Smartphone Smarts at DLR

I know you know how to use your phone. And I'm sure many of you are know much more than me about various cell phone features, so if I'm missing something really helpful or I mess up on something, please mention it in the comments below.

Hopefully, you'll find at least one helpful tip that will make your next Disneyland trip better. 

This article doesn't cover these kinds of phones.

This article doesn't cover these kinds of phones.

By the way, most of these comments will be oriented toward iPhones, because that's what I know how to use. I'll use “phone” to refer to most types of smartphones.  I'll use iPhone if it's a tip that I know only applies to iPhones. If you have a cell phone that isn't a smart phone—or even a Blackberry--this article probably won't help you very much. (Sorry, just the way it is.)

tHE BIG TWO

Here are the two most important tips for using your phone at DLR:

1. Download the Disneyland App

2. Bring a cell phone battery charger

Disneyland App

Disneyland Resort has a very very very helpful App for your smartphone (whether it's an iPhone or an Android-based cell phone). See this page for more information about how this app is CRITICAL for you to have a good day at the parks. (I know, that's exaggerating. But it will help!) A new addition to this app is the ability to pay for MaxPass, (which allows you to get FastPasses from your phone and unlimited photos from the PhotoPass app). (More about these new features here: the Disneyland website)

dL app.png

Bring a Portable Charger

For those of us who forgot to bring our extra phone charger...you can buy this one at DLR!

For those of us who forgot to bring our extra phone charger...you can buy this one at DLR!

Many stores outside the Parks (both online and walk-in) sell portable phone chargers of many types and prices.  How to choose a portable phone charger: read the reviews of various chargers on Amazon.com, www.cnet.com, idrop.com and any other site that you trust. Then charge and use your new charger at least once before your trip to the park so you can become familiar with its switches, cables and other features. Or buy a Fuel Rod charger (see below for description).

I know this is being Captain Obvious, but I must say it:  If you bring a phone charger from home, be sure it is completely charged before you enter DLR. Same with your phone: leave it on the charger (in your car, hotel or wherever) until the last minute before leaving your car, hotel room or wherever.

I  highly recommend the Fuel-Rod Charger, sold from vending machines at several Disneyland Resort locations (listed below).

The initial purchase price ($30, credit card only) includes:

  1. One fully-charged cell phone charger
  2. A USB cable and plugs to connect it to your phone. (The end of the cable that attaches to your phone has a mini-USB, and two adapters: Lightning for iPhone 5 and newer, and 30-pin for iPhone 4 and older.) 

When the charge runs out, you can exchange it (an unlimited number of times) for a new, fully charged charger at one of several vending machines (see below) at no extra charge. You take it home at the end of the day.

Special offer: These vending machines have a place for you to insert a promo code before you pay. I found a code on their website that gave me $2 off right before I bought my Fuel-Rod. Google their website (Fuel-rod.com), Fuel Rod Power promo code, discount or coupon, or check the FuelRod Facebook page.

The Fuel-Rod vending machines locations:

Disneyland:

  • Main Street USA locker area (as you walk into the locker room) 
  • Pooh Corner at Critter Country (new location)
  • Tomorrowland Star Trader (outside the store, near HyperSpace Mountain exit)
  • Small World Toy Shop (at the store exit)

California Adventure:

  • Buena Vista Street, just past the lockers, just inside the entrance to the photo store (behind Mortimer’s Market)
  • Paradise Pier, inside Seaside Treasures (the store across from the Ariel’s Grotto Restaurant and The Cove bar).

Downtown Disney:

  • ESPN Zone
  • Grand Californian Hotel (Convention area)
  • Paradise Pier Hotel (Lobby)
  • Disneyland Hotel (Fantasy Tower, outside the business center)

OR you can buy one from their website BEFORE you go to DLR. Here’s the link. (See below for my review of FuelRod below--after 3+ uses)

WiFi

UPDATE 7/27/17:  Free Wi-Fi (wireless) high-speed Internet access is NOW available in specific areas of both Disneyland Resort theme parks and the area between the park entrances (aka "the Esplanade"). 

Instructions for connecting (courtesy of the Disneyland website): To access complimentary Wi-Fi, first locate the nearest hotspot on the park map using the Disneyland mobile app or find hotspots on the map below. When you’re close to a hotspot, simply select the network “Disney-Guest” (be sure to accept the Terms & Conditions).

wi-fi locations

Disneyland 

  • Tomorrow Land: Matterhorn South (across from Galactic Grill) 
  • Fantasy Land: “it’s a small world” Promenade (across from the Pretzel and Lemonade stands)
  • Tomorrow Land:  Between StarWars Launchpad and The Star Trader store
  • Main Street, USA: Two, near the Hub (near the Castle end of Main Street). 1. By the "Partners" statue; and 2. By information booth/tip board by Jolly Holiday Bakery
  • Frontierland: Rancho del Zocalo Restaurante
  • New Orleans Square: along the Waterfront (Rivers of America)

Disney California Adventure 

  • Pacific Wharf: Ghirardelli Soda Fountain & Chocolate Shop
  • Cars Land: Flo’s V8 Cafe
  • Cars Land: Sarge’s Surplus Hut (and possibly the neighboring Park area)
  • Hollywood Land: near Monster's Inc ride & Avenger’s Meet & Greet area
  • Paradise Pier: Paradise Garden Grill seating area (near Goofy’s Sky School)
  • Paradise Pier: California Screamin’ boardwalk (between Screamin’ and Paradise Pier Ice Cream Co.)
  • Buena Vista Street: Carthay Circle Guest Relations tip board/info booth
  • Grizzly Peak: Grizzly River Rapids viewing area (overlooking the water wheel), across from the rear of Little Mermaid ride bulding and World of Color Fast Pass distribution area.  
  • Grizzly Peak Airfield: near Soarin' Over California

Other DLR WiFi Locations

  • Lobbies of the on-property DLR hotels (Paradise Pier Hotel, Disneyland Hotel, and Grand Californian Hotel) and some of the other public areas (like the casual restaurants and the bars/lounges).  Of course, if you're staying at one of these hotels, you'll have WiFi service in your room.
  • Downtown Disney: many of the restaurants, including both Starbucks.

