When it comes to the “happiest place on Earth,” you’d have to be a real grump to not like Disney’s theme parks. After all, who didn’t grow up with classic Disney icons like Mickey, Goofy, and the various princesses?
Disney’s theme parks are a wonderful place to go and forget about reality, replacing your troubles with some Disney magic pixie dust. But if you don’t regularly visit Disneyland or Walt Disney World, planning these trips could become overwhelming quickly.
Fortunately, there are some great apps to help you get the most out of your Disney vacation!
You can’t have a day at Disneyland without the official app. It’s a vital tool to have for your Disneyland experience.
The Disneyland app lets users (with a free account) buy tickets directly, so there’s no waiting in the ticket line. You can also link existing tickets and Annual Passports so that cast members can just scan a barcode from your phone. This lets you avoid getting your physical ticket or passport out each time you enter Disneyland or Disney California Adventure.
Wondering how long the line is for a certain attraction? The Disneyland app not only provides you with a digital map of both parks, but you can check wait times from it as well. This data gets updated constantly, so you know it’s accurate. And when rides are down, you’ll see that too.
You can also filter out character meet-and-greet schedules, dining options, shops, restrooms, entertainment, and special events happening around the parks. Character meets include the time they come out, so you can plan accordingly. You can also make dining reservations directly in the app. This is the best way to get into fancier restaurants, like Blue Bayou and Steakhouse 55.
With Disneyland’s PhotoPass service, you can link a PhotoPass card to your account. Then, photographer cast members can scan your PhotoPass barcode for photo opportunities. You’re then able to download high-resolution digital copies of your photos (for an extra fee).
The new MaxPass lets parkgoers download digital copies of all photos for the day and get FASTPASS selections from the app itself, rather than physically going to FASTPASS distribution points. This is certainly convenient, but costs $10 a day, or $75 added to your annual passport.
The Disneyland app is a must-have for anyone who plans to go or frequently visits the parks. There are also separate apps for other global Disneyland parks.
2. My Disney Experience
If you’re heading to Florida for your Disney vacation, then you need My Disney Experience. It’s the official Walt Disney World app.
With My Disney Experience, you can purchase park tickets directly in the app and have them scanned at the gate. Like the Disneyland apps, you can get wait times for attractions, as well as see character meet-and-greet schedules, parade showings, and more. If you’re hungry, just open the app and check out the closest dining options for you or even make reservations for later.
Walt Disney World is much bigger than Disneyland, since it consists of four parks. It’s easy to get lost, but you won’t with My Disney Experience. The app also provides users with step-by-step directions to all locations across the resort, which is especially helpful for new visitors.
Walt Disney World also has its own FastPass+ system, which you can manage directly from the app. And if you purchase their Memory Maker service, you get unlimited photos taken by their professional photographers throughout the park. You’ll then have the ability to download, edit, and share them with friends and family.
If you’re visiting Walt Disney World, chances are you’re staying at one of the Disney hotels. You’re able check in to your hotel and manage your Disney itinerary with My Plans in My Disney Experience. This includes MagicBands, which is certainly convenient.
Walt Disney World is a beast of a theme park, so My Disney Experience is a necessity if you’re tackling it with your family this summer.
Ever wonder how crowded Disneyland is today? With MouseWait, you’ll get a pretty good idea of how busy the parks are before you get there.
The app shows park hours for the day, as well as the crowd index. This number’s based on the large user base of MouseWait itself, historical algorithms, and massive amounts of real-time historical data. On top of this, you can see which Annual Passes are valid for entry to the park, and which ones are currently blocked.
In addition to providing users with crucial info on how busy the park is, MouseWait includes a complete schedule of all upcoming shows and events right on the front page. Wait times for attractions included in the app are also here. However, these are predictions based on MouseWait’s numbers, rather than up-to-the-minute updates like with Disneyland’s app.
If you’re hungry, you can browse through the menu of every restaurant in the parks, or even search for specific items that you’re craving. MouseWait includes access to the community boards, where you can post and share photos about anything Disney with other parkgoers. Plus, each restaurant’s rated and reviewed by other MouseWait users, so check out their experiences before spending your money.
