Mouse Tech: DHS GPS Map App Review

I find Hollywood Studios a little bit confusing.  Hollywood Blvd and Sunset Blvd make total sense, but I definitely get lost somewhere along the way. Sometimes I end up at the Writer’s Stop when I mean to be near Star Tours. (No real hardship there. I can always use a cup of coffee and a delicious cookie.)

Yes, I could carry around a Disney-sanctioned Park map, but at a certain point, unfolding and refolding a map gets frustrating and makes me feel like a newb. Not cool. (Then again, neither is my complete lack of directional sense.)

So I was very happy to find a DHS-specific GPS map available for download on my iPhone. It was developed by PacMaps, which creates GPS maps for theme parks and tourist attractions. It’s a basic map of the Park that highlights different points of interest with a pin.

DHS GPS map app review (Mouse on the Mind)
Basic tools and a zoomed out overview of the Park

In addition to highlighting attractions, as shown above, the app also filters by dining location and guest services. You can search for a specific attraction or service, which are sorted both by the section of the Park they’re in as well as by the type of service it is. Unfortunately, there are no bathrooms on this map. As the Dos Equis Man says: I don’t always use maps, but when I do, I’m looking for a bathroom.

You can also take a closer look at any of the attractions, accessing the author’s “Notes” on each attraction and service. Obviously, I don’t need these notes—I know the storyline of The Great Movie Ride—but these descriptions leave much to be desired. (They’re just not very descriptive!)

DHS GPS app review (Mouse on the Mind)
The app allows you to filter the services and attractions and has notes on all of them.

With this app, the “clear all your pins” option is your friend. Without it, the screen can quickly become overwhelmed by little pins. In fact, when I first opened the app, I was struck by two things: first was the multitude of pins on the opening screen.

DHS GPS app review (Mouse on the Mind)
Hello, thousand pins!

The second thing I noticed was that the map is “properly” oriented: the top of the map represents north. The problem is, DHS isn’t oriented by the compass. It took about 20 seconds to find the Sorcerer’s Hat and figure out the directionality of the map. Unfortunately, to see the map logically (with the Sorcerer’s Hat in front of you), you have to hold the phone sideways to see the Park the way you’d see it in real life. Maybe this would be fine for most people but since I’m already directionally challenged, this was frustrating for me.

DHS GPS app review (Mouse on the Mind)
There you are, giant hat!

While I love the idea of a handheld Park map, this app wasn’t what I was looking for. Though it’s not as lightweight or as focused, the Disney Mobile Magic app is a much better handheld map app option—it’s oriented intuitively (based on how you see the Park when you’re in the Park). It also includes bathrooms and character greeting locations as well as much better notes on the different rides and attractions.

Now, if only Mobile Magic wasn’t so darn buggy …


App Name: Disney’s Hollywood Studios GPS Map Guide (iTunes)
Developer: PacMaps, Inc.
Version: v1.2
Size: 4.0 MB
Available on: iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad (requires iOS 4.0 or later)
Price: $0.99
Overall: Disney’s Mobile Magic is your better option.

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