Giving more magic to the most magical app on earth

"Ask Mickey", a virtual companion for guests to enjoy and maximize their time at the park.

Ask Mickey main header of an iPhone with the screen of Sorcerer Mickey smiling

In August 2012, Disney launched the “My Disney Experience” app, which allows guests to access features more easily, like where to find characters, wait time for rides, Fastpass+, dining reservation, and more. However, some of these activities are still hard to locate quickly at the park and can’t be added to the planner.


How might we encourage guests to use the app on their phones while they're at the parks to maximize their times and allow them to fulfill all of their goals?


A virtual assistant to help guests find anything they might need at the park, from characters and rides to snacks and merchandise, and a more robust planner to never miss on anything.


UX/UI Designer, solo project


80 hours (2021)


Figma, Figjam, Maze, Zoom, Notion, GoogleDocs, whiteboard,
paper and pen, disney music


User research, information architecture, interaction design, wireframing, prototyping, testing

*Educational project as part of DesignLab’s UX Academy, this is a conceptual project for My Disney Experience app, I am not affiliated with The Walt Disney World Resort® nor any of their companies.


It began as a simple idea of tracking characters through the park to interact with them

On Christmas 2019, I went to Disneyworld with my best friend, it was her first time at the parks and we used the app to navigate the parks and know about the wait times of each attraction we wanted to try. Our most important mission, was finding every single character that we could, however, we could not find the one character she was looking for: Belle.

This led me to think a tracker of characters was needed. I realized the app had a tracker for characters with a specific location, but not for those without one or that simply wander around the park at some point in the day

Tangled with floating lanterns at Magic Kingdom

In order to validate my assumptions, I wanted to uncover the experience of guests at Disney parks 

To start out my research on My Disney Experience app, I set myself the goal of discovering the joys and pains of Disney Parks guests and if they have used the app before. I wanted to discover more about the people and if a new feature to the app would help improving their time at the parks. 

Main objectives of the research:
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1. Empathize

Understand what brings joy and pain to people when visiting the parks.

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2. Characters

Identify if people want to meet & interact with the characters.

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3. Motivations

Reasons, expectations and motivations of guests when visiting the parks.

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4. App usage

Learn how many people used the app before and if they would use it again.


Getting to know the people I would design for, their priorities, wishes and frustrations.

Aside from the desk research I did to find out about demographics, percentage of guests going to parks and using the app; I wanted to learn more about the motivation and frustrations guests experienced at the parks. I decided to interview participants because that was the most direct way to find out what the people wanted to get out of the parks and the app.

I recruited 10 participants from ages 21 to 63, in order to gather experiences from varied families and individuals. The questions where divided into three sections: general experience at parks, interacting with characters, and usage of the app.

Extract of interviewees insights
Extract of the most relevant insights gathered from the interviews.
I created an affinity map with the insights to find the most relevant patterns, which made me realized that:

⟶ People definitely want to enjoy the food, find characters and hunt for special merchandise.
⟶ One of the major pain points was trying to find limited or special snacks and merchandise.
⟶ And even characters that do not have a location.
⟶ A lot of people that visit the parks do like to plan ahead what they will accomplish.
⟶ 6 out of 10 had used the app before and would use it again.


Using the 3 relevant insights, I created the flow that a guest would follow at the parks

Taking into account what I was able to gather from the interviews, I proceeded to ideate on the solution, using a storyboard to guide me through the actions a guest would normally take at the parks. This was later implemented in a Golden Path ↗︎

The reason I chose a Golden Path was to understand the flow and the possible new screens that would be needed for the feature. It helped me understand the possible outcome, without worrying about the obstacles (yet). 

Golden Path & Mid-fidelity wireframes
Golden Path showing the perfect path a user can follow without obstacles, mixed with the mid-fidelity wireframes.

Before designing the mid-fidelity wireframes, I sketched out Crazy 8's, and one of the choices turned out to be a virtual assistant, that is now called "Ask Mickey". This assistant would allow guests to ask questions regarding the location of characters, snacks, rides and merchandise. Mickey would quickly find the details in the app. 

The planner was also slightly modified to allow more activities to be added, and an option to choose a suggested activity to do in case their original plan had a drawback, like the line increasing.

