Statue of Walt Disney with cherry blossoms

How to Use the Disneyland App – Tips, Hacks & Step by Step Use

From TikTok dances to politicians on the livestream gaming service Twitch, it seems like the whole world has gone digital – and the Disneyland Resort is no exception. Although available since 2015, the official Disneyland app has dramatically increased its functionality in recent years, largely due to the global pandemic.

Now, you can plan almost your entire vacation from the palm of your hand, from buying tickets and making park reservations to ordering food, shopping for souvenirs and even opening your hotel-room door. In short, it’s an invaluable tool that can help make your visit go as smoothly as possible.

Midway Mania signage at dusk

Ready to take your trip to the next level with the Disneyland mobile app? Keep reading for our comprehensive guide to this handy-dandy tool. 

Why You Should Download the Official Disneyland App in 2022 and Beyond

Do you need to have the Disneyland app when heading to The Happiest Place on Earth? Not at all! For all you Disney-loving Luddites out there, it is certainly possible to enjoy an offline day in the theme parks. Ah, just like the good old days. But (and that’s a big ‘but’), you almost certainly won’t be able to do as much as Disney Parks app users. Sad, we know, but these are digital days we’re living in. 

While it can definitely feel less-than-magical to have your nose in a screen all day, using the Disneyland app has a ton of benefits. Most importantly, if you use it right, Disneyland’s official app can help you to experience more in less time than you would without it – a huge perk when you consider the high price for tickets

Tea-cups at nighttime

Another great reason to use the Disneyland app, particularly during these pandemic times, is its contactless functionality. Several features are available to cut down face-to-face interactions in the theme parks, restaurants, stores and hotels – perfect for germaphobes and introverts alike. 

So, where do you download this time-saving, magic-multiplying tool? Available for both iPhone and Android, to download the official Disneyland app, go to the App Store or Google Play.

What does the Disneyland app do?

White Mark Twain Ship Disneyland

Like Walt Disney World’s My Disney Experience, Disneyland’s official app is your ultimate vacation planner, whether figuring out logistics back at home or actually experiencing the Disneyland Resort. It’s like having a travel agent, personal concierge, guidebook, room key, park map, MaxPass (RIP), cash register and your wallet all stuffed in your pocket. A one-stop shop, if you will. 

With this Disney Parks app, you can:

  • Buy tickets and Magic Key annual passes
  • Make park reservations
  • Plan out your day with Disney Genie
  • Purchase front-of-the-line access with Disney Genie Plus, the new MaxPass replacement
  • Join a virtual queue or make a Lightning Lane reservation 
  • Check the wait time for your next attraction or showtimes for the day’s entertainment offerings
  • Make dining reservations, join a restaurant walk-up list or place a mobile order for a quick-service restaurant
  • Navigate to your next destination
  • Find Disney characters and PhotoPass Photographers
  • Shop for souvenirs
  • Check into and out of your hotel room and unlock your door
  • And more!

To fully take advantage of everything the app has to offer, we highly recommend you download and familiarize yourself with its many planning tools before you even get to the resort. (You’ll also need a Disney account.) That way, you won’t have to figure it out as you go along – a huge time-suck on an already busy day. 

Orange and Brown Cozy Cone Hotel Entrance Sign with Teal and Pink Flo's 8 Cafe Sign in Background

This is especially important if you are planning to take advantage of the Disney Genie app functionality. To really get a leg up on the competition (in other words, all of the other ride-crazy guests), you can even try out one or two of our advanced Genie+ hacks, such as stacking or tweaking your device to be a bit speedier

Is the Disneyland app free?

Yes! Another great thing about the Disneyland app is that it’s completely free – a welcome departure from Disney’s sky-high ticket and food prices and insanely expensive experiences like Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser at Walt Disney World and a new, $109,995-per-guest Adventures by Disney trip around the globe in a private jet. 

Paradise Pier Mickey Mouse Ferris Wheel Decorated with Neon Lights and Neon Fountains

Just keep in mind that while the Disneyland mobile app is free, along with the included Disney Genie itinerary planner, you do need to pay for access to the Genie+ ride reservation service and Individual Lightning Lane attractions. 

