Cost: $12.95 a year
How We Use It: We have used this paid service for all our Disney trips. First, we use the crowd calendar to determine which parks to visit which days. Each day will have a rating from 1-10 per park to determine crowd level, 1 being slow and 10 being packed.
We also use the touring plans function they offer. They have set touring plans for you to use that are supposed to keep your waiting times down. We use the option to create our touring plan. I enter everything we want to do, and then the program will put it in the order we should do for less waiting.
Touring plans does have an app as well. I use the app for the chat function. You can ask any question in the chat group and within minutes you will get answer from others who have tons of Disney experience.
While in the park, we use the app for the wait time functions. The app will tell you the posted wait time on any ride and the expected wait time based on times submitted by members in the park that day. I've heard the Disney app has a wait time function also, but I've also heard that the Touring Plans times are more accurate.
Cost: $8.00 per search
How We Use It: Disney dining reservations open up 180 days in advance of your trip. I know that sounds crazy, but several of the popular restaurants will book up opening day. If you want a specific restaurant and it's booked, I recommend using Disney Dining Buddy. I used it for the first time a couple months ago. I paid $8 and told Disney Dining Buddy what restaurant I wanted and what time. Disney Dining Buddy notified me when a reservation opened up, and I snagged it. You can choose to be notified by email, text, or both when a reservation opens.
Website: http://www.characterlocator.com/ from http://www.kennythepirate.com/
Cost: $6.99 a year
How We Use It: Our upcoming trip will be the first time for us to use this app. It was highly recommended by others. The app is web based, so you will not find it in the app store. Instead, you will need to create on icon on your home screen. The app gives you specifics on where and when to meet your favorite characters. It also list some fun interactive tips. Disney's app has character information as well. But once again, I've heard this app is more specific and reliable than the Disney app.
I love talking Disney and maybe this will help someone with trip planning. If you have any questions, let me know. I'd love to help.