Location-based social check-in apps were the hot topic earlier this year, but things have markedly cooled down in this segment. Facebook's Places product threatens all of the smaller competitors like Foursquare and Gowalla, which never quite managed to get mainstream traction. Things have been especially quiet around Gowalla, but the company just announced a major new deal with Disney. Gowalla will now feature locations and newly designed stamps and badges for all of the major Disney Parks in the United States. Can this deal help Gowalla go mainstream?

Numbers Can Only Go Up

Looking at the latest check-ins from Disney's park in Anaheim, CA, it's clear that check-ins at the parks could use a boost and that location-based services still have a long way to go. Only 10 people used Gowalla to check in to the main park in the last 24 hours. Two people checked in at the Pirates of the Caribbean ride - one of the most popular attractions in the park. Compared to Disney's park in Orlando, FL, these numbers are actually quite high. Only one person checked in to Space Mountain in the last two days.

Judging from these numbers, Gowalla can only profit from this partnership, which also includes the sale of actual pins in Disney's stores across the parks. But by tying its product so closely to these destinations and experiences, chances are that those who encounter Gowalla because of this deal will only think of it in context of this Disney experience and aren't likely to continue to use it outside of the parks.

Also, while collecting badges would be fun for the younger kids in the group, chances are that they are far too preoccupied with everything else that is going on in the parks to worry about checking in. For most adults, these badges aren't enough to motivate them to check in consistently (especially without coupons and other discounts).

Will Disney's Mainstream Appeal Rub Off on Gowalla?

As ZDNet's Larry Dignan notes, "there's nothing more mainstream than Disney World. Disney could introduce Gowalla and geolocation services to a much broader population." While that is true, we have to wonder if the broader population will care about checking in to attractions or if most visitors to Disney's Parks would rather just enjoy the rides without having to deal with their phones.