FIRST LOOK: Disney’s MyMagic+ MagicBand

| May 17, 2013 | 75 Replies

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There has been a lot of discussion lately regarding Disney’s upcoming MyMagic+ program which aims to combine every aspect of your Walt Disney World vacation into one seamless and digital experience. With MyMagic+, park tickets, resort room keys, dining reservations, PhotoPass photographs, payment options, and even FastPasses will all be contained in your My Disney Experience account. Your account can then be customized on both Disney’s website and on the smartphone app. Some aspects of MyMagic+ have already been released, like My Disney Experience for dining reservations, but the full program is expected to be rolled out sometime later this year.

When FastPasses, reservations and other parts of a trip are added to a My Disney Experience account, guests will use the MagicBand, a wristband containing an RFID chip, to access their information while in the parks, resorts, and all over Walt Disney World property throughout their stay. The MagicBands will be provided by Disney to every guest with a resort reservation and will be available in different colors and may even be customizable later on down the road with designs or accessories. Similar to the Key To The World cards Disney uses today, the MagicBands will consolidate a lot of the necessary items you carry while vacationing.

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A few days ago, a DISboards thread announced that MagicBands and the upcoming FastPass+ system has been released for guest testing in the parks. We have heard from a source that this is not correct, and that the MagicBands and other MyMagic+ features will begin testing next week for Cast Members and their guests only. We are also hearing that this test will most likely be open to only ‘higher up’ Cast Members in management roles. If all goes well with this test however, it is reasonable to expect a wider test base including guests maybe even by summer of this year.

Recently, I was able to get a firsthand look at one of the new MagicBands – I even got to try it on and play around with it. Check out the photos below and a brief review of what I thought of wearing the actual MagicBand. My first impression of the band was that it was surprisingly comfortable and easy to wear.

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The MagicBand is made of a soft vinyl plastic material making it really easy to put on – it feels very similar to a plastic watch band. One surprising factor about the band is the range of size it can accommodate. I have fairly large wrists and there are still four or five holes available to make it larger. On the opposite spectrum, it is very easy to make the band smaller. There is an option to remove the outer layer of plastic and use only the inside band. There are instructions in the inside of the band, however you cannot add the outside piece back on so it’s important to be sure that you want it shortened before you do so.

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The center part of the MagicBand where the large Mickey Mouse head is located is the only firm part of the whole band. It holds the actual RFID chips and the battery inside. This is the piece that you will need to touch to the RFID readers throughout the parks and resorts like turnstiles, cash registers, FastPass+ machines, etc. It’s important to note that the Mickey Mouse head on the MagicBand must come into contact with the Mickey Mouse symbol on the actual RFID readers. For example, when wearing the MagicBand the traditional way, you must turn your hand upside down at a touch-to-pay machine at a register.

The MagicBand we were able to see is the basic color, which Disney is calling ‘Iconic Gray.’ This is the band that will be offered from resort front desks as backups or for guests who did not specify their color choices at least five days before their reservation date. Here is a breakdown on the color options and the timeline for customizing your MagicBands:

Available MagicBand Colors:

  • Red, Blue, Green, Pink, Yellow, Orange, Iconic Gray

Names on MagicBands:

  • Guests can choose to have their name printed on the backside of the MagicBand, just above the Mickey symbol and Band ID information. The limit for the number of characters will be around 9 or 10 characters.

MagicBand Guest Reservation Timeline:

  • From booking until 10 days prior reservation date: Each guest can choose a specific color for their band and get their name printed. Guests can also choose to either have their MagicBands shipped directly to their house or to their resort to be picked up from the front desk at check-in. If shipped home, the MagicBands will be sent no earlier than 30 days from the reservation date.
  • From 9 days prior until 5 days prior reservation date: Guests can choose their color online and specify a name, but the only option is to have the MagicBands sent to the resort to be picked up from the front desk at check-in.
  • From 5 days prior until reservation date: Guests can no longer select their color and all guests in party will receive ‘Iconic Gray’ MagicBands at check-in.

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In the future, there will probably be options for guests to purchase specially designed MagicBands and even special accessories like Jibbitz that will fit into the holes in the band. Similar to the Jibbitz charms Disney sold for Croc shoes, the ones for MagicBands will most likely feature different characters and be sold around Disney property.

Another interesting fact that we’ve heard about the MagicBands is that they’re waterproof up to 50ft. This means that it can be worn throughout your entire vacation – water attractions, pools, showers, etc. I’ve also been told that the battery only lasts about 2 – 3 years and is non-replaceable. This would definitely impact some guests’ willingness to pay for an upgraded design, especially if it means that the band could only be used for one or two trips.

