The Play Disney Parks app is a transformative new smartphone app that lets guests explore Disney Parks in a whole new way with interactive games, music, and trivia. It will also become an integral tool used for interacting with the population of the upcoming Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Walt Disney World and Disneyland Resort.
Play Disney Parks app first debuted on mobile devices everywhere on June 30, 2018. Upon its premiere, the app promised to bring to life unique interactive experiences to enable guests of all ages access to a wide range of activities including themed games, Disney trivia, digital achievements, music and more.
Though this detail was left out of Disney’s official announcement about the new mobile experience, the app will also serve as a tool guests can utilize when exploring Black Spire Outpost in the upcoming Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Walt Disney World and Disneyland Resort.
“We were working directly with that team to integrate this layer of interactivity from the very start so that when our guests do finally get to encounter Black Spire Outpost, we think Play Disney Parks will be a very important tool for interacting with the population of that area,” said Josh Gorin, Executive R&D Imagineer at The Walt Disney Company.
It is not yet known which specific abilities Play Disney Parks will give to guests of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.
Currently, when in the parks, the mobile app gives guests the ability to play in-queue games curated to specific attractions, triggering physical effects and earning achievements and themed trivia packs, which become available upon journeying around the different parks. The app also features official playlists inspired by the Disney theme parks, which work in conjunction with Apple Music.
Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge will see the highest level of interactivity with the app as of yet. However, the interactivity coming to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge only touches the surface of the different experiences guests can find within this app while visiting both Walt Disney World and Disneyland Resort.
Currently, the app offers five in-queue games between both Walt Disney World and Disneyland Resort. “Andy’s Boardgame Blast!” and “Playset Party” can be found at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in the new Toy Story Land at the Toy Story Mania! and Slinky Dog Dash queues. The other two games, “Rocket Race” and “Off To Never Land,” can be found at Peter Pan’s Flight and Space Mountain at Magic Kingdom.
At Disneyland Resort, the app offers the in-queue games “Off To Never Land” and “Rocket Race” at Peter Pan’s Flight and Space Mountain in Disneyland Park. These games are both identical to the Walt Disney World versions found on the East Coast.
At Disney California Adventure, guests can find the “Disney Colorwheel Challenge” game at Pixar Pier and the “Playset Party” game at the Toy Story Midway Mania! attraction. The “Playset Party” game at Disney California Adventure is the same game found at the Toy Story Mania! attraction at Toy Story Land in Walt Disney World.
At both Walt Disney World and Disneyland’s Space Mountain attraction, the in-queue game “Rocket Race” lets five guests join together for different training missions to prepare them for their final test of experiencing the ride, which takes guests into the darkest reaches of space.
At both Walt Disney World and Disneyland’s Peter Pan’s Flight attractions, the in-queue game “Off To Never Land” lets up to five guests share their happiest thoughts with a series of questions, stories, and jokes. The game also features some fun with Tinker Bell too!
At Walt Disney World’s Toy Story Mania! and Disneyland’s Toy Story Midway Mania!, guests can enjoy the “Playset Party” in-queue game. This game lets groups of five come together to join in on the fun that comes from helping everyone’s favorite pals in assembling the Toy Story Mania! playset.
Pixar Pier at Disney California Adventure is where guests can experience the “Disney Colorwheel Challenge” in-queue game. This game is extra special, as it lets guests compete in a color-matching memory game for a chance to control the lights at that night’s “World of Color” show!
The last in-queue game offered within the app can be found exclusively in Toy Story Land at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. “Andy’s Boardgame Blast!” lets guests in groups of 5 play in line at Slinky Dog Dash while Andy’s away. The game is crafted from some spare toys, cardboard boxes and Andy’s imagination.
All of these games can only be played when location services are enabled within the app and you are physically standing within the queue with your device. The location services on your phone tell the app you’re standing in line, and with the help of Bluetooth, the phone then connects wirelessly to the queue around you. As soon as this connection is secured, the real magic happens.
“While you’re waiting for Peter Pan’s Flight, you’re getting into the world of Peter Pan. While you’re getting ready for Space Mountain, you and your crew are testing your teamwork communication skills and ultimately racing your ship against other ships in line projected on the ceiling above you,” said Gorin.
The app was originally designed to turn downtime into fun time while waiting in long lines for popular attractions at the parks. Specifically, fun time for each guest and their accompanying party.
“What’s exciting is that these aren’t what you might traditionally think of as mobile games. They are meant to be played with your family as a group activity.
We were really going for more of a family game night vibe. These aren’t just burying your nose in a device type of games. We don’t want people just staring at a device when there is this amazing, spectacular place around them.
These games are all about getting people up, looking around, engaging with the story. But most importantly, connecting to each other. These are meant to be played with the people you came to the park with. And they often interact with physical effects, use clues, or things you can only find when you’re there,” said Gorin.
