As much as we want our vacation to be a time to unwind, your mobile phone is likely to have a major workout if your travels take you to Walt Disney World. Here are some tips and tricks for preparing your phone for Disney travel. Most of them are applicable at any time, but I have also added some that are especially important during the COVID era.
Check available storage
Disney theme parks are some of the most photographed places in the world. You will inevitably end up taking a lot of photos and possibly a lot of memory-consuming videos. You don’t want to miss capturing a magical moment because you unexpectedly ran out of memory.
Before embarking on the trip, check the available storage. If you’re about to limit yourself to the fullest, now may be the time to invest in some cloud storage, download unused apps, or somehow clean your house.
Update the system software
When you’re at amusement parks, you’ll inevitably come across thousands of strangers over the course of a day and not all of them will be salty. One of the main reasons to upgrade your phone system software is to make sure you have the most up-to-date security systems.
Software updates can also improve the speed of your device or unlock new features that will enhance your experience.
Download the necessary applications
Make sure you have the apps you need to optimize your park experience. These may include:
- My Disney Experience: It’s a 100% Imperative – The Must-Have App for All Disney World Visitors. Use this option to access maps, make plans, buy tickets, check confirmation numbers, order fast food, and more. As free MagicBands are removed, you may want to download some of MagicBand’s tasks, such as opening the hotel room door, to your phone’s My Disney Experience app.
- Lines: We are definitely skewed about this, but we also consider the TouringPlans Lines app to be another must-have. Use it to check out crowd levels, waiting times, and most importantly, to follow our travel plans. These step-by-step instructions on how to walk the park in the most efficient way will probably save you hours of waiting in line.
- Weather apps: In addition to standard daily weather apps, you’ll want to download an app that provides detailed information. My favorites are Dark Sky and Weather Underground, which provide current rainfall data. Given the whimsical nature of Florida’s storms, Dark Sky can be an invaluable tool in helping you decide if you need to run to the next attraction or wait a few more minutes for the shower to pass.
- Home Control Tools: Do You Have a Nest Device to Control the Temperature in Your Home? Do you have a ringtone that shows you who is in your house? Do you have a video security system? Make sure you have the apps to access all of these tools while you’re away.
- Air travel: If you want to go on your vacation, you’ll want your airline’s dedicated app for ticket sales, door upgrades, and more. You may also want to have general air travel applications such as FlightAware or Flight Tracker to check the location of your aircraft. If you are a member of any airport lounge service, such as Priority Pass, you will want the app to be used. The MyTSA app can help you stay informed about security clearance schedules at your airport.
- Land Travel: The application from your rental car agency can provide a lot of information and faster access to a vehicle. If you are a member of the AAA, you will want their app to help you solve any problems you may have along the way. And make sure you have the latest update to your favorite map app. Apps from various gas station chains can help you find service along your route.
- Accommodation: If you are staying in an off-site hotel or AirBnB, you will want applications for these services.
- Mail Tracking: U.S. Postal Service, UPS, FedEx, and other cell phone carrier applications can help you handle shipments while you’re away. Sign up for an informed delivery and you will know which correspondence will arrive at your home.
- Grocery Delivery – You may not be there, but you may want to arrange a grocery delivery for the day of your return home.
- Health and Wellness: You’re almost certain to get your steps in Disney World, but there may be other forms of self-care you need through an app. For example, do you have your favorite yoga or meditation app installed to avoid stress? Do you have an app that will guide you in the training of a hotel room? Consider downloading the CDC TravWell app that provides specific health information for travelers.
Learn how to use Wallet for mobile
Most Disney World store pay stations are set up to accept mobile payments – pay by passing the phone over to the reader instead of handing your card or cash to an employee.
Update your emergency contact and other health information
When traveling, it is always important that other people have access to information related to your health care, in case of disability. Does the phone’s health feature include your current prescriptions? The names and contact numbers of the doctors in your home? Names and contact numbers of family members allowed to speak on your behalf about medical issues? Information about your health insurance coverage?
Update other phone contacts
Who else might you need to contact while you’re away? Do you have their phone numbers? Possible points of contact may include: your dog walker, kennel, or other pet care assistant; your child’s school, daycare, or out-of-school programs; your travel agent; your lawn care or snow removal service; or the stroller or wheelchair rental company you use in Orlando.
Make sure your devices are loaded with entertainment that you and your children should keep busy while traveling. Also consider downloading some games that can be played quickly while you wait in line for rides. Do you have the perfect e-book to relax by the pool?
Learn to read QR codes
Many restaurants are now giving up physical menus in favor of online versions that are accessed using a QR code that is scanned with the phone’s camera. Depending on your phone, reading the QR may happen automatically, or you may need to download an app.
Learn how to track your device
What would you do if you lost your phone at Disney World? Set up “Find My Phone” on an Apple device or the equivalent on an Android, and you’ll be well on your way to recovering your lifeline. In addition to electronic methods, you may want to enter your email address on the lock screen or on the outside of your device. If someone else finds your phone, it will be much easier to retrieve it if they can contact you.
Take advantage of your camera techniques
Now is a good time to review all the things you can do with your phone’s camera. Do you know how to zoom? How to take action photos? Can you use a timer to take selfies? Do you know optimal photographic composition techniques?
Are you ready to travel internationally?
If you come to Disney World from a country other than the United States (we’ll do this again someday, we promise), make sure your calling plan works during the holidays. Also download your favorite currency converter and language translator, if applicable.
Consider taking note of the number of relevant embassies or consulates, as well as details about your passport information and instructions on how to get medical care in the United States.
Clean the outside of the phone
Some people will choose to keep the phone in a plastic bag, although this makes photography problematic. Failing that, you will want to thoroughly clean your phone several times a day and most importantly, before you put it on your face to make a call. This is a good plan not only during the COVID season, but also to prevent diseases such as the common cold or the flu.
A convenient way to do this is with cleaning wipes. Look for “lens cleaning” or “electronic cleaning” wipes that are safe to use with phones. I have a box of 300 on Amazon for about $ 20 and now I always have a few in my pocket. Be sure to clean both the front and back of the device.
Buy an external charger
Really. Just do it.
Do you have any other advice? Let us know in the comments.
First published on August 4, 2020. Updated on September 24, 2021.