Our recent trip to Disney World was great — we had a blast! However, a few things struck me as very technologically inferior and I thought I’d share them here.
First, though, I’ll touch on what they did right. The card they give you when you check-in is amazing. This single card allows you to:
- Open the gates to get into your resort.
- Open your room door.
- Access the parks.
- Charge food to your meal plan.
- Charge food/gifts to your room.
If you’ve ever worked in a large organization, you probably have some idea how difficult it can be to combine systems. They’ve managed to combine hundreds of different systems to all talk together and work with a single card. It works very well and is quite impressive.
Now for the bad…
It’s really not that bad, but these things bugged me:
- No Wifi: Our resort (“Port Orleans: Riverside”) was very nice, but didn’t have wifi. Really? No wifi in 2009? They had “high speed internet” available, but it was via ethernet. The port was “conveniently located” on the opposite side of the room from the table, and they wanted $9.95/day for it. Awful. Fortunately, AT&T had excellent 3G coverage there and I did well with my wireless card and Cradlepoint.
- No GPS buses: With all of the Google Earth work I do (site, blog), I’m constantly seeing new apps and mashups that show live bus locations for various cities. Given the complex network of bus routes around Disney, I was sure they’d have something. Nada. The buses themselves worked well enough, but we often waited 15-30 minutes for a bus that was going to the correct destination. Having a way to check on that bus ahead of time would have been very useful.
- IE6 recommended: Disney’s “PhotoPass” card is the one thing that’s not tied to your main Disney card. I’d expect they’ll fix that before too long. In the meantime, it’s a separate card you need to carry around and hand to Disney photographers. They take your picture, then you can log into the PhotoPass site to view them later in the day. It’s really a pretty nice system. However, if you try to access the site using Google Chrome, they kindly suggest you use Internet Explorer 6 (among others). It also recommends “Windows 98, 2000 or XP”. I guess Vista and 7 are out of the question, huh? The site works fine in most browsers, aside from being a bit slow. I just thought the warning message was pretty funny.
All in all, it was a fun trip. I don’t expect the GPS-enabled buses to roll out anytime soon, but I sure hope they have wifi next time…