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Play Disney Parks App – It’s More Than Games, It’s Experiences!

Play Disney Parks App – It’s More Than Games, It’s Experiences!

Let’s hurry up and wait? Who knew waiting in line could be so fun. When Disney released the Play Disney Parks app on June 30, 2018, it was only scratching the surface on what it would be. Fast forward a year, and the app is a pivotal piece in the most anticipated Disney land in recent memory – Toy Story Land! Just kidding, of course we’re talking about Star Wars Galaxy Edge at Hollywood Studios. With Galaxy Edge now open at Disneyland and soon to be at Disney World (August 29, 2019), there’s no better time to learn what the Play Disney Parks app is all about. Pull out your smartphone and let’s download that app! (only over WiFi of course)

Play Disney Parks - Splash Mountain Game
Splash Mountain Game

What Is It?  

It’s an app, Nate, come on! Yes, it’s an app and probably the 50th app on our phones. Designed around in park entertainment the Play Disney Parks app has a variety of games, trivia, and interactive experiences for guests to enjoy while waiting in line and beyond! We can go beyond too, Buzz. You’ll earn different achievements for completing games and experiencing attractions, like riding Peter Pan at the Magic Kingdom.

Passholder Insights: Play Disney Parks app does use data and a lot of battery. Disney World does have free WiFi around the parks and resorts.

Use Play Disney Parks app for a guided tour of Pandora
Guided Tour Through Pandora

Setting Everything Up

Opening the Play Disney Parks app you’ll be asked which resort area you’re visiting, Disneyland or Walt Disney World. The app does have a built-in step by step guide to walk through everything. The most important thing to do is “log in”. In the upper left-hand cover of the app you’ll see a Mickey head. By clicking on this you can log into your Play Disney Parks profile. It will be the same profile you created for your My Disney Experience.

In the same area as your login you’ll see all of your achievements for using the app around the parks. The most important feature in this area is the player management piece. Labeled as Manage Players, this is where you’ll add friends and family or even your friends you’ve made in line to the games. With the Play Disney Parks app you only need one phone to enjoy.

The only thing left to do is select the park you’re in and use the interactive map to pick the game associated to queue you’re waiting in. You’re ready to go!

Passholder Insights: The app does use the Bluetooth within your smartphone, you’ll want to make sure you have this turned on to get the full experience.

Agent P Word Showcase Adventure is part of the Play Disney Park App
Agent P World Showcase Adventure

Beyond the Queues

Play Disney Parks goes beyond just the ride queues. You can use it for a variety of things like kicking off the Agent P World Adventure over in Epcot, challenging yourself or family members to a rousing game of Disney Trivia, or even enjoying your favorite in-park music. If you’re Nate it means you’re listening to Illuminations Reflections of Earth on repeat. The app is expanding rapidly and has already started moving beyond the parks to the Disney World resorts. At the Art of Animation there’s a new game within the lobby to play.

Passholder Insights: When staying at Pop Century you can easily walk across the bridge to the Art of Animation Resort and enjoy all the different offers. It’s like two resorts in one!

Play Disney Parks will play a big role in Star Wars Galaxy Edge
New Star Wars Galaxy Edge Features

Star Wars Galaxy Edge

Play Disney Parks app is a key piece of the new land. On August 29, 2019, Disney will be releasing a large update for the app focused on Star Wars Galaxy Edge. With the app you’ll be able to translate Aurebesh (written and spoken), discover hidden objects within crates and containers scattered around the land, listen to space transmissions (new Star Wars mini-stories), and even hack into control panels, different devices, and even droids! Wait, did you say droids?

Passholder Insights: All the interactions designed for the app are included in the price of admission. Guests will not need anything other than the app and a smartphone.

Our Thoughts

It’s exciting to see Disney push the limits of what could be done with its Play Disney Parks app, and we’re still only at the beginning. We’ve heard rumors around how Disney could add new achievements and prizes to within the game. Jim Hill from Jim Hill Media, has mentioned Disney could look at adding features that include “front of the line” passes to the achievement options. This is still just a rumor and we may never see it, but it shows how Disney is trying to grow the app and its experiences. Our app has been downloaded, which game should we play first?!

