Friday, February 24, 2012

Your iPhone: A Guide to the Magic

Tech is my mistress when it comes to my love of all things Disney, but sometimes, that relationship can be a little progressive and all three of us can have a good time together.

The load screen. Verizon still has ties
to the app. 
I love Disney, and I love apps, and sometimes the two work together in harmony, like the new Disneyland Explorer App for the iPad. I wrote a review for it (which was up here, until I tried to edit it on my phone and deleted the whole thing somehow) and it's a great free app, offering a lot of interactive features and an immersive experience you'd expect from Disney.

Disney seems to be a roll in 2012, as today, the Mobile Magic App, previously exclusive on the Verizon network, has been released on all iOS devices! I am super excited about this because I have always drooled over Big Red exclusive app, but now, I can use it.

 The app is great for finding character, getting around the park, making dining reservations, and many other things. I was looking at the wait times and Fastpass availability, though, and their system is disappointing. Instead of specific wait times, it displays that attractions are "See Now" as in no wait, "Moderate," or "In High Demand." This could require guesswork, which is a design flaw. Just tell me the time!

See what I'm talking about? 
The biggest feature I was looking forward to was seeing when the Fastpass times were without having to walk up to the attraction, a function I heard the app delivered. It does, but again, only kind of. It's a lot more black and white on the app, informing users only if there are any Fastpasses left. If you know the parks well enough, you know that after 2 p.m. on a crowded day, it's going to be hard to get a Fastpass for any ride where the shorter wait time could come in handy.

I like things to be specific, and the app has a lot of general information. It could do better.

Let me know what you think, and how the app functions in the parks, and compares to the Verizon-only version!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Is "One More Disney Day" Worth It?

Nothing is better than walking around Disneyland in a state of severe sleep deprivation, right?
Wrong. I don’t know about you, but I’m a guy who appreciates a good, full night of sleep so I can tackle the next day at 100 percent.

Now, not all people are like this, especially my age, and Disney knows this. That’s why, during the busy seasons, the Magic Kingdom is sometimes open until three in the morning.

I’ve seen it, and sometimes when I was working those late hours, I would wonder what these people were going to do for the remainder of their vacation. The best way to do a park is to get there when it opens, which is impossible when that’s the time you get home from your hotel. Often, these groups were with small children, who wake up with the sunrise.

When my girlfriend came to visit while I was doing the College Program, we tried to do a late night, but didn’t last and instead decided to go back and sleep, hoping our foresight would make the next day better.

Which brings me to my topic for this post, buried in the fourth paragraph: Disneyland and the Magic Kingdom’s upcoming “One More Disney Day!” event coming up on Feb. 29, better known as leap day. On this day, the two parks will be open for 24 hours straight. (Boy, am I glad I don’t work at the Magic Kingdom right now. That’s gonna be tough.)

The event, in theory, sounds like a great promotion. It’s innovative and buzz worthy from a marketing viewpoint, but that is about the only purpose it serves. No one is going to enjoy a 22, 23, or 24 straight hour at Disneyland. There’s a lot to do, but not that much, and even if there was, nothing is fun when every step takes that much more effort.

With admission prices being as high as they are, many will try to squeeze every minute out of this special offer. Though, with the money they will no doubt spend on coffee and Five Hour Energy and the harsh, probably incomprehensible words sure to be yelled at each other in the 23rd hour, will it be worth it?

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Remaking the Mountain

My Google updates (my secret has been revealed! It's like you've seen my backstage) have been exploding (I've gotten like 6 updates) about the Matterhorn's $1 million refurbishment. 

Many of the articles (at least two) mention the fact that some guests to Disneyland were disappointed to find out upon seeing the mountain dressed in scaffolding that they would not get to ride down the famous 1/100 reproduction of the Swiss peak.

When I was working at Walt Disney World, I showed up in January and in February, Mickey's Toontown Faire was closed to become the double-Dumbo'ed Storybook Circus.

You want to know how many times people asked me where Mickey's house was? (Hint: that was a rhetorical question, with the answer being a large, annoying answer.)

If I was in a smart-alec mood, I would tell them "It's in Anaheim!" If I was in a literal mood, I'd tell them the truth. But always, after the question, I would ask myself "How much money did these people spend to come here, and they didn't figure out pre-visit that Toontown would be a relic of the past?"

The Disneyland monorail passes by the Matterhorn
(Glenn Koenig, Los Angeles Times / February 2, 2012)
So, it's no secret how much sympathy I feel for these people who are surprised about the Matterhorn's status. It's always been my strong held belief to make plans and do your research.  

You know the internet? That thing you're connected to right now. It's a great resource, especially when you're about to drop a couple grand on a vacation and you'd like to know what you're going to get for all that money you spent. Though, if you're reading this, you probably know that, and I just wasted your time. Sorry about that.

Since I will not be missing anything, as I won't be visiting Disneyland between now and June (but my mom will, sorry mom! But I don't get to go so ha! Serves you right for not taking me!), I'm happy that the mountain will be shiny with it's new snow (paint) and its new ride vehicles when my next visit comes!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

No More Fastpass Cheating

Looks like all that golden information I gave you all in my "How to Never Wait In Line" is null now. reports that on March 7, that second time printed on you FastPass will actually mean something. No longer are the days of getting a FastPass and only worrying about the first time and showing up after that. It will now be mandatory to show up in the hour window printed if you want your FastPass to save you time instead of saving your page in a book post-vacation.

This seems like a small change, but it's not. My whole strategy for getting a lot done in a Disney park, even on a crowded day, will have to be completely reformulated. Usually, as I discussed on the aforementioned previous post, I stock up on FastPasses and rarely use them in the hour window they suggest.

Logistically, the move makes sense. The whole system works on some type of algorithm or some other big math word that I don't even try to pretend to understand. But simple logic says that if everyone who has FastPasses for a certain attraction on a certain day decides to show up at a certain time, regardless of when they got the FastPass, then the whole system is useless and your FastPass only gets you into a slightly smaller line.

On a macro level (Yeah, macro) it will make things smoother and more functional, but on the micro level, meaning me being selfish, it's a game ruiner.