Theme Park Insider

Top Tips to Help Your Mobile Phone Battery Last All Day

April 21, 2015, 9:07 PM · What's the most popular attraction in a theme park?

It's probably our mobile phones.

Using mobile phones
Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Not everyone goes on one of the new Harry Potter rides when he or she visits Universal Orlando, and not everyone rides Pirates of the Caribbean when visiting Disneyland. But just about everyone spends some time on a mobile device when visiting a park. A survey by Thinkwell Group found that 80 percent of theme park visitors polled brought a mobile device to the park with them, and that 72 percent spent time on and off throughout the day using a mobile device.

Not only can cell phones help you take pictures and keep in touch with friends and family when they head elsewhere in the park, they've become essential trip planning tools, especially at Walt Disney World, where guests can use the My Disney Experience app to manage their Fastpass+ attraction reservation times.

But no mobile device will do you any good if its battery dies.

Given the popularity of cell phones in theme parks, keeping your mobile devices charged throughout the day now joins getting a Be Our Guest reservation or a time for your daughter into see Anna and Elsa as one of the top challenges for theme park fans. Here are several tips that won't cost you any extra money but will help you keep your phone from losing its juice and forcing you to take time out of your day to recharge. (We'll talk about Apple iOS devices, since that's what I use. The basic principles apply to Android devices, too, but the specifics of how to make these adjustments might vary.)

Make Sure You Start with a Full Charge

You might want to file this under "Well, Duh," but a vacation scrambles your normal routine, and plenty of visitors awake in their hotel to discover that they forgot to plug in their phone to charge overnight. Don't let that be you. Don't start the day at a disadvantage. Remember to charge every night. And if you turned on your Personal Hotspot to do an end run around the slow hotel WiFi last night, turn it back off before starting the day.

Turn off Background Refresh

One of the more important things you can do to keep from wasting your device's charge is to keep your apps from eating power when you're not using them. Tap the Settings icon, then select "General," and then "Background App Refresh." Swipe that sucker to the off position and you will prevent a major source of wasted power, especially from less-then-well-designed apps with inefficient power use. (You might have heard that you should force-quit all your apps when you're not using them, but that actually doesn't save power in most cases on Apple devices. Turning off background refresh will.)

Change Your Settings to Shut Down More Power Hogs

While you are in the Settings, turn off a bunch of other potential power hogs, to extend your battery's charge longer through the day.

Lock Screen Control Center

Use Control Center to Limit Your Connections

On your lock screen, swipe up from the bottom of the screen to reveal the control center. This is where you can turn on and off services such as WiFi, Bluetooth and AirDrop. You will want to limit your use of those three to maximize your battery's charge.

Turn off all three, activating them only when you need them — such as turning on WiFi when using the Disney Parks app, for example.

For Ultimate Savings, Turn the Whole Thing Off

The best way to save power is to turn off your device. If you've got to stick your phone in a locker while you go to ride the Incredible Hulk Coaster, you might as well turn it off to save battery life while it's sitting in there. Try to go without your phone now and then during the day, too. Do the queue "old school" and just talk to each other. Or bring a book to read in the queues, instead.

Remember that if you're under 10 percent power left on the battery, you won't be able to turn it back on after turning it off, so just leave it on then to squeeze every last moment of juice from your phone.

What do you do to help your phone make it through the day? Share your tips, in the comments.

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Replies (22)

April 21, 2015 at 10:03 PM · Bring a portable charger with you to the parks. :-)
April 21, 2015 at 11:03 PM · Better yet, put away the stupid tech toy and just enjoy the park around you!
April 22, 2015 at 4:32 AM · Don't play games to kill time while waiting in queue.
April 22, 2015 at 4:37 AM · Using flight mode is a pretty good battery saver. It means that you can minimize battery usage, but still have the phone "on", so that if you quickly need access to it (say to check a FP+ time?), all you need to do is swipe up from the bottom, and hit the airplane icon instead of booting the phone again (which can take some time).
April 22, 2015 at 4:43 AM · Android users, download JuiceDefender, it's free. It turns off your mobile data (4G) while the screen is off. Use it not just while in the parks but all the time. It turns back on the second I unlock my screen, fast enough I don't even notice.
April 22, 2015 at 5:00 AM · I bought a couple small back up chargers for 10 bucks each that I keep in my backpack just in case.
April 22, 2015 at 5:11 AM · I feel sorry for all the kids staring at their phones like zombies - what´s the point of going to a theme park when all you do is what you always do back home?
April 22, 2015 at 5:15 AM · For Samsung users, by a second battery and swap out a fully charged one when your first one is out of juice. Sorry Iphone users- can't take your battery out.
April 22, 2015 at 7:13 AM · Seconding the backup batteries, even Apple peeps can get the kind you plug in and it will either run your phone or charge the internal battery.

