In November of 2009 Disney released their Mobile Magic app for Verizon Wireless customers. This past August, we had a chance to try it out. The app costs $9.99 for 180 days of access and a 24 hour free trial is also offered. I used the free trial version and did not find any missing functionality. If it is any indication of where this review is going, I plan on buying this app on our next vacation. The only reason I didn’t buy it this trip was that the trial continued to function for the full two days we had in the parks. I imagine they will catch up with me on the next trip…
For each location on Disney property the Mobile Magic app offers a module for Today’s Events, Attractions, Characters, Search, Transportation, Games, My Favorites, Shopping, Guest Services, and Dining. The app works for Disney World in Florida and Disneyland in California.
There are a few other apps out there offering information about schedules, wait times and fastpass return times. For these other apps, schedule information is probably fairly reliable, but wait times and fastpass return times are maintained by users of the app. They either enter these times in to a web page for others to view or they click a button when they get in line and click it again when they get on the ride and the system calculates wait times to be posted for others to view. Since it relies on users to maintain the information, it is often out of date or simply incorrect. Disney’s Mobile Magic App does not have this limitation.
When you run the app it uses the phones LBS to determine where you are and displays the proper park or resort location. For the app to know your location you must have the LBS (location based services) function enabled on your phone. This is an easy function to turn on and the app can help you if needed.
The Attractions module
Being offered by Disney, this app has a distinct advantage over others in that it can pull real time data directly from the Disney network for ride wait times, and Fastpass return times. It does not rely on users to maintain this data.
The wait times and return times for the park you are in are accurate and up to the second that you select the Attractions module in the program. Based on the time it takes to load the Attractions module it seems to be gathering all ride data at once rather than querying it as you select a ride. I can only assume it does not update while you are viewing the times, only each time you select the Attraction module.
Note that Disney limits access to exact wait times and return times to the park you are currently in. It will however let you know if fastpasses are “available”, “nearly gone”, or “not available” and a general indication of wait times of “see now”, “moderate”, or “heavy”. If a ride is not functioning it will be listed as “down”. I did not have another person at another park to verify the accuracy of this information or to tell me the actual time of a “moderate” wait.
The attractions module will also give you a map of the park and locate you and the attraction on the map to help you find your way.
The Today’s Events module
When you select this module it starts with the weather for the day and as you scroll down lists each of the events and the next show time. Selecting the event you see a list of all the show times for the day and can select maps to the location and even set a reminder for the event. This is definitely easier than dealing with those printed schedules that always get buried in a bag somewhere. We all seem to be able to quickly find our cell phone these days.
The Today’s Events module is also very accurate and up to date. The Main Street Electrical Parade was something we wanted to see and was on the schedule on the Disney website when we planned our trip. I checked the app the day we planned to see it and it was not listed. I asked two cast members and they checked their printed schedules and said it was running. When we got to Magic Kingdom I asked again and the cast member said there was a lot of confusion but no, the parade was not running that night. So the app had more up to date info than some of the cast members.
I did find the location of some of the events to be incorrect. It showed The Village Beatniks playing under The Tree of Life which was off by quite a bit.
I did not fully check out any of the other modules but I assume they are equally as accurate and functional. I am sure the Characters module would be very helpful in finding those elusive character greeting spots and arriving before the crowds. The Dining module looks very useful as well.
I would recommend this to anyone that has a compatible Verizon phone. I could see where, during the busier times of the year, the ride information could be a great time saver. For people new to the parks the mapping system should be very helpful. And for the geeks like me, I loved it! I am not sure how much data it uses but make sure you have some sort of prepaid data plan because pay as you go would probably cost a fortune.