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Author Archives: Drew Covert

Mousewait vs. the Official Disneyland App

Mousewait vs. the Official Disneyland App

I am the unofficial “Tech Geek” here at the Disneyability website. I love exploring new gadgets and technology. Of course, this love carries over and merges with my love of Disneyland as well. In the coming months, I’ll be exploring different aspects of tech as they relate to Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure. In this first article, we’ll look at two apps I use almost every time we’re in the park.

The two leaders in Disneyland apps are Mousewait, and the official Disneyland app. Both have their strengths and weaknesses, but which is best? On our last trip to Disneyland and DCA, I put the two apps to the test head to head. Here are the results of the Test:

Price:

Disneyland Official: Free
Mousewait: Free and Paid Version ($9.99)

I use the free version of Mousewait, and from what I can tell, upgrading to the paid version doesn’t offer many benefits other than ad removal. Unlike other apps that offer a pared down free version, Mousewait’s free version is very robust and should suffice for most users.
The Basics:

Both apps offer a wide range of information. They both give blackout dates for annual pass holders, show times, attraction wait times, park restaurant locations and menus, and the ability to make reservations at park restaurants (Mousewait offers a link to the Disney Reservation website, whereas the official Disneyland app allows you to make the reservations’ directly in the app).

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The official Disneyland App stores your Fastpass and disability return times

So how do they differ? Here are few items that are exclusive to each app:

 

Disneyland Official: On the official app,  your admission is pass available from your phone and can store and present fast passes also from your phone. You will also get a reminder that will pop up when your Fastpass is available to use at an attraction. The app actually displays a map of the park and your current location, which can be helpful for those who aren’t as familiar with the layout of Disneyland or DCA. For those that have paid to add Maxpass, you can obtain Fastpasses directly from the app without having to physically go to the distribution point for that attraction. You can also manage your photo pass from the official app. The official app lists the location of character meet and greets as well. This can be a life saver if your child has their hearts set on meeting certain character and will save you hours of searching the parks trying to get that photo op with Goofy! There is also a “Guest Services” tab that shows you first aid locations, restrooms, service dog relief areas, disability services, EVC rental locations, and even AED (automated external defibrillators) locations.

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Mousewait app includes weather and interactions with other users

Mousewait: Mousewait’s key features revolve around your ability to interact with the app and other app users. The attraction wait times are updated by you and other Mousewait users. This can lead to either extremely accurate, or incredibly inaccurate wait times depending on how often they are updated (more on this in the wait time accuracy section). Mousewait offers a couple of simple yet valuable pieces of information, weather forecasts and crowd index. Yes, most people probably have their favorite weather app they will consult for this purpose, but it’s nice to have a reliable forecast directly available in an app. Crowd indexes tell you roughly what percentage of capacity each park is currently at. We use this feature all the time to decide if we want to switch from one park to another. If the other park looks a bit too crowded, we may just decide to stay put and enjoy the park we are currently in rather than fight the crowds at the other park. Mousewait also offers a hidden Mickey checklist (this will save you $$ over buying the hidden Mickey guidebook) and a picture of the card used to decipher the writing on the walls of the Indiana Jones Temple of the Forbidden Eye attraction. It also offers a “Lounge” where you can post and interact with other Mousewait members.

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Ride Wait Time Accuracy:

This is most likely the main reason you are using these apps. You want to know how long the line is for Thunder Mountain before you walk all the way to the ride from Tomorrowland. I tested the apps out on three rides, and the results were fairly consistent:
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Ride 1: Star Tours
Both Mousewait and the Official Disneyland app listed the wait time as 25 minutes. This was also the time posted outside the ride. Our actual wait time was right at 20 minutes. This was still very early in the day, and I’ve found that wait times are hard to predict because the lines can fluctuate quickly this early. This is a problem for Mousewait. Early mornings and later in the evening, there are less guests updating wait times, so Mousewait becomes less reliable, even though it didn’t play out in this particular test. So, I count this round’s results as a tie.

Ride 2: Pirates of the Caribbean

This was the only ride that the two apps listed different times. Mousewait listed the wait time as 25 Minutes, the official app listed the time as 20 minutes and the posted time at the ride was 30 minutes. Our actual wait time was 23 minutes and 30 seconds. I found it odd that the both official app and the posted time were off by this much, as it is presumably updated by Disneyland cast members. This is where the Mousewait app’s user update format really shines. Mousewait was even more accurate than the posted time of the ride. Mousewait won this round.

Ride 3: Guardians of the Galaxy, Mission Breakout!

Mousewait, the official Disneyland app and the posted time were all the same at 70 minutes. The actual wait time was 67 minutes and 45 seconds. Pretty accurate all around here. This test also resulted in a tie.

Conclusion: Mousewait is extremely accurate during peak times when users are constantly updating the times. Early in the morning, and late in the evening I would  stick with the official Disneyland app. I still think the edge here goes to the Mousewait app.

Apple Watch Support:

At this time, only Mousewait offers Apple Watch support. It will give you a home screen with crowd indexes for both Disneyland and DCA, pass holder blackout dates, show times, wait times and will allow you to update wait times for attractions. It was designed pretty well, and is very intuitive to use. I have enjoyed using my Apple Watch rather than picking up my phone all the time, and this app fits the bill for things I expect a watch app to do. Why Disney has overlooked this in their own app is a mystery to me. Having your pass or Fastpass available on the watch would be something I would expect going forward, especially with Disney’s close ties to Apple.

