We're now less than two months away from some of the biggest attractions to hit Central Florida in years, and tech will be front and center for Comcast's (NASDAQ:CMCSA) Universal Orlando and Disney (NYSE:DIS). There's too much money at stake with the Memorial Day weekend opening of Universal's Volcano Bay and Disney World's Pandora -- The World of Avatar for the theme-park giants not to try to raise the bar.
Volcano Bay will use wearable tech, outfitting all guests with bracelets that can hold their place in virtual queues for some of the more popular attractions while they partake in other watery diversions. Pandora's counter-service eatery will be Disney World's first restaurant to accept mobile ordering and payment.
Volcano Bay's TapuTapu bracelets and Pandora's smartphone ordering are both about keeping guests out of long lines. Disney and Comcast run some of the world's busiest theme parks -- Disney World's Magic Kingdom is the most visited park in the planet -- and they know that long lines can be a deal-breaker. Tech can help ease that pain, and on Friday, Disney updated its My Disney Experience app that tethers closely to its high-tech innovations.
The app-iest place on Earth
Disney's redesigned app is getting mixed reviews on its official blog post. Friday's update is changing the way in-park information is displayed on mobile gadgetry, but not everyone is pleased with the streamlined design, or the way that some account information is presented. However, let's dive into why this app update is good news for investors.
The new app's landing screen is a treasure trove of money-making opportunities for the House of Mouse. The option to buy tickets and make dining reservations is front and center. There's even a button on the main screen to phone in a hotel reservation.
A new feature touted in the app is the Spotlight section, which is initially just plugging the mobile app that makes it easier to buy theme-park merchandise. Another new perk is that hotel room information is displayed on the app, ultimately an incentive to stay at an on-site resort to make the application a one-stop shop for visitors.
Friday's app update may or may not unlock mobile restaurant ordering. We'll know for sure as we get closer to the May 27 official opening of Animal Kingdom's Satu'li Canteen.
It's still clear that the redesigned My Disney Experience app is all about weaving commerce into the park-going experience. The update may be bad news for tourists who lack financial discipline, but making it that much easier to make last-minute dining reservations and book on-site stays within the same screen that folks use to acquire park info, and square away FastPass slots, sounds like good news for Disney's stockholders.