Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Verizon Disney App Adventure; Part 1

Remember that secret I may have leaked a teeny tiny bit once or twice?

Yeah, that one.

Well...I was actually working while I was there so don't tell anyone how much fun I really had. I didn't think I would personally enjoy going to Disneyland as much as I would enjoy watching my kids have fun in Disneyland, but well....okay. I liked the mouseland, ALRIGHT??? Can we just keep this between us? Okay, you, me and Verizon.

Yes, Verizon. I was offered the opportunity by my friend, David Hoffman to try out a new Verizon application for Disneyland, and put it to the Gwendomama challenge. I had no idea what I was doing with either the app or Disneyland, because I (shhhhh) am was a Disneyland virgin, and if you saw how many keys were missing from my laptop you would easily and correctly assume my lack of technical snobbery or expertise. But I do love to have fun, and so not only did I accept the challenge...I agreed to be filmed while trying it. (As long as I could say whatever I wanted, whenever.)

I may or may not have been drunk crazed when I agreed to the filming part, but my friends hid the evidence and held me to my agreement.
Okay, I totally made that last part up because I hate the sound of my own voice and can't believe I agreed to be filmed. Why on earth would I talk about getting drunk in the same paragraph I mention Disneyland? This is a family blog. And Disneyland is ALL about the family fun and NOT AT ALL about endorsing drinking heavily. Unless you count Goofy.

First I was all, "Why do I need a special application on my phone to navigate Disneyland?" But nobody could hear me because they were all chatting away on their bluetooth devices. So I shouted, "WHY CAN'T I JUST USE THE PARK PROVIDED MAP?" and looked down to find my instantly discarded to the stroller map being mutilated by my small child. That was easy. Now I knew why, and also made a mental note to not allow the phone near said small child.

Turning on the phone, I found the 'Disney Mobile Magic' app and as soon as it loaded, it found me too! "Look!! It found us!!" I told Heidi, excitedly, "Look! That circle is us!!"
So yes, it knew where we were instantly. Which I find both awesome and creepy. I kept looking over my shoulder to see if someone was shining the circle on us and following us around with a laser dot. I told you, I am not very technical.
Despite my admonitions to 'go before we leave the hotel room', Heidi immediately needed a bathroom. We had just walked onto Main Street, USA, and the kids were overwhelmed with the dazzling Disney eye candy, so we could hardly see signs for a bathroom.
OH! The APP!!

'Mobile Magic' opened, I selected 'Guest Services' from the main menu and the first sub-option to pop up was 'restrooms'...which? Was awesome. Without moving from that spot, we located the subtly labeled and previously invisible bathroom directly behind us within about 40 seconds. Which means that Disney and Verizon are totally fine with you being too lazy to do it the old fashioned way by walking around and looking. And that? Again, awesome.

Right away, Bubbles wanted to meet Mickey. Since he is not a kid likely to be shy of giant masked friendly rodents (as his sister would have been) I was sort of excited to get him to Mickey ASAP. I went to the 'Characters' selection on the app, and just as I was telling Heidi that 'it says he should be right here in Main Street Plaza at 8:40' I looked up from my teeny tiny alluring screen to see a line forming directly in front of me. For Mickey. Right there, at Main Street Plaza.
Correct again, Mobile Magic!

Okay, with the bathroom stop and the meeting of Mickey under our mommy belts, we were ready to attack the meatier subjects at hand: Rides.
Oh cool, now I was feeling useful! I whipped out the phone again, clicked on 'Attractions', looked for Finding Nemo's Submarine Voyage, and located it on the map to find how to get there from where we were.
Ready for the best part of all?
What's everyone's least favorite part of Disneyland?

.............(' -----take a moment--------')...............

Yes, we all agree.
Waiting in lines.
(That link, by the way has some great tips.)

This app updates every few minutes to tell you what the wait time is on any given ride.
There are other ways of finding out the wait times for rides; you can, alternatively walk to the kiosk in Main Street Plaza at any time and receive the updated wait times for any ride. And I encourage you to search ahead of time, which attractions you want to see and what you want to prioritize
But if you are roaming in the park nowhere near Main Street, and want to check the wait time of any ride at all in any area of the park, the app is going to save you some time.

While we were trying to find Nemo, we saw some rockets.
We were at Disneyland. Where world famous pirates and animatronic adorable small singing children abound, but our kids wanted wockets.
Wockets won.
And off to the wockets rockets we went.
And we were ready for more action.

We found Nemo just where the app said we would, but after our long and tiring submarine voyage, it was time for food.
Out came the phone, and since I was becoming pretty adept at using it, I bragged that I could find anything anyone wanted to eat. Which, with small children, translated into 'quick service and near- instant gratification'. Within a moment we had located a place to eat just yards away from us. My only complaint about this feature is that it showed me every kind of cuisine available from African to Thai food, but not one category was labeled 'coffee' or 'cafe'. If Disney wants me to chase my kids around in their park all day long, the coffee would help.

Something I didn't get to try out but found highly appealing was the 'set alerts' option for the 'Events' option. I tend to get distracted with my kids' involvement and may forget something in which they had earlier expressed interest. For instance, the parade. I could go to the 'Parade' label in 'Events' and set an alert on the phone so that, ten minutes before the parade (or whatever 'Event' I chose) the phone would ring and remind me.

Verizon certainly has a cutting edge product for Disney fans and park goers, and, with any brand new product, there are many suggestions for how to improve it. Droid users will be disappointed to find out that the Mobile Magic Application is not yet available to them.

Personally, I was pretty happy with the features of the app, but the Chocolate phone I was using would shut the app down every time I closed the phone and put it in my pocket. Sadly, this is just the nature of flip phones or phones which close.
I suggested a 'kid tracking application' to Verizon - useful in any situation in the prevention of lost children. If I can have all the benefits of GPS, I want a tiny receiver which I can clip on to my four year old's shirt or pants, activate with my phone, and keep track of him should he stray from my side. I am sure they will get right on that. (HELLO? Really nice guy from Verizon- are you listening?)

All in all?
I had more fun than I thought I would at Disneyland, I am now far more technically savvy than I was before using this app (and phone, for that matter) - so savvy, in fact, that you should hire me to teach you really important technical colored things . My only complaint is that Disney did not control the weather, and we spent one full day of our 2-day pass, drying our soaked shoes and socks over the heater and huddled in the motel room watching cable Disney channel.

My very last tip to you? Choose a motel with a hot tub. Because then, even if you get caught in the only freezing, pouring rainstorm of the year, you can get warm and keep children who are entertained by warmth and water happy.

This post was created voluntarily to record the events which were filmed by David Hoffman. I was not paid to write this post, nor was any other party able to edit the final publication.


Tracey - Just Another Mommy Blog said...

How very, very cool!! And the app sounds like something extremely useful, especially the wait time updates for lines.

So happy you got to do this!

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