Smart Phones... Where would we be without them?
If you are traveling to Disneyland, then you have a lot of choices when it comes to which app you will use in the park (if you use one at all). Your Pixie Planners will be breaking down some apps we have tested, with the pros and cons of some of the most popular apps.
For the purposes of saving you both time and money, we only tested the free apps. Many apps have paid versions, but why pay more for something when a free app can do the same thing!?
Here’s our Disneyland Park App breakdown:
Pros: This app had many features available on the free app. Some of our favorites were ride times, as well as a crowd index to tell us how crowded the park is. We also loved the “what’s near me” feature which allows you to find bathrooms, shops, and food (Corn Dog anyone?!).
Cons: First off, MouseWait is an accidental click on an ad waiting to happen. Of course, the paid version would not have this issue, but we aren’t in the mood to pay for an app for Disneyland. We can’t tell you the number of times our fat fingers accidentally ended up redirecting us to a website. Second, this app had one of the most confusing interfaces that we found. We would need to spend an entire day figuring out how to use the app before heading to the park, even with some basic directions provided by the app at startup.
For anyone who knows their Disney, a “plaid” is a paid Disney tour guide, giving guests concierge service. We were excited to see how this app shook out compared to that standard.
Pros: Virtual Plaid gives you nearly all of the features of Mouse Wait (they are made by the same developer), while adding additional features – all for free. We loved that you could organize your day, adding favorite rides, attractions, dining, and Fast Passes to your plan. Like Mouse Wait, you can also view the crowd index for the day.
Cons: While slightly less annoying and less likely to hit than Mouse Wait, the ads still tend to get in the way. Also, like Mouse Wait, the app does not include directions. It is slightly easier to use than Mouse Wait however, with less clutter.
The Official Disneyland App
Pros: Of all of the apps, this is the only one officially released by Disney. Within the parks, I found myself using this app the most. Being an official app, the wait times for rides, as well as passholder information was the most accurate. If you have dining reservations, the system already links them to your account, as you use the same sign in. You also have the option to link your Annual Pass, and park tickets you buy online, as E-tickets will appear in your app. You can use this app to reserve new dining (it redirects you to the Disneyland website), you can buy park tickets, and even link your photo pass for the in-park pictures and ride photos. Lastly, this app was the most visually appealing, with the best interactive park map.
Cons: It was hard to find a con to this app. If there is one, it is that the app requires a lot of bandwidth on your cell phone to work. If your carrier (ahem, Sprint) doesn’t have great reception in the park, viewing the great features is nearly impossible.
Pros: For this app, we found very few pros.
Cons: Magic Guide provided far too few free features. Many of the paid features, such as the restroom finder, are free on other apps like Mouse Wait. We can’t stomach paying for something we can get free elsewhere.
Pros: This app gave clear directions for use at start-up. In addition, the crowd map is helpful! The map shows you where the most and least people are in the park. If you despise crowds, you might be in the wrong place, but this app can help you find some quieter refuge. You can also search for food by type: helpful if you are in the mood for a very specific churro.
Cons: Like Magic Guide, Mouse Addicts charges for features that you can get for free in other apps. In this case, the ride time notification, where you get a notification when a ride hits your target wait time, is free on Virtual Plaid. Another paid feature is a look at guest times in the future. A quick Internet search (or reaching out to your local Pixie Planner) can help you get this information for free!
Our top 2 apps are the Official Disneyland App and Virtual Plaid. Both give you many features and ease of use. Virtual Plaid fills in the very few holes left with the official Disneyland app.
Keep in mind that using any app in the park can and will drain your battery. Coverage at Disneyland, which has yet to put in park wide Wi-Fi like you can find at Walt Disney World, can be spotty at best. Our Pixie tip is to turn your phone on airplane mode when you are not using it. We also bring our back up charger, which we inevitably need to use at least once during the day. Thanks to our handy fanny packs (hello 1995, your wardrobe called), we can carry that easily and use in a pinch.
And of course, there is always the original OG app for getting around the park… that paper map and schedule you get when you walk in! Happy Park Hopping!