For those of you who have favorite attractions, shows, or restaurants, just mark them as Favorites in MouseWait so estimated wait times appear on the main screen.
MouseWait covers a lot of aspects for your trip to Disneyland, and it’s a must for any visitor.
4. Shop Disney Parks
We all know that cute, although overpriced, merchandise fills Disney parks. But what if you can’t physically make it to the park? Then you download Shop Disney Parks on your smartphone.
With this app at your fingertips, you can browse through a huge selection of clothing, accessories, collectibles, and much more. All the exclusive merchandise on Shop Disney Parks isn’t sold outside of Disney World or Disneyland.
Since there’s a lot of items on offer, Shop Disney Parks has plenty of filters so you can refine your search to specific categories or characters. Or you can just browse the featured categories on the main screen.
Nearly everything is available online, but some items are exclusive to the parks. For these, you can tap Find On Map and it’ll point out all the shops at the park that carry the item. Unfortunately, the biggest caveat to Shop Disney Parks is that it provides item locations for Walt Disney World only.
You can also sign in to your Disney account and get discounts for being an eligible Walt Disney World Annual Passholder, Disney Visa card member, or Disney Vacation Club Member.
If you love exclusive Disney park merchandise, then Shop Disney Parks is a necessity for your shopping needs (or you can save some money and look for deals elsewhere).
5. Eats for Disneyland
Even though most people go to Disneyland for the rides and shows, there’s some pretty good food at the parks. Eats for Disneyland helps you find them.
This is the official app for DisneylandEats.com, a blog that’s dedicated to trying out every unique dish at Disneyland Resort. It’s run by real people who visit the parks frequently, try the food, and give their verdict. And their images of the food are original photographs, not edited to look prettier than they are.
The app presents all their reviews in chronological order, from newest to oldest. It’s visual-heavy, with large thumbnails of each dish containing a text overlay for the dish name and restaurant. It infinitely scrolls, so you can browse to your heart’s content. If you’re looking for a specific restaurant, cuisine type, or food item, just use the filters or search bar.
Their reviews follow a strict formula, and get straight to the point with the price, whether you need a reservation, and their verdict (recommended or not) at the top. Then, you can read their simple and short anecdotes about the food item and service, and once again get their verdict.
If you want to save something to try out next time you’re at the park, add it to your Favorites with the heart button. They also provide the restaurant location on the map, and you can share the review with others.
Disneyland has a lot of original and unique dishes at its restaurants, and this app is a great companion to find the best eats. The other alternative is deciding to eat somewhere off-site.
Download: Eats for Disneyland for iOS (Free)
6. Disneyland Inside Out
Are you visiting for the first time, or prefer some historical information on the attractions? If that’s the case, then you should grab Disneyland Inside Out.
It’s a bit of a dated app, but the information it packs is invaluable. While Disneyland Inside Out has the basics like hours, show schedules, and wait times, it also dives into the backgrounds of each attraction. And for first-timers, there’s even information to help you prepare for certain rides, such as Splash Mountain.
There’s also dining information available in Disneyland Inside Out, though it’s a tad outdated. For example, it still lists Village Haus Restaurant, even though it became Red Rose Taverne in 2017. And with Disneyland always changing the menu items, it’s a good idea to check the restaurant first before deciding from this app.
Disneyland Inside Out also features a community, so you can join in discussions with other fellow Disney fans. Even with the app’s lack of updates recently, the message boards are pretty active.
Despite being a bit older, Disneyland Inside Out still has valuable information for prep and fun facts about rides. It’s worth keeping around if you enjoy the history behind the parks.
Get Ready for Your Disney Vacation
Every summer, thousands of people visit one of the many Disney parks around the world. Whether you’re a seasoned Passholder or first-time visitor, these apps are sure to make your magical Disney vacation even better.
If Disney’s not within your budget this vacation season, there’s always next year. It’s never too early to start planning for summer vacation. Or you can prep yourself with virtual Disneyland tours through Street View.