"Welcome to the place where imagination is the destination. For young and old, big and small — it's the happiest place on earth!"
True, our kids were pretty persuaded by this repeated anthem as seen through the countless Disney Movies and commercials they've watched, but we wanted to ensure our experience was going to be happy as well. Trying to be the devoted parent and a planner by nature, I reached out to some friends who had taken their children to Disneyland and Disneyworld. I'll be honest, I instantly become overwhelmed. The character dining, the right height for rollercoasters, the meal plans, lodging, activities, fast passes....the list went on. The Disneyland website and others we saw were saturated with information as well. I acknowledge seeking out information is imperative when planning an important day, but we were initially thinking of being a little bit more low key. So, my husband and I decided to be prepared for being unprepared. Our plan consisted of one goal: walk around and guide the kids to the appropriate areas for them and see what happens.
Well, it certainly left quite a bit to the imagination! I gave in (a little bit) and found the "Disneylad MouseWait" app and "Free Disneyland Maps" app. Both of which I downloaded to my phone on the trip there to research (no I was not driving). These were exactly what we needed and very simple to use with brief tips. It was wonderful because these apps were constantly updated every few minutes to reflect if wait times increased, or there was an area which closed, where to find the characters and when. Very similar to having Mickey Mouse himself walking around telling you where to head to next! It helped us plan what we wanted to do on the spot. This was great for our two oldest children (who are still young: 5 and 6), as they changed their minds as fast as you can say "It's a Small World".
This also got me thinking about how wonderful these types of apps can be for teaching. Using these simple informational apps for field trips: whether teachers or students want to research about a museum or other site before heading out there. Also, having an app at your fingertips that can alert if you if an area of the field trip is new, has been closed or not accessible.
I did some digging and this is what I found related to typical field trip educational outings such as museums:
- NY Times did a special feature on museum apps, you can view the different resources for planning and prepping for a more engaging experience: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/17/arts/design/apps-give-museum-visitors-multimedia-access.html
- Another great website with app resources: Museums2go: has android, iPad, iPhone and web based apps: http://www.museums2go.com/iphone-apps/
- Appolicious is also another great website, you can just type in "travel" then search for specific areas or places: http://www.appolicious.com/categorized-curated-apps/15-travel you can even create your own list to share!