Monday, October 10, 2016

Shop Disney Parks App Review

I've been meaning to post this review for a long time but now that I've used the app for about 9 months, I feel that I can give a more thorough analysis of what it does and how well it works!

Released in summer 2015, I first learned about this app before my December 2015 trip to Walt Disney World. Being the kind of shopper that prefers to do research ahead of time (I love store websites that allow you to check the stock of an item in nearby stores. That way I can be in and out - try on or scope out the potential purchase and then head for the register), I had an idea of some of the kinds of items I was looking for at WDW. For example, I'd wanted to pick up some Duffy merchandise, but knowing that Duffy ended his meet-and-greet run at Epcot just 2 months before my trip, I wanted some insider info on what stores were my best bet for things Duffy. So I headed over to the best place for a specific Disney insider info - - and asked this very question. Someone there let me know about the existence of this fabulous app and the rest is history!

This app is useful in 3 main ways and I have utilized it extensively with 2 of them:

Low Stock and In Stock icons

Locating items on property - as described in my introduction, this app proved to be a huge time-saver while shopping at WDW, both in locating potential purchases as well confirming the in-stock status of an item at a given store. Here's an example of a real success story: on my visit last December, I really wanted a pair of the green sequin Minnie ears headband with the red bow for MVMCP. This proved to be a more challenging task than I assumed and I would have went home empty handed if it wasn't for this app. (There were plenty of the black Minnie ears headbands with the light bulb design but I really wanted this other specific style.) After searching to no avail in nearly every store in Epcot, I was ready to give up. However, with some exploration of the Shop Disney Parks app, I searched for the item on the app, I clicked "locate" and found the places these particular ears were carried on property - from Main Street Emporium to even the shops in the resorts. Something I quickly learned is that the yellow "Low Stock" triangle symbol actually means "Out of Stock," and while these ears showed yellow triangles all over the map, there was ONE store on property that still had a green "In Stock" circle for these Holly Ears. It was the Magic Kingdom Newsstand - a store I never even noticed and is probably overlooked by most MK guests. Situated on the left side of the entrance, it's located right past bag check but before the "tunnels" that take you on to Main Street USA. Most people, I would imagine, are eager to get into the park and don't usually stop to shop in this tiny little outpost they encounter in the first 30 seconds they are admitted in, especially with the huge Emporium only steps away. Well, true to the app, I could spot a stack of them at 20 paces. God bless my sweet husband, who, despite this being a silly quest (truly), bounded ahead of me and beelined right to them for me! I think he was as happy to snatch them up for me as I was excited to own them :) Without this app, I never would have looked in this store and I wouldn't have gotten them!

An additional benefit (which I learned after the fact) is that you can see if an item is in stock at a more convenient location on property. Even though the WDW gift shopping mantra is "if you see it, buy it now!" since nothing is guaranteed to be in-stock elsewhere, I found that there were some items that I'd purchased in Mouse Gear that I later found were plentifully in stock in the Wilderness Lodge Mercantile which I could have picked up on my way back to my room. Even though Disney makes shopping in the parks easy with package pick-up and resort delivery, knowing that the mug I had to have could be located an elevator ride away from my room would have made it even more convenient. 

Above: Search results for a common item. In stock in the parks AND my resort!

Above: Want to browse all products in a specific category? Not only can you see all the results but you can pinpoint the location of the harder-to-find items (like those unique to a park/resort/theme).

Shopping in the parks - I have not actually made a purchase through the app while on property but I did use the bar code scanner frequently in store and ended up purchasing some of the items when I got home (see below). One of the things I loved about this is that you could just walk around and zap items with the app that recorded the sku number, a picture, and all necessary data all in only place (instead of jotting down information from a tag or snapping a photo of them item for future reference). Otherwise, this allows you to shop while waiting in attraction queues and with the benefit of merchandise pickup and delivery Easy peasy!

Shopping from home - for those of us who don't feel fulfilled by (though I shop there regularly, it's more of a toy store to me), this app is everything to those who want to have the virtual experience of shopping essentially every item in WDW from home. The inventory on the app is incredibly extensive. This works like any other shopping app - you can search for items, add them to your cart and check out. It also keeps the items in your cart long term and allows you to save items in your cart for later. There is no extra charge for this service - the items arrive with the original price tag which matches the price you pay. Each time I have shopped through here, the items have arrived via UPS in about a week. The app frequently offers discounts and free shipping, especially around the holidays. (I even shopped through here for Christmas and their "guaranteed by Christmas free shipping" was true!)

I will admit however that there are a few parts of the app that could use improvement. As I mentioned, "low stock" actually means "out of stock" (but I understand why it would work this way for the sake of inventory upkeep) so knowing that distinction is helpful. The only other area I found that could use some fine tuning is the search feature. Generally, it works fine, but in some cases, you really need to know what you're looking for to find it. For example, though this key chain is clearly Minnie holding Duffy, this item won't come up in the results when you search "Duffy." You kind of have to know that it's called "Park Fun Keychain" to find it. Similarly, with my aforementioned search for the "green sequin Minnie ears headband with the red bow," if I searched "Christmas ears" nothing came up. When I searched generically for "Minnie ears," I scrolled through all the options and found these are called "Holly ears." If I search "Christmas," I'd hope to see all the holiday related items. However, I really cannot imagine the kind of programming it takes to create and maintain this extensive shopping app, so I am sure these features will improve with future updates.

Overall I am extremely pleased with this app and will continue to use it as my primary Disney shopping source. I give it 5 out of 5 Dole Whips!