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11 Helpful Apps To Download Before Your Next Disney Parks Vacation

April 15, 2022

If you’re like me, you already have way too many Disney apps on your phone. Whether or not we like to admit it, our phones have become a necessity. From trip planning to taking photos and booking Disney Genie+ reservations, it’s almost impossible not to have your phone with you.

The title suggests that you can only use these apps while planning a Disney vacation. But, you can apply most of these apps to help plan any trip.

Apps That Help You Plan

If there’s one thing I love, it’s paying less for the same thing others are paying more for.

And the key to that is having the right tools. Tracking the current prices for flights, rental cars, and activities is the best way to stay on budget.

Skyscanner App

Skyscanner

We love Skyscanner lately. They compare prices for flights, hotels, and rental cars. While the rental car option seems very promising, we’ve only used them to get lower prices on flights…so far.

We’re not loyal to one airline. So, the best price determines who we travel with. That’s why we use Skyscanner. It works similarly to Google Flights, but I’ve found better deals here.

Because I’ve planned many trips to Orlando, I have a good idea of how much we’ll spend on flights. My goal is to pay about $99 per flight (roughly $200 round trip) for each member of my family, which happens pretty frequently for flights to Orlando from Houston.

I checked various airlines, Google Flights, and Skyscanner daily until I saw the price drop to $87 (or $174 round trip) to fly United. As soon as I saw this, I knew it was my time to buy. We typically pay a little more to fly back to Houston. So, to see such a low rate for the return trip was amazing to see.

The same exact flight on United’s website was over $100. Even Google Flights wanted more. I wasn’t finding the $87 deal anywhere else, but on Skyscanner.

Just like cashback apps, we still cashed out on United Airlines’ website. We just went through Skyscanner, first, to get the lower price. They will ask you to set up your profile at the time you sign up. They say it will make purchasing go faster.

But, they have none of that information from me. So, don’t worry about filling any of that out. Because I purchased my tickets directly with United Airlines, the only information Skyscanner actually has is my email address, which they’ve only used to send me alerts of price changes.

Using a Skyscanner App to track price changes

How Did I Find The Best Prices?

Start Looking Early

Perhaps it’s the Travel Agent in me. But, I like to start looking early. I started looking for flights in January, for our June vacation. This gave me an idea of where the prices currently were priced at. By the end of February, the prices had gone down, and I had booked them.

Now that our vacation is nearing, flights are starting to sell out. So, the prices are rising.

Our flight to Orlando is now $136 one-way. And our return flight is sold out. In fact, the lowest price United is currently charging for a direct flight to Houston on our return day is $172!

So, I definitely got the better deal by booking early.

Check One-Way Tickets

When I booked my flight to Orlando, flights to Houston were still over $100. So, I booked one-way tickets to Orlando, in hope that the return flights would drop, as well.

Because it was still months before my trip, I took the gamble and waited. The flight I had my eye on dropped to $87 about a week later. So, that’s when I booked our one-way return flights.

Create A Price Alert

Because I start looking early, I can see the prices rise and fall. And although I was obsessively watching the prices, I also created a Price Alert.

If there’s any change in price, they let me know. This way, I could decide if I want to buy now or continue to wait.

Hotwire App

Hotwire

Just like Skyscanner, Hotwire offers Flights, Hotels, and Rental Cars.

Because I’ve seen cheaper flights elsewhere, I don’t use them for my flights. But, I have gotten good deals on rental cars through them.

A few years ago, I flew back home to attend a friend’s wedding. Since we didn’t want to drive the 1500 miles back home (again), we flew and rented a car for 8 days.

It’s not a shock to anyone, but Travel Agents do have access to some personal discounts. So, of course, I always check those prices first. But, despite my best attempts to get the price down as low as I could get it, Hotwire still beat every single one of these quotes.

Because I had the app, showing them my confirmation number was a breeze. But, more importantly, the cost they quoted me was the amount they charged me, even when we ended up with a minivan, instead of the SUV I had requested.

