Review of the MagicBands at Walt Disney World Resort

There has been a lot of discussion about the new MagicBands that have been rolled out at Walt Disney World Resort.  We had the opportunity to use them on our last trip and I loved them!

What are the MagicBands?
The MagicBands are an RFID bracelet that are an all-in-one device.  With the MagicBand, you have your Key to the World (resort key), park tickets, Memory Maker (former Photopass), and a credit card stored in one spot.  It is incredibly easy to move throughout the resort without having to keep track of the different cards necessary for a vacation. And I can’t tell you how nice it is to simply swipe your wrist at the door at the end of a long day, while carrying bags and sleepy children, rather than putting things down, digging in pockets, and inserting a key in the lock.

How do they work?
MagicBands are tied into the My Disney Experience (MDE) app, which is an online trip planning site, located on the Disney website.  I am a big fan of MDE and have used it to plan a couple Disney vacations.  With MDE, you can research park schedules and events, make dining reservations, check in online to your Disney resort, and basically manage your trip in one spot.  It is linked to family members and allows you to share information in one spot. Best of all, you can access it on your computer, smart phone and tablet.

About 60 days prior to arrival you receive either a prompt on MDE, or a 2GB flash drive in the mail, that walks you through the steps of customizing your MagicBand.  You can choose from several different colors including red, green, blue, yellow, pink, orange and gray.  On the inside of the band you have up to 9 spaces for text (your name, nickname, etc).  The customized bands will be shipped to you within two weeks of your scheduled arrival. As of now, if you do not customize ahead of time and you are staying onsite, you will receive gray ones at check in. Cast members are available to assist with any questions you may have.

A great feature is that the MagicBand is made as a band within a band.  There is a gray outer band  that can be removed for smaller wrists.  And while my little guys didn’t particularly care for wearing them, they easily snapped onto the backpack and could be accessed when needed.

The bands themselves are not uncomfortable…sort of like wearing a larger watch.  I have a small wrist for an adult and probably could have worn the children’s size, but that was just a wee bit small, so the overlapping got a bit irritating by the end of the day.  No big deal, I’d just take it off.

One fun thing about the bands is that you can bling them out.  There are charms you can buy to put on them, and I’ve seen folks add all kinds of embellishments.

Drawbacks?
This billion dollar investment by Disney is not without it’s pitfalls.  There is a Fastpass+ feature that is included (more about that in a later post) that has some glitches that need to be worked out. There have been concerns about a big brother aspect to this as Disney can track your movement throughout the parks.  I didn’t think this was true until we went through our photos online and pictures from Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin showed up.   In the past I had to bring my PhotoPass+ card to the counter and ask for the photos to be loaded in.  Needless to say I was shocked when ALL of the pics from our many rides on Buzz showed up without prompting.  However, the way I see it, Disney could track my movements through credit card purchases and PhotoPass pics anyway.  So unless you’re Ron Swanson and trying to fall completely off the grid, this change shouldn’t phase you too much.

Overall
I give a big thumbs up!  If you are technologically challenged than it may take a bit getting used to.  But  in this fast paced world that is driven by technology, I think Disney thought through a pretty good concept to facilitate an even better experience for guests.

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