Pocket Full Of Pixie Dust

So you want to carry a bit of Disney with you at all times. I get it. I’m the same way. Which is why I have a whole bunch of Disney-related apps on my iPhone.

There are a lot of cool Disney applications out there, from games to music to shopping, and it can be a bit tough to decide which to download (unless you have a whole lot of free space on your device and just download them all). I’ve actually tried–and use–quite a few of them, and because I’m such a nice guy I’m going to share my thoughts.

This is by no means a complete list (like I said, there’s a lot of Disney apps available), but its a starting point if you want to fill your phone with Disney magic. I’m also not mentioning apps that are best used in a Disney park–like My Disney Experience and the official Disneyland app–as this list is meant to showcase apps that you can have fun with when you’re away from the parks.

Note: I’m focusing on free-to-download apps. Some of these may offer purchases in the application, but none of them require money to download or to play. Additionally, I am using an iPhone 6 so some of these apps may not be available for your device of choice.


Games

Cellphone games can be great time wasters for when you’re waiting at the doctor’s office or in a budget meeting, and there are a ton of choices out there. These are the ones that I personally play (or at least have spent some quality time with).

Disney Crossy Road: Take the classic “jump across the street” gameplay of Frogger, toss in Disney characters, and mix it all up in a blocky ‘8-bit’ graphical style, and you’ve got Disney Crossy Road. This one is remarkably simple to pick up and play: just tap the screen to make your character hop forward once, or swipe to either side to make them take a step in that direction. The entire object of the game is to keep moving forward without getting killed… and there’s a lot that’s trying to kill you. Avoid the objects racing down the roads that you’re trying to cross or you’ll get run over, if you miss a floating log you’ll drown, and if you stay in one place too long something is going to fly down and end your game.

Part of the fun of this one is collecting new characters. As you progress you’ll earn coins, and for every one hundred coins you can “purchase” a randomly picked new character. The characters come from a variety of Disney properties–from Big Hero 6 to the Haunted Mansion ride–and the levels change depending on who you’re playing. So the Tangled level, for example, is very different from the Wreck-it Ralph world. The basics are still the same, but different challenges and objectives keep things interesting. For example: in the Haunted Mansion you’ll need to light candelabras to keep the darkness at bay, while in the Inside Out level you can collect and deliver memories in order to boost your score.

It seems silly, and at first I didn’t think I would actually have fun with it, but Disney Crossy Road is quite addictive. I actually played it and then put it back down. As I started unlocking new characters, though, I wanted to keep playing to unlock more, and I found the variety of levels to be surprisingly entertaining.

The recent addition of “missions” adds a bit of a new challenge into the gameplay, as rather than just moving forward to get a high score there are now specific goals to achieve. Some of them are fairly general, like jumping on a certain number of logs across any level, while others are specific to a particular stage (such as Lion King). There are special missions which give coins as a reward, while completing the six daily missions will award a new character. Having particular objectives add some much-needed variety into the “keep hopping forward” gameplay. It can be frustrating when a mission requires you to use a certain character which you don’t have, though, as for the most part getting new characters is a random draw by spending coins. While overall the mission structure is great and adds some fun to the game, not being able to complete an objective because you haven’t managed to unlock a character is a little annoying.

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Every few hours you can get a gift of coins, and with a hundred coins you can buy a new character. I find myself logging in several times a day to get my coins, and while the app is open I often end up playing for a bit.

Kingdom Hearts Unchained x: While Disney Crossy Road is a simple time-waster, Kingdom Hearts is a much more involved experience. It’s actually part of a much larger series, which started on the Sony Playstation 2 console over a decade ago (and has continued onto the Nintendo DS/3DS, Sony PSP, and more). A collaboration between Square Enix and Disney Interactive, Kingdom Hearts melds Disney with Final Fantasy in a series that includes characters from both worlds.

Like other games in the series, Kingdom Hearts Unchained x (KHUx) is part action and part role-playing. Battle enemies by tapping them on screen or swiping to unleash special attacks, and gain experience points to level up and improve your combat capabilities. You earn medals that feature Disney characters (as well as folks from Final Fantasy and other Kingdom Hearts games), which you can then attach to your weapon. Different medals have different strengths and weaknesses, so there’s strategy involved not only in which medals to use when but when and how to upgrade which medals. As you progress through the missions you’ll meet up with Disney characters like Mickey Mouse and Aladdin in worlds like Agrabah and Wonderland. You can also earn outfits to customize your character, join or create a team with other players, and power up your medals to make your attacks stronger.

I’m a huge fan of the Kingdom Hearts series, so I’ve been getting really into this one. It definitely gets a bit complex, with stats to manage and items to use in order to improve your abilities, but the gameplay itself is simple enough to enjoy. Even my wife, who knew nothing about the series and generally prefers much simpler phone games, has been having fun with it. It does have some of the typical cellphone game trappings–like in-app purchases and an ‘energy’ level that depletes as you play and reloads over time–but so far I haven’t found these limiting.

