Disney is leading the way in the use of technology to enhance the guests experiences at Walt Disney World with their “NextGen” initiative, collectively known as MyMagic+ and My Disney Experience.
The latest pieces of the puzzle are MagicBands, special customisable wristbands with built-in RFID technology.
In late 2013, all Walt Disney World Resort guests started receiving RFID enabled wristbands (called MagicBands) whilst non-residents who visited the theme parks were getting RFID chips embedded in plastic cards.
The advantage of the MagicBand is it is a lot easier to use and a lot harder to lose. They also present great merchandising opportunities!
The recognition technology allows guests to access their Walt Disney Resort hotel room, access the park turnstiles, pay for food and merchandise whilst in the parks and take advantage of the new FastPass+ system to reserve attraction times or dining reservations.
The MagicBands now provide all these services and allow guests to collect their PhotoPass pictures.
Guests staying at one of the Walt Disney Resort hotels or guests purchasing photography packages all receive a free MagicBand. MagicBands have been rolled out gradually and by the end of 2013 all resort guests had access to MagicBands. Disney then started to offer MagicBands to their annual pass holders.
Between December 2013 and January 2014, all four theme parks switched over from the paper-based FastPass system to the new RFID FastPass+ system. Non-resort guests continue to receive RFID enabled park tickets giving them access to “touch to enter” the parks, FastPass+ and “touch to pay”. They are also able to buy a MagicBand and link it to their ticket.
In November 2016, at the D23’s Destination D: Amazing Adventures convention, Disney announced a new version of their MagicBand, to be called MagicBand 2.
It is similar to the original MagicBand but has a detachable centrepiece which can be transferred to something else like a lanyard, pendant, carabiner or keychain making it more customisable for everyone.
They will start rolling out MagicBand 2s to Annual Passholders first, in early December and then they should be generally available by the end of December. As well as the standard bands, they will also be available with special graphic and limited editions designs.
My Disney Experience
Underpinning all this is the new My Disney Experience website and mobile app. Using touch screen terminals in the parks or their own smart phones guests are able to access their profiles and update FastPass+ reservations.
You have the option of letting Disney Cast Members know your name and any special anniversaries coming up so that as you move around the park, Cast Members can greet you by name and wish you a happy birthday for example.
Guests are also given the option as to how much personal information they share with Disney. It is possible to opt out of some parts of MyMagic+ but in doing so some functionality may not be available.
The RFID chips themselves do not contain any personal information, just an identification number. If you lose your RFID card or MagicBand, you can advise a Cast Member or disable it yourself by logging into your account.