 

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Mousewait app on Apple watch

Conclusion:

So, which app do I recommend? Both actually. There are features on each app that are not available on the other that I find indispensable. As they are both free, I recommend downloading both. If you find you are not using one of the two, simply delete one and use the other. I you were to force my hand, I would probably pick the official Disneyland app, just for the ability to have all my passes linked to my phone, and for the character meet and greet and disability services listed. The accuracy of the wait times is good enough, although it clearly has some room for improvement. Disney definitely needs to add Apple Watch support, but in the last couple updates they have added a wealth of features that have won me over.

 

Which app do you use and why? I’d love to hear your thoughts below, especially if you use an app not listed in this review! Thanks for continuing to read and support our site!

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5 Tips For Pushing a Wheelchair Through Disneyland

5 Tips For Pushing a Wheelchair Through Disneyland

By: Drew

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I’ll never forget the first time I had to push my wife through Disneyland in a wheelchair. We had planned a family vacation and traveled to California from Arizona. My son was 15 at the time, and my daughter was only 3. The first night of the trip, my wife (most of you I’m sure know her as the Disabled Diva!) began experiencing severe intestinal pain. We took her to the ER, and she was promptly diagnosed with appendicitis. They performed an appendectomy the next day, and she was released that night. If you’ve read her blog at all, you will probably not be surprised when I tell you we did not cancel the remainder of the vacation, but carried on after one day of recuperation. That trip was a nightmare on many levels, and most of them had to do with me being completely clueless on what it takes to navigate the parks while being an unintended chauffeur to my wife. Here are 5 things I have since learned that will hopefully help you to avoid some of the pain and suffering we endured on that first trip.

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1. The importance of pacing.

Needless to say, after missing out on two days of our vacation, we were all excited to resume our trip and “make up time”. I was up at 5 am that morning to go get everyone breakfast, help get my daughter ready, situate Cindy in her newly rented wheelchair and get us to the front gate in time for opening that day. I was already tired by the time the gates finally opened, and then we were off to the races! We zoomed from land to land, taking in as many rides as possible. Cindy couldn’t do much, and this often required me to leave her far away from the rides the rest of us were on at the time. By the end of the day, I was exhausted, and truth be told, just a little bit irritable. It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of a Disneyland vacation, but remember to pace yourself. Get plenty of rest, and try to walk at a normal pace. Remember, you aren’t just walking, you’re PUSHING someone as well!

2. Disneyland is not level!

“Where did all these hills come from?” That was a question I asked early and often on that trip! I honestly never noticed the slight (and many times STEEP) grades that dot the Disneyland landscape. The areas by Big Thunder Mountain, entering Toon Town, New Orleans Square, and Splash Mountain all have moderate to steep grades. Exiting Indiana Jones and Soarin’ also have a long steep grade when pushing a wheelchair. Be prepared, go at a slow steady pace, and make sure you stretch your hamstrings before you begin the day to help with these challenging sections of the park. Click here to learn about these areas in the Disabled Diva’s Guide to Disneyland.

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3. The importance of taking time for myself.

One of my favorite pass times is photography. I am forever stopping to try and capture an interesting scene that I see while traveling through the parks. On this particular trip, I actually had a brand new digital SLR camera I was looking forward to using. However, I discovered an inconvenient truth about pushing someone in a wheel chair. If you stop and pull out your camera with both hands, especially on one of the aforementioned steep slopes, you can quickly loose control of a situation! Even now when most of my pictures are taken from my phone, I still need to concentrate fully on taking care of the person I’m pushing. Make time for yourself to do some of the things you can’t while pushing. Perhaps you can have another member of your party push while you explore, or find a nice spot for your significant other to have a cup of coffee or snack while you get that perfect picture of the Haunted Mansion. It’s your vacation too, so don’t be afraid to ask for some time to enjoy the things you would like to do as well.

4. Pushing a wheelchair is like driving a car.

You probably have had more experience pushing a wheelchair around than I had on that first trip. I was a newbie. Not only was I trying to figure out how to maneuver Cindy in her chair, but I was also dealing with the crowds around us and how they reacted, or didn’t react, to a person in a chair. I clipped quite a few heals on that first trip, and Cindy wound up with one or two guest riders in her lap when we accidentally scooped up an unsuspecting pedestrian! If you are renting a chair you’re not familiar with, take a few moments to figure out your turning radius, and know how far the foot rests stick out. Also, if your chair has extendable leg rests, make sure you know how far these stick out and ask your partner to let you know when they have extended them if they are capable of making that adjustment without your help. Look well ahead in your path of travel, and try to detect problems or obstacles ahead of time.

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5. Do Your Homework.

While we were completely unprepared to experience the parks on that first trip with a wheelchair, we were determined not to make the same mistakes on future trips! Do your homework. Are you going to need a disability pass, or can you get by without one? Many of the rides in Disneyland were designed in the 50’s and 60’s, with no thought to making them handicap accessible. Do you know which rides have lines you can access, and which ones have alternate entrances? Can your significant other transfer from their chair, or do they need to stay in? If you’re looking for a comprehensive guide to answer all these questions, check out our free downloadable guide at Disneyability.com.
I hope these few tips will help make your trip more magical! I’ll continue to add tips to this site, so check back regularly to get the latest information. Until then, push like a champion!

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