In addition to story missions, there are daily quests (in which you can earn power ups) as well as special quests. These special missions are generally offered for a limited time and can give prizes such as rare medals, jewels, or power ups. There are also regular updates with new story missions, and a coliseum that resets its ranking and prizes each months. There’s a lot of content in the game, even if the gameplay basically boils down to tapping enemies and running through short stages.

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The story in KHUx does tie into the larger Kingdom Hearts series, but an understanding of the other games is by no means a requirement to play.

Frozen Free Fall/Maleficent Free Fall/Cinderella Free Fall: One of the most popular genre of cellphone game is the “match-3”, where you move jewels (or other colorful items) around to line up at least three and then get points for doing so. Disney’s Free Fall series falls (ha) in this category of game.

Each plays fairly similarly, though of course they’re based on different movie franchises. They also throw in a variety of different objectives, too: destroying thorns in Maleficent, for example, or waking trolls in Frozen. While the basics are the same between all three games, there is some variety in the level structures and power-ups and such. The games tend to start out pretty simple, but as you get further the levels gets much more complex. A limited number of lives gives you only so much play time before you’d need to stop and let them recharge, and on each level you’ll earn stars based on your score (meaning there’s replay value should you be the type to want to get every star on every level).

The match-3 type of game is a great way to kill some time on a train commute or in a waiting room, though personally I tend to get bored with this style of game fairly early on. My wife loves them, and has put a considerable amount of time into them.

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While each of the Free Fall games are slightly different, the basic gameplay is the same and which one you download may depend on which franchise you find the most interesting. Or, like my wife, you can play them all.

Mowgli’s Run/Spider-Man Unlimited: Run, jump, slide, and pick up items as you go: that’s the basic object of these “endless runner” games.

Mowgli’s Run takes place in the new Jungle Book movie, with the man-cub racing through the jungle and trying not to run into anything or fall to his death. Gameplay is pretty straightforward: swipe left or right to move in that direction, swipe up to jump, swipe down to slide, and the further you get the higher your score. Spider-Man Unlimited actually puts more depth into the mix with missions to complete, enemies to fight, and a story to follow. Plus, of course, plenty of web-swinging between tall buildings.

Both games offer pretty straightforward (no pun intended) pick-up-and-play diversions. Mowgli’s Run drops you in with little fanfare, and it’s a much simpler game with little more than running and moving to avoid obstacles. Spider-Man Unlimited has the occasional comic book-style story scene or special mission thrown in, so while the basis is the same it can be a more involved experience. I prefer Spider-Man because of that (and because I’m a big fan of the character) but if you’re really into Jungle Book or don’t want anything more than a simple runner then Mowgli’s Run could be the one for you.

As an aside, Spider-Man Unlimited isn’t technically a Disney app. He is a Marvel character, though, and Marvel is owned by Disney (plus, the game is a lot of fun), so I’m including it here.

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The entire point of an “endless runner” game is to run endlessly, though I find that Spider-Man Unlimited throws enough into the mix to make it feel very different than Mowgli’s Run.

Disney Magic Kingdoms: Help Mickey Mouse and Merlin (along with a bunch of other characters) take back the Magic Kingdom from Maleficent. Build up the park, draw in guests, and make people happy in order to combat the evil curse.

I really wanted to like this one more than I actually did. The gameplay is actually very simple: tap on a character to see their available missions, then tap on the mission to do it. From there it’s actually just a matter of waiting, as different missions take different amounts of time to complete. There are some neat aspects to the game, like unlocking attractions and placing them around the park, but ultimately the core of the game is tapping on the screen and waiting for things to happen. I was really hoping that there was more park-building to the game, rather than just completing missions and gathering materials by tapping on them.

That being said, some people can really get into this type of game. Being able to complete a few short missions and then start longer ones (which will be counting down to completion while you’re away from the game) could be fun for some. The genre is certainly popular–if you’ve played Simpson’s Tapped Out, this is similar–and there are some really fun Disney touches to the game (like adding floats to improve the daily parade). I just personally prefer more active participation. Some of the waits for missions can be pretty long, literally  hours, and I’m more of an instant-gratification sort of guy. I ended up uninstalling this one after giving it multiple chances to hook me.

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There’s definitely something fun about building your own personal Magic Kingdom up, but I found this one too passive for my tastes. I’d rather be doing something to complete the missions myself, rather than tapping a character and then waiting for them to complete it themselves.

Disney Tsum Tsum: You’ve probably seen the plush tsum tsum in stores–they’re weird little oval versions of Disney characters–and this app drops these popular guys into a matching game. Match up at least three of the same tsum tsum to make them vanish from the board, earning points and allowing more of the cute characters to drop from above.

