Smart phones and technology have really enhanced the way we take our vacations; from using the camera on smart phones to the maps feature everything these days is available at the touch or swipe of a finger. Disneyland is no exception to embracing technology. Over the last two years, the official Disneyland App has become a vital tool. The Disneyland App should be something you have on your phone or tablet with you on your next trip to the happiest place on earth!
Creating an Account
You are able to use the Disneyland App without an account, but I would highly recommend you consider creating one. Why? An account will allow you to link all of your dining reservations, photos and park tickets to be stored in one convenient place. Should you decide to add a credit or debit card to your account, you will also have the ability to purchase Maxpass and utilize mobile dining orders. The Maxpass overview post from last year can be read here.
I can not stress enough how important the ability to link your park tickets is to your account. Guests used to lose their park tickets all the time and more often than not would have to buy new tickets when one was lost. It’s not that easy to reprint tickets believe it or not. We used to require that all park tickets purchased by a family be present when we would attempt a ticket reprint. We would have to look at all of the numbers and sequences on the ticket and figure out which one was missing. Smart phones changed the game. With people being able to take a photo of the bar code, life got easier.
Still hesitant and want a paper ticket? You will still receive one! If your ticket is a mobile ticket or your have a paper ticket to redeem or a plastic shell ticket to redeem, don’t worry. When you arrive at the main entrance of Disneyland or California Adventure, the ticket turnstile prints you a paper copy of your ticket. The Cast Member will still need to take your photo to link it to the ticket.
If you do decide to upgrade your tickets to another ticket type or apply the value of the ticket towards an annual pass, ensure you do so before the end of the day (meaning park closing). The app is working on the ability to do this, but isn’t quite there yet. You will need to visit a ticket booth to do so. The ticket booth may also provide you with the option of a monthly payment plan for annual passes if you qualify.
Mobile Food Orders
I think the biggest game changer for me when I was at Disneyland last week was watching families wait in long lines to place food orders at many of the popular Quick Service restaurants like the Red Rose Tavern and Smokejumper’s Grill. Parents were scrambling to find a spot in line to look at the menu and figure out if the restaurant was a place they wanted to dine. The mobile food order pick up window was virtually empty everywhere I went to eat. Before I go one, Starbucks inside the parks does not participate in this program!
If you log into the Disneyland app, you have the ability to hit the “add or plus” button from the home screen where you are presented with the option to order food. Once you click on order food, you will be asked to select an arrival window. Arrival windows are when you think you will be arriving at the location to pick up your food. For example, if it is 1:30 p.m., the arrival window may say “Now to 2:10 p.m.” If you want to order the food now and pick it up later, you can select show more times.
I did not find a need to order in advance as all food at Disneyland is made to order. I waited until I knew where I wanted to eat and where I was at a specific time before placing an order. Not sure at what is on a dining locations menu? Not to fear, everything you are able to order, including soft drinks is listed on the app. Most locations also include allergy friendly menus.
When you are looking at the mobile app menu, the information displayed on the app is almost identical to the normal paper menus. You will add each item you want to a cart. Once your selection is complete, you place your order and the total amount it charged to the credit or debit card linked to your Disney Parks account. You do have the ability to change the card on file at any time. Note that if you are using a gift card, charging back to your hotel room you must order in person.
Once your order is complete, you will need to ensure you select your order and the “I’m here, prepare my order” button to let the Cast Members at the dining location know you are ready to pick up your food. The app will prompt you when to walk up to the mobile food pick up window. It’s usually a fast turn around of 5 minutes or so. The Cast Members will not call any order numbers out, so make sure you are paying attention to your phone or tablet. This is a fantastic option if you have kids on their own at the park as they do not need to carry anything around other than their phone to order food.
Not in the mood to order food to go? Consider making a dining reservation at the Blue Bayou, Carthay Circle, Lamplight Lounge, Steakhouse 55 or many other restaurants in the theme park. Reservations are available 60 days out as opposed to the 180 days WDW offers. If the event is a special dining experience such as the Halloween Trick or Tea at Steakhouse 55, or Thanksgiving Dining at the Disneyland Hotel ballroom, those experiences may only be available through calling Disney Dining. If your dining part will need a large party reservation, Disney Dining is also the only department that can book the reservation for you.
If your reservation is a normal one, you ca select the party size and time on the Disneyland App. You will be able to see and update, change or cancel any reservations you make if they are tied to your Disney account. A credit or debit card is required when making the reservation (the one linked to your account); you are able to use pretty much any method of payment when paying for the meal. Note that there is a $10 fee per person if you no not show up to the reservation. You are supposed to cancel your reservation if you can’t make it 24 hours in advance.
This is not a hard $10 per person charge if you have to cancel the reservation. You have the option to explain your reason to cancel to a Cast Member and most of the time there is an option to rebook the reservation or depending on the case, waive the cancellation fee. I waived the fee most of the time when a child became sick, for example.
Looking for Characters
I don’t know about you, but a quick photo with Mickey and Minnie Mouse are a must every time I visit the parks. The Disneyland App made finding where and when Mickey and Minnie will be a lot easier than the days of running around looking for these two mice. (In case your wondering, they are always found in Toon Town at their respective homes). The exception will always be the free roaming Alice, Mad Hatter, Peter Pan and Captain Hook. They are always off on an adventure.
For other characters, the Disneyland App has an interactive map of when and where a certain character may be. These times and locations can be subject to change, but generally are fairly accurate. If a character doesn’t appear on the App, like Loki or Rey odds are that they may be off in a galaxy far, far away but you never know. Disneyland is a magical place.
My best advice to you if you are planning to meet a certain character at a certain time is to head to the location they will be appearing earlier than the time listed on the app. Don’t be afraid to ask the nearest Cast Member any questions. Just remember to be polite and don’t take any frustrations out on them. Families come to Disneyland to experience the magic and everyone needs their moment to experience it. If you have your cameras and autograph books ready ahead of time, it will help expedite some of the waiting time in line.
Attractions and Photo Pass
Unable to get a specific Fastpass for the day? If you look at the map in the Disneyland App, you will have the real time update of any wait times for attractions you may consider riding or waiting in line for. The app is a great tool if you want to see if an attraction is down.
Going back to photos, if you are planning to take any photos with an official Disneyland Photopass Cast Member, ensure you link your photo pass card to the Disneyland app or your account. Don’t want to carry a card around? The Disneyland app can provide you with a special QR code for Photopass CMs to scan. Photos are always free to view, but if you want to purchase them without the watermark, they will cost you. The best deal is MaxPass. See my previous post about it to find out more.
As I’ve learned, be advised that to get the MaxPass deal, it has to be purchased the day you take the photos before midnight of that day. Attraction photos are included in MaxPass, remember to scan the QR code at each attraction to have it linked to your account. Photos generally are available for about 3 weeks on the app before they disappear into Wonderland.
Photopass Cast Members are always happy to take photos on your own phone or camera, but be polite to them. It never hurts to have a back up photo through Photopass. The Main Street Photo Supply in Disneyland or Kingswell Camera in California Adventure still exist as physical locations if you are interested in having a special photo printed or turned into art.
I think I’ve covered most of the basic information about the Disneyland App in this post, but there may be points that I’ve missed. Download it and explore, you never know what you will discover with it. It can be used as a tool to greatly enhance your trip to Disneyland. Look out for updates to it in the future. If your phone or tablet tends to drain battery life quickly, have a back up charger available, or invest in a Fuel Rod charger available with one of the many kiosks in Disneyland. For $30 you can switch out the charger as many times as you need. A win-win! Hope this helps you! Until next time, happy travels!