My Disney Experience & Disneyland App Connection
Guests of Walt Disney World and Disneyland Resort may already be familiar with the My Disney Experience and Disneyland apps, both of which help guests schedule FastPasses, check wait times, and plan dining reservations at each resort. Considering these apps’ deep integration into the parks, Disney Imagineering has designed each one to work in connection with the Play Disney Parks app.
“This is a new app that is a companion to the existing My Disney Experience and Disneyland apps and they are deeply interconnected. For example, you can use the same account across both. But, we see the My Disney Experience and Disneyland apps as being your core functionality…your trip planning. Everything you need to manage and maximize your Disney vacation experience. On the Play side, we are focused on storytelling, interactivity and group fun. So we think they are very nicely connected yet have distinctive purposes,” said Gorin.
Most find that the magic of Disney Parks can only be experienced when visiting them, but Disney Imagineering wanted to change this. This app has the ability to offer guests special experiences, not only in the park but also at home.
“We also want to create game and fun experiences that work at home when you’re preparing for your next vacation. And that’s why we have the music components and the trivia components. Those are things you can do anytime and everywhere,” said Gorin.
Simply open the app at home and select your park of choice. While scrolling around the game board map, you will find trivia quizzes and music playlists attached to different attractions around each park.
The question marks denote trivia games and the music symbols mark official playlists inspired by the theme parks. The stars symbolize achievements, which can only be unlocked when visiting the attractions at the park.
When creating the app, Imagineers wanted to find a way to immerse its users into the world of the parks through their mobile devices. To do this, Imagineers pulled from the imagination of earlier Imagineers and designers of both Walt Disney World and Disneyland Resort in an effort to enhance the experience with a higher level of storytelling.
An example of this inspiration can be found in the app’s game board map, which is where the majority of the app’s functionality takes place.
“We’re just thrilled to continue to push the boundaries of creativity, innovation, storytelling, and technology through the use of the Play Disney Parks app. And one thing I really have to share with you is the game board map, which is inspired by early park maps from the initial opening of Disneyland in 1955. We’ve also drawn inspiration from Disney artists and from our heritage and we’ve reimagined it to make it contemporary and current. And we brought it to life with some very interesting and imaginative animation.
This was a collaborative effort across Imagineering, Disney Parks and Resorts Digital, as well as our technology teams all coming together to bring great ideas to the table with how we could enhance the experience and storytelling for our guests. And to bring them to life through technologies that are also brand new for our guests,” said Scott Andress, VP for Digital Design and Usability for Parks and Resorts Digital.
Kurt Schmidt, Inside the Magic owner, used the Play Disney Parks app for the first time while waiting in line at Toy Story Land’s Toy Story Mania! queue. Here are his thoughts on the experience:
Upon opening the app, it was immediately evident Disney had created a system to bring families together, especially with the game my family and I had chosen to play. In the game “Andy’s Boardgame Blast!,” the phone is held on either end by two players and via teamwork and red arrows, game pieces are moved around the game board.
This was only one of a series of challenges to overcome as a group within the game. While games such as this allow two people to play at once, the app also allows for odd-numbered groups of three or five to participate as well. The challenges automatically switch to accommodate more or fewer players.
In this example, we had 3 players.
With lines for Toy Story Mania! often running into the hour-plus range, I found the Play Disney Parks app to be a fun and enjoyable diversion during the wait. To enjoy the app, it is not necessary to have a certain wait time as the GPS settings recognize when you’re nearly at the front of the queue and will wrap the game up as you are about to get on the ride.
Future of the app
The interactivity within Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge isn’t the only upcoming addition to the app. Disney plans to continuously update the Play Disney Parks app, just as they did this week with Halloween-specific features.
“What’s really exciting about this, and I think this is the most important thing, is that this is just the beginning. We’re launching with a great suite of in-queue games right now, including achievements and music, but this is just the start. And we’re planning more attractions, land-wide quests, additional scavenger hunts, complex achievement, and trivia.
From the Imagineering side, this app gives us the chance to create a new canvas, a new layer of storytelling and interactivity for those guests who want it. Without, of course, impacting the traditional park experience for those who don’t. Now you can actually step into these worlds and use this device that might have normally been a distraction and turn it into something that makes you an active participant in the story, where the choices you make matter and where you have control over the park in a way you never could before,” said Josh Gorin, Executive R&D Imagineer at The Walt Disney Company.
Details on coming additions to the app are still not known. Be sure to check back with Inside the Magic for even more updates on the Play Disney Parks app.
If you’re an Apple Music subscriber, you can add the app’s playlists directly to your Apple Music library. If you’re not a subscriber, many new users can take advantage of a three-month trial within the app to listen to these playlists in full.