There once was a time when you could go on a Walt Disney World vacation and not need to stare at a phone screen throughout your visit. Sadly, those digital-free days of paper FastPasses and wait-time boards are no more. Today, if you want your Disney trip to not be plagued by ridiculously long wait times, lengthy lines to get a table for dinner or constant fumbling for your room key or park tickets, you’ve got to be connected. And that means coming prepared with the right mobile apps to make your Disney vacation a success.
But what are the absolute best apps for Disney World? Fire up Google Play or the App Store as we download our top picks for the most useful apps for your next trip to The Most Magical Place on Earth.
Set Yourself Up for Disney Vacation Success—Digitally!
A stress-free Disney World vacation (or at least, as close to stress-free as you can get) requires a lot of planning, especially during this always-online age. With much of the trip-planning process and in-park logistics done virtually now, you need to set yourself up for success—or risk wasting lots of precious time or money. Here are some helpful tips to get you connected.
Download Essential Disney World Apps & Familiarize Yourself Before You Arrive
As tempting as it might be to download these apps upon your arrival and figure them out as you go along, a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants mentality is only going to hurt you in the end. Almost the entire booking and planning process—including ticket purchases, Lightning Lane reservations, dining reservations, Disney resort reservations, mobile food orders and much more—can be completed or accessed using My Disney Experience, the official Walt Disney World app.
Naturally, knowing where to find all the functions and how to use them is only going to make your experience that much simpler. By educating yourself on everything the app can do ahead of time, you can check out park hours, squeeze in more rides, secure a spot in competitive virtual queues, make dining reservations for popular restaurants at the most in-demand times, order quick-service meals without having to wait in line, use your phone as your room key or theme park tickets, and so much more. It’s an invaluable headstart that many less-experienced travelers won’t have.
Be Aware That Wi-Fi in the Disney Parks Can Be Spotty
Although Disney World does have free Wi-Fi at both the theme parks and resorts, it can often be spotty or slow depending on your location, especially in ride queues. Needless to say, this isn’t exactly ideal, especially considering that you basically need internet access to check wait times, book dining and otherwise plan out your day. Not to mention, competition is often fierce for things like virtual queues, and every second counts.
All that being said, you should be prepared to connect to your mobile carrier data connection should the Wi-Fi go south. You may also want to consider downloading apps with offline functionality, specifically those like Google Maps or Apple Maps, as well as games to keep you entertained in line. This will come in handy should your internet connection go south. As a bonus, this can also keep you from draining your battery too fast. That brings us to our next tip.
Remember to Bring a Power Bank or Two
Whatever you do, please, please, PLEASE remember to pack a power bank or, at the very least, a charger. Chances are that all that online time is going to suck your battery dry. And then where will you be? Unless you come prepared, flying blind, out of luck and searching frantically for an outlet somewhere. Instead, do yourself a favor and invest in a high-capacity portable charger before your trip. And for the love of DOLE Whip, make sure that it’s fully charged and ready to go.
Should you not take our advice, there is an alternative way to get your mobile device juiced back up. However, just like anything at Disney World (with the exception of this free stuff), it’s going to cost you. FuelRod portable chargers are available for purchase ($30 plus tax) at many locations throughout the Walt Disney World Resort and include a variety of cables and adapters. Though they don’t have much capacity, they do get the job done. Better yet, you’re able to swap them out for a replacement as much as you want. While replacements are typically free, there may be an additional cost, so keep that in mind.
For FuelRod locations, open the My Disney Experience app, tap the Location icon at the bottom of the screen, select Guest Services from the menu on the top, then scroll until you see Portable Phone Charging System Kiosks. This is also where you can find the park’s nearest charging location. Just search for Mobile Charging Stations in the Guest Services menu instead.
Here are some other quick tips to keep your battery usage low:
Keep your screen brightness low
Turn on battery-saving mode
Reduce the time allowed before your screen times out
Disable automatic uploads of photos and videos to cloud storage
Turn off your mobile hotspot
13 Best Apps to Download for Walt Disney World
All set for your next (or first!) Disney World trip? Before you go, make some space on your phone for our favorite third-party and official Disney apps. From wait-time trackers to games, these mobile apps are sure to make your trip to Walt Disney World as magical as possible.