Get Your Guide App Screenshop

Get Your Guide

And the endless number of things to see and do in the world, it’s no wonder that families sometimes want to venture outside of the “Disney bubble” on their vacations.

Many Orlando visitors take a trip out to the Kennedy Space Center or Gatorland.

And California visitors get the Go-City All Inclusive Pass if a trip to the San Diego Zoo, Legoland, or Knott’s Berry Farm is on their bucket list.

Whether you’re planning an east coast or a west coast vacation, Get Your Guide can get you all the tickets to the places you’re already planning to visit.

Theme Park Plans Orlando / SoCal

Everyone knows Undercover Tourist for their discounted tickets to places like Walt Disney World, Disneyland, Universal Studios, and more.

But, did you know they also have 2 apps to help you navigate Disney, Universal Studios, and SeaWorld Parks? They’re called Theme Park Plans – Orlando and Theme Park Plans – SoCal. While you can’t purchase discounted tickets on the apps, they are great planning tools.

You will have easy access to their crowd calendar, which is helpful if you’re trying to decide when to travel.

But, if you’re unsure about how you should go about planning your perfect day, they have complimentary 1 and 2 day plans to get you started. You can save one of their plans to use as a guide, or create your own.

Traveling With A Toddler?

One of the hardest parts of traveling with a toddler is knowing what there is for them to do. Luckily, both of these apps have you covered. These suggestions are recommended for toddlers because there is no height restriction. But, they also seem to have taken scare-factor into consideration a little bit.

For example, the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction is one of those surprisingly scary attractions. It’s technically suitable for all ages, meaning there is no height restriction. But, it’s scary and dark. For this reason, the attraction is not included in the list, but the interactive game is since it takes place outside and you can go at your own pace.

Apps You Need For Traveling

Travel days are exciting. But, they can also be long, stressful, and exhausting. So, I use these apps to make my life easier and make traveling a little bit more fun.

Explaining the benefits of downloading the Southwest Airlines App

Your Airline’s App

We always make sure we’ve downloaded the app for the airline we’re flying with prior to leaving the house. Airport wifi isn’t that fast, so doing it ahead of time will make your life easier.

I love being able to check in, find my flight number, and see what gate I’m leaving from without having to run around the airport. And if something should change, like a delayed flight or a gate change, you’ll also know right away.

Each airline has their own benefits. Some come with free movies and TV shows to watch while in flight. Without Wi-Fi, I can’t do much else on my devices. But, as long as I’ve downloaded the app, I can still find something to watch without downloading the movie or paying for Wi-Fi.

The selection may not always be the greatest. But, it’s still a big win for me.

Disney+ App Screenshot

Your Favorite Streaming Service

Your favorite streaming service can be a lifesaver on a long flight.

Whichever streaming service you subscribe to, download it ahead of time. And unless you plan on buying wifi to use on the plane, download a few of your favorite movies, as well.

Once you’re on the plane, all you’ll need to do is break out the noise canceling headphones and relax. If you’re traveling with little ones, they even made airplane headphones for toddlers that won’t go louder than what is safe for his/her ears.

For us, there’s no better way to get us pumped for our Disney vacation than by watching some of our favorite movies on our Disney+ app.

Movies Anywhere App

Movies Anywhere

If you don’t subscribe to any streaming services, Movies Anywhere is a good alternative. Formerly called Disney Movies Anywhere, this is another great App to have on-the-go.

If you’ve ever seen codes that come with movies you’ve bought, this is where you can watch them. You can usually find these codes on a DVD or Blu-ray insert, email promotion, gift card, or point-of-sale activation card.

If you’ve ever bought a movie through Xfinity, DirectTV, Prime Video, and other services, you can watch them here, as well. Just connect your account to the app and the movies will appear in your account.

If there’s a movie you want to see, they also have a large array of movies for sale. Once you buy it, it’s yours. It’s not a rental. And while I don’t believe this happens often, you may also get some free movies along the way. I have 3 movies on my account that I got for free a few years ago. And because every movie that gets added to your account is there forever, I can still watch them today.

Just like streaming services, be sure you click “Save Offline” on any movie you plan on watching on the plane.