Stay tuned to The DIS Blog and The DIS Unplugged Podcast as we learn more information about MagicBands and Disney’s entire MyMagic+ program! You can follow us on Twitter, @TheDIS and on Facebook at facebook.com/the.dis for all of the latest Disney news!



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Category: Disney World, News, Photos, Photos / Video

  • http://www.JulianAbrego.com/ Julian Abrego

    I can’t wait to try these out. Blue for me, Green for my DW, Red for DD1, Orange for DD2

  • disqus_novdD2cmto

    It appears my first comment was eaten by the sign up system. Anyway, this whole wristband thing is creepy. I have worked eith RFID. It is used for tracking retail/shipping of products, and so this is like turning us all into products. In it ultimate incarnation, it means they could track everywhere guests go and everything they are doing on a real time basis. Its invasive and ripe for explotation.

    • http://www.facebook.com/TakeMeToDisney Leslie Ann Lunsford Dunn

      Fascinating…’ I could see this if there were a GPS component (sounds like there is!)

      • http://twitter.com/drunkrhino Drunk Rhino

        you can already track similar to GPS with RFID. They can utilize the wireless infrastructure they just put in for free internet access in the parks to track movement of the bands. I don’t know if they will, but its possible and RFID is already used in the medical field, for example, to track medical equipment at hospitals.

    • http://www.facebook.com/april.anderson.1232 April Anderson

      WOW !!! Thats def creepy …. I don’t have little kids & that sound like a great idea for them . But I wouldn’t want to be tracked while I’m there Big Brother is watching every where ughhhhh ……………

    • http://www.facebook.com/TakeMeToDisney Leslie Ann Lunsford Dunn

      However, you know – Disney has been keeping files on guests for years… This is nothing new

    • http://www.facebook.com/dakotahd Dakota H. Dodge

      You do realize that when you go there you are on private property, Disney has every right to track you and make sure you don’t go anywhere your not supposed to. Not tracking you would be like letting someone into your house and letting them roam free and do whatever. And as a consumer you sign up for this kind of treatment, you agree to be used as a product.

    • http://www.facebook.com/fupresti David LoPresti

      Disney has stated this will be an optional service.

    • Robert Roberts

      I have a hard time understanding this argument against it. You are already in their parks. They know you are there because you bought a ticket and went through a turnstile. I don’t think they overly care if your at Big Thunder Mountain vs. Space Mountain. Maybe if you ride Space Mountain 5 times in one day they might send you an email with special merchandise featuring Space Mountain. I personally would like that as it customized my shopping experience to what I like. If you don’t like it then delete or put the email on junk mail block.
      But think of all the great things that this could do. For instance, if you have dietary restrictions, when you order your meal, it could incorporate those restrictions to the chef / cook. Just my two cents. I do agree that I may not want to wear it as a watch all the time. I might just put it through the loops of my shorts belt loops.

  • http://www.facebook.com/amanda.casey.73 Amanda Casey

    I have been at the parks this week and ran into two IT guys who were testing the wrist bands this week. We had a great discussion about it and they let the members of my group try it on. They are light and comfortable. The IT guys did say there are still ALOT of bugs in the system and were not expecting to roll these out for a while so don’t expect them on your next vacation. They did say ultimately that they would be able to find a lost child with it and may even be able to curb some of the wait times because they’d be able to see the number of guests and such at an attraction. Maybe that would do away with the little red lanyard cards they give us in line? The Mickey head that goes along with the RFID stuff certainly does help the lines move faster to get into the parks instead of the old paper tickets praying they go through. The wrist bands hold good potential but I wouldn’t look for them being rolled out before next year.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=650498770 Stephanie Volpe

      Great Wolf Lodge uses this technology and it is really easy as a guest to use. I dont know why Disney has to go so overboard with the bracelet design. The typical plastic ones with the snap secure work great!

  • http://www.facebook.com/marilyn.diaz.7169 Marilyn Diaz

    Is this going to be optional? What if you have a difibulator? Will it make the devises malfunction?

    • http://www.facebook.com/fupresti David LoPresti

      It is passive RFID, the same technology in your newer credit cards.

    • http://www.facebook.com/cheryl.c.armstrong.9 Cheryl Colborn Armstrong

      Without knowing specifically about the band, I can tell you that nearly all defibrillators or implanted electronic medical devices can handle electrical impulses and feedback from items such as fitness bands, portable wrist BP monitors, phones, and watches. If you have questions, rather than asking the manufacture of the band it is best to contact the maker of the defib. They usually have a hotline that can answer your technical questions.
      Good luck.

