App Review: Disney Releases Official Disneyland Appby Lani Teshima, staff writer
The new official Disneyland smartphone applications for Android and iOS devices launched earlier this week, offering much of the same functionality of Disney's retired Mobile Magic app, plus some nice new features. As before, you can browse park maps, see official wait times, find characters, and view dining options. The biggest change seems to be the ability to link your admission media to the app, allowing you to enter the park without pulling your ticket or annual pass from your wallet (you still need your physical ticket to obtain Fastpass).
This looks to be a step towards bringing a Disneyland version of My Disney Experience to the West Coast, but using your own mobile device instead of a MagicBand.
We had some trouble finding the app in the Apple App Store, and we suspect it is a combination of the trademark symbol being part of its name, and because it is so new that it had very few reviews. To cut through the clutter, you can access them directly from here:
How does this official app fare? Let's take a look.
|Simple to navigate and visually appealing, this app has some truly helpful functions, like real-time wait times, character meet-and-greet locations, and ability to make dining reservations. Does not require you to be physically in the park to use.||Some features are sorely missing, like the ability to make a Fastpass reservation, or even find out if a Fastpass is still available for a ride. Linking profiles is confusing, and not particularly useful. Premier Annual Passes don't work with this app.||Disney has hit a grand slam with its official Disneyland app. Install this app if you plan to visit the Disneyland Resort. If you install no other Disneyland-related app, install this one.|
Although there are many features available in this app, there are a few standouts that are particularly helpful.
Real-time wait times
If you are in the park, this is the single best feature of the app. Although you can go to the information boards at both Disneyland and Disney California Adventure parks, this app lets you check approximate wait times on the fly, allowing you to adjust your ride strategy based on how long the waits are.
A feature that is only available on the app, this feature can turn an average visit for a child into a magical day filled with personal encounters with Disney characters. Although the location of characters is presented as just another map feature in the app, I think this is another huge win with this app. The information is unavailable in the paper guide map, and the feature is perfect for the smartphone platform, especially with details on hours (of what time characters are available).
Purchase park tickets
Whether you buy your tickets months in advance or if you purchase as you catch the tram from the Mickey and Friends parking structure, you will never have to stand in line at the ticket booths in the Esplanade again.
Link your ticket or annual pass to the app
The app lets you link your park ticket or annual pass to your account on the app, and lets you use your smartphone to enter the turnstiles into the park. So now, you can board your flight at the airport and enter Disneyland with just your phone.
Make dining reservations
Let the app take you to detailed information about a dining establishment, and make dining reservations directly from your smartphone without phoning a dining operator.
Find restrooms quickly
Next to real-time wait times, knowing where the nearest restroom is located is very convenient.
When you first fire up the app, it gives you the option to log in; conveniently, you use the same email address and password you use for your Disney.com login.
Once you log in, the initial screen shows your name. Tap Profile under your name to see your My Profile screen. Here, you can update your Disney.com account settings, contact information, and preferred credit card payment information.
From this Profile screen, you can link a pass (more on this below), purchase park tickets and annual passes, as well as look up park hours.
Main Menu Options
To get out of the Profile screen, swipe the page downward. This takes you to the main area of the app. Everything is oganized in a dozen categories, which you can access by tapping on the words at the top of the screen.
When you tap on a category, the labels on the resort map change to show you those associated items in the form of little pop-up bubbles. Most of these pop-ups include small icons to indicate what they are, but some, like the Attractions category, shows pop-ups with numbers that indicate wait time in minutes.
Tapping on a bubble displays a little dialog with the name of the attraction or venue, and its general location.