15 Ways to Hack Your Trip to the Disneyland Resort with the Mobile App

Ready to dive deeper into the app’s convenient planning tools? Read on to learn how you can use your smartphone to make the most of your next vacation to the Disneyland Resort with just a simple swipe or tap. 

Purchase Theme Park Tickets & Magic Key Passes (When They’re Available)

To get into the parks, you first need a valid park ticket. Day tickets to both Disneyland and Disney California Adventure are available for purchase in the mobile app. However, be aware that you can only buy full-priced tickets on the Disneyland app. Aside from cheaper 3-day admission offers for California residents, no discounts are available. 

Tropical leaves and greenery with brown Tiki statue

For some of the best discounted Disneyland tickets out there, we recommend our ticket partner, Undercover Tourist. Then, after buying your tickets at a discount, simply link them to your Disney account on the Disneyland app. 

Previously, Magic Key Passes (the company’s fanciful name for a Disneyland annual pass) were also available for purchase on the app, but they are currently sold out until further notice.  However, we can only assume that you will be able to buy them through the app again once more become available. 

Make Reservations for Disneyland Park & Disney California Adventure Park

Along with a park ticket, a valid Park Pass Reservation for the day is required to enter both Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure Park. Launched during the COVID-19 pandemic, the park reservation system helps to manage crowd levels. 

Red Disneyland Railroad with Train Conductor Standing on Train, Green trees in Background

To check the current availability for and make theme park reservations, tap the plus sign at the bottom-center of the app and select Make a Park Reservation

Find Out What’s Happening (or Not) & When with Park Hours & Showtimes

There’s a lot to see and do at Disneyland and not a lot of time to do it. Accordingly, you’ll want to know when everything is happening so you can plan out your day. To top it all off, times when everything is up and running can vary daily from park-to-park, restaurant-to-restaurant and even attraction-to-attraction. And don’t even get us started on those pesky refurbishments. 

You’ll find all of that valuable information in the Disneyland app, including: 

  • Park hours
  • Show times for parades, stage shows, nighttime spectaculars and other live performances
  • Opening hours for stores and restaurants
  • Attraction closures

Water Fountain Feature at Carthay Circle with Red Roses and Green Trees

For park hours, click the hamburger icon in the lower right-hand corner and scroll down to select Park Hours & Info. For operating hours and showtimes for everything else, tap the down arrow ˅ in the top-center to navigate to what you’re interested in. 

Check Current Disneyland Wait Times for Rides 

One of the best ways to cram more attractions into your day is to avoid the crowds by capitalizing on the shortest Disneyland wait times for rides. Disney Genie does this to an extent, but you can also use the Disneyland app to see up-to-the-minute wait times either displayed on a map – perfect for checking for short ride queues nearby – or listed out individually. 

For current Disneyland wait times, click the down arrow ˅ in the top-center and select Attractions. From there, you can either view the wait times on the interactive map or tap Show List. You can also use the Filter to narrow things down a bit based on which park you’re at, height restrictions, thrill factor and more. 

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad Attraction

Maximize Your Day with Disney Genie & Genie+

The Disney Genie and its line-skipping partner-in-crime Disney Genie+ are the company’s new vacation planning tools, and both can be accessed through the Disneyland app. The Disney Genie Service is a complimentary automated itinerary builder that makes recommendations for your day based on factors like your interests and location, while Disney Genie Plus and Individual Attraction Selections are for-purchase upgrades that give you access to a ride’s Lightning Lane (AKA the new FastPass). 

To get started, tap Summon Disney Genie from the main menu or click the hamburger icon in the lower right-hand corner and select either Tip Board or My Genie Day. The Tip Board breaks down current standby lines and Lightning Lane reservation windows for each individual attraction, while the My Day tab can be used to automatically generate your free itinerary. To make it happen, select Get Started Now. 

Join a Virtual Queue for Popular Attractions

Brown Wooden Building and Water Wheel, Water and Trees

For some attractions, particularly newer rides and popular shows, you may need to join a virtual queue in order to experience the attraction. Basically, the service is used to claim and save your place in line before you even set foot into the queue – and it’s exclusively available through the Disneyland app. 

