Jumping Into Disney App Development

Chris W. (NDD #300) (73 Posts)

Since going to Walt Disney World and Disneyland at a young age, Chris has always enjoyed Disney music, TV shows, movies, and trips to Walt Disney World. But his appreciation of the overall Disney experience has greatly increased over the last few years. While waiting for the next chance to work on his Disney photography skills, Chris passes the time listening to Park/Resort audio, WDW podcasts, and checking out the work of other Disney photographers. To Chris, there are no bad Disney trip photographs or photographers.

Non-Disney pursuits include spending time with his wife and children, watching and listening to baseball broadcasts, and cheering for the Chicago Cubs and LSU. Chris is a third generation professional engineer in Louisiana, working mainly on asbestos, lead, mold and demolition projects. Follow Chris on Twitter @ChrisWhitePE and you can check out his Flickr photo stream: chris_white2323.


 

Earlier this year, I decided to do a combination of self study and online training to learn how to develop iOS apps using Swift, the Apple programming language. I’m working on developing something for our company, and as I learn, I’ve worked on a few apps that use the skills I’ve learned so far. I also wanted to try my hand at developing apps that could appeal to Disney fans.

So I decided I’d write a couple of Walt Disney World related apps. The first was a countdown timer to the closing of the Universe of Energy at EPCOT, and the other is a Walt Disney World Trip Countdown & Weather app.

Why those apps? Well, after joining the online Disney fan community, I noticed how passionate many of us are when there’s a change at Walt Disney World or Disneyland. I don’t know about you, but Disney can make whatever park and resort changes they want, just as long as I agree with them.

Sometimes the online “discussions” read much the same as political discussions on Facebook. So when it was announced that Universe of Energy would close on 8/13/17, I wanted to do something as a sort of fan tribute.

Universe of Energy wasn’t a particular favorite of mine, but I ran across an app tutorial created by a brilliant designer named Mark Moeykens. He’s a great programmer and designs beautiful apps. One of his tutorials showed how to design an app with “snowing” logos that fell slowly down the screen. So there was the inspiration for the Universe of Energy Countdown app – I’d set it to countdown to the attraction’s closing and use the attraction’s logo as the “snow”. You know – falling logos. Symbolism and all that.

Universe of Energy Countdown app screenshot

As far as the app itself goes, it didn’t do much – just counted down to the attraction’s closing. No sound, no special screen when it hit zero on the countdown timer, but the falling Universe of Energy logo is pretty neat.

I packaged up the app and submitted to Apple for review in time to share with all the distraught Universe of Energy fans – as a free download. I had visions of thousands of fans standing in EPCOT as the countdown ticked to zero, holding up their screens with MY app like lighters at a rock concert.

Unfortunately, Apple didn’t accept the submission, rejecting the app due to “minimum functionality”. To be fair, I get it – most iOS apps need to do something and all this app did was countdown.

So here’s a screen recording of the app – even though Universe of Energy is now just a memory, you can see how the app worked. Not a huge programming accomplishment, but for me it was a big step.

Universe of Energy Screen Recording

I mean, I’m really good at writing code that can crash. So a visually appealing, working app is pretty cool.

So then I figured I’d try my hand at something a bit more sophisticated. Enter Walt Disney World Trip Countdown & Weather app. For this one, I thought it’d be neat to set a trip countdown timer. If you’re like us, you’re always wondering (or being asked) how long before you leave for your Disney trip.

There are a bazillion countdown apps out there, many of them beautifully designed, but I wanted to give it a try. So I added something I think is a bit different. The countdown shows days, hours, minutes, and seconds until your trip departure after you set the departure date and time. But the countdown screen switches between four watercolor images of park icons from Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom.

WDWeather & Trip Countdown app icon

 

The other feature, and one that took a lot of work, was setting up the weather forecast. The app shows current Walt Disney World weather conditions, as well as a nine day extended forecast. There are little weather type icons and everything.

So as you countdown to departure time, you can see how the weather looks so you can make sure to pack the ponchos (ok – just kidding, you better pack them anyway).

Countdown set screen

 

Magic Kingdom countdown screenshot

 

EPCOT countdown screenshot

Hollywood Studios countdown screenshot

 

Animal Kingdom countdown screenshot

 

WDW current conditions & extended forecast!

 

On a side note, I tried setting some of my photos as the background images, but Apple rejected the screens due to copyright infringement. Ironically, there are a ton of countdown apps that use actual photos and those apps were accepted. I’m not sure how they got approval. Any readers out there who know how to pierce the corporate veil and get permission for that kind of stuff – let’s talk.

Regardless, I’m pleased with the final result. And it made it onto the App Store! It is a pretty neat feeling to see your work make it onto something as widely known as the App Store. It’s fun to learn something new like this.

So if you’d like to check out Walt Disney World Trip Countdown & Weather here’s the link:

WDWeather & Trip Countdown

Walt Disney World Trip Countdown & Weather is $0.99. If you like it, please give it a rating and review on the App Store. If you think I should stick to photography, say it in the comments section.

Maybe someday I’ll work on an Android version, but I’ve got my hands full with Xcode and Swift for now.

Do you have a favorite Disney app, or do you have any app ideas you’d like developed? Send your ideas to us!