Gamify Your Disney Vacation With the Play Disney Parks App

People can have a lot of strong feelings when it comes to the Disney Parks. Some want Disney characters everywhere, while others prefer measured doses of Mickey and the gang. Some are thrilled for fresh takes on classic attractions, while others are appalled at the mere suggestion. (What would Walt think?!) But if there’s one thing I think we can all agree on, it’s that waiting in line is the absolute worst. Enter the Play Disney Parks app. 

Imagineers put a lot of thought into ride queues, filling them with delightful theming and, sometimes, interactive features. Unfortunately, while scoping out everything certainly helps to pass the time for a while, no amount of perfectly placed details and immersive elements can make up for the special kind of nightmare that is waiting in line at a theme park. 

Large tree with animal carvings

As a result, many (guilty as charged) have resorted to killing time the same way we do every other day: By sticking our noses into our smartphones. Ah technology, both a gift and a curse. Now, as much as I support you in challenging your crew, or anyone else around you (I’ve actually made some line friends this way), to an intense game of Heads Up!, I have a different suggestion: Give the Play Disney Parks app a try instead. 

What Is the Play Disney Parks App?

Disney is all about the apps these days. So, if you’re thinking, “I already have My Disney Experience. Why do I need another Disney app?”, here’s how Play Disney Parks is different. According to Disney, Play Disney Parks lets you “interact with the parks like never before.” And honestly, I’d say that’s pretty spot on. With in-app games that don’t just pass the time, but actually allow you to interact with parts of the park in real-time, this app really brings the parks to life. 

Mickey and Minnie on a ballon

Plus, the fun doesn’t stop when you go home. While some parts of the app can only be accessed when you’re in the parks, others like Disney trivia and music can be enjoyed no matter where you are. And what about that age-old question of Disney World or Disneyland? Well, with the Play Disney Parks app, you get to experience Disneyland, Disney California Adventure, Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios, Animal Kingdom, and even Disney’s Art of Animation Resort. 

Let’s dig a little more into each of the app’s fun features.

Entertaining Games 

Everyone loves a good game – fun, a great time waster, bonus points if there’s a great story or it’s nice to look at. Play Disney Parks has it all. The app is basically a digital arcade with various games themed around different attractions at both Disney World and Disneyland, with some that you’re able to play at home as well. 

Woody Leaning on Toy Story Land Sign

One of the things I like the most about the app is how much variety there is. Each game uses different mechanics and has a unique look, connecting the game to whatever land you’re exploring. In the case of the game Playset Party, you’re working to put the pieces of the Toy Story Mania! game together. The coolest part, however, is that the game mechanics actually echo that of the ride at Pixar Pier in Disney California Adventure or Toy Story Land in Hollywood Studios. 

While you can definitely play some games on Play Disney Parks by yourself, some will require you to have at least two players while others will let you play with up to 5 (or even 9) people. So, if you want to turn boredom and whining into family fun, be sure to download the app before you get to the parks. 

Interactive Park Experiences

Fighter ship painted blue

As great as games are, having your face shoved in your phone all day doesn’t do any justice to all the beautiful details Disney scattered throughout the parks. Luckily, Play Disney Parks also encourages you to interact with the worlds around you, bringing those same details to life in a whole new way.

The best example of that is the activities that can be found at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, which can truly enrich your experience there in a way that simply walking around and riding the rides can’t. There, your smartphone becomes a datapad, unlocking elements of Black Spire Outpost.

A hacking function allows you to communicate with droids, while the scanning tool uncovers hidden objects. You can even complete jobs for rewards and listen in on communications being sent by the Resistance and First – and then choose which side you’re on.

Black, White, Blue, and Red Star Wars Themed Control Panel

In short, the whole thing is really, really cool. Kids will love it. Adults will get a kick out of it too. It forces you to notice things that you wouldn’t normally, builds backstory, and makes you feel as if you’re a part of the world. While you’re exploring the parks, just keep your phone handy and make sure you have notifications enabled. Your device will alert you when there’s something nearby. 

