Smartphone with battery charging

Walt Disney had it right when he envisioned technology having an incredible effect on the future of theme parks. Smartphones have become an integral part of the Walt Disney World experience for everything from taking photos to booking dining reservations. Most Disneyphiles are familiar with My Disney Experience and other popular apps like Touring Plans, but did you know there are dozens of amazing apps that seemingly have nothing to do with theme parks that can make your visit way easier?

We’ve gathered together six of our favorite smartphone apps to hack your next theme park vacation. All of these are available for both Android and iPhone users. Have you ever tried any of these for a Walt Disney World or Universal Studios visit?

1. Life 360 – Keep tracking of the family

Life360 Screenshot

Screenshot: Jett Farrell-Vega, Life360 for Android

Many of us still remember the days when finding family members in Walt Disney World crowds required some serious “Where’s Waldo?” skills. Families have tried all sorts of wacky tactics to overcome the problem—bright shirts, tour flags, obscure meeting places, even carrying walkie talkies. Sure, in the age of technology you can call a cell phone, but who is going to actually hear it in Walt Disney World?

Enter the modern miracle of GPS.

Life360 is one incredible app for giving families peace of mind keeping track of loved ones. Once you sign up for a free account, the app runs quietly in the background of your phone to send a regular signal of your location to family members in your circle (everyone in your family circle needs the app installed and GPS turned on). While it isn’t always pinpoint precise, it can give you a good idea where party members are in the parks at any given time and even tell you how much battery charge they have. There is also an easy feature for manually checking in to send your location to loved ones, and the app also has a security alert option you can use in the event of an emergency. It has proved a lifesaver more than once for tracking party members who forget to check their phones.

2. Zello – Keeping in touch

Zello App

Screenshot: Jett Farrell-Vega, Zello for Android

Were you one of those walkie-talkie carrying families? We were! If you miss the direct communication of walkie-talkies for quick conversations instead of placing a cell call, you might like Zello. Now, this is an app that was subject to a fair deal of confusion during Hurricane Irma. It isn’t some mystery sci-fi communicator that allows you to make calls without coverage—you still need cell signal or Wi-Fi to use it.

However, being Disney has Wi-Fi service almost everywhere in its parks, Zello is an attractive option if you want the ability to use Push-to-Talk to communicate with family. It makes staying in touch very easy. Do be sure and mute it during attractions, and it may be worth bringing a pair of in-ear headphones with a mic for longer conversations, but if you like the convenience of instant communication on Wi-Fi, this is one cool app! Kids and teens especially might have some fun with it.


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