Previously, the service was used for massively popular rides like Disneyland’s Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance and WEB SLINGERS: A Spider-Man Adventure at California Adventure. Their virtual queues have since been replaced by individual Lightning Lane access. Currently, the only attraction with a virtual queue is World of Color, California Adventure’s vibrant nighttime spectacular. (Learn how to get guaranteed entry here.) 

To join a virtual queue, tap the hamburger icon in the lower right-hand corner and select Virtual Queues. Then, click the plus sign in the upper-right corner or select Join Virtual Queue. Lastly, choose the appropriate theme park and select the attraction you’d like. 

Splash Mountain Wooden Characters Outside Brown Wooden Buildings

Get the Lay of the Land with the Interactive Map

Although certainly not as huge as Walt Disney World, The Happiest Place on Earth is still pretty darn big, clocking in at 100 acres for Disneyland and 72 acres for California Adventure. That’s a whole bunch of ground to cover, and for folks who have never been before, it can be downright daunting. 

Thanks to the interactive map on the Disneyland app, you can easily locate everything from rides, restaurants and shops to necessary services like restrooms, First Aid and Baby Care Center locations. This is also a great way to scope out nearby attractions. To get started, simply tap the location symbol 📍 at the bottom of the screen between the plus sign and home icon. 

Track Down Disney Characters 

Brown Rock Statue of Grizzly River Ride

Don’t wander around aimlessly searching for your favorite Disney characters. Just fire up the Disneyland app! Along with rides, shows and nighttime entertainment, the app also lets you know which characters will be out, where they will be and what times they will be appearing. 

To see your favorites, tap the down arrow ˅ in the top-center and select Characters. From there, you can view meet-and-greet locations on the interactive map or click Show List for a complete, easy-to-navigate listing of everyone. 

Find Disney PhotoPass Photographers & Download Photos

Photos are a terrific way to preserve your magical memories for years to come. Unfortunately, if you’re traveling with your family or a group of Disney adults, there’s a good chance someone in your party will have to be left out of the photo to be the designated photographer. 

Disneyland Entrance with Pink and White Mickey Floral Arrangement

That’s where Disney PhotoPass photographers come in. Stationed around Disneyland and California Adventure, photographers are there to capture your family vacation, from the classic photo in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle to fun and surprising shots with a sprinkle of Disney magic. Best of all, if you upgrade to Genie Plus, all of your photos for the day are available to download for free. 

To locate the closest photographer, tap the down arrow ˅ in the top-center and select PhotoPass. After your mini photo shoot, you may need to link your Disney PhotoPass photos to your account. Click the plus sign at the bottom of the screen and select Link PhotoPass Photos

From there, you have the option to link your account with either an Attraction ID, barcode, QR code or with your ticket or annual pass. Finally, to download your photos, tap the hamburger icon in the lower right-hand corner and select Photos. From there, you have the option to save or share your favorites and even purchase photo gifts. 

Skip the Line for the Register with Merchandise Mobile Checkout

Splash Mountain Attraction

After standing in line for rides all day, the last thing you’re going to want to do is stand in yet another line when you go shopping for souvenirs. Now, thanks to Merchandise Mobile Checkout, you can save time by being your own cashier. Sadly, there are only a few stores at each of the theme parks and a couple in the Downtown Disney District with the functionality. 

To locate the nearest shop with Merchandise Mobile Checkout, tap the plus sign at the bottom of the screen and select Shop in Store. After finding your favorites, it’s time to check out. Scan the barcodes on the price tags via the app, then select “Check Out” when finished. 

To pay, you can use either a credit card, debit card, Disney gift card, Disney Rewards redemption card or Apple Pay. It even adds on any Magic Key discounts automatically! When you’re finished, simply show your QR confirmation code to the nearby cast member, and you’re on your way!

Streamline Mealtime with Dining Reservations, Walk-Up Lists & Mobile Order

Statue of Walt and Mickey Outside Cinderella Castle Decorated for Christmas

Dining is a huge part of any vacation, especially at Disneyland, and where and when you decide to eat can make a big difference in your experience. Needless to say, the best restaurants at the Disneyland Resort can get pretty busy, and if you don’t plan ahead, you could be left scrambling for another restaurant with availability or wind up waiting a long time to get your food. 