  • http://www.facebook.com/rlinstrot Becki Linstrot

    What happens if it is stolen?
    It seems like it would be easy for a pick pocket to get it off your wrist and then they could use it to steal.
    What protections are they planning to ensure this doesn’t happen?

    • Liz1201

      Uh yeah….if I’m using this to buy stuff while at wdw, then they better have some security to it if it gets stolen!

      • http://www.facebook.com/lisa.duckworth.5 Lisa Duckworth

        I think a simple pin number to punch in as you use it for purchases would be a smart addition.

        • http://www.facebook.com/josette.smith.77 Josette Smith

          pin numbers are already in effect for the RFID KTTW cards. It would be the same for this band. Also as we were just there last week, our children , ages 8 and 9, were unable to use the pin Number for their KTTW cards for their snack credits. an adult had to touch their card and use the pin. That eased my mind a bit on that as well. I was afraid my kids would have bought everything in site and charged it to the card.

    • http://www.facebook.com/doughertytraci Traci Dougherty

      You have to use a pin code to make any purchases

    • http://twitter.com/drunkrhino Drunk Rhino

      the funny thing is, we used the KTTW this weekend to make a few purchases on our recent trip and the touch to pay requires a pin for all transactions. When we used our debit/credit card, it was just swiped and no pin. The cast member did not even check it against our license. So the bank issued card ended up being less secure from that perspective.

    • http://www.facebook.com/cketzleromaha Courtney Ketzler

      If you think about it, it is much more reliable than a loose card. You will notice pretty quickly when it’s not on your wrist, and tell a CM. They will have the ability to cancel the magicband you were wearing pretty quickly.

  • Jenna

    How secure are they to be on your wrist? By the looks they don’t seem to have a secure closure so little ones would for sure pick them off their wrist… As far as tracking people…whatever…you can be tracked at any point and time without such device without your knowledge. It shouldn’t be an issue, if you are being legit what’s the problem? I think it will make the whole experience less time consuming especially if they include ride tracking and ability to move things along!

    • http://www.facebook.com/cmwade77 Chris Wade

      If you look around wdwinfo, they had a picture of the kids version and it seemed to have a more secure closure.

      As for tracking, I think these could actually be a big help for lost children. A cast member could simply scan the wristband and get the cell phone number of the parent. I could see them even allowing you to put medical information on the wristband (or similar media), that way if you were to have a problem in the parks and unable to communicate, First Aid or the Paramedics that come out could simply see what issues you already have and may allow them to better treat you. Again, this would be optional, but for those wwho have certain conditions, it could be a life saver.

      • Robert Roberts

        Since these will be battery powered and have a range of 5-15 feet or greater, I could see Disney having a way to “look up” a magicband that was associated with a lost kid. Also as far as people stealing them. Can you imagine how easy it will be to report one lost and have it flagged in the system the next time someone tries to use it? Seams like an easy way to get caught steeling. Also it assumes the person that paid that much money to go to the park is interested in stealing. (although I’m sure it probably happens)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1313266188 Deb Ragno

    It would have been nice to see “Made in America” on the band instead of “Assembled in China.”

    • jlafunk

      Yes, it would be nice to see this made in the USA.
      But, nearly everything sold by Disney is made in China.

      • Rebecca Krueger

        You can find Made in the USA items in Norway, interestingly enough!! At least, you could last time I was there, haha.

  • mickeymommy7

    I’m excited about these! <3 Anything to streamline things, I'm all for. I'm not at all worried about losing them. I'm certain Disney didn't just whip this up w/o a truck-load of research and thought. This isn't Disney's first rodeo, guys.
    But wait, no PURPLE?!?!?! Hey Disney, you have yellow and orange but no PURPLE??? grrrrrr

    • http://twitter.com/technosworld Christopher Lane

      Disney puts things out all the time that don’t work properly, especially the WDW website which is a joke. Why do people keep seeing other people’s info when they log in to check their reservations? Nothing un-secure about that

  • http://www.facebook.com/ann.hilbrecht Ann Hilbrecht

    I was also thinking that they do not look very secure. I can almost see them coming off. Example water park Typhoon Lagoon? Other than that I love these!!!

  • Chris LeBeau

    I was a little surprised to find that they are battery powered. RFID usually gets it power from the receiver when you tap them together. Battery powered RFID means they can probably track your relative position within the park as long as you are wearing the band, and doesn’t require that you are actually Using the band. Battery powered RFID can be read from a few meters away.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=701130847 Linda Dubé

    What’s the big deal people. You got something to hide? I think it’s an awesome idea you never have to remember to bring your room card with you. If you’ve ever forgotten it and got all the way to a park you know what I mean! Go with the flow people change is good!

