A Magical Mobile Experience
Shortly after we founded MegatonApps, Sean O’Neill and I thought it would be a good exercise to set our minds to an imaginary project based on something we both loved in order to start the creative juices flowing for what projects we might work on in the future. We decided to take a crack at what the perfect mobile application for Disney Parks should look like, focusing on Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom in Orlando, Fla.
Little did we expect at the time that our “imaginary” project would soon enough land us a meeting with Disney to share our vision.
We took an untraditional route with the app’s development, opting for a landscape-default view, rather than the up-down, portrait view used by most apps. We did so in order to keep controls as simple as possible, and in order to allow more meaningful content to be shown on the screen. The app rarely had more than two menu buttons, each located at the bottom of the screen in easy reach of thumbs. Navigation was instead centered on digitized versions of the maps Disney offers guests to its parks. This allowed first-time visitors to explore their surroundings, while a list view allowed more seasoned visitors to locate the information they were looking for quickly.
Proposed App Features
Our app concept built in a variety of features that would enhance a guest’s experience in the parks. Ride wait times would update live to the app and be available throughout each park, allowing guests to strategically choose attractions with less wait time. Digital versions of the company’s “FastPass” entry tickets, which promise front-of-the-line access at a reserved time during the day, were also integrated into the app. Guests could place reservations at one of the restaurants on property within the app after reviewing menus to see what looked most appetizing.
However, the app’s most promising feature would not only greatly enhance the guest experience but also unlock new revenue opportunities for the parks. Our MagicPlan system would ask guests a series of questions about their party and preferences and then present to them a suggested itenerary, complete with directions and reservation times, for their day at the parks.
This system would take into account the type of food and attractions the guests would be most likely to enjoy, but could plot these out based on typical attraction demand throughout the day. It could also take into account the preference of one location over another due to higher average margins, or suggest a particular entrée at a restaurant that would be more profitable for the company.
For example, knowing that Soarin’– an attraction at Epcot– tends to be quite busy in the afternoons, the app could suggest guests make that one of their first stops. If Pecos Bill Inn has a higher operating profit margin than Tomorrowland’s restaurant, the app could direct users accordingly.
The app’s featureset expanded beyond the parks, as well, encompassing the entire Walt Disney World ecosystem. Information about hotel events and amenities was present, as was the ability to reserve tee times at one of the on-site golf courses and view course layouts. Every guest-facing element on property was to be covered by the app in whatever way best featured its value while retaining a uniform structure to the app experience.
After sharing our presentation with a contact at Disney, we were referred to the team in charge of such projects. Crushingly, we learned that Disney had entered into a strategic partnership with Verizon that including Verizon-produced mobile apps just days before we finished building out our concept. Our imaginary app would remain just that.