Also, surprised to see that you didn't recommend turning off Bluetooth if you're not using it.

April 22, 2015 at 7:17 AM · Buy a battery case. It will recharge your phone without taking up more space.

My iPhone will only last 8 hours if you use it constantly after a full charge. A battery case from a good manufacturer gives it an additional 2 full charges so it can last beyond a full day at the park.

The advice on how to configure a phone is fine, but it won't help if you can't break the phone habit. I haven't so I bought a cheap battery case.

April 22, 2015 at 7:32 AM · We hardly ever have our phones out unless we're taking photos or trying to reconnect after getting separated in the park. My daughter and her friends save their calling and texting for the hotel room or the car ride at the end of the day.
April 22, 2015 at 7:58 AM · I don't own a cell phone. I'll bet that I have more fun at a park than most cell phone users because I don't have to worry about having one. Also, I don't care about someone trying to get in touch with me because if you're not with me when I'm at the park, I don't want to talk to you. I'm too busy going on rides and enjoying the company of the people who are with me.
April 22, 2015 at 10:40 AM · Apple users - Pack the larger iPad charging cube rather than the small iPhone charging cube in your bag. The larger cube will charger your phone faster.
Airplane mode really is helpful to save juice too.
April 22, 2015 at 10:50 AM · Put that thing away and go old school. Sheesh
April 22, 2015 at 11:31 AM · People are addicted to/obsessed with their cell phones. Shut the darn things off! There should be more to some ones life then a dumb cell phone.
April 22, 2015 at 12:28 PM · I make all my planing with my IPAD but make a Print out at the Airport. In that way I do not reley on the IPADS Power..
April 22, 2015 at 12:32 PM · Yeah, I agree with pretty much what everyone else is saying. Don't use your phone unless absolutely necessary. You get every opportunity at home to play Angry Birds or Clash of Clans, but a theme park is a once-in-a-while opportunity. I do bring my DS to parks sometimes, but I only use it when I'm trapped in a really long line and I have nothing else to distract me; nothing meaning no fun things to do in the queues and no one to talk to.
April 22, 2015 at 4:32 PM · Switch to the Droid Turbo. Mine has no problems lasting a full day at a park, even with heavy use (lots of pictures, social media, internet browsing, and at full brightness, no less).
April 22, 2015 at 4:40 PM · There are sure a lot of people here that are trying to tell others what to do. Why don't you mind your own business. Ones quiet usage of a cell phone in line doesn't impede your ability to enjoy the attraction, queue, or surrounding area.

The only time cell phone usage is rude and a distraction is when one is holding a voice call or two using their phone indoors in a dark or reduced lighting area.

And finally there is a polite way to encourage others not to use their cell phone, while not being bossy or trying to impose your will on others.

April 22, 2015 at 6:27 PM · When I visit parks with other people, I only use my phone for taking pictures, checking wait times, communicating with other group members if we split up, and occasionally posting on Facebook if something interesting happens. Other than that, it stays in my pocket. When visiting by myself, I do use it a bit more if lines are long (even the most well-themed queues can get boring after standing in them by yourself for 30-45 minutes), but I've never had it die on me during the day. Honestly, if you charge your phone the night before and then use it so much during the day that you need more charge to keep it going, are you actually enjoying the theme park? The way I see it, every minute spent doing something you could easily do elsewhere instead of enjoying the park decreases the value of your admission ticket, and if you need your phone to keep you entertained (especially when visiting with others) you probably shouldn't have bothered visiting in the first place.
April 23, 2015 at 10:22 AM · I also have used an additional external battery pack and find that it works great.

Another way to save battery is to disable the vibrate mode if your phone vibrates when it rings or you receive a text, etc.

Also, Disneyland has "Charging Lockers" where you can plug your device in and let it charge while it sits in the locker.

April 25, 2015 at 3:13 PM · I agree with almost everyone. Airplane mode is the best way to save battery juice. When you are on vacatioN, your love ones are with you or know you are and will not call. So don't expect any important call until the night. If don't have a Samsung 5 or newer, carry an extra battery or a portable charger. And more important, carry only one phone and use it as a camera. Enjoy your expensives days at WDW and don't waste it on a phone with 5 inches of view when you have acres of beautiful fantasies to see and things to do.

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