If you only download one Disney app, it needs to be this one. My Disney Experience is the official Walt Disney World app. This handy-dandy mobile app is literally the key to the magic (and for folks staying at one of the Disney Resorts, your hotel room, too!). With the help of the My Disney Experience app, you can:
Make Disney resort hotel reservations
Complete your Disney resort hotel check-in
Book advance dining reservations
Browse restaurant menus and available attractions and entertainment at the theme parks or Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach water parks
Familiarize yourself with typical wait times and the park map
Open your resort door with your mobile device
Use your cell phone as your theme park ticket
Place a mobile food order at select quick-service locations
Book dining reservations or join walk-up lists
Use the GPS-enabled map to navigate to your next ride or dining reservation
Check current attraction wait times and park hours for the day
View Disney PhotoPass photos
Look up showtimes for stage shows and other live entertainment
Download Disney PhotoPass photos if you purchased Memory Maker
And much, much more! But, that’s not all. Thanks to the new Disney Genie Service, the My Disney Experience app also gives you access to optional planning tools, including a Tip Board and personalized itinerary (just check the My Day tab in the Disney Genie Service section of the app).
Or, to really save time, you can also upgrade your day with Disney Genie+ or Individual Lightning Lane entry. While not free like the basic Disney Genie Service, Disney Genie+ and Individual Lightning Lane access allow you to skip the posted wait time for some of Disney World’s most popular attractions by reserving a return window—sort of like FastPasses that cost real money. Lastly, Disney Genie+ users also have access to special Disney PhotoPass Lenses, which are Disney’s version of Snapchat filters. And yes, they are quite snazzy.
Heading to one of the other Disney Parks around the world? Apps are also available for guests visiting Disneyland Resort in California, Disneyland Paris, the Shanghai Disney Resort, Hong Kong Disneyland and the Tokyo Disney Resort, as well as for folks setting sail with the Disney Cruise Line.
Next on our list of must-get Disney World apps is Play Disney Parks. While My Disney Experience is your go-to source for all your necessary vacation details, the Play Disney Parks app is just plain fun. In it, you can play games, answer Disney trivia questions, turn your phone into a “datapad” at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge and discover official content.
Some of the functionality for Play Disney Parks is based on your location data. In other words, while most games and trivia can be accessed at home, others require you to be in a specific place at the Disney World parks. These include:
Rocket Race – Space Mountain queue
Off To Never Land – Peter Pan’s Flight queue
Disney’s Hollywood Studios
Star Wars: Batuu Bounty Hunters – Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge
Playset Party – Toy Story Mania queue
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park
The ACE Guide to Pandora: Valley of Mo’ara Edition – Animal Kingdom
Not only is this a really neat way to bring the Walt Disney World Resort to life or kill time in line, but it’s also great for getting kids (or adults!) excited for their upcoming vacation. To top it all off, the interface is also downright adorable. Don’t be surprised if you spend as much time checking out the many animated details as you do actually playing the games.
Keeping track of wait times is a huge part of a successful trip to Walt Disney World. That’s why this next Disney World app ranks so highly on our list. Made by another heavy-hitter in the Disney Parks blogosphere, Disney World Lines offers some of the same functionality as My Disney Experience, such as wait times and itinerary planning.
However, it takes things a step further by including things like crowd-level rankings, restaurant ratings and, when it’s up and running, which dining outlets are included in the Disney Dining Plan. To really take your trip planning to the next level, you can also subscribe and receive access to a full ten days of crowd forecasts.
This next best Disney app isn’t even about Walt Disney World at all. As anyone who has ever been to Central Florida can attest, weather in the Sunshine State can change quite rapidly, especially in the summertime during the rainy season. As you can imagine, a thunderstorm can definitely throw a wrench in even the best-laid plans, particularly at Disney World. So, you’re definitely going to want to have a weather app like WeatherBug on your phone. Look for an app that has radar capability, as well as hour-by-hour and ten-day forecasts, as this will help you keep on top of inclement weather and plan out your trip.