    • http://www.facebook.com/cmwade77 Chris Wade

      The big deal is not everyone likes to wear wristbands and these wouldn’t be easy to keep in a pocket.

      We like to go to the parks with no bags, I don’t wear a watch anymore, it just bugs me and I wouldn’t want to try to cary these around.

      Now, the thing that people need to remember is these are supposed to be optional, with alternatives, such as keycards (like they have now) or other similar media.

      What I am wondering though is why do the wristbands have to have batteries when the key cards don’t? They both have RFID chips in them, so it makes no real sense to me.

      • Jake

        The bands are easier because (if you stay on property) your credit card is linked so no need for cash. And when in the parks you don’t have to keep pulling out your card to use your FastPasses. And to enter the park.

  • Erjam

    Just wondering about people with any allergies or skin conditions. Have a mother-in-law who has a form of eczema and has to be very careful about what jewelry she wears. Light weight and vinyl plastic sounds fine for most but the sweating that may occur with summer wear would be a concern for her, wonder if they will allow the option to still use a card? And Attention Disney, agree with Deb Ragno’s comment Would prefer to see assembled in USA and not China!!

    • http://www.facebook.com/cmwade77 Chris Wade

      They are supposed to have options for those who can’t or do not want to wear wristbands.

      For example, they are converting paper Annual Passes to plastic Annual Passes, I can’t imagine that they are doing this just to replace them later this year with Wristbands. The plastic ones have RFID chips in them, so, I fail to see why the wristband would be necessary and as I said above, I really don’t understand why the wristbands need batteries.

  • http://www.facebook.com/becky.mccurry Becky Mccurry

    does anyone know if they will only availabe to resort guest only, or available to everyone?

  • http://www.facebook.com/dakotahd Dakota H. Dodge

    Although all of this is great and is bringing great innovation as different places incorporate this kind of technology, it is sort of sad that it is only brining us closer to actual labeling, and having the RFID chip in our hand. After that happens, outside RFID chips (IDs, Passports, MagicBands) are rendered useless, and everything could be much more personal. Although some may see that as innovation and making the world a simpler place, it can be very scary to be labeled as a computer is.

  • julluvsdisney

    when will this begin? Am I messing this? We will be there in 15 days would love to try this!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/scott.flenniken.5 Scott Flenniken

    What happens if you change resorts during your stay? Do you get a new wristband each time? For example we are moving from riverside to the wilderness lodge villas.

    • Robert Roberts

      The only thing on the wristband is a unique identifier that they tie into the disney systems. All reservations and details on your stay will be on those systems. None of that is stored on the bands.

    • Jake

      You will get a new band no matter how many times you stay on property. You don’t have to use it because as long as you have a mydisneyexperience account everything is linked.

  • Josh Prescott

    Has anyone confirmed that the bands have batteries? I expected it to use an RFID tag that does not need batteries (like some of the new SunPass toll road stickers).

    • Jake

      The cards don’t have batteries but the band’s do.

  • Suzi

    i am not for or against this new MagicBand, but I was really disappointed to read that the battery lasts only a couple of years and is non-replaceable. Just what we need, millions of toxic batteries trapped in plastic bracelets being added to landfills. Couldn’t they just be replaceable batteries?

    • Robert Roberts

      I’m hoping that the more customized / decoration versions will have a replaceable battery similar to that in a watch. Otherwise I think Disney needs to watch Wall-E a few times.

    • yankeesusa

      That was exactly my thought. I thought disney was going to use passive rfid which doesn’t use batteries and therefore be eco friendly. At this point I don’t know why they would do this. Isn’t the new pass rfid chip passive? Why couldn’t they do it that way.

      • Jake

        The cards have a passive RFID, however due to the fact that the bands have to be read from long distance they require a battery.

  • Isabel

    Would be nice if Disney brought out the My Disney Experience app on Blackberry and recognized not everyone has iphones

    • http://www.facebook.com/fupresti David LoPresti

      BlackBerry has a 2.9% market share in the smart phone market. No one develops for it because it is simply no longer a factor.

      • Matt Hart

        Have you seen Disney’s attendance numbers? 2.9% is over a million of WDW’s turnstyle clicks. That’s a lot of guests.

        • citivas

          Your math assumes 100% adoption of smart phones when it’s actually less than 50% in the US and even lower in many of the countries, keeping in mind many DW tourists are international. So it’s 2.9% of the subset of total visitors with smart phones.

