Monthly Archives: September 2011

Review : Disney Store iPhone App

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Price: Free
Official Site: Disney Store

If you are a frequent visitor to, then there is a good chance you also visit as well. The Disney Store is the quintessential place for people to find merchandise themed with their favorite Disney characters. Now the has decided to join the mobile revolution by having their very own iPhone app.

The app launches with a very similar style and feel as their home page, with quick buttons along the button to get you where you want to go. In the middle of the screen is a section you can swipe left or right, to go to a theme such as “Characters”, “Girls”, or “Toys & Games”.

The first navigation button takes you to “Find a Store”, which is integrated into the familiar Google Maps interface. One great detail on the map, is they have Mickey Heads on the pinpoints of the store locations. It will use your phones GPS to find stores near you, or you can use the search-box at the top to check a different area. Take note of the “List” button in the top right, as it will show a list of the locations, with address and mileage from your current coordinates.

The third navigation button allows you to search for specifid items and words. You’ll be given thumbnail pictures, review rating, and price. You can change the results to be in a tile view or only focused on one item at a time. Once you find something that looks interesting, you can select it and find the description of the item.

The fourth tab is your shopping cart, where you can find the estimated shipping and total. The button will also highlight how many items there are currently in your cart. Once you’re done making your selections, you can use the “Checkout” button in the top right corner.

Finally, the last navigation button provides quick access to policies, phone numbers, and a variety of other details you may need. I think it was brilliant to provide this information, as it will certainly help avoid frustrated users!

Overall, I think they did a pretty good job with the app. I don’t think there is anything necessarily special or unique. It has a very similar usability and style as the app, and was likely used as the model. I am also unsure how much demand there is for shopping on the go, but at least it is available if you need it!

Disney Releases Android Smartphones

Those who know their Disney history, will know that Tokyo Disneyland was the first park Disney built outside of the United States. Tokyo was given this great honor, due to the Japanese people being ultimate fans for Disney!

Knowing that there is such a fanatical love for Disney in Japan, it is not surprising to learn that Disney exclusively markets some products to them. Today, Disney has announced another round of Android smartphones in Japan. You’ll notice that the phones have a very familiar look to that of the iPhone, but with a detail of Mickey ears as the home button. With these new phones having 1Ghz processors and 8MP cameras, they are fairly standard specs to other Android phones on the market.

I’m sure there are a fair number of people in the United States that would like to get one of these in their hands!

Epcot Food & Wine Festival Goes Mobile

Today, reported about a new Epcot Food & Wine Festival Mobile Guide. Apparently there will be QR codes around the event which will take you to the mobile guide. I did find that it took me to a slightly different version of the guide depending on whether I used the link or QR code to get to the site. Regardless, I think it is very interesting that Disney is beginning to do these special event sites, much like the one they did for the recent D23 Expo. It would seem that these are fairly inexpensive to develop, but can provide great value to the users.

For more info and great pictures, go check out Inside the Magic.

Gowalla 4 – What’s the Story?

Back on November 18, 2010, Gowalla made a HUGE announcement about partnering with Disney. Up until this time, I had not really taken the social location check-in phenomena very seriously. I figured this was a great time to jump in and learn what it was all about, and if it was something I might find fun.

Fast-forward 10 months, and I am now a fairly regular user of Foursquare and Gowalla. I always felt like they were fairly similar in nature, but had slightly different angles. In Foursquare you earned points, but in Gowalla you would earn stamps. There was a certain amount of “game” in your progress and efforts to check-in to locations. In Foursquare I typically felt as if I was competing in the game, while Gowalla was more about trying to collect stamps for my own sense of accomplishment.

It would appear that Gowalla felt that there were too many similarities between them and the competition, and have decided to really differentiate their product. According to their blog, “We’re building a social atlas for the world. And we need your help to do it.” So now, they’ve changed Trips to be called “Lists”, and Check-In’s to be “Stories.” The interface and work-flow is entirely different than the old app. In addtion, there are over 60 “Social Guides” to cities. The Social Guides combine peoples highlights, popular locations, and best sites, to provide a mini guide for what to do on your travels. Overall, Gowalla seems to be moving away from your day to day check-ins, and trying to tackle your adventures and travels. They have continued their partnership with Disney, and are providing Social Guides to Disney Parks such as Disneyland and Walt Disney World.

Unfortunately, it didn’t take long until the outcries started rolling in, with people experiencing a lot of crashes on the iPhone. Thankfully, they were able to release an update quickly and 4.0.1 is available for download. Users were also very confused by what had happened to many of the things they loved about Gowalla, such as Items and Stamps.

As a previous Gowalla user, the new interface was very unintuitve to me. I had heard whispers that Gowalla 4 was going to be a big change, but hadn’t realized how drastic it was going to actually be. I do think that Gowalla needed to do something like this to differentiate themselves and gain the growth that Foursquare has benefited from. The partnerships with Disney and National Geographic are great signs that they are trying to have high quality content. I suspect it will take a few releases for everyone to be comfortable with Gowalla’s new vision, but I am optimistic that it will be a good thing. If you haven’t done so already, go download Gowalla 4 and try it yourself: If you still have Gowalla 3 installed, it is supposed to continue working for the time being.

Review : Disney’s “Where’s My Water?”

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Price: $0.99
Official Site: Where’s My Water?

“Where’s My Water?” may not just be a question, that is the title of a new iPhone/iPad app, but may also be the answer to Disney’s future in the mobile gaming arena. Disney recently released Puffle Launch, and now an adventure with Swampy the alligator.

