Mouse Tech: Smart Phones as Touring Aides

Me in Hollywood Studios, checking wait times on my iPhone.


In the real world, my smart phone is never more than fourteen inches from my left hand.  As I type this, I could reach out and touch it with my pinky finger.  It is my phone, it is my lifeline, it is my friend.  I use it for grocery lists, as a personal photo album, and as a running coach.  It is my go-to device for almost everything in my life.  And this is no different when I’m in Walt Disney World.

If you’ve only been using your smart phone to take the occasional WDW photo, then you’ve only scratched the surface of what these amazing devices can do for your Disney vacation.  And so, I bring to you my favorite uses for smart phones when planning or enjoying a Walt Disney World vacation.

-Dedicated Disney Apps.  Try this–go into the app store on whatever model phone you have and search ‘Walt Disney World.’  On my phone–which I’ll admit is an iPhone–I see 41 results, some free, some in the one to two dollar range.  There’s everything from Hidden Mickey apps to wait time apps to apps that provide Walt Disney World trivia (great for time spent in long lines if you didn’t properly use your wait time app).  I have an actual Disney folder on my iPhone, containing nine different apps and shortcuts.  I use them both in the parks and for planning purposes.  Which brings me to my next point…  

A screen shot from my own phone.

-Home page shortcuts.  Most smart phones allow you to create a short cut to a particular website that’s visible on your phone’s home screen. Half of the ‘apps’ in the photo to the right are just that–shortcuts to websites that I find helpful in Walt Disney World (and, in my case, Universal Orlando as well, as you can plainly see).  Of particular importance is the Disney Dining site, which is smart phone-native. Using this site, I can view, change, make, or cancel dining reservations.  I can even find open seats near me using the GPS function.  It’s totally free and makes life in The World so much better.  Trust me–there’s nothing magical about me when I’m hungry and without reservations! (Melissa Sue would like to double underline that last sentence, but she doesn’t know the HTML code.)

-Making friends jealous using social media.  Ok, this is kind of a mean one, but I do use my phone in this manner, so I had to throw it out there.  Smart phones make sharing vacation photos almost instant.  Whether you are on Twitter, Flickr, Facebook or WordPress (or all four…like we are…) it is super easy to snap a photo and instantly share it with the world.  Sure, you’re friends are all at work, slaving away.  But you are getting ready to board Space Mountain!  Take a quick photo, upload it, and get ready for a slew of comments from friends wishing they were there.

Non Traditional Uses for Camera.  Photos don’t always have to be photogenic.  I use the camera on my phone for many non-traditional uses, particularly when I’m traveling–and particularly in Walt Disney World.  Don’t feel like carrying around a park schedule?  Snap a photo and carry around a digital times guide that takes up zero space and weighs zero ounces.  Find the perfect souvenir but unsure if it is perfect for your nephew?  Snap a photo and text it to your sister to find out.  I’ve even gone so far as to take photos like this one…

…so that I don’t have to worry about ruining the drawing itself.  If you’ve ever carried around a rolled-up sketch from Animation Academy, you should appreciate this tip.  By the end of the day, no matter what you do, the paper is going to be creased, crumbled, and dirty.  This photo will last forever–and it’s framed nicely on the Mickey head table.

A screen shot from my memo app.

Memo function.  This is, hands down, the best application for travelers that’s ever existed.  It is so easy to use and simple, I don’t know how I lived without it for so long.  Wait–I do know how I lived without it.  I carried around binders.  But with a memo function on your phone, you can enjoy Walt Disney World…paperless!  I type up my plans, often including travel information and confirmation numbers, and then email them to myself.  A quick copy/paste into a memo application and I’ve got all of my plans at my fingertips, and I don’t even need internet access or 3G to refer back to it.  Additionally, the memo function is great for taking notes in Walt Disney World.  Things like which parking lot you are in (trust me, this is very important) or even your room number at your resort.  Take it from a teacher–if you take good notes, you’ll never be lost.  This is true in class, in life, and in Walt Disney World. (Melissa Sue, who is still using a ‘dumb’ phone, is so jealous of this … she’s still using notecards for her touring plans.)

Clearly, a smart phone is like your own technological fairy godmother, capable of turning a great vacation into an even greater–and more organized–Walt Disney World trip, without even having to utter the words bippity-boppity-boo!  Of course, these are only a few ways that smart phones can make life in The World better.   How do you use your smart phone in WDW?  Share your tips and tricks in the comments below!  

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