Never fear! The Disneyland app is here to help. The app’s dining functionality is one of its best features. Depending on whether you want to eat at a table-service or quick-service restaurant (or even a lounge or bar), you can either make an advanced dining reservation, join a restaurant walk-up list or place a mobile order. You’re also able to scope out your food options with restaurant menus or use the app to find a dining option close to you. 

To see all the restaurants that are available, click the down arrow ˅ in the top-center and select Dining. From there, you can use the Filter to narrow down your options by things like cuisine, cost and type of dining experience. 

Making a Restaurant Reservation

Dining reservations can be made up to 60 days in advance. You can even use the Disneyland app to reserve a character meal or special dining package. To make a reservation, simply pull up the restaurant you’d like to dine at and select Reserve Dining

Keep in mind that once you’ve selected your party size, date, time and any dietary restrictions, you’ll need to use a credit card to hold your reservation – and should you not cancel in time (or miss it completely), you’ll be charged a $10-per-person no-show fee. 

Cream-spotted Bunny Sculpture in front of small tree

Joining a Walk-Up List

Sometimes there isn’t any reservation availability for your restaurant of choice. Rather than finding an alternative, you can also stick with your original plan and try to join the restaurant’s walk-up list instead. Be aware that space can fill up, and the wait can be long if you aren’t careful – check the app for the current wait time. Think about dining during off-hours to avoid the crowds. 

To get started, select Join Walk-Up List from the restaurant’s page on the app. Then, just enter in your party details and dietary restrictions. When your table is ready, you’ll receive a notification so you can get seated. 

Placing a Mobile Order

Although it’s called quick service, fast food restaurants can still get pretty busy at the Disneyland Resort, especially during popular mealtimes. One of the easiest ways to save time is by placing a mobile order ahead of time. You can even make your order while waiting in line for a ride. 

Bridge, Water, and View of Paradise Pier with Mickey Mouse Ferris Wheel

The service isn’t available at every counter-service dining location, so keep an eye out for the Mobile Order icon on the list of restaurants. Once you know what you want to eat, select Order Food from the restaurant’s app page and choose your desired Arrival Window. 

Then, build your order from the list of food options, including customizations. When you’re ready to checkout, tap the Shopping Bag icon in the upper-right corner or View My Order at the bottom. If everything looks good, hit Review Order Summary, enter in any promo codes you might have and pay. When your food is ready, you’ll receive a notification for when and where to pick it up. 

Breeze Past the Front Desk with Online Check-In 

If you’re anything like us after hours spent traveling, you probably wish you could head straight to your room instead of stopping to check in – and likely wait in yet another line). Well, your introvert dreams have come true with Disney’s direct-to-your-room Online Check-In service. 

In order to use Online Check-In, your hotel reservation must be linked to your Disney account. To link your reservation, click the hamburger icon in the lower right-hand corner and select My Hotel Reservation. Then, enter in your reservation or confirmation number, last name and arrival date and hit Continue.

Disneyland Hotel with blue Disney hat in front

Once linked, you can use the Disneyland app to check in for your vacation up to five days before your arrival. You can even receive a text notification when your room is clean and ready to get in. 

Use Your Phone as Your Hotel Room Key

Gone are the days of needing to carry around a hotel-room key wherever you go. Now, all you need to do is wave your smartphone like a magic wand. Well, almost anyway. For guests staying at one of the Disneyland hotels, you can turn your phone into a Digital Key with the help of Bluetooth technology. Not only does this allow you to unlock your room door, but also some hotel common areas like pools, fitness centers and more. 

To set up and use Digital Key functionality, you must have Bluetooth turned on and your hotel reservation needs to be linked to your account. From there, tap the hamburger icon in the lower right-hand corner and click My Hotel Reservation. Select your reservation and tap Unlock Door. Finally, hit Agree and touch your phone to the door lock

Looking for other ways to make the most of your day? Check out our one-day plans for Disneyland and California Adventure. Then, find out how to save some cash with our discounted Disneyland tickets