In recent years, especially since the parks reopened in the summer of 2020, technology has become a crucial part of the Disney World experience. From planning your vacation to checking into your hotel room to ordering food and beyond, there’s a variety of times where you’ll be relying on technology to make sure your trip is a success.
While some of us are more tech-savvy than others, there are a few specific examples of times when technology can get the best of all of us! Luckily, most of these incidents just require a little bit of planning before your vacation so you can be prepared!
Rise of the Resistance Boarding Groups
This one is frustrating even for the most technologically advanced guests!! Since it first opened at Disney World in 2019, Rise of the Resistance in Disney’s Hollywood Studios has used a virtual queue system for guests looking to experience the attraction. That means that you are required to obtain a Boarding Group if you want to ride — there is no standby line available. So, it’s really important that you know the ins and outs of getting a Boarding Group if you want any shot at experiencing this very cool ride!
The basic fundamentals in acquiring a Boarding Group involve having My Disney Experience downloaded and ready to go when the Groups are distributed, which as of this writing happens at 7AM and 2PM each day. You’ll want to make sure everyone in your party has their tickets linked to one another, and make sure your phone is running properly (restart your phone right before the Groups drop, close out of every other app, and turn off Disney’s notoriously horrible wi-fi). Get your finger ready to do some fast clicking as soon as the clock strikes!
Unfortunately, getting a Boarding Group often comes down to luck and timing. We’ve tried seemingly a zillion times at this point and, while we do often secure a group, we still don’t always come out on top. The groups vanish in seconds and those precious milliseconds you’re clicking through the screens could mean the difference between getting to ride or not. Disney has made it more convenient over the past several months by allowing guests to be located inside or outside of Disney’s Hollywood Studios, but nothing they have added necessarily improves your odds. Be ready right as the groups open up and hope for the best!
Mobile Order was once a super convenient and lesser known method of “skipping the line” to get your food at counter service locations around Disney World. It was one of our favorite tips to share! Instead of waiting in loooong lines to order food, order, customize, and pay for your order from the comfort of your phone then stroll up and pick up your order. Easy peasy! Since the parks reopened, however, it has become the primary method of ordering and picking up your food — so a LOT of guests know about Mobile Order these days!
Even if you’re a Mobile Order expert from before the closures, your challenge now may come down to simply finding a return window so you can pick up your food and eat! Those return windows fill up FAST now that so many people use Mobile Order. If you wait until noon to order lunch, you may not have available return windows until 2PM or later!
In order to avoid any difficulties with Mobile Order, know where you want to eat well ahead of time and place those orders early! We’re talking ordering lunch as you eat your breakfast in the park. Remember that you can select any open return window, so you can totally order your lunch and pick a 12:30PM return window early that morning.
My Disney Experience in General
Disney World’s mobile app, My Disney Experience, can experience technical glitches from time to time, whether you’re trying to use Mobile Order or simply access a park map. Like any other app, it can crash, freeze, or be prone to the occasional bug.
The difference here, however, is that this isn’t like any other app — when you’re in Disney World, it’s kinda important that My Disney Experience works smoothly so you can access your reservations, secure Boarding Groups for Rise of the Resistance, and much more!
To avoid any potential issues, make sure the app is updated and you restart your phone if you experience any difficulties. Also make sure you’re running as few apps as possible in the background when you try to use My Disney Experience. If the app continues to act up, make sure that everyone in your party has access to the app and all of your reservations. That way, someone else can manage the app if it’s working on their phone.
We’re big fans of screenshotting important info — dining reservations, boarding group info, and more. If something acts up in the app, you’ll have all this info handy. Screenshotting also helps when the app goofs up and could potentially ruin your plans! We’ve secured Rise of the Resistance boarding groups only to have them disappear in the app, dining reservations that we confirmed but are nowhere to be seen, and more. Showing a Cast Member screenshots can help them locate on their end your reservations or what happened.
The Virtual Waitlist for Gideon’s Bakehouse
When it comes to must-have Disney World snacks, one of the newest arrivals on that list are the delicious cookies from Gideon’s Bakehouse. These tasty treats have been immensely popular since this location opened at Disney Springs in late 2019. They’re so popular, in fact, that Gideon’s often has to use a virtual waitlist to manage the crowds!
The good news is that this is not a difficult waitlist to join, but you have to make sure you join if you want the goodies! Many guests think they can just stroll into Gideon’s and grab some cookies, but many days, they’ll be met with a crazy long, multi-hour wait in the virtual queue. The line tends to fill up by 7PM each day, so if you want those cookies, make sure you know how to join the queue.
We recommend arriving to Disney Springs earlier in the day if you want to minimize the amount of time you’ll be waiting for Gideon’s. You’ll want to scope out a Gideon’s employee, who is typically stationed with a tablet right outside the entrance. Simply sign up with them, and you’ll receive a text when it’s your turn to come back and order! Note you can’t just get in the virtual queue and head to the parks or elsewhere though — once your spot in the queue is called you’ll need to head back in a reasonable amount of time to get in the line to get in (yep, you wait in a shorter real line after you wait in the VERY long virtual line!).
Disney World’s Notorious Wi-fi
One of the great perks to being on Disney World property is that they offer free wi-fi throughout the parks and resorts to ALL guests. However, while this is a nice free perk, it’s not the most reliable. Granted, it’s 2021 and pretty much every place you’d ever go seems to offer free wi-fi nowadays — and the wi-fi at your local grocery store or dentist probably works better than Disney’s! We actually recommend you NOT be on their wi-fi when trying to get a Boarding Group to Rise of the Resistance — your standard cell service will be more reliable!
If you’re on a limited data plan, you may find it to be a bit challenging when working with Disney World’s wi-fi without having to rely on cell service. Just know ahead of time that you’re bound to run into a few hiccups along the way, or turn your wi-fi off briefly in those crucial moments, like getting a Rise of the Resistance Boarding Group. You can also consider setting up a personal hotspot if you prefer!
These days, it’s super important to know how Disney World’s technology works so you can have a smooth, effortless vacation. Tech glitches can make or break your day in the parks, and unfortunately they can happen from time to time! Be sure to read up on all of the features on My Disney Experience so you can navigate the app like a pro, and definitely remember to pack those portable phone chargers! Since you’ll likely be glued to your phone in the parks, you’ll want to keep that battery life up!