Disney World’s Mobile Order – Should You Use It?

Disney World’s Mobile Order – Should You Use It?

Mobile order that! What’s “that”? You know how we think; it’s food of course. By far one of the more underutilized features of the My Disney Experience app at Walt Disney World is the mobile order option. With the recent announcement around the expansion to the mobile order program at select Disney resorts, it got us thinking, when should you use mobile ordering? Bust out your smartphone and let’s get ordering!

Screenshots from Mobile Order at Disneyland
Disney Mobile Ordering

What Is It?

Come on Nate, the name says it all. Yes, yes it does. As the name says, mobile order at Disney World gives you the ability to order food from your smartphone at an array of Disney World quick serve locations. If you’re looking for a full breakdown on how to use this feature within My Disney Experience (MDE), check out the following article.

Passholder Insights: If you’re on the Disney Dining Plan you can check your available credits within the mobile order section of MDE.

Mobile Order is coming to the Mara quick service restaurant
Mara at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Resort Expansion – Tip One

At the end of May Disney World announced the at mobile order would be expanding to the following resort quick service locations; Everything Pop at the Disney’s Pop Century Resort, the Mara at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, and the Contempo Café at Disney’s Contemporary Resort.

Morning at Disney resort quick serve locations are the busiest time. Whether you’re a zombie in search of coffee, seeking out that quick bite before rope dropping, or just looking to enjoy a relaxing breakfast, the faster we get food the better! If you’re staying and eating breakfast at these locations, we would definitely recommend using mobile order to cut down on the wait times. If you’re looking for ultimate efficiency, enter your order just before leaving your room and more than likely your order will be ready when you arrive.

Passholder Insights: Breakfast is busiest from 8 am to 10 am local time. This is a great time to use mobile order.

Mobile Order started at the Harambe Market
Harambe Market at Animal Kingdom

Popular Locations – Tip Two

As we say in the DVC Duo house if the food is great people will wait. Disney World is no different. In the parks, all quick serve locations feature mobile order option, but not all quick serve location benefit from it. We’re looking at you Pinocchio Village Haus. Good food, but lines are usually manageable. Below are our favorite locations to use mobile order:

  • Magic Kingdom – Casey’s Corner and Aloha Isle – Hot dogs and Dole Whip, that says it all.
  • Hollywood Studios – Woody’s Lunch Box – Best quick serve in the park? We think so!
  • Animal Kingdom – Harambe Market – The surprise. Busier than you’d expect.

It never hurts using mobile ordering at any of the quick serve locations, but we’ve found you can save time at these locations, depending on the time of year

Passholder Insights: When ordering a Dole Whip we recommend waiting until you’re next to the location to place your order. Florida heat and ice cream is not a match made in heaven.

Green Army Men perform in Hollywood Studios Toy Story Land
Green Army Men In Toy Story Land

Let’s Multi-Task – Tip Three  

Why wait in line when you can watch a show while you wait? What we like to do is place a mobile order, while we watch a street show (aka, streetmosphere). Many of the quick serve locations have performers nearby. By far our favorites are the Green Army Men near Woody’s Lunch Box, or African Acrobats near Harambe Market, and you can never go wrong with the pianist outside of Casey’s.

Other times you’ll find us multi-tasking while waiting for the Festival of Fantasy Parade at the Magic Kingdom. We like to find one of our favorite spots and then place our order. Nothing makes time pass while waiting for your food than enjoying a parade followed by a chili dog!

Passholder Insights: The mobile order while you wait strategy also works really well if you’re waiting for one of the nighttime spectaculars.

Our Thoughts

We’ve found using mobile order is a great way to destress our Disney trips. We would definitely recommend checking it out on your next vacation, especially on the busier days. The mobile order feature is available for everyone, not just guests staying on Disney property. If you’re not staying a Disney resort, we recommend downloading the My Disney Experience prior to your trip and add your payment information, then you’re good to go. Our food is ready, let’s eat!

