By Derek Burgan
Gowalla, a location based social network service that is skyrocketing in popularity, recently teamed up with Disney to offer Walt Disney World visitors an opportunity to instantly share, and virtually collect, their theme park experience.
Gowalla allows users to “check in” to locations they visit by using their mobile phone. These check-ins can then be instantly connected to the user’s Facebook and Twitter accounts. You can add people to your Gowalla friends list and see where they’ve checked in. Checking in through Gowalla can also earn users unique items, such as the digital Passport Stamps available at locations throughout the parks. Much like pins and vinylmation, these exclusive Passport Stamps can be collected and even kept as a virtual scrapbook, allowing every user the opportunity to have individual mementos to remind them of every place they visited, or even just their favorites.
Disney also announced they have created Passport pages which allow viewers to see up to the minute park happenings, park maps, and lists of each park’s most popular rides and attractions. Taken a step further, Disney has made custom trip pages which provide specific information that is tailored to various age groups and other demographics. While many touring plans offer generic information that is targeted towards everyone, regardless of age or interest, these trips will give users a much more defined area to enhance their experience and the opportunity to earn even more exclusive stamps. For example, one trip targets Disney’s smallest guests, giving touring tips that steer people towards rides and attractions that don’t have a height requirement. Another rewards users for checking in at all flight-based attractions
The Gowalla service is completely free of charge and is available through Gowalla.com or as a free app on smart phones. A dedicated Walt Disney World page on Gowalla’s website gives an interesting look at the opportunity this type of social networking brings. The page is constantly updated with user’s park photos and a listing of places people have checked into recently.