Interactive experiences on Play Disney Parks include:

Disney World

Magic Kingdom

  • Off To Never Land – Peter Pan’s Flight in Fantasyland
  • Rocket Race – Space Mountain in Tomorrowland

Magic Kingdom Tomorrowland

Epcot

  • Soarin’ Challenge – The Land Pavilion in Future World
  • Disney Kidcot Puzzle Hunt – World Showcase

Hollywood Studios

  • Star Wars: Datapad – Galaxy’s Edge
  • Resistance Encampment – Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance in Galaxy’s Edge
  • Flight Crews Wanted – Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run in Galaxy’s Edge
  • Andy’s Boardgame Blast! – Slinky Dog Dash in Toy Story Land
  • Playset Party – Toy Story Mania! in Toy Story Land

Animal Kingdom

  • Disney’s Animal Kingdom Animal Expeditions – Near the Tree of Life on Discovery Island, Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail in Africa, and Maharajah Jungle Trek in Asia
  • The ACE Guide to Pandora: Valley of Mo’ara Edition – Avatar Flight of Passage in Pandora

Pandora Foliage and Mountains

Disney’s Art of Animation Resort

  • Stories of the Enchanted Gallery – Hotel lobby

Disneyland

  • Esmeralda the Fortune Teller – Main Street U.S.A.
  • Off To Neverland – Peter Pan’s Flight in Fantasyland
  • Rocket Race – Space Mountain in Tomorrowland
  • The Gifts of Mara – Indiana Jones Adventure in Adventureland
  • The Tall Tales of Fortune Red – New Orleans Square
  • Star Wars: Datapad – Galaxy’s Edge
  • Resistance Encampment – Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance in Galaxy’s Edge
  • Flight Crews Wanted – Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run in Galaxy’s Edge

Castle Entrance with drawbridge

Disney California Adventure

  • Playset Party – Toy Story Mania! in Pixar Pier

Test Your Knowledge With Disney Trivia 

With cruise lines, theme parks, adventure travel, television, film, music, and much more to its name, Disney fans come in many forms. Disney nerds are one of them. A Disney nerd sucks up bits of Disney knowledge like a sponge, only to spit them out later while walking right down the middle of Main Street  U.S.A. or randomly (and awkwardly) during conversations with close friends or complete strangers.

Geodesic sphere at night

Play Disney Parks was made for Disney nerds, but the Disney trivia is where they will truly shine. With questions on everything from the parks and movies to animals and other countries, there’s plenty to test the knowledge of even the biggest Disney fans. And even if you’re not a superfan, there are still so many fun tidbits to learn.

For example, some big names were called in to help with the development of Spaceship Earth including famed science fiction writer Ray Bradbury, the Smithsonian Institute, the University of Chicago, and the University of Southern California. Gotta love that! 

Disney Trivia can be found under At Home Fun, as well as by looking for the twinkling question mark icon sprinkled throughout the different park maps. However, just because it’s called At Home Fun doesn’t mean you can’t test your Disney knowledge anywhere else. Road Tripping to Central Florida or Anaheim?

Royal street sign with beads

Fire up the Disney trivia and help get everyone else in the car excited for all the fun ahead. Counting down the minutes in a queue? Whether you’re playing alone or with everyone else in your group, doing the different quizzes is a great way to help make the time fly by, and maybe learn some fun facts as you explore the park. 

The Magic of Disney Music

Music is transporting. The right song can send you to a specific time or another place. For many, Disney music takes us back to our childhood. I don’t know about you, but nothing cheers me up quite like blasting some Disney tunes and singing along as loudly as possible. 

WEB Slingers Attraction Entrance Sign

With the Play Disney Parks app, you can experience the magic of Disney music any time you want. As long as you have Apple Music, songs from beloved Disney movies and themes from the parks are at your fingertips. So, whether you’re in the mood for an impromptu singalong while driving to Disney World or just needing a pixie dust pick-me-up to brighten you up back at home, the app has you covered. Simply look for the music note icons to get your jam session started. 

In-App Achievements, Real-Life Rewards 

Disney pin traders, this one’s for you! No mobile or video game is complete without an array of badges to celebrate your achievements. Usually, your ever-growing collection is just that: a collection that isn’t good for much else besides looking at it and giving yourself a mental pat on the back. 

Space Ranger Spin attraction entrance

Now, while that does still happen with the Play Disney Parks app, you can also cash in some of your virtual achievements (so to speak) for exclusive commemorative pins. Now, before you get too excited, these pins aren’t free. However, you are only able to access them by accomplishing the various achievements in the game. Once you’ve unlocked them, just show them to a cast member at the relevant merchandise location to make your purchase. 

6 Reasons Why You Should Download the Play Disney Parks App

Not convinced yet? Here are six reasons why we think Play Disney Parks deserves to take up some of your phone’s precious space.

1. To Get Excited Before You Go to the Parks

Looking to psych your little ones (or yourself) up before your big trip? Exploring the Play Disney Parks app is sure to do the trick. The animated maps of each park are filled with fun details like BB-8 and Chewbacca popping up in Galaxy’s Edge and Rapunzel’s hair being tossed out her tower’s window over in Fantasyland, making them perfect for enjoying a little digital tour.

