Walt Disney World Notescast for iPhone: one Disnerd's review

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Walt Disney World Notescast for iPhone: one Disnerd's review
To start with: I am a Disney fan -- to be precise, it's a lot like the way Jack Nicholson is a Laker fan -- so on my very nearly annual expeditions to a Disney park, I don't really need the map. I have memorized shortcuts and low-traffic restrooms, how to get all the good stuff done in one day, and loads more random bits (look closely in the Hall Of Presidents; molds for their faces are used on other animatronics around the park), mostly because carrying them around in my head was the easiest way to carry them.

Then I got my iPhone (my first smartphone) and was able to put data on my phone (which I always carry with me). Enter the Walt Disney World Notescast. This $0.99 app is a handy planning/informational tool that can guide your entire Walt Disney World trip, from vacation packages to tips on annual events and park history. I tested the iPhone version of this app, but TimeStream Software also sells a $1.99 version for notes-capable classic iPods and nanos. It doesn't rely on a data connection and you can carry all this info with you easily.

When you first launch the application, you get a list of options to choose from. I liked the variety of options, but I wish I could customize or at least re-order it so I could get at a few of the options more quickly. There is a bookmark system available, but I ended up bookmarking a lot of things so that list went non-functional pretty quickly. And while I understand not having a ton of information on one page, I had a hard time figuring out why there were breaks between, for example, "Tours of EPCOT I" and "Tours of EPCOT II". I love the list of phone numbers, especially since I can tap the number to make the call. In the now cutthroat world of Disney Dining, having that number handy -- as well as the ticket line and even the camping and Magical Express numbers, not usually easy to find on the WDW site -- is a huge convenience.
I liked the What's New section; it goes back years, and since I'm not at Walt Disney World that often, it's nice to see what's new since my last visit, even if that was quite awhile ago.

I have to admit, my favorite portion of this application is the Hidden Mickey Tours for each of the parks. I wish it were more vague in spots (some are very explicit, some less so), and I also like that is laid out "in order" as you walk through the park. I also have to admit I'd love more of this kind of information, not just for Mickeys but some of the other cool stuff to look for while I'm walking around.

Some minuses here: No maps. I understand not having the latest on what rides are closed or open, especially without relying on a data connection, but it'd be nice to have some idea where things are, particularly for people who aren't me (first time or very infrequent travelers) so the map would be one less thing to carry in a pocket that inevitably gets drenched on Splash Mountain. I have seen Disneyland apps that do this, so an image for each park doesn't seem unreasonable. I'd also like to see menus; I took these guides to Disney World and it was really nice to know what my options were before I sat down. Adding a spot for user-added info like where we parked (with a photo option), maybe my room number, or a checklist of people I promised souvenirs to, would be handy. Those would be useful lists, even if it's just a free-form text area where I can enter them myself.

All in all, I'd suggest this for people who are new to Walt Disney World, or haven't been in a long time. I liked how easy it was to use, and I adored the Hidden Mickey tours. This is definitely a useful application if you are off to Orlando anytime soon. If you're a superfan like me, you may also want to check out the $0.99 WDW Secrets edition, with more behind-the-scenes detail on attractions and park history.
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