Tap on this dialog to see a screen with information at a glance, including how late the venue is open, and a short description.
|Menu category||Pop-up icon||Information offered|
|Attractions||Wait times (or a star symbol if no wait queue)||Height restrictions, appropriate age groups, Fastpass service, ride description, thrill type (if appropriate), and accessibility information.|
|Characters||Mickey icons||Times that a character is available at the location|
|Dining||Fork and knife||Dining reservations if taken, hours, price range, annual passholder discounts, dining style, type of cuisine|
|Restrooms||Figures of a man and woman||Nothing of note|
|Photopass||Camera lens with mouse ears||Nothing of note|
|Entertainment||Magician's hat||Showtimes, appropriate age groups, entertainment type, accessibility information|
|Events & Tours||Stars||Type, appropriate age groups, prices, accessibility information.|
|Guest Services||Varies||Nothing of note. This is one category that is weak. There are so many services offered, and the icons are not all easy to identify in map view. If you know what type of service you seek, flip to the list view and find your category.|
|Hotels||Building||Tap to call to book. There is no obvious menu option for phoning the general operator.|
|Recreation||Beach ball||Nothing of note, however, as with Guest Services, this category is better to navigate in list view.|
|Shops||Shopping bag||The map view is also overwhelming, since there are so many shops.|
|Spa||Leaf||The only spa listed is in the Grand Californian Hotel. No prices or details listed.|
Although none of these are dealbreakers, we found a few issues with the app.
Linking Admission Media
There are two things you can do in this app with park tickets and annual passes: One that adds a ticket for yourself, and another that adds other people in your linked system.
From your Profile screen, you can add your own admission media to your profile. This supposedly lets you use the barcode you display on your app, as your ticket in through the turnstiles. This saves you the 10 seconds you need to take your ticket or annual pass out of your wallet.
There are a couple of caveats here that tamper my enthusiasm for this feature.
First, this is currently unsupported for the Premier Annual Pass. A note at the bottom of the Tickets & Passes screen mentions this, but it feels like yet another case of "why is the most expensive Disney annual pass treated so shabbily?" When you try to scan a Premier AP, you see this unhelpful, incomprehensible error message:
No Validation Failure Reason Given Try again later.
Second, you cannot use your linked admission media to get Fastpass tickets. Even if you can enter the park with just your smartphone, it turns out you still need your physical ticket or annual pass to obtain a Fastpass.
The other feature of this app is the ability to associate multiple tickets and annual passes to your profile. At first glance, this seems particularly handy for parents. After all, if you don't have to worry about carrying little Junior's park ticket, you can just stand at the turnstile and let all your children through.
Unfortunately, the app doesn't quite work that way.
If you have two parents and one parent adds their children's admission media into their app, the other parent cannot add it to theirs; it says the children's admission media/APs are already associated with another account.
You cannot pull up these linked admission medias for admission.
Finally, linked admission media do not appear in the Tickets & Passes screen; they are only visible under the My Profile screen. This means you must still bring your children's admission media with you to the park.
MousePlanet staff member Adrienne Krock reports:
I have to scroll down to see [their listing]. I can't click on the boys' names. And even though I see it here, I don't see their passes under tickets & passes & it won't let me add it.
I added the boys to my account via the profile page. After that it won’t let Kevin link the boys to his at all.
When I went to the tickets and passes page, it won’t let me add the boys’ and tells me that they’re already linked to another account.
Fastpass ability is almost nonexistent for this app. Although we could easily see that this app did not offer the ability to make Fastpass reservations, we were surprised to find that it also lacks some information we expected to find.
- The app does not show the need for and/or availability of Fastpass tickets for Fantasmic and/or World of Color, nor does it display which show they are issuing tickets for. Does not show the need for and/or availability of Fastpass tickets for the Frozen Sing Along in DCA or storytelling in Fantasy Faire inside Disneyland (or which show they are issuing tickets for).
- The app mentions whether a ride uses the Fastpass system, but does not say when the return times are for anyone who picks up a Fastpass ticket at that moment.
- The app provides no information on whether all Fastpass tickets for an attraction or show have been distributed for the day (as often happens with Radiator Springs Racers). Knowing this information would save people a lot of walking.