There are some neat hooks that set this apart from other matching games (like the Free Fall ones). Rather than straight orderly lines of objects, the tsum tsum are jumbled up in a pile. Matching a bunch at once will create a power-up bubble on the board, which when popped can have various effects. You also have a “personal” tsum tsum that, when you match enough of that same character on the board, will cause a special effect on the board that will then lead to more points. You earn coins which can be used to unlock more tsum tsum characters for your virtual collection, and you can level up your personal tsum tsum to improve their special ability. One caveat, though: it takes an an annoyingly long time to earn enough coins to purchase any new characters.

One other neat feature is the “gyro” option. If you have that turned on, you can tilt your phone back and forth to make the pile of tsum tsum characters on the screen move around. This can open up new matches, as well as adding a fun kinetic aspect to the experience. You also only have a minute on each board, adding a bit of urgency to matching as many tsum tsum as you can as quickly as possible.

Disney Tsum Tsum recently added some missions into the mix, which (in my opinion) is never a bad thing. New “cards” have you trying to achieve particular objectives while matching the adorable little Tsum Tsum, with the goal of unlocking special items and new characters–like C-3P0 or Marie from Aristocats–and you can earn ‘pins’ that you can then display on your profile. At its core it’s still about matching, but now there are objectives to complete. In addition to special limited-time missions, like popping stormtrooper Tsums or collecting cupcake ingredients, there’s also a “bingo” game that you can play. Specific squares require an objective–get a certain number of points with a canine character, or reach a coin goal with a Pixar character, for example–and once you do what it asks you’ll get a stamp on that square. Get a bingo by completing a row will earn special prizes, and finishing an entire card will get a much bigger prize as well as unlock the next board.  The combination of the basic match-three gameplay and the objectives to complete (which range from easy to maddeningly difficult) makes this game surprisingly addictive. My only real complaint is that sometimes you can’t complete a spot on a bingo board because you don’t have the proper character, and acquiring new characters costs a fair number of in-game coins and is a random draw. So if a square asks you to use a character with a tail-swish special move (like Tigger or the Cheshire Cat) you’ll have to keep saving up coins and then hoping you get one of them before you can continue. It can be pretty obnoxious to be stalled on a bingo board only by the random nature of character acquisition rather than skill.

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The jumble (rather than straight lines) necessitates some out-of-the-box thinking to find matches. Plus, those tsum tsum characters are just so darned cute.

Inside Out Thought Bubbles: Take aim and fire a colored bubble into the air in an attempt to make a match–hit bubbles of the same color and make them pop. A variation on match-3, Inside Out tasks you with shooting bubbles up into the air at a large group of other bubbles. Your bubble will stick to the others, and if you manage to match it to at least two others of the same color they’ll all pop. You’ll also be able to use special powers–like Joy’s magic bubble that’ll turn a whole group of any color bubbles to yellow –that can help you progress through the increasingly difficult levels.

I tend to like this type of matching game more than a regular match-3. There’s something satisfying about carefully aiming a bubble to ricochet off of the wall, having it go exactly where you wanted, and causing a big chain reaction of pops. There are also some cool “missions” that mix things up a bit–like having to shoot bubbles into targets or free Mid Workers by shooting the bubbles around them. That said, this one can get pretty hard and even be frustrating at times. There’s a fair amount of careful aim, and a good bit of luck, in getting some of the shots you’ll need to complete the much harder later levels.

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I find that this one requires more focus than some other mobile offerings. It’s still definitely a casual game, just one that requires both hands.

Other

Some apps aren’t games or don’t serve a specific trip planning function, but they can still be fun. They can be a great way to get a pixie dust pick-me-up when you’re not at the parks.

Mickey video: If you like watching cartoons featuring Mickey Mouse and his friends, check out this app. While it’s primarily geared towards the newer series of cartoons, there are some classic episodes available on it as well. I have this one on my phone, and while I don’t necessarily use it a lot it’s still fun to watch a Mickey cartoon once in a while while I’m waiting for something. There’s a limited number of cartoons available on it, but they do seem to add more now and again.

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There’s a fairly limited number of cartoons available on the app, though they do seem to update it and add more now and again. So while it may not be ideal for long binges, watching a cartoon or two during a PTA meeting is certainly an option.

Disney Movies Anywhere: This app connects to the Disney Movie Rewards website. In almost every Disney video release is a code, and entering that code into the DMR website gives you points that you can then spend on various rewards. That code may then unlock a digital copy of the film, which you can then watch on the Disney Movies Anywhere app.

