Guest blog by Gemma Riley-Laurin – using apps at Disney

My family’s been to Disney 18 times. We can’t wait for trip #19!

I use my specialized knowledge and training to help families go to Disney. I make travel arrangements for my clients – I liaise with them to pick the hotel that best suits their family, advise them about what are “must sees”, and help them structure their days. I also give my clients hard copies of park maps, help them by making advance dining reservations, and build them an excel spreadsheet/ customized itinerary so they know projected park hours/ fireworks/ parade times/ etc.

But once you’re at the park, projected park hours can change as Disney tweaks the hours based on volume.

I’m a blackberry user… die-hard. I type detailed emails to clients, and it just works better for my business. Unfortunately, the apps for blackberries for use at Disney are very slowly coming… and this is enough to make me pull out my hair, and consider switching to an iphone – even if just to use at Disney! 🙂 Seriously.

If you don’t have an iphone (like me), you’re kinda stuck looking at the wait time estimates on posted boards at the parks, or using something like Pal Mickey (which I love… but it’s discontinued now…

So when a twitter friend of mine returned from Disney, and was telling me about her use of the iphone apps, I had to get more info. She kindly agreed to answer some questions for my blog.

So folks, read and learn as Gemma shares her family’s experiences. (Note: Gemma is a mortgage broker – her contact details are at the end, if you want to follow up with her.)


This was my first trip to Disney in my life.  I do think that I was more excited than my kids.  My daughter is 13 and my son is 7.  They would often look at the apps before we left.  I am maybe a little OCD for being organized on vacation and the apps were a wonderful addition to our travel planning. 

When we visited Orlando, we also went to Discovery Cove(my absolute favourite thing about the trip) and Aquatica.  Well worth the money!!

1.       How did you learn about the apps? Itunes.  I had a number of books for the Orlando area as well. 

2.       Did you arrange a US plan with your phone company before you left Canada? Yes. I am with Telus.  I had paid an extra fee for additional roaming to cover any extra use.  Since we own our own business, we would have been using the roaming either way. 

3.       How costly was the access? It would have been nominal as we were already using the roaming for business when we were down there. Maybe $50 tops.

4.       Did you use an iphone or ipad? (I’m so bummed the blackberry apps are taking forever – don’t suppose you heard of any different info…) I had used an Iphone.  I think the ipad may have been a bit inconvenient based on the size.   I would also have worried about the water rides. 

5.       Did you use different apps (e.g., ride waits, dining, maps), or focus on one? (Did you use, ?,  ) I did use all of these apps and I had also downloaded: eticketWDW and this was my favorite.  I could input my itinerary for flights, hotel address and WDW dinner reservations. I love the ability on the WDW maps and WDW waits that you can zoom in and view a brief description of the ride.  My kids had fun playing with these before we went down to learn their plan of attack. 

6.       How did you use the apps? I was constantly checking the wait times and maps.  They were so easy to use. We were at WDW in October during the Wine and Food Festival.  This was the only item that seemed to be missing on the apps.  Otherwise we followed along as we went with every stop.  I did love the feature that you could see what rides offered fast pass service. 

7.       Did you find the info concerning wait times reliable? They were completely accurate.  I would check with every ride. 

8.       Did it have good info on park hours, extra magic hours, parades, fireworks, etc.?  How about character meet and greet? The best apps for hours is WDW Park Hours.  If you double click on the park it will list the events for that particular park.  They were all very accurate.  We could plan our day around having all of the info.  I wouldn’t go back to Disney without an action plan.  

9.       Was there a difference in reliability between the four major theme parks? (Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios, Animal Kingdom) They all seemed very accurate overall.

10.   What was the biggest surprise in using them? I think that the biggest surprise was how often we used them.  We would be planning our next ride while in line.  It was a very useful tool and helped in getting through the day.  

11.   What would be your one piece of advice to someone trying this for the first time? Make sure that you learn the maps to the parks before you go to Disney.  These maps made our trip so much easier.  

Gemma Riley-Laurin

Mortgage Agent    

Tel: 613-290-0196


twitter: @TheLaurinTeam