Gadgets and Gizmos A-Plenty: Navigating Your Disney Vacation with Devices


Now more than ever, it’s a part of your world. A Walt Disney World guest needs to be technologically literate in order to have both the most efficient and hygienic Disney visit, and have the access they need to what the parks and resorts offer. You need to use your smartphone and use it often. There is a learning curve for those who are digitally challenged. My favorite tip is to become digitally savvy at home and practice using the My Disney Experience app and any other apps with which you are unfamiliar before your vacation.

Let’s explore the highlights of a Walt Disney World parks and resorts guest experience if you need to brush up on your relationship between you, Disney, and your phone. Get your thingamabobs out and ready!

Mobile Order Service: It’s your best friend if you want to enjoy eating counter service meals (aka quick service); and it’s functionality has now been expanded to include table service locations in the parks and resorts as well. While we began to use mobile ordering systems prior to the pandemic, it really hit the ground running with more availability and access during the past year. If you haven’t used it since 2017, you will need to – and want to – use it now. A huge time saver, beats waiting in lines, and is every Type A personality’s friend, mobile ordering can be found in…”What’s that word again?” … My Disney Experience. You’re not getting cold fins now, are you?! Learning Curve: you need to click “Prepare my Order” once you are within the window of time you selected to eat, and your credit card needs to be on file within the app. The only drawback? Starbucks is not accessible through this service. Bon appétit!

Photo by Mitya Ivanov on Unsplash

Table Service Meals: We have been using our phones for a very long time now to secure an Advanced Dining Reservation, but did you know that all menus are now accessible at table service dining locations via QR codes right at your table? Learning Curve: all you need is your phone’s camera, no more finding the QR code app in your phone. Don’t be such a guppy, it also saves you time by allowing you to check in remotely (once you’re within proximity to the restaurant) rather than at your table service location’s podium. This way, they know that you are present and waiting for your table through your phone. You may also check and join walk-up availability as well.

Resort Guests Technology: Staying on property uses technology now more than ever. I have used my cell phone for a long time now for digital check-in (as well as online) prior to our vacations for early check-in information, which saves time at your resort lobby when you arrive. The newest use of phones within resorts includes opening your resort room door via My Disney Experience. The digital key feature has been around for a few years, but its use is more prevalent since we are now using our MagicBands less often and touching less surfaces. You can virtually chat with the front desk through MDE if you need anything during your stay as well! Learning Curve: resort tech usage also includes using your devices to tell the time in your resort room because most rooms do not have clocks on the nightstand anymore. If it’s been a while, the slow removal of alarm clocks has made way for space for using your mobile device to set your alarm in the morning.

Navigating the parks: “The human world, it’s a mess…” (said Sebastian), and using your phone to navigate within the parks is a must to alleviate the chaos. If you have Park Hopper tickets, you need to know what time it is to make the most of your 2pm entry to the next park, as well as gaining access to Rise of the Resistance‘s 1pm boarding group drop. Guests can utilize digital access entry into the parks without MagicBands with the MagicMobile system. Learning Curve: you need a Wallet app on your device and set it up prior to entering the park. Doing so will make it easier for your party to enter. Another feature of navigating the parks is accessing and allowing for push notifications. I received several while approaching dining areas, as well as for boarding group times at Rise of the Resistance.

One of the most recent needs for being technologically literate in Walt Disney World is accessing the elusive virtual queue for an attraction’s boarding groups. While that was probably my biggest obstacle, it was no challenge for my son who is a gamer and gen z-er, and who was amused watching his parents freak out over figuring out this process. “Teenagers. They think they know everything…” (said Sebastian). I never really was able to become savvy enough to get a boarding group, but thankfully, with enough people in your party (who don’t need learning curves for this feat), we had great success. Frankly, there are too many learning curves for virtual queue success, so I will link an explanation here.

When you return to Walt Disney World, if it’s been a while, you poor unfortunate soul, you must become more tech savvy than ever; losing any digital fears, challenges, and frustrations is becoming a necessity. With Disney’s Genie app approaching (more info coming soon), and what will come with FastPass in the future, we have to always be on top of Disney’s systems to save us time and have greater access to all of what the parks have to offer.

So get your whosits & whatsits ready and bring your technology game to a part of your world before your next Disney vacation; it will be worthwhile. If you have any tips, please comment below!