The premise of the game is built on the urban legend of alligators living in the sewers of large cities like New York. Swampy lives in the sewers, but is obsessive about always being clean, and this is where you get to help! It is your goal and mission to remove obstacles, so the water can get to Swampy. If Swampy doesn’t get enough water, he can’t be clean! The game currently consists of 4 chapters, with 20 puzzles each. As is becoming popular, they are saying there will be free updates with added chapters in the future.

You have to solve how to get enough water from the top, all the way down to Swampy’s shower.

You also want to get as many of the rubber duckies as well, since they are worth bonus points.

Will you be able to figure out the best path? This clearly wasn’t the right way to do it!

This game has a very fun and light-hearted feel to it. Disney has once again produced an addictive game, that is likely to make it very popular. I’m quite sure that this game will be popular, but is slightly unusual in that it will probably grab more young peoples attention. I certainly enjoy the game and recommend it. Certainly, it is a puzzle game at heart, and has hints of similarities with Angry Birds, Cut the Rope, and Puffle Launch. If you enjoy any of the other puzzle games, you’re bound to enjoy Where’s My Water as well.

A few media outlets are saying that Disney is trying to take over the puzzle market, and attack Angry Birds position of popularity. I’m confident Disney is trying to take their piece of the pie, as Angry Birds has been a huge financial success. I think it is a little speculative to think they are trying to dethrone them. Disney has been somewhat quiet with their mobile acquisitions, and maybe they have been planning to attack the market in force with each of them at once. Only time will tell!

Official Trailer:

Touring Plans Updates Android Lines App

Touring Plans has released an update for the Android version of their Lines app. They’ve added navigation buttons in this version, to allow quick access to different sections of the app! If you are and Android user and don’t have the app, go check it out in the Android Market!

Mom’s on the Go, are Going Mobile

Disney Interactive Media Group have released some new research, which shows that Mom’s are increasing their usage of mobile and tablet devices! I don’t know if this should necessarily surprise anyone. it is getting harder and harder to even buy a phone that isn’t a “smartphone”. Once you have a smartphone, you easily get used to having the niternet and email at your fingertips.

Irony : I emailed the article to my wife, who read it on her iPhone while she was taking our 9 month old for a walk!?

I know that my wife certainly has found the iPhone to be extremely useful for entertaining and multitasking as a mother. It is often much more convenient to use the iPhone than trying to sit in front of the laptop or desktop computer.

While only somewhat related, she certainly has found using a Kindle to be much easier to read one-handed than a normal book. As some of you probably know, mothers often have one hand on their child and the other doing tasks.

Instagram and Foursquare get iPhone App Updates

As has shown us, quite a few Disney Park travelers use Instagram to document their magical experiences and adventures.

Instagram has released version 2.0 of their popular iPhone app (). This update makes major changes to the way you take photos! Instagram has improved the speed of the app, added more filters, and changed the photo interface. To take things even further, you can now apply filters to the live image on the app and save images at higher resolution.

Another popular thing Disney tourists like to do is check into social location networks such as Foursquare. The update to Foursquare’s app () provides an enhancement to the “lists” section, allowing a lot more options. Lists are typically used to save and share locations with other users. While this update isn’t as drastic as Instagram, it is still quite significant for people who are power “list” users.

Android Lines Update Reverted is reporting that people may have seen problems with the update to the Android version of their Lines app.

If you downloaded the version with the quick tab navigation, we highly recommend that you delete this app and download the version of the application currently in the marketplace.

I would imagine there are a lot of variables, with so many different Android versions and platforms, that this is inevitable. I’m sure the guys at will get it figured out quickly.

Review : Club Penguin’s Puffle Launch

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Price: $0.99
Official Site: Puffle Launch

A few days ago I posted about the announcement of Club Penguin’s Puffle Launch release to the App Store. I wanted to make sure to take some time to really get into the game and test out its game play.

I’ve now had a couple days to play! I love this game, and it is my new addiction. While I certainly knew of the Club Penguin brand, I had never had any reason to be interested in it. Had it not been for my efforts on this site, I probably wouldn’t have ever given it a chance. I am really impressed with what they’ve been able to accomplish with this game!

Puffle Launch really reminds me of Angry Birds () and Cut the Rope (). It is similar in that you have to use some puzzle solving skills to be able to pass a level. As the levels progress they add additional controls and interactions that increase the difficulty to be able to complete the section.

The initial release of the app includes 2 sections with 12 levels each. According to their site, you should “watch for updates” which implies they will continue adding sections much like the popular Angry Birds. As you are working through each level, you are gathering “Puffle O’s”. The gauge in the top right of the screen shows how many of the total you’ve grabbed so far. At the end of a level, the Puffle O’s are converted to coins. It appears that Disney had come up with a way to cross-promote the game with their website! According to the official FAQ:

“If you have an active account and you log in from Club Penguin’s Puffle Launch for iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch, the coins you earn will be transferred to your account…”

Since I am not a previous fan of Club Penguin, I had no idea what this meant!? Apparently you can use the coins for other Club Penguin adventures:

“Use coins to purchase virtual items such as clothes, furniture, puffles and more. Coins are removed from the inventory when items are purchased.
Real money cannot be used to purchase coins, nor can coins be transferred from one account to another account.”

This seems like a great concept, and will probably be very exciting for long-time fans of

Overall, I think it is a great game that will be very popular. I am currently addicted to playing Puffle Launch, even though I’m not a Club Penguin fan. I’ve also converted my wife to be addicted to this game, and she was forced to buy it on her own iPhone. At the current price of $0.99, it is easily worth the value.

Official Trailer –