This was made with the purpose of helping guests maximize their time at the park by finding what they needed faster. This would reduce the stress of planning and arriving on time to places, and, more importantly, would allow guests to enjoy the park at its fullest.

Crazy 8's depicting the 8 ideas ideated for the solution of the feature that would be added, sketched in paper and pencil
Crazy 8's of ideas for the feature.

Learning how users would approach the solution and what frustrations might show up

Because this was a new feature, I thought it was important to test it out with disney guests, just like I did with the interviews. The test had different tasks with different scenarios to understand how participants would use the new features (Ask Mickey and extended planner with suggestions).

While the test was a successful experience, some major pain points were discovered, the biggest one were hierarchy issues present on the suggested plans and the overlapping warnings on the planner.

Insights from Usability testing #1
Extract from some insights obtained during the usability testing.

⟶ The mid-fidelity prototype was tested with 5 participants using Zoom and asking them to share their screen and share their thoughts out loud.
⟶ Overall, participants liked the features, they found it convenient and clear.
⟶ 5 out of 5 participants agreed that they would use the new feature if that helped them planned out their days.
⟶ Participants had trouble finding suggested plans because the hierarchy between elements wasn’t enough
Test completion was 80%. 1 out of 5 participants were able to complete the test.
⟶ On average, the error-free rate was of 73.4%, with 3.8 errors and 3.8 slips.


Prioritizing the most important changes needed to improve the hierarchy of the feature

Most important changes involved giving "Ask Mickey" a face, adjusting hierarchy of elements (using sizing and colors to identify what is what), and turning the suggested plans from normal cards to a slider, allowing the possibility of multiple choices to choose from.

Before homepage screen After homepage screen

⟶ Adding an "x" to the notifications to inform they're dismissable.
⟶ Arrival time was added to the cards.

Overlapping plans
Before overlapping plans screen After overlapping plans screen

⟶ Different color for the warning sign.
⟶ Sizing of the notification was increased to be more notorious.

My plans

Before planner screen After planner screen showing suggested plans

⟶ Suggested plans open in a different screen.
⟶ Slider for suggested plans.


And with some faith, trust and pixie dust the the high-fidelity prototype came to life, plus priority revisions & a little help of Sorcerer Mickey.  

One of my priorities was giving a face to the placeholder of Mickey I had been using for “Ask Mickey”, the little virtual assistant that would help guests navigate through the parks. I decided to ask help from Sorcerer Mickey, with his magic it would make a lot more sense for guests to rely on him to find answers for them. 


Improving the feature for current and future users of the app

A second usability testing was conducted to make sure the priority revisions made before helped the usability of the app. It was important to assure that the feature would work as expected, to avoid frustration from guests while using the app, and increase the loyalty and retention.

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maze participants

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misclick rate

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average duration

The test was successful, while some small changes were suggested, this time participants were able to complete the task given and enjoy the feature.

⟶ Having the constraint of time, I opted in doing a rapid testing using Maze with 12 participants.
⟶ 12 out of 12 participants were able to complete the task given.
⟶ Only the suggested plans task was tested.
⟶ A new prioritization matrix was created for a future revision. 
⟶ The one "high urgency - must have" consisted in switching the estimated arrival time in minutes to miles and kilometers, to allow an accurate distance between locations, which would help accessibility and people with kids.


“You’re never too old to be young.”

⟶ I started this project thinking it would be completely related to locating characters around the park, which means my own research plan and therefore my research goals were slightly invalidated. However, I learned some reasons that people like to go to Disney, I understood their frustrations and wishes, and most importantly I learned that everyone wants to maximize their time at the park. It didn’t affect that my goals had to be pivoted, after all this feature is for them, not for me.

⟶ Double testing was a fun thing to do, I had a lot of insights from participants to make the product better. If this was a real project, my next step would be to implement the last priority revisions before moving on to development. 

⟶ Something that I learned this time was that it was SUPER important to schedule interviews and testing not only with time, but leaving time between each participant, that way if the interview or test happened to be extended, then I wouldn’t need to rush it to get to the next participant. 

Shoutout to Valerie Wong ↗︎ for introducing me to Ronni Davis  ↗︎, her energy and love for Disney gave me the most inspiration for this project.

daniela md © 2023
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