In the old days, people had to fully rely on touring books and travel agents. Anyone else remember taking a trip to their local American Auto Association branch to gather up glossy brochures with smiling Disney characters? These days, the internet has exploded with information, opinions, and even some misinformation on vacation planning. And even more recently, iPhone apps have come on the scene to help you plan your vacation.
Many people with a goal to visit Disney World understand that some level of planning is necessary. You don’t just show up at the gates of a Disney park, buy a Disney World ticket, and walk in. Well, you can still do this. But most people don’t. Going to Disney is typically a big investment of both time and money. You want to get the most out of it. And that means doing some level of planning.
You might just want to purchase your tickets in advance and have a general game plan for your time. Or you might be a super planner with spreadsheets, Advanced Dining Reservations for ever meal (including the ever-popular but so-hard-to-get-into Disney character dining experiences).
But whatever type of planner you are, Steve Russo over at the Mouse Planet web site (Source) has written up some evaluations and opinions on how to use the latest iPhone apps for planning your Disney World vacation.
Disney Specific Apps
The following apps are specifically designed to help you with Disney World vacation planning.
Apple App Store price: Free for lite version, $1.99 for full version
Apple Ratings: Five out of five stars (best possible)
If you are a member of the Disney Vacation Club, then you know that calculating how many points you need for a certain resort at a certain time of the year can be a bit complicated. D Point makes it easy to figure out, and also helps you calculate booking and cancelation window dates.
Apple App Store price: Free for ad supported lite version, $0.99 for full version
Apple Ratings: Two out of five stars (not so hot)
The good news is that there are lots of dining options at Disney World. The bad news is that it can be hard to navigate them all. This app allows you to search in two different ways – food locations that are near you, and food locations that have the type of food you would like. The app stores not only the restaurant listings but also menus and prices. The lite version covers the theme parks only, and the full version covers all Disney dining locations, including water parks and hotels. And all this is stored in the app itself so you don’t necessarily need internet access. Many users of the app described that it shut down unexpectedly in their feedback on the App Store, while others said that everything was AOK.
Apple App Store price: Free for the app, but only works when you have a subscription to the companion web site for $11.95 for the year
Apple Ratings: Five out of five stars
I have personally used this app many times and find it to be well worth the investment. Touring Plans is run by some nice folks who love Disney and who love data. The put together information to predict the sizes of crowds by park so you can make the best choice on what park to visit on what day. They also predict the wait times for individual attractions. But beyond the predictions there are also tools so that other app users can report actual wait times. These two different types of information (predictions and actuals) give you a good sense for what parks and which attractions to visit, and when. Very good stuff that can save you lots of waiting in lines and lots of running around.
General Travel Planning Apps
The following apps aren’t specific to Disney World vacation planning, but are just generally useful.
Apple App Store price: Free
Apple App Store Ratings: Four out of five stars
This isn’t an app specific to Disney. Instead, it is an app that allows you to easily share documents you create on your PC with your other devices, like your iPad tablet, your laptop, or your iPhone. So if you are the super planner type and you have developed your complete spreadsheet with schedules on what attractions you will visit and when, along with your dining reservations, Dropbox allows you to easily get that spreadsheet from your PC to your iPhone.
Apple App Store price: Free for lite version, $3.99 for the full version
Apple App Store Ratings: Four and a half out of five stars
In the olden days you needed to print out and save your flight confirmation numbers and details, your Disney Resort hotel confirmation numbers and details, your car confirmation numbers and details – well, you get the point. Now, you can not only save a few trees but you can get all that information nicely formatted and put together in one place, and organized by time and not by vendor. After you sign up for a TripIt account, you simply e-mail your various itineraries to a personalized e-mail address and TripIt processes the bits of data and lays out all your information in a nicely formatted schedule. I personally use this and love it.
Many Disney Apps For Many Purposes
It seems that every day we read about new iPhone (and yes, Android) apps coming out to help with planning your Disney vacation. By checking out some of the applications above you can not only get to play with cool technology but also help keep yourself organized and informed.