So I’ll admit to not being totally sold on the MagicBand idea when it was first introduced at the Walt Disney World Resort approximately two years ago.
Before I get into the specifics of why, let me first do a quick rundown of what they are for those who may not have been to the Resort recently. (For now these are exclusive to Walt Disney World but may get introduced to other Disney Resorts globally in the future.)
Disney had the idea to provide a single wearable alternative for folks who were prone to losing their paperwork or room key or maybe didn’t want to carry anything with them from hotel room to pool when they wanted to go swimming.
This wearable option could open a hotel room door, scan you into the parks, add pictures to your PhotoPass account, pay for your dinner or that souvenir you just had to have.
In conjunction with this item, a plastic-type wristband eventually called the MagicBand (because with Disney you knew they had to get the word “magic” in there, right?), the company developed software that the scannable RFID chip inside the Band would work with.
The app they developed was called “My Disney Experience” – with it, you could link your hotel reservations, park tickets, dining reservations and arrange for a key component: the upgraded “FastPass+”!
FastPass+ was the new electronic version of the legacy paper FastPasses one could get for various attractions throughout the Resort. Instead of running from location to location to get your FastPasses, you could book three per day right on your phone or computer! (This later morphed into the current ability to book successive FastPass+ reservations at kiosks in the parks once you’ve used your first three for the day.)
It was a very “green” idea. By eliminating traditional tickets and FastPasses, a lot of trees could be saved and Disney as a company is big on conservation.
And best of all, the MagicBands were free with your Resort reservation – and sent to you in advance of your trip in a special box!
But that wasn’t all…
There was a grander idea of what such an RFID-enabled device could accomplish – from interactions with characters who could be informed of special occasions such as being able to wish a particular guest “Happy Birthday” by name as they approached to personalized experiences within the attractions themselves customized to the guests. To date, however, none of these enhancements have happened yet as the MagicBand rollout has initially focused on the practical uses within the Resort.
But for me personally, as someone who is good about knowing where their room key card is, along with paper tickets, FastPasses, credit cards, i.d. and more, I wasn’t sure I needed to have a bracelet/wristband that would do it all (or at least most of it) for me.
I was used to the process of Fast Passes and knew which ones I’d want to get and when to get them.
I don’t tend to do the water parks or hang out at the pool (because: time in the parks!), so the fact that MagicBands were waterproofed didn’t mean much to me either.
The idea that you could pre-pick your color from a limited selection and put your name on your MagicBand when you booked your Walt Disney World Resort reservation was clever, but still not enough to make me excited to wear them.
And while I like accessorizing with my favorite Disney characters in general, I thought the available MagicBand add-ons such as character “MagicBandits” and “MagicSliders” were just extra things to worry about falling off or being irritants against my wrist all day. Plus, I already wear a (yes, generally Disney) watch – do I want yet another thing on my wrist?
But when they started introducing retail character, attraction, and movie-themed MagicBands – especially event-only limited edition ones… okay, they got finally my attention.
There have been some obvious choices (Elsa, Anna or Olaf, anyone?). But the best ones have been the really clever ideas like Haunted Mansion wallpaper MagicBands for Halloween or lightsaber MagicBands for Star Wars Weekends at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. The nerd in me just loves those ideas!
On top of that, Disney just announced the latest add-on that people have been asking for from the beginning – MagicSlider timepieces! Yes – MagicBands can now replace your watch (assuming you’re still wearing one that’s not “smart”)!
So for my next trip to the Walt Disney World Resort, I may have to indulge with a truly personalized MagicBand selection beyond just picking my color and having my name on the back. I just hope that when I’m there, that there will be some cool new options that suit my Disney style!
Have you gotten one of the retail MagicBands? Or do you prefer to just use the free ones that come with your Resort reservation?