An additional note: Although the information is printed on the park guide maps, the app does not indicate whether an attraction uses single-rider lines.
There is a search field in the top navigation bar, but entering words you know are in the app yields odd results. For example, if you enter bathroom (perhaps because you didn't know to scroll far enough to get to the main Restroom category), the search result says there are only two in the entire park (one at ESPN Zone in Downtown Disney, and the second one in Plaza Inn restaurant). Using the word restroom is even worse; the single result you get is for Princess Dot Puddle Park (a true head-scratcher).
It's obvious that they are not using an internal index or controlled vocabulary/glossary, so don't expect to get an accurate result by using the search functionality.
iOS 9 unsupported
Although iOS 9 was announced just this summer and is not yet available for general use, it is widely available for testing purposes by anyone. The Disneyland app, however, does not work yet with iOS 9.
This is a game-changer for the Disneyland smartphone app landscape. With a lightweight footprint, this app is fast, quick, and uncluttered. It is visually appealing, easy to navigate, and simple to understand. It is not bogged down with unnecessary information, adds extra functionality unavailable elsewhere, and offers functionality for making reservations and purchasing park admission. Simply amazing.
App at a Glance
- App name: Disneyland
- Developed by: Disney Electronic Content, Inc.
- Platforms: iOS 7.0 or later (but not 9.0), compatible with iPhone iPad, and iPod Touch.
- Cost: Free
- Version reviewed: 1.0 Build: 20150732
- Size: 63.5 MB
- Available from the Apple iTunes App Store
- Pros: Easy to navigate, real-time data with ability to purchase tickets and make dining reservations.
- Cons: Requires an Internet connection for wait times, some features not yet fully developed.
- Lani's rating: 4.9 out of 5. Misses by a hair for underdeveloped features.
- App name: Disneyland
- Developed by: Disney Electronic Content, Inc.
- Platforms: Android version 4.0.3 and up
- Cost: Free
- Current version: 1.0(v1.0.0+build.22)
- Size: 18 MB
- Available from the Google Play Store
[Special thanks go to staff members Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix and Adrienne Krock for additional app testing.]
Bonus – Dining Walk-Through
This walk-through helps show you how to navigate the Disneyland app to make a dining reservation.
1. From the main menu, select Dining.
2. Tap on an icon to bring up the pop-up summary for the restaurant.
3. Tap on the pop-up summary. You see the information page for the restaurant, with hours, price ranges, and additional information.
4. Scroll down to see more information about the restaurant, including dining experience type, and type of cuisine.
5. Tap Annual Passholder Discounts to expand the list of available discounts.
6. On the top of the information page, tap Find a Table. The app warns you that you are about to leave the app to go online (using a browser such as Safari). The Find a Table web page appears.
7. The Find a Table web page provides details on dining hours, as well as access to a great amount of detail. There are links to TripAdvisor reviews, as well as the ability to view the menu.
Once you are taken to the Disneyland website for the dining establishment, there is far more information, including links to TripAdvisor reviews. Although not obvious, you can click on View Menu and look at their menu online. The website seems to load slower than pages on the app.
The menu is not easy to spot. Near the bottom of the page, tap View Menu, even though the words do not appear as a link. That link was not obvious to Katie on MousePad, who wrote:
I just downloaded the app and it looks very clean and functional. One thing it doesn't have which would be handy are menus if you dig into the restaurant locations. It is nice that they list operating hours.
8. Tap the green Find a Table button; the Make a Reservation page appears. On this page, choose your preferred date, time, and party size, then tap Find a Table. If there are any seatings available, you see the results on the page.
9. Select your time of choice. If you have already entered a valid credit card for your app profile, the system will use that credit card to secure your reservation.
I found that it was possible to make same-day reservations this way, so this is a good way to find a place to eat in the parks when you haven't made reservations too far in advance (assuming they still have seats available).