The movies are streaming by default, so you’d need cell service or wifi, but it’s possible to download movies to watch offline (provided you have the storage space on your device). Like the Mickey Video app, this one isn’t necessarily one that I use a lot but it’s cool to have access to my Disney movie collection wherever I go. You never know when you’ll have a few hours to kill and a strong desire to watch Aladdin.

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I’ve downloaded a few specific movies to my various devices (I have this app on both my phone and my tablet). So I was able to watch Tomorrowland on a flight. I could also watch Star Wars just about anywhere, which is an important ability to have.

Shop Disney Parks: Looking for that perfect plush Stitch doll while at Walt Disney World? Want to buy a special MagicBand before you get to the parks? Then you may want to download the Shop Disney Parks app.

Let’s say you’re looking for a Figment MagicBand, available only at Walt Disney World. Open the app, find the product, and then add it to your cart. From there you can order it and have it shipped right to your home, without ever setting foot in one of the parks. While not every piece of on-property merchandise may be available to get shipped to your home, you can find quite a bit on the app and it’s a great way to have access to items you’d normally have to be there to buy.

If you are in a Walt Disney World park, you can look up an item on the app and then use the locator to find stores in the park that carry it. If you’re in a shop in the park, you could even scan the barcode on an item and then order it from your phone to have it sent to your resort, the park’s front gate, or straight to your home. The obvious object of the app, of course, is to get you to spend money on Disney merchandise so it’s not necessarily something you’d use every day. Still, it’s kind of cool to have access to park-exclusive items or to be able to track down a particular item while you’re on property.

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The merchandise carried on this app may be different from what you’d find in a local Disney Store and you can sometimes even find app-exclusive products for sale (like the Mickey and Minnie MagicBands in this picture).

Disney GIF: If you have an iPhone, then this app allows you to text little animated Disney images. It links to your keyboard settings, and just lets you copy and paste various gifs into text messages. You can search by category (happy, sad, celebration, etc) or by property (ranging from animated features to Muppets to Star Wars), and from there scroll through the impressively varied options until you find what you want to use in lieu of an actual message. After all, if a picture is worth a thousand words than an animated picture must be worth at least twice that.

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I have, unsurprisingly, answered many text messages with an appropriate Disney gif.

Sorcerer Radio: This is essentially a streaming radio app, featuring Disney music (though it’s not actually an official Disney product). The offerings generally range from park music to movie tunes. A schedule shows you what’s going to be playing throughout the day–like EPCOT hour or Good Morning WDW–and there are some travel tip programs and other features as well. It is all streaming, though, so be aware that it can eat up battery and data.

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I’ve heard live streams of Fantasmic and Wishes on Sorcerer Radio, which is cool, but I will say that their mic placement is a bit questionable and there was a fair bit of crowd noise as well.

Disney Applause: If you really like entering Disney contests, then this app will let you do just that. Every now and again a new contest will open up, and many of the contests allow entries once per day, encouraging repeated use of the application. Many of the contests that I’ve seen will ask users to upload photos–I’ve personally entered a “hidden Mickey” one and one involving Disney costumes a couple times. Your enjoyment of this app, really, depends entirely on your interest in entering contests.

Disney Applause can also act as a ‘second screen’ on some special Disney TV presentations. This hasn’t come up a lot, but for the “Wonderful World of Disney: Disneyland 60” TV show back in February you could open the app to see a colorful display that was in sync with the show itself.

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Every now and I again I remember that I have this app and I check out what contests are available. Sometimes I enter one. I have yet to actually win anything, though.

Tomorrowland: I’m only throwing this one in just because I’m a really big fan of the movie (I’ve written about it here and here and have probably mentioned it elsewhere). The app is basically a companion piece to the film, centered around the “1952 box” that was unveiled at the 2013 D23 Expo and supposedly inspired the plot of the movie. The information ties the work of Walt and his Imagineers, and their visions of the future, into the larger Tomorrowland narrative. There’s also a trivia game. So if you enjoyed the movie as much as I did, then this app could be worth a look.

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This one hasn’t been updated in well over a year, so once you’ve seen everything on it there isn’t much else to do with it. Honestly, I expect it to quietly vanish from the app store eventually.


Just putting the term “Disney” into your app store’s search will bring up a considerable number of options. Games for almost every taste and age group are available if you want some entertainment, and there are some great options if you want to have a bit of Disney in your pocket when you’re away from the parks.

This is by no means a complete list of what’s available out there (nor is it even everything Disney-related that I’ve ever downloaded), but it’s a look at what I’ve currently got on my own smartphone. Hopefully my extensive downloading can shed some light on a bit of what’s available and maybe encourage someone to find a new game to play during those fancy dinner parties.

Did I miss something? Is there a game that you love to play, or a Disney app that you can’t live without? Share in the comments!

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One Response to Pocket Full Of Pixie Dust

  1. Pingback: Key(blade) To The Kingdom | Magic & Misadventures

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