Apps You Need At Disney

My Disney Experience App to keep all of your information together

My Disney Experience or the Disneyland App

If there’s one thing that you download from this list, let it be one of these Disney apps.

The downside of everything becoming more digital is that the My Disney Experience App and the Disneyland App are essential for any Disney vacation.

The Positives

You can easily view everything you have already booked. If you’re staying at a Walt Disney World Resort, you can also use the app to check into your hotel, so you don’t ever have to visit the front desk. If you’re using your MagicBand to charge things to your room, you can also keep an eye on what has been spent, so you don’t completely blow your budget.

Forget your MagicBand in the room? If you have the My Disney Experience App on your phone, you can easily unlock your Resort door, using nothing more than your phone.

Are there long lines at Quick Service locations? Pull out your phone and mobile order your meal or snack and pick it up when its ready. We definitely recommend using mobile order. We’ve seen firsthand how much faster you get your food when you mobile order.

Fancying a nice sit down meal, but there’s no more reservations available at your favorite restaurant? Put yourself on their wait list by simply walking near the restaurant and pressing the “Join Walk-up List” button. When a table is ready, you’ll be notified.

The Negatives

Unfortunately, there are some downsides to always needing to have your phone with you.

Disney’s newest lands are becoming more immersive. That means there are more games to play and ways to interact with these lands. However, in order to access these cool new features, you need to have your phone with you. And you’ll need to have the right Disney apps. While it’s a lot of fun to make different effects happen, you’ll inevitably be looking down at your phone more than you realize.

And then there’s Disney Genie. Even if you don’t pay to access the Lightning Lanes, you will probably use the free version, at some point, to help you plan out your day. A part of the free Disney Genie is that it keeps an eye on current wait times. If the Disney Genie knows that a certain attraction typically sees lower wait times later in the day, it’ll let you know, so you don’t wait longer than you have to.

All of this activity means your phone battery will drain extremely fast. So, you’ll want to bring a good portable phone charger (or multiple) with you.

Play Disney Achievements

Play Disney

Going hand in hand with the other Disney Apps, you will need the Play Disney App to play those games that I mentioned earlier.

Nowhere else on Disney property exemplifies this more than Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. By following quests and solving clues, you’re able to set off sound effects and lights within the land, using your phone.

In other areas of the Parks you can test your knowledge with trivia, listen to music, and play games.

Since the Parks’ closures, they have added new trivia and games that can be played at home. But, in order to fully appreciate the app and earn many of the awards, you need to be in the Parks.

Disney's Minnie Van driving by as the monorail goes by in the background.

Lyft

After a long hiatus, the Minnie Vans are finally coming back in Summer 2022.

Although Minnie Vans, in Walt Disney World, are exclusively driven by Disney Cast Members, they operate through the Lyft App.

These cars are clean and comfortable. They’re also equipped with chargers, so you can power your phone a little bit on the way to your destination.

But, the conversations I have with the Cast Members are definitely the highlight of my trip. If it wasn’t for the price, we would definitely be using Minnie Vans for all of our on-site traveling.

Fuelrod sitting on a desk with its included adapter

FuelRod

You can find FuelRod kiosks in many different areas, including colleges and airports. I’ve even seen one at my local zoo. But, I’ve never needed to swap them out more than I do than on a Disney vacation.

Following a recent lawsuit, FuelRod created a new policy, called Founders Status. This new status gives anyone who had a FuelRod before October 26, 2019 the right to continue swapping FuelRods for free.

Along with filling out a short questionnaire, you must create an account on the mobile app (you also earn a credit for signing up) before Founders Status can be activated. For once, my digital clutter came in handy. Because you will need to prove when you purchased your FuelRod.

Since I still had my receipt in my inbox, my swaps do continue to be completely free. And the way that the machines know that is by scanning a QR code to confirm my Founders Status.

To find out more information on how to activate your Founders Status, visit FuelRod Continuing Free Swaps For Existing Customers.

Ready to book your magical vacation?

Planning a trip can be overwhelming. Don’t do it alone. Get a helping hand.

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