You might be surprised to see YouTube on our list of the best Disney World apps. However, the popular video streaming service is actually a wealth of information during the planning process. On it, you can find everything from guides and live streams to bite-by-bite food reviews and attraction ride-throughs. A little time on here can be invaluable in helping you figure out what to eat, where to stay and which rides might be too scary for young children in your group.
Rather not take Disney’s bus system to Disney Springs? Or, perhaps. you’re looking to ride from Hollywood Studios to the Magic Kingdom in style. In that case, you may want to consider using Lyft or Uber to get around. Though slightly on the pricey side, depending on where you’re going and the kind of vehicle you’re traveling in, they’re convenient and much quicker than some of the other Disney transportation options. For those using Lyft, you can even opt to take Disney’s polka-dotted rideshare offering: the adorably named Minnie Vans.
7. A Family Tracking/Locator App
Cost: Free or paid, depending on the app
For those traveling with a group, especially those with kids, one of the best Disney apps you can get is a family tracking app. Disney property is huge, and you can have one heckuva time trying to reconnect with members of your group when the crowds are at their peak (which, let’s be honest, kinda feels like all the time). A locator app makes it easy to keep tabs on everyone you care about and find them again once it’s time to meet up. You’ll find plenty of different options, both free and paid, so find one that works best for you.
While My Disney Experience makes it easy to get around the parks, we wouldn’t recommend it for folks who are driving between different points on Disney World property or to different spots around Orlando. For that, you’re better off using an actual map app like Google Maps, Apple Maps or Waze. Turn-by-turn directions and traffic information make getting to your destination a breeze. Plus, some apps allow you to download offline maps, which can help you save battery while still getting where you need to go.
There’s no doubt that a Walt Disney World vacation can be expensive. So, keep track of your travel budget with an app like TravelSpend. Not only can you see how much you’ve spent before your trip, but you can also add purchases as you go along, too, so you don’t overspend. Considering all the costs that go into a trip to Disney World and how easy it is for things to get out of hand, this is easily one of the best Disney apps you can download.
10. Apps to Keep You Entertained in Line
Cost: Free or paid, depending on the app
With nowhere to sit, the sun beating down, and tons of people around you, long wait times at Disney World can be absolutely brutal. Fortunately, with a little pre-planning, they don’t need to be completely miserable. Some of the best Disney World apps are those that help keep your mind off the clock (and your aching feet), like a trivia game or e-reader.
With episodes of your kiddo’s favorite shows, DisneyNOW (Google Play and the App Store) can be a great way to keep your little one entertained, provided that you’re in a place with good Wi-Fi. We also love games like GuessUp – Word Party Charades (a free version of Heads Up! on Google Play and the App Store) that allow you to play with everyone in your group, as well as friendly neighbors nearby. Of course, you can also read a good book on Kindle, too (Google Play and the App Store). Just keep in mind that while the app itself might be free, there may be in-app purchases.
Another one of our favorite apps when travel planning is Spotify because it’s filled with insightful podcasts by Disney Parks pros and plenty of really useful information. Turn one on as you’re driving to or from work, or pop in your earbuds and get some tips while doing some cleaning. You’re sure to get some ideas that will make your vacation even more magical.
We don’t know about you, but we love listening to the music of the Disney Parks. In fact, we’ll sometimes even turn it on at home if we need a little pixie dust. Although you can hear those enchanting tunes in many different places, one of the best Disney World apps if you’re in need of some atmosphere is Sorcerer Radio. Offering all sorts of channels, such as RopeDrop, which features attraction music, or Spa Day, which plays soothing Disney songs, there’s something for every occasion. Turn it on while you’re packing your bags before your trip or anytime you want a little mood music.
13. A Countdown App
Cost: Free or paid, depending on the app
Nothing is more exciting than the days leading up to a Disney World vacation. So, why not build the anticipation with a countdown app? While you could get a Disney-specific app like Countdown to the Mouse (Google Play and the App Store), which also comes with things like packing lists and helpful reminders, we like keeping a general countdown app on our phones to help keep track of other upcoming trips and events, too.
Well, folks, that brings our list of the best Disney apps to an end. What’s on your must-download list for a Disney World vacation? Let us know in the comments! Then, learn how to save on your next vacation with our discount Disney World tickets.