, from ride times, to maps, from menus to transportation schedules. You can even use this app to make changes and manage your entire vacation from one place. It's available for the iOS devices as well as Android and available from the app stores.
Recently, Disney Cruise Lines began to offer their own app to use onboard their vessels. This app, much like the My Disney Experience app, allows the user to manage most aspects of their cruise vacation directly from their smart device, and includes such things as daily schedules, menus, excursions, ship information, and communications. It's free and available, again, for iOS as well as Android through the app stores.
I know I've only touched on a few basic ones. There are many more out there. Please feel free to comment and let me know which ones you like best. I'd love to get them and review them on future blog posts.
For now, have a magical week!