Wednesday, October 5, 2011

72. Epcot International Food and Wine Festival Mobile App

When it comes to modern technology, the Walt Disney Company is usually on the cutting edge. They are  certainly innovators in the theme park industry and are always trying to enhance the guest experience in every way possible. One of the largest special events that Walt Disney World hosts each year is the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival. This six week long extravaganza, which is in its sixteenth year, allows guests to sample cuisine from around the world.  It takes place primarily around World Showcase and can be a bit overwhelming for the first time festival guest. This year, Disney has utilized a new technology that allows smartphone users to get the most out of their visit.

Barcode scanners have been around for decades. Whether you are grocery shopping, taking out a library book, or attending a professional sporting event, there is a good chance that scanners are being used. This makes things quick and simple, and we are certainly a society who doesn't want to have to wait longer than we have to. Although companies have been using this technology for a while, it has just recently become available for personal use in our smartphones. We now have the ability to use apps, along with the phone's built in camera, to scan things on our own. There are mobile apps that allow you to scan a product while you are in a store. It then lets you know where else this product is available and for what price. Talk about a quick an easy way to comparison shop! Also, many of the bigger retailers are using something called QR codes and this it what Disney is doing at the Food and Wine Festival.

QR stands for "Quick Response." Again, in this day and age we don't like to have to wait for information. Instead of having to actually type a subject into a search engine on our phone's internet browser, we only have to scan a QR code to get instant info. These QR codes are usually little square symbols with unique patterns. After scanning the code, your phone will instantly go to a dedicated website that will bring you all of the information you are looking for on a specific subject. This is a great way to get in depth details and specifications while you are browsing products on store shelves. Remember when you would look at something in a store and then had to go home to look it up on the internet? Ok, that was only a few years ago before the smartphone revolution. Remember when you had to go home and research a product by buying a magazine or book to get the necessary information? Now we are talking almost a decade ago. What did we do before that? I think we actually purchased things without knowing every last detail about them. We'd see a commercial on TV and just go buy the product. Life was a bit simpler then!

Although cell phones are contributing to our fast paced lifestyles, this technology is really amazing and very helpful in most cases. Disney is utilizing QR codes in a new mobile app they developed specifically for this year's Food and Wine Festival. These Spaceship Earth-shaped QR codes can be found on the menu boards at each food kiosk. You simply scan the code with your smartphone (using any QR reader app) and you are brought directly to a mobile friendly website (app) that gives you detailed info about the food at that location. Once you are on the site, you can also access a map that depicts all of the different kiosks and their associated countries. In addition to menus, users also have the ability to get the schedule of festival events, including the musical acts who are performing in the "Eat to the Beat" concert series. Finally, the mobile app allows you to share the info via Twitter and Facebook.

This year's Food and Wine Festival started on September 30th and will continue through November 13th. It is a great opportunity to try foods (and drinks) from all over the world. If you are attending this year, and have a smart phone, be sure to try out the QR technology and mobile app. If you want to access the website without using a QR scanner you can click here, which will take you to the full site. This can be handy for planning purposes, or if you are not going to make it to Epcot this year but want to learn more about the festival.

On a completely different note, I have a bit of sad news to mention in today's article. In a blog that is dedicated to technology, I would be remiss if I didn't mention Steve Jobs, who passed away today at the young age of 56. Like Walt Disney, he was a true innovator. It is due to his vision and expertise that we have much of the technology that I write about on Digital Disney World. He was certainly one of the most influential people of our time and will truly be missed. In addition to being the face of Apple, he also owned 7% of the entire Walt Disney Company. Rest in peace Steve.

Have a Disneyriffic day and remember to keep moving forward. See ya real soon!

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