How to Use My Disney Experience in the Parks
Previously, MickeyBlog discussed how to maximize My Disney Experience at home. Today, we’re going to discuss how it helps you in the parks. The takeaway from these two pieces is that My Disney Experience (MDE) is THE most important app for Disney fanatics. Once you know how to use it well, you’ll streamline every trip to Walt Disney World. Here’s what you need to know about using My Disney Experience to maximize your time in the parks.
When you load the MDE app from inside the park, it’ll look the same as if you were viewing it from your home, hundreds of miles away from Walt Disney World. As such, you can go ahead and glance at it now so that you’ll have a working familiarity with it once you arrive at your next park visit.
When you’re at Walt Disney World, your primary thought is about the rides. You need to know how long the line queues are, and Disney’s IT department knows this. That’s why the first header is Wait Times. In reality, this section offers much more detail than its name suggests, though.
Sure, you can view the wait times for every attraction at Walt Disney World under the Wait Times section. That’s obvious. The functionality is much more robust, though. You can also pull up each of the four Walt Disney World gates individually to see the line times for each one.
Let’s say that you’re at Magic Kingdom, but you’re thinking about heading to Disney’s Hollywood Studios. You listened to me last week and know that all the remaining rides there are great. You don’t want to make the trip if the lines are too long or one of the rides is down, though. The Wait Times section will display all of this information for you. You simply hit the button to filter by park, and you can see how long it would take you to wait in the Hollywood Tower Hotel for an ill-fated elevator ride.
MDE: Now with Mapping!
The app does something even better, though. It also shows directions! Everyone hates that hopeless feeling of getting turned around at a theme park. MDE prevents you from experiencing this frustration. In the Wait Times section, you can use your fingers to expand the map to see a detailed view of each park.
You may not know how to get to the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror if you haven’t visited the park in a while. The app will show you to head down Hollywood Boulevard and then take a right at Sunset Boulevard. You can see every walking path at Hollywood Studios, guaranteeing that you’ll know where you are every step of the way.
When you’re moving around Walt Disney World, you can even use the app as a road navigation system. You can expand the app enough to see how East Buena Vista Drive runs near several resorts and intersects with World Drive and Epcot Center Drive at certain points. If you’re interested in the geography of Walt Disney World, it’s actually an informative app. In using it, you may find that parks and resorts aren’t quite where you think they are. For example, I’d never realized just how close Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort is to Disney’s Boardwalk Inn and Villas.
The next two MDE headers go hand in hand with the mapping and line queues. The Attractions section shows a pop-up time note such as “20 Min Wait”. You can click this pop-up to see further information. Continuing the Twilight Zone Example, tapping the pop-up will show the attraction’s full name, park where it resides, and estimated wait time. It also has a helpful link you can tap that says, “Get Directions.” You can select directions from your current location or any address on the Disney campus.
You can do one other useful thing on the pop-up screen. You can tap the ride’s name. From there, you will see a much larger information page about the attraction. It will show height requirements, the themed land location for the attraction, the age of the target audience, and map details.
You’ll also have another option to get directions on this page. Finally and most importantly, this display screen also has a “Get FastPass+” option. You should get used to this. When you’re changing from one park to another, you may find available FastPass selections in the time window for your visit.
Pro tip: as you leave Magic Kingdom and wait in line for the bus to Hollywood Studios, you should pull out your phone and access MDE. While you wait, check to see if a desirable FastPass is available, and don’t be afraid to aim high. You may get lucky. My family found Fastpasses for Soarin’ Around the World and Toy Story Midway Mania! during our most recent visit.
The Characters section works the same way. The only difference is the obvious one. The Attractions header displays details for the rides and shows at Walt Disney World. Characters has that same information for the various meet and greet opportunities at the parks. When you see a silhouette of Mickey Mouse over an area, that’s an important symbol. It means that you have a photo op and character interaction at the designated location.
You can also click the pop-up of the Mickey Mouse head to see further details. For example, as I type this, Magic Kingdom shows Merida meeting people in Fantasyland right now at Fairytale Garden. The pop-up offers the option to Find on Map or Get Directions to Merida. Most importantly, it also shows the timeframe when she’s available for meet and greets. I know from looking at this section, Today’s Appearance, that her availability window is from 2:45 p.m. to 6:15 p.m.
You will burn more calories walking around Walt Disney World than you will anywhere else, unless you compete in triathlons. You need to eat to keep your strength up at the parks, and Disney understands this. They have thoughtfully provided you with hundreds of dining options. These run the gamut from tasty treats (i.e. decadent desserts) to protein-rich meals to dinner and a show.
When you’re at Disney, you will sometimes feel like you’re in that Snickers commercial. Until you get food, you’re unbearable to be around. Or maybe I’m projecting my past behavior on you. Anyway, the point is that you need to eat. The Dining header on the MDE app will help you do that.
When you load MDE and choose this header, you will see all Disney restaurants onsite. If the long list overwhelms you, the functionality is there to narrow your selections. You can choose one of the theme parks, Disney Springs, or any of the resort hotels. You can also pick based on type of cuisine (i.e. Italian, steak, or sushi), dining experience (Quick Service, Table Service, casual dining, food truck, etc.) or even based on price range, Disney Dining Plan, and guest reviews. The filters for the Dining header are among the best on MDE.
The next step is the most impressive part. When you’ve chosen a potential restaurant, you can again click the pop-up image at its location, a picture of a knife and fork. On the next display, you will see a lot of information that will aid you in your decision. The page lists a description of the dining experience, the type of cuisine, whether the restaurant accepts the Disney Dining Plan, PhotoPass options at character meals, directions and…something else.
On the right side of the page, you’ll see a section that says Reserve Dining. From here, you can make Advance Dining Reservations. You will simply need to enter the number of guests in your party and the intended date of the reservation. The MDE app will offer you a set of restaurants that fit your criteria. You can book your meal right from your phone!
Alternately, you can get directions that will take you straight to the restaurant where you want to eat. You can also use Disney’s Mobile Order on your phone now. I’ll add a guide to doing this at a later date. What matters right now is that you can address any hunger needs through MDE. In fact, the next header after Dining is Restrooms, and so Disney has anticipated your next need, too!
When you use these sections of My Disney Experience efficiently, the park is your oyster. Seriously, you will return home from your trip and feel giddy about how much you accomplished in such a short period of time. Unlocking the power of MDE gives you unprecedented opportunities to enjoy Walt Disney World on your terms.
In the third MDE discussion, I’ll talk about all the other headers that you won’t use as much in the app. All of them have utility as well.
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