Disney Villains After Hours – Worth Checking Out?

Disney Villains After Hours – Worth Checking Out?

What lurks in the night? At the Magic Kingdom this summer it will be the Disney Villains. It’s been said be careful what you ask for, or you may get it. For many years, the Disney community has said the Disney Villains are underutilized in the Walt Disney World parks. It looks like Disney World has been listening with the brand new nighttime event called, Disney Villains After Hours. With the event kicking off in a few days is it something worth checking out this summer? We’ll get the flashlights if you pick up the coffee. Let’s keep our eyes peeled so we don’t get spoked!

Club Villain aspects could be used for the dance party at Villains After Hours
Club Villain at Hollywood Studios

Quick History

Disney Villains After Hours is not the first event Walt Disney World has created featuring the infamous villainous characters. In 2015 Disney hosted an event called Club Villain at Hollywood Studios during the various times of the year. Consisting of character meet ‘n greets, a dance party, delectable bites, and frothy beverages, the event ran for a couple of seasons before being retired.

Passholder Insights: Club Villain once took place in the Sunset Showcase building which is now home to Lightning McQueen Racing Academy.

Treats from Disney Villains After Hours
Villains After Hours Special Treats – Intergalactic Noodles

What’s Disney Villains After Hours?

When the lights go out the Disney Villains come out. The Villains After Hour event is a twist on the very successful Disney After Hours Events where a limited number of guests enjoy the Magic Kingdom after the official park closing. With 20 of the parks most popular attractions open, Disney is adding unique Villain inspired shows, treats, and merchandise for the event.  

Passholder Insights: If you’re looking to attend the event for the rides, we recommend heading the bigger attractions a little later in the evening when everything quiets down.

Artwork with Hades from Hercules
Hades Will Be Featured In Stage Show

The Castle Show

The headliner of the event will be the all-new Disney Villains After Hours stage show. Starring Meg and Hades from Hercules, the show will include appearances from Jafar, The Queen, Dr. Facilier, and Maleficent. From how Disney is describing the show saying it will set the castle a blaze, it leads us to believe the show will utilize the castle projection technology. This is the same technology Disney uses for Happily Ever After, and let’s just say – wow!

One thing to note is the Disney Villains will not be available for character meet ‘n greets. They will only be available for the show. However, they will have food and beverage items available for purchase inspired by the characters. The standard After Hour event treats are no additional cost.

Passholder Insights: For special events, Disney does not put the agenda on the My Disney Experience app. When you enter the park make sure to grab one of the event’s paper agendas to for the happenings.

Disney Villains After Hours includes the Maleficent dragon from the Festival of Fantasy parade
Maleficent Roaming In The Magic Kingdom

Make Way For Maleficent?

Move over Prince Ali, it’s time for the Maleficent dragon to take center stage. The star of the Festival of the Fantasy parade will be “roaming” the park during the Disney Villains After Hours event. We believe she will be following the afternoon parade route but at a much slower rate. With the low guest levels and slower pace, this could be a great opportunity to capture a once in a lifetime picture with her!

Disney Villains After Hours will have special ride experiences for Space Mountain
Special Space Mountain Experience

Ride Experiences

Two of the more famous attractions at the Magic Kingdom will be getting a Disney Villain’s “makeover”. Both Space Mountain and Pirates of the Caribbean will have villain inspired additions to either the ride itself or potentially the queue. Disney is keeping the changes under wrap and everything at this point is just speculation. The concepts getting the most traction would be pirates joining your voyage on Pirates of the Caribbean, and villains taunting you as you whiz through space.

Our Thoughts

It’s great to see the Disney villains get the spotlight in the Disney Villains After Hours event. If you’re a fan of the villains or looking at adding an After Hours Event to your trip this event would be worthwhile. With the event costing about $14 more than the regular After Hour events, you’re definitely getting a great value for what Disney is adding. If you’re looking for tickets you can find them here. We would recommend buying at least a day in advance to get the discounted rate. We ain’t scared of no villains!

A runDisney Review – Racing To A Galaxy Far Far Away!

