The My Disney Experience app is currently a divisive topic for Walt Disney World guests. It has unquestionably improved since its early days, which is a credit to the tech wizards at The Walt Disney Company.
Of course, even with these recent enhancements, the program still has a long way to go to satisfy demanding theme park tourists who want to handle all their Disney issues via their smartphone. So, this is the perfect opportunity to evaluate current park behavior as well as other popular Disney apps to determine how My Disney Experience (MDE) could improve to maximize park enjoyment. Here are four changes MDE needs to become more valuable.
1. The Mythical Fourth FastPass
Let’s start with the positives. Disney research suggests that consumers quickly adopted the new FastPass+ (FP+) system. In fact, by early 2014, people were already using it 40 percent more than the previous paper FastPass system. Guests staying at a Walt Disney World property can book FP+ reservations 60 days in advance while others can make theirs 30 days ahead of a park visit.
One of the glaring shortcomings in the early days was that Disney forced customers to go through the online site for booking rather than using the more convenient smart device app. They’ve since adjusted their rules to allow MDE app FP reservations, albeit only for the first three each day, the “freebies” if you will.
That’s the next issue Disney needs to address. Park guests cannot book a fourth FP+ until their first three times expire, which is perfectly reasonable. The lingering concern is that visitors are still locked out of doing so by phone. They must head to a kiosk at a Disney park or resort to reserve additional FPs. Early in 2015, a Disney spokesperson informed the Orlando Sentinel that such a move was in the offing, but a full year later, no progress has occurred. In the digital era, I can literally send you money from any place in the world (or on the International Space Station), but I can’t book that accursed fourth FP+ unless I’m at a kiosk. It’s maddening.
2. Touring plans
MDE currently offers a comprehensive estimator for attraction wait times. Whereas other sites and apps only speculate about crowd traffic at a given time, Disney’s cast members have a stunning amount of information at hand that allows them to calculate park traffic accurately. Why, then, do cottage industry companies such as Touring Plans and Undercover Tourist do a better job of planning a day at a WDW theme park?
Seriously, pull up the MDE app. You’ll discover a wealth of knowledge about your favorite rides, shows, and attractions. Under the “Things to Do” tab, you’ll have the sum total of WDW information at your fingertips. There’s just one little problem. You can’t get specific advice on how to schedule a day. For frequent park guests, that’s not a problem. For harried parents trying to strategize how to get the most out of a day, it’s a stunning gap in an otherwise impeccable informational tool.
At a minimum, MDE should provide suggestions about general park behavior. It should be something akin to “Guests who ride Splash Mountain frequently ride Big Thunder Mountain.” Then, it could suggest a clever park trip such as, “If you set your FP+ times at these two attractions for consecutive hours, you could wait until the last few minutes of the first FP+. As soon as your ride is done, you would trigger the start time of your next FP+ since it’s now in the window for the following hour.”
That’s a wordy description that Disney’s staff would want to weed down into understandable terms, but you get the gist. Currently, other apps do a much better job of explaining Disney park behavior and tips than MDE itself. That’s simply inexcusable. Nobody knows more about Disney theme parks than Disney cast members. They should be collating and disseminating that information rather than hoarding it privately.