I know what one of the first applications any new iPhone-owning Disney fan is going to want to go out and buy from the iPhone Apps Store: the DISNEYLAND PARK PLANNER from HyTech Professionals.
Sure, the park planner has the basics down that any decent park planner would have: scrollable/zoomable map, restaurant menus, park and show hours, attraction descriptions, FastPass locations, etc.
But where the “DPP” shines is with special features that utilize two built-in features that the iPhone has: geotargeting, and interactivity with the Internet.
The geotargeting app is handy, as the DPP can pinpoint your location within the park and then direct you to the nearest restroom, restaurant, attraction, or food stand that you are looking for – the ultimate Disney tour guide in your pocket.
But even better is when you use the DPP to tell you what rides have the shortest wait times. Sure, Disney has come up with a way to do this with their Official Cell Phone Sponsor, Verizon – available for all Verizon subscribers in the parks – but the DPP opens up this information to everyone who is using the DPP.
To better describe how this works, let me explain how Disney calculates their ride wait times:
- Every so often, the ride attendant at the queue entrance will be electronically notified to hand an RFID device to the next guest to arrive in line. You may have seen them near the turnstiles: the last time I saw them, they were red plastic cards hanging on black lanyards.
- The attendant will scan the card, registering the “start time” the card entered the queue. The attendant will then hand the card to the guest. In the past, when I’ve been asked to be the card holder, I have been given a free FastPass for some other ride in the park or a free pin - just for helping out.
- The guest will wait in the stand-by queue line as normal, but is instructed to hand the card to the attendant at the vehicle load.
- When the guest reaches the front of the line and hands the card off, the card is rescanned to “stop the clock”.
- The amount of time that it took for the card to move from the queue entrance to the ride vehicle is then used to update the “stand-by time” display outside the ride, and any other in-park displays that show ride wait times.
- The ride attendants are purposefully a bit lazy about when they scan the card at the beginning and end of the process, as any extra time they work into the “timing buffer” will increase the stand-by wait time shown on the display. The benefit of doing this is that guest satisfaction is increased when they see a sign that says “25 minute wait” and then find themselves only waiting for 12 minutes. In other words, the stand-by wait times are often exaggerated by a few minutes on purpose.
The DPP works in a similar manner: when a DPP user enters a ride, they tap the iPhone screen. When the user gets onto the ride, they tap the screen again. Using the iPhone’s Internet connection, this queue information is sent to the master DPP server, and then sent back down the Internet to all DPP users in almost real-time. No need to be a Verizon customer to get attraction wait-time information now.
Some of the other features the DPP has include:
- Customizable color-coded, to-scale and zoomable map of Disneyland® Park with GPS*
- Create your own check-offable list of attractions to visit
- View available attraction wait times
- Set and receive alerts when attraction wait times drop below your settings
- View park hours, event schedules, attraction closures and passholder blockout dates
- Calendar events, FASTPASS® return times and Disneyland® Park restaurant reservations to your calendar
- Receive reminders for items on your personalized calendar
- Browse attractions, dining, menus, snack carts and shopping information for more than 180 points of interest
- Record where you parked
- View attractions on your To-Visit or Favorites list with color-coded circles for the most popular attractions reflecting reported wait times (when available); a check-mark in the circle indicates you have visited the attraction
- View restrooms, ATMs, lockers and other key locations
Considering how tight Steve Jobs is with Disney on normal business matters, since he sits on the Disney board – one would think that Apple would have a bigger official presence on-site at Disney. Making something like this an official Disney application as Disney is already doing with Verizon would seem to be a no-brainer to me — while Verizon would lose out on an exclusive application, Disney would be making an application available to the widest possible audience. On the other hand, I admire how Jobs has not put his fist down to demand that Apple be fully integrated into Disney, just because he’s the biggest stock holder.
Of course, the DPP app is only as good as the number of people using it. If you’re the only person at Disneyland using the app that day, you wont’ get any benefit from the wait time aspect of the application at all. And that’s the exclusive part that Verizon gets, by being tied into the Disney servers directly. The question will be whose information is better, faster, more accurate?
HyTech Professionals set up a website entitled GotPlanS (“GPS”, get it?) to market their Disneyland application – available only for the iPhone 3G currently, because of the need to connect to the Internet - and answer any usability questions you might have.
One would only hope that they’ll follow this up with appropriate apps for Walt Disney World, Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySEA, Universal Studios Hollywood, New York City subway trains, or any other amusement park, event, travel, or entertainment facility that would benefit from the social technology that the iPhones and similar devices make available.
The post is part of the Eighth DisMarks.com Disney Blog Carnival;
click on the link for more great Disney articles.
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