A runDisney Review – Racing To A Galaxy Far Far Away!

May the force be with us! In this runDisney review we’re looking back at our experience at the 2019 Star Wars Rival Run at Walt Disney World. We’ve all had that thought at some point in our lives, lets run a half marathon. Ok, maybe only we’ve had those thoughts. It was a cold November day when we both looked at each and said, let’s do the Star Wars Rival Run in April. Minutes later we’re signed up, some may say, pot committed. The tracker beams are locked on us, and there’s no escape, we’re off to the races in this runDisney review!

Banner for Star Wars Rival Run
Logo for Star Wars Rival Run

Pre-Race

No one just shows up to a half marathon and says lets do this. Well, we may know a few people that did this very thing, but the majority of us will log a few training miles before race day. Training for a half marathon can be a big task, but when you break it down over time, it’s not as bad as one may think. The runDisney website is filled with great training programs. Our best advice is train with a partner if you can. The miles pass by a lot faster if you have someone to chat with about anything. If you’re like us, it’s usually travel plans and what Fastpasses to get for the trip.

Passholder Insights: runDisney events have a lot of runners and hotels can be hard to come by. If you’re planning to race, we’d recommend booking a hotel prior to signing up for a race. Disney announces the race dates well in advance to when registration opens.

runDisney Race Bibs
Picking Up Race Bibs

The Calm Before The Storm

T-minus 24 hours to all systems go! Let’s go find that bib! For all runDisney events at Walt Disney World the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex is home to everything race related. From bib pick up, to race merch, and the fitness expo, you’ll find it all there. For the Rival Run the bib pick-up and race packet pick-up (t-shirt, and free stuff) we’re in two different locations. This was a great idea as it spread out the crowds and gave us the opportunity to run into a few stormtroopers on patrol.

Passholder Insights: Prior to the race you can order your race merch from the website and then pick it up when you arrive. If there’s a certain item you want, we’d definitely recommend ordering ahead of time.

If you’re staying on Disney property bus transportation will be provided from your resort to the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex and back. All of the Disney resorts will have a sign outside the main lobby outlining the bus schedule for the event with details around transportation to both ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex and the race startline. We found it really helpful to take a picture of the sign for reference later.

Depending on which race you’re participating in the day to pick-up your race packet will vary. The only requirement is to pick up your packet at least one day prior the start of the race. For our runDisney event we picked up our stuff on Saturday as the half marathon was on Sunday morning. We found that heading over first thing the morning was best, as the lines were almost non-existent. Please note that each person will need to pick up their own bib and a picture ID is required.

Passholder Insights: As part of the race you will need to sign a race waiver. You can sign it ahead of time through the runDisney website or you can print it at the bib pick-up location.

runDisney Starting Line for Star Wars Rival Run
Starting Line

Race Morning

Is it an early morning or a late night at 2:30 am? We’re not sure either, all we know is it’s dark! The start times for all runDisney events tend to be (way) early in the morning, prior to the parks opening. This is a good thing, running in the Florida sun is hot (ain’t nobody got time for that!), plus the courses bring you through the parks! We’ll be rolling through the parks well before the rope droppers are gearing up to start their day.

For the Star Wars half marathon the runners were asked to be on the bus to the start line no later than 3:30 am, for a start time of 5:30 am. No worries though, when you get to the start line there is plenty to keep you entertained, from character meet ‘n greets, to trivia, and music galore. We (kinda) forgot about how early it was and soaked in the entertainment.

Passholder Insights: A lot of the characters at the meet ‘n greet were at the finish line as well. We recommend asking a cast member which ones also be at the finish line, then wait for the one that will be at the start only.

Beginning of the runDisney Rival Run
Ready to Go!

Let’s Get This Show On The Road!

Take your places! The start of all runDisney events are broken down into groups, and runners begin in a staggered fashion. On your bib you’ll have your corral letter, and you line up accordingly. You can feel the excitement build and see the blast of fireworks as each group is sent on their way. The start of a runDisney event is just like any other, definitely keep you head on a swivel as everyone “jockeys” for position.