TAKING Pictures at the Disneyland Resort

You’ll be using your phone to take many pictures at DLR, but did you know that the Disney photographers will use your phone to take your picture with Disney characters (the ones you see in costumes around the parks)? They will!  And they take much better photographs than most people I know.

PhotoPass

If you have a Signature or Signature Plus Annual Pass, or you buy a day of Photopass or MaxPass), you can ask the nearby Disney photographer to take photos of you with the Disney characters---using their camera). Then you can download these photos and also the photos taken of you on rides (like Splash Mountain, Radiator Springs Racers, California Screamin,' and more), and view them on your phone via the Disneyland App.

Here’s how:  Link your Signature or Signature Plus Annual Pass (or purchased Photopass or MaxPass) to the Disneyland Resort app (available for iPhones and Android phones, FREE).

NEW: The Disneyland app allows you to crop these photos, and add filters, borders and stickers, all on your phone.

Battery saving tips

Does your iPhone (or other cell phone) battery die before the end of your day at the parks? Yep, it happens. But it's not just because you're taking lots of picture or checking wait times on the Disneyland app. There’s a few standard (and some more deeply hidden settings) that reduce your battery's life.

WARNING: Don’t put your phone on Airplane Mode because you won't get any phone calls or text messages, and won't be able to use any apps that rely on online data---like the Disneyland app. In other words, keep the cellular service (and now WiFi too) turned on.

Low Power Mode

Apple has included a battery saver feature for iPhones running iOS 9 or newer. When your battery decreases to 20% capacity, you'll see an on-screen notification asking if you want to turn on Low Power Mode. But don't wait til it gets that low: You can enable Low Power Mode (LPM) when your battery is at 80% or even at full charge.  I try to put my phone on LPM as soon as soon as our car comes to a complete stop in the Mickey and Friends parking structure at DLR. (Oh, have I ridden too many DL and DCA rides? Maybe so.)

CAUTION: Turn LPM off when you begin to charge your phone. Not everyone agrees with this, but I've found that the phone charges more slowing in LPM than in standard mode.

How to Enable LPM (iPhone directions)

Go to Settings, click on Battery, and enable (turn on) Low Power Mode.  Apple says LPM will give your iPhone an extra three hours of battery life. (Before you do this, read the Trade-Off information below)

But there’s a trade-off: Low Power Mode disables many of your iPhone’s more battery-intensive tasks (like background updates of apps--like Mail, Facebook and similar). 

Here's the full list of disabled or otherwise changed features  (courtesy of idrop.com):

  • Automatically reduces screen brightness, however the brightness can be manually increased.
  • Locks the screen after 30 seconds; this setting cannot be changed.
  • Apps will no longer automatically update content in the background.
  • Push updates for mail are disabled, and no notification of new mail will be displayed.
  • Automatic download of applications and updates is disabled.
  • Visual effects such as Dynamic Wallpapers and perspective zoom are disabled.
  • CPU performance is essentially halved. (Initial reports indicate that when Low Power Mode is enabled, an iPhone 6s Plus will run at a speed similar to an iPhone 5s.)
  • Always on ‘Hey Siri’ feature is disabled, however Siri can still be accessed manually.

Charging Lockers

Most people know about the lockers on Main Street at Disneyland and on Buena Vista Street in California Adventure.  But did you know that some of the lockers have built-in cables to charge your phone? These are different than the regular lockers.  These lockers cost $2/hour for charging. 


Review of Fuel Rod phone charger

I purchased a Fuel Rod kit during a visit to DLR in December 2016. The Fuel Rod vending/exchange machine showed that the price was $30, but I happened to find a Promo code that dropped the price to $28. (YAY!) The convenience factor of buying it at Disneyland when my phone was dead made it an good deal for me (even at $28).

Right out of the (handy storage) tube, the battery charged my phone from 22% to 72% in about 30 minutes. I used the included cable to charge my phone. When I got home, I used the same cables to charge the Fuel Rod so it’s ready for my next visit.

This is a cool device. It charged quickly, and I really like that the cable, adapter, and battery all fit in a tube that's not much bigger than the FuelRod itself.

I've heard that Fuel Rod charger vending machines are located in some airports and other places, with chargers selling for $20. I haven't seen these near where I live, at the three major airports I've visited recently, or anywhere else near DLR.  You can also buy one from their website Fuel-Rod.com  for $20 plus $5 shipping (US only).

UPDATE July 29, 2017: I've been using my Fuel Rod A LOT since I got it in December of last year. So far, I've used it to charge my phone at Disneyland Resort; on Amtrak, Disney Cruise Line, two other boats and two jets; on two islands; while hiking hills, becaches, and cities; and many other places. It has allowed me to be the only person with a charged phone on several occasions. It's easy to carry, and my phone still fits in my pocket, backpack or purse when the charger is attached. I've exchanged it more than a few times at DLR and charged it many, many times at home. Overall, it's still a great purchase.

Please note: I paid for my Fuel Rod charger with my own money and was not compensated in any way by Fuel Rod company.

 

 

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