Magicbands and You!

The new ticket of Disney World in Orlando.

With the omnipresent news of Apple’s new iPhone 6 and Apple Watch it seems that NFC (near field communication) comes front and centre. If you didn’t know already, Disney’s been doing this for years – they just call it the magicband.

The concept is simple, each family member is allocated a band, this band can vary in colour and has the members name written on the underside. Useful if you have say two little princesses wanting pink.

Strap it on. It comes as two bands, if it’s too big, simply press with enough force to dislodge the smaller band from within the bigger band.

From there you can:
– Use it as your theme park ticket
– Book and reserve Fastpass with it
– Open the hotel room door
– Pay for things
– Add a dining plan
– Decorate it
– Photopass saves to it

Across the resort, every park gate, every ride entrance, every cart, shop and restaurant has a Mickey Reader so that the band can be used. EVERYWHERE.

It works beautifully for park entry, quick bump and finger scan and in.

Fastpass just a bump. Same with room entry.

Payment or Dining plan, bump and enter a PIN number. This can only be used as a Disney resort guest as you have some legal documentation to sign when you check in.

So where do you get a magicband?
If your booked through the Walt Disney Travel Company – you choose all your options online and your band will be at your checkin desk.

If your booked through another travel agent but staying at an onsite resort – when you get your tickets from the agent – you order the Magicbands online on the WDW site and they’ll be at checkin for you. There’s no fee.

If your booked offsite – when you buy tickets you go online, order your bands and have them delivered (for free) to your Orlando/American hotel – you can do this up to ten days before travel.

We’re offsite and they turned up at our hotel before we arrived. Your physical ticket works even when you have a magicband.

We’ve found them extremely useful, quicker, easier and nicer to carry around. No longer is everything split like paper Fastpass tickets and party tickets – it’s all neatly together!

The band is very light and comfy. You barely notice it while it’s on. Disney’s hope is that it helps encourage people to spend more while in the parks, and secondly they can track the chips round the park.

You see out with the uses we have seen, Disney from a long range can also read the bands and see where people are, they can follow your path, track how long you wait and monitor guest flow.

The idea behind the data is to allow you the ability to be a data point. Disney can then analyse and extract the maximum profit out of you possible. They can also find ways to more efficiently plan the parks.

Fastpass and it’s usage with the band deserves it’s own post, due to the sheer scale of how it works. But briefly, you get an initial 3 FP selections and then additional ones once your three are up. I’ve found it better than normal Fastpass as you can do it in advance meaning if you really want to experience something, you always can.


For those of us outside Disney world what does it mean?

It’s coming, it’ll be worldwide, the backend has been paid for now and the bugs are being slowly worked out. If it was to go wrong anywhere, it would go wrong at the largest Disney resort – WDW. So it was always best to get it worked out here first.

Disneyland Resort in California will be next, and should be fairly painless for all involved. Probably the most vocal crowd against it though. Paris should see it either simultaneously rolling out or shortly after. The first roll out if were right will be alongside the Hotel New York refurb that starts next year – possibly in time

Paris regulars will sigh in relief, no more ticket, Fastpass tickets, easy pass, dinner vouchers and cash/card to always be carried. Were already used to chip and pin and contactless in the UK and EU – it’ll help ease adoption.

The whole stumbling block for Paris just now though is the lack of park wide wifi – definitely needed if you want the majority of your guests to use an app! That said in 2016, EU rulings will make it illegal to charge more for data abroad within the EU.

Disney spared no time in getting plenty of charms and pin type additions for the band, it’s likely these bands will also become a funding source in themselves.

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