The Star Wars half marathon course began in the back of the Magic Kingdom parking lot and brought us on adventure that was out of this world (pun intended!). We traveled behind the scenes past the Disney Golf maintenance buildings, the Reedy Creek Environmental Sciences facility (a smell we won’t forget), towards the Animal Kingdom. All along the route there were mile markers to remind just how much farther you had to go, and plenty of water stations.

Passholder Insights: There are picture stops all along the route, at least one every mile. runDisney pictures do not link to the your MagicBand or My Disney Experience, you’ll have to check them out on the runDisney website.

Stormtropper during Star Wars Rival Run
Found a Stormtrooper

What We’re All Here For

Best part of any runDisney race is jogging through the parks. First stop is the Animal Kingdom. Good morning, Mr. Lion! Our course brought us through Africa, down around Pandora, past the Tree of Life and out by Dinosaur. There’s nothing like running through Pandora when it’s dark, just tread lightly if the ground is wet; can you say slippery?

Leaving Animal Kingdom we knew had some miles ahead of us to make it to Hollywood Studios. Definitely the most challenging part of the race. Once we saw the Tower of Terror and made the sharp right into Hollywood Studios, our spirits rose. The park was lined with cast members cheering us on and Nate even “ran into” a Stormtrooper. How can you not stop for a picture with a Stormtrooper? Hollywood Studios was the one park we spent the least amount of in. We’re guessing next year when Star Wars Galaxy Edges is open this race will take you through more of the park.

Passholder Insights: Disney is prepared for pictures during the race. It only takes a few seconds to snap the picture. Make sure you got your smile ready to go!

Disney Skyliner Station at Epcot
Disney Skyliner Station for Epcot

Home Stretch!  

Exiting Hollywood Studios we headed for the one our favorite walking paths at Walt Disney World. The path brings you to our of favorite resort area, Boardwalk, and onto Epcot. As guests from the Boardwalk Resort cheered us on we were in the final miles of the race. Heading into Epcot we got our first behind the scenes glimpse of the new Disney Skyliner Station, wow! So cool!

The only thing left to do in the race is make our way around the world – Epcot’s World Showcase that is. If we had to pick one part of the race that was our favorite, this was it. As you passed by each of the countries (and it seemed like there were infinite!), the cast members were out waving flags and cheering us on, it was a sight to see. We even saw a cast member from the Norway Pavilion run with one of the guests in a show of support and encouragement!

A few more steps through Future World and all that awaits is the finish line. Wait! We got one more surprise, a look at the construction progress of the new Guardians of the Galaxy coaster. Now that’s a big building! Finish line here we come!

Overall Thoughts

The runDisney races are loads of fun. Disney World does a fantastic job organizing the event. If you’re considering doing a race and are a Disney fan, these are a must do. We saved our biggest tip for last. Disney groups people based on whether or not you submitted a qualifying time. You definitely want to do this. For our half marathon, all we had to do is submit a 10k time from the past year. We used the 10k race as a training run. If you do not submit a time you may end up in one of the last groups, and it can be up to 45 mins to an hour of extra waiting before you being the race.  Until next time, we’re off to dinner at O’hana, we’ve definitely earned it!

Epcot Fastpass Strategies – A DVC Duo Ride Guide

Epcot Fastpass Strategies – A DVC Duo Ride Guide

Ask and you shall receive! Receive what? Epcot Fastpass Strategies that is. In a theme park built around culture experiences and travel based attractions, there is something for every member of your group,even the littlest one. There is more than meets the eye in this unique theme park. In today’s DVC Duo ride guide we’re tackling Epcot Fastpass Strategies built around different ride experiences. Put on your walking shoes, we’re taking a trip around the world!