Peter Pan attraction at night

And if that doesn’t work, playing games, setting up your Galaxy’s Edge datapad, and testing your Disney trivia surely will, as many of the activities allow you to get started at home, then go even further once you get to the parks. Talk about building anticipation! 

2. To Kill Time in Line (or Any Other Time You Need a Distraction)

Even though they try their darndest, the Disney Parks can’t be magical all the time for all people. You know those crying kids you try to rush past as quickly as possible? (If those are your kids, simply replace “rush past” with “quietly shush.”)

They’re probably just vocalizing what you’re already thinking in your head: “It’s hot. I’m tired. I hate waiting. Why does this have to suck so bad?” Whether it’s you that’s trying to make the time fly by or an upset kiddo in need of distracting, whether you’re in line for a ride or waiting on your dining reservation to start, Play Disney Parks can help. 

3. To Have a More Immersive, Interactive Experience

Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge grey towers

The older generations may be baffled by the idea that something that requires you to look at a screen all the time could ever create a more hands-on, nuanced experience with the world around you, but that’s what Play Disney Parks can do. Especially when you’re visiting Black Spire Outpost at Galaxy’s Edge, the world opens up in a way that wouldn’t be possible if you didn’t have the app. 

Another great example is the Disney Kidcot Puzzle Hunt. Similar to other scavenger hunts at Epcot’s World Showcase and elsewhere at Disney World, this interactive activity helps entertain kids as they explore a park that may not be as interesting to them as Magic Kingdom or Hollywood Studios

4. To Appreciate All the Disney Details

Lodges with foliage and signs

As this is a mobile app we’re talking about, this next one might seem a bit counterintuitive, but hear me out. Just like how Play Disney Parks brings the theme parks and one of the Disney World resort hotels to life, even in areas that aren’t as interactive, the associated experiences often force you to really look at what’s in front of you rather than just walking on past.

There are so many meaningful details, so much love and care, crammed into every nook and corner at Disney World. Usually, you’re in such a hurry rushing to the next ride that you don’t stop to see what you’re missing. Using the Play Disney Parks app as you’re visiting the parks is like seeing it from a new perspective – which, if you’ve visited the parks a lot, can go a long way in bringing the Disney magic back. 

5. To Commemorate Your Experience

Canada Palace over water

If you’re a fiend for Disney pin trading, you won’t want to pass up Play Disney Parks. Exclusive pins that you must unlock in a game to even be able to buy: Need we say more?

6. Because It’s Just Plain Fun (and Adorable too!)

Seriously, I love the whole concept of this app. The games are fun. I love how each one is different, so you never get bored of playing the same old thing. Plus, the maps of the various Disney Parks, featuring animation reminiscent of the indelible Mary Blair (think, It’s a Small World) are a delight to take a visual stroll around. Just a great package deal overall. 

How to Get Started With Play Disney Parks

View of Expedition Everest across a lake

Ok, you’ve made it this far, so I can only assume you’re all in on Play Disney Parks. Let’s go over how to get set up so you can start playing:

  • If you haven’t already, you’ll first need to download the app. Depending on which device you have, go to either the App Store or Google Play. Keep in mind that it is quite large, so be sure you have enough space available. 
  • Set up your Playfile. This is where you can put your name and pick your favorite character out of the ones available to be your avatar. Don’t worry, it won’t make any changes to your My Disney Experience account. 
  • If you’re planning on playing with other people in your group, be sure to add more players. To do this, tap on your Disney character avatar in the upper corner then select Manage Players. Then tap Add a Player to create player tags for the others in your party. 

A symbol in blue

  • Be sure that you have notifications enabled for the app. This will allow you to be alerted whenever you are in an area where there is an activity available to look at on the app.
  • From there, pick which park you’d like to digitally visit, or are visiting in real life, to see what is available to explore. If you’re at home, select At Home Fun instead. 
  • That’s all, folks! Now get out there and have some fun!

Well everyone, that wraps up our guide to the Play Disney Parks app. We hope you’ll give this awesome app a try to make your Disney vacation even more magical. 

Want to do even more to maximize the Disney magic? Don’t miss our one-day plans for Disneyland, Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom. And what’s the most magical thing of all. Why, discounted tickets to Walt Disney World and Disneyland, of course! 

Have you used Play Disney Parks yet? What are your favorite activities? Have you claimed any of the exclusive pins? What games do you wish Disney would add? Let us know in the comments!

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