New York Minute 5
I learned something new this weekend. I can only do Disney once every few years without going completely nuts. I'm totally spent in every sense of the word. But I must say it was useful and entertaining having an iPhone for my family's Disney World adventure. I checked in on Foursquare at every ride and scored four sweet badges in one day including the "Overshare" badge, which I'm sure my friends and followers were stoked on (not at all). It's amazing to me how thousands of full grown adults are absolutely titillated by these badges that possess the equivalent value of a gold star in kindergarten. Is it the bright colors and clever designs? I suppose some see them as nerdly status symbols: Are you cool enough to be a Jetsetter, or have checked in after 3am on a school night? Or how about the elusive Douchebag badge which instructs you to "pop that collar, son!" God help us all.
I am still not totally convinced that apps like Foursquare carry a whole lot of worth or longevity. How many people do you know who maintain a schedule that allows them to hop over to a spot their friends are at whenever they receive a ping? Not me or anyone I know. Also, checking in at the Epcot turnstiles or the Animal Kingdom Safari bathrooms is utterly ridiculous. I found it amusing that those locations exist in the app database, added by some user who clearly does more than just stop to smell the roses. He checks in at the roses, too. What I do find useful is the implementation of specials offered by businesses upon check-in to their establishment. At Nurse Bettie on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, you receive a free well drink just for showing the bartender that you've checked in there. This type of service will be become more and more popular since it acts somewhat like an electronic coupon. Businesses will also be able to analyze these check-ins and use them to grow their customer base. I've noticed that most businesses focus their specials on Mayorship, which is becoming harder to maintain with the recent explosion of Foursquare users. Facebook and Twitter are virtually free advertising for these check-in apps. Even my dear old dad started using one but I'm thinking of blocking him so he doesn't disown me.
"Honey, why do you check-in to like four different bars a day?"
I was surprised to find that Disney did not have their own app for navigating the parks. Upinpoint, which is not affiliated with Disney, offers a Walt Disney World Mini Guide box set which proved quite helpful in a labyrinth of chattering tourists. At the Magic Kingdom, my stepmonster lost her map and we used my Upinpoint mini guide to find restrooms and restaurants, for which the guide specified type of food and level of dining. The app also navigates to rides, indicates whether or not a ride features the Fast Pass option, and highlights the ride restrictions as well. This is tremendously useful if you've got a pipsqueak in your ranks - like my little sister. She is almost seven years old and has more energy than anyone I know. I could be getting old but I swear she puts Home Alone Macaulay to shame. Her nickname is Eva the Diva because nothing can keep this girl's attention for longer than ten seconds. She sat next to me in the backseat of the car all weekend and besides needing my constant attention and making me go deaf in my right ear, she insisted I come up with fresh and creative games to play with her every time we went somewhere. My mature mind (yeah, right) had a tough time thinking of endless games for kids so like a parent plopping their child in front of the TV, I loaded up Chuzzle by PopCap Games on my iPhone and let her have at it. Instant Advil! The car was quiet all the way back to the hotel. Now excuse me while I sleep for a week.