Original Test Track Fastpass Entrance
Test Track Fastpass Entrance

First Things First

It’s always good to know the basics before diving into the deep end. In our Fastpass essentials article we cover everything from how to book, when to book, and all aspects in between. For our Epcot Fastpass Strategies guide the most import thing to understand will be tiers. Unlike the Magic Kingdom, where Fastpass tiers are not used, Epcot breaks up the Fastpass options into two tiers. Below is breakdown our the tiers:

Tier One

Tier Two

  • Living with the Land
  • Spaceship Earth
  • Mission Space
  • The Seas with Nemo & Friends
  • Pixar Short Film Festival
  • Journey Into Imagination With Figment
  • Turtle Talk with Crush

With Fastpass tiers you’re able to select one attraction from tier one, then two attractions from tier two. Once you have completed your first three fastpasses you can select another tier one attraction, if one is available.

Passholder Insights: We would recommend not booking Illuminations as your tier one Fastpass as the night time spectacular has great viewing areas all around World Showcase Lagoon that do not need a Fastpass.

Test Track is part of our Epcot Fastpass Strategies
Test Track Entrance

Covering Distance

Ready, set, go! In this Epcot Fastpass strategies category we’re talking about the attractions that will get you from here to there in a matter seconds. Where’s there? It’s Test Track, Mission Space, and Spaceship Earth. Whether you’re look to travel to space, through time, or even around the track, these attractions got you covered. We like to book Mission Space and Tesk Track back to back, as they’re in close proximity to each other.

If you have time between your Mission Space and Test Track Fastpasses you can always take a second trip around the track. Test Track has one the faster (pun intended) single rider lines at Walt Disney World. The single rider line is a great way to get an extra ride, or experience the attraction if you use your tier one Fastpass on another attraction.

One important thing to understand about the covering distance category is that both Mission Space and Test Track attractions have a minimum height requirement of 40 inches.

Passholder Insights: Mission Space has two ride options (green and orange). The orange is the more intense experience where you’ll feel 2.5 G’s of g-force. If you experience motion sickness we’d recommend the green option.

As part of our Epcot Fastpass Strategies.
Journey Into Imagination

Smiles All Around

A Walt Disney World vacation is filled with happy moments, and these attractions will definitely put a smile on your face. This Epcot Fastpass strategies category is fun for the whole family with attractions everyone can enjoy, from Frozen Ever After, to Turtle Talk with Crush, and the Seas with Nemo and friends. A good swap out for Nemo and Friends would be Journey Into Imagination with Figment. We may only have a short time left to experience the current version of the attraction.

Frozen Ever is one of the harder Fastpasses to get. If you’re unable to reservation a Frozen Fastpass we’d recommend one of the following options. Rope dropping is a great way to way to see the attraction, or other another way is to wait until the end of the day. If you’re not interested in seeing the night time specular you can step into line just before the show starts you’ll usually have less of a wait.

Passholder Insights: When rope dropping Frozen Ever After you’ll want to stay towards the left of the entrance, as the Norway pavilion will on the left of the World Showcase.

Living with the Land is part of our Epcot Fastpass Strategies
Inside Living with the Land

Land, Air, and Space

Let’s kick back and enjoy the ride. In our last Epcot Fastpass Strategies category we’re taking from the land, to space, and back with rides on Soarin’, Living with the Land, and Spaceship Earth. A group of attractions that are perfect for taking a break from the heat, while taking in some amazing sights. Similar to the covering distance grouping, we like to book our Soarin’ and Living with the Land Fastpasses back to back, as both are in the land pavilion.

Passholder Insights: The best seats on Soarin’ on the “B” group. If it’s a less busy day, you can ask a cast member for a seat in this section.

Our Thoughts

Our best advice around Epcot Fastpass strategies is to stay flexible on the times for your tier one attraction. We like to book our tier one first then fill in the rest accordingly. What’s great about Epcot attractions is you can usually enjoy most of the tier two attractions without a Fastpass, and one our favorites, The Three Caballeros, doesn’t even need one. For the tier one attractions we do not get a Fastpass for we tend to either experience them first thing in the morning or as the last thing we do.

Epcot is one of those parks we enjoy regardless of which of the Epcot Fastpass strategies we use. There’s tons to see and enjoy around the World Showcase, from shows to shopping or any of our favorite restaurants like Le Cellier, you cannot go wrong. You’ll find us smiling around the world!