    • yankeesusa

      Its also available on android. Sorry to say but blackberry needs to improve a little more to become a mainstream phone again for developers.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=650498770 Stephanie Volpe

    Great wolf lodge does this and it’s awesomely convenient . Their bands are way more simple which IMO is a good thing. Kids get a non purchasing band but the parents have everything on it. We loved not having to do the ” do we have….?” List before we left the room.

  • http://www.facebook.com/vanda.evans.71 Vanda Evans

    I suppose you can take them on and off when you want to can’t you? I just don’t want to wear one for 3 weeks and have it in my photo’s and a white strip around my wrist when I go home that the sun has not been able to get too…If I have to have one I will keep it in my bag!

  • http://www.facebook.com/cmwade77 Chris Wade

    They obviously have to have options for this kind of stuff. If they don’t, simply speak with Guest Relations at any of the parks and explain the situation, they should obviously be able to accomodate this somehow.

    As I posted previously, they should have card options, but I do wonder if the problems you have would prevent even those from working? Do you have a problem with demagnetizing the magnetic strips on the back?

    • Queen Bahama Mama

      Thank you for the info on Guest Relations. That will be my first stop.

      I do have a problem demagnetizing strips. Watches stop dead and I can not tell you how many room keys I go through at Hotels. If I try to sew the machine short circuits etc.

      This trip is a celebration of our 40th Wedding Anniversary so i am determined to have a good trip. If all else fails I will just have the DH carry my bracelet or card for me.

      If you do fine out any more info I woudl appreciate you passing it along of if it is not to much to ask.

  • nps_ca

    RFID short range is passive so normally no battery. You guys know there is a battery or assuming

  • Brian

    I like to have all the cards for fast passes for my family. I wonder if you can get fastpasses for all your party with one wristband or do you have to take off all the other peoples wrissbands to get fastpasses

    • Robert Roberts

      Doesn’t sound like it is going to be an issue when you start “reserving” your fast passes via the mobile app. But I completely agree. If there are 5 members in your party, Disney’s systems should know about all 5 of those members so if you get a FP at the attraction, it should give you the option to specify how many members what the FP (They shouldn’t assume everyone, cause maybe Grandma and Grandpa are going to take little Timmy to Peter Pan while the rest of the family rides Space Mountain)

    • Jake

      No, anyone in your party can go to a FP+ kiosk and get a FastPass but when using the app no. However if you don’t have a MyDisneyExperience account I don’t know if they would all be associated.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jamie-Strayhorn/1318759352 Jamie Strayhorn

    my family and i are going to WDW just after christmas….do you know when these will be released?

  • Bill

    If we get our bands as we arrive, we all get the same color (gray) How
    do we tell them apart? What happens if we grab the wrong band as we head
    to a park?

    • Willie

      Grab a Sharpie, add your name/initials/some sort of symbol? Wonder if it would rub/wash off? Maybe add a small sticker that’s unique to each person? Seems there should be a way to differentiate them.

    • Jake

      Well, to get technical. The bands all have a unique code on the inside, so theoretically if you were to look at them before you put them on you would know. Also, even if you are to make a mistake as long as there is a ticket associated (i believe) that cast members will know who’s is who’s.

  • Nerio

    not only that, we just came back this weekend and it was sooo funny as many iphones everywhere!!!

  • Robert Roberts

    Not sure that’s true. I’ve heard they will be available for purchase for those folks taking part in FP+/MyMagic+. The resort guests and AP holders will get them automatically

  • ldburris

    Your information will not be stored on the RFID. All of the info will reside on Disney computers, the RFID will just have a reference number to tell the computer system what account it is attached to.

  • Bob Paton

    Does anyone know if you will be able to transfer previously no expiration admission media to the MagicBand?

  • yankeesusa

    The information itself is not kept on the band like someone said. The band just lets the system know who you are and then it will access the disney info. Plus a pin is required to access credit card info. On top of that it is a little hard to carry around an rfid scanner although not impossible. With technology advancing so fast that is something we will have to deal with. Hopefully disney uses really good encryption and security.

  • Irishtigger

    What if you don’t want to wear it? Can you still do the cards? Sorry but I for one dont want to be forced to wear a bracelet ?

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  • Ivemar Santiago

    Only for the guest@(Pop Century, Contemporary, Lodge) or the All-Star (Movies, Music or Sports) too?

    • Jake

      Well now, everywhere.

  • Jake

    As what everyone else said, no physical information is really stored on the band, including it is all encrypted. And the credit card is locked with a number. The bands and all information is non-transferable, so even if someone could get your information off the band they couldn’t use it.