Disney’s “MyMagic+” Technology Activates Hassle-Free Vacations

One MagicBand for each Disney resort hotel guest // Photo by Maureen Stone
One MagicBand for each Disney resort hotel guest // Photo by Maureen Stone

Taking young children and grandchildren to a Walt Disney World theme park visit in central Florida can involve the hefting of a fair amount of take-along items. Walking needs can range from strollers, snacks, and cleaning wipes to umbrellas, ponchos, cameras, phones and extra-clothing items. It came, therefore, as a pleasant surprise on a recent Disney visit to discover the conveniences provided by a rubber, computer chip-imbedded wrist band called the Disney MagicBand. The new device, part of the broader MyMagic+ vacation management program for guests, can streamline most vacation transaction details so that family members can focus on enjoying the family.

Introduced well over a year ago, the MagicBand, which operates on radio frequency, is now gaining wider popularity among guests, according to a spokesman, as more services and features from Walt Disney Parks & Resorts are integrated into the technology. The band, included at no extra cost for each guest checking into one of Disney’s 26 resort hotels at Walt Disney World, is otherwise available to theme park guests at $12.95 each. It is part of the Disney “MyMagic+” vacation management program that is transforming the theme park guest experience into a paperless, cash-free leisure exercise.

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The ease of leaving your cash, credit card, room key card, and wallet in a pocket rather than fumbling repeatedly during resort stays with children in tow, is a convenience not to be understated. While kids immediately appreciate the coolness of flashing Magic Bands imprinted with Mickey Mouse ears to open all Disney destination doors and entry turnstiles, parents enjoy one integrated storage device collecting every reservation and financial transaction of the vacation.

Each guest of Boardwalk Villas receives a MagicBand // Photo by Maureen Stone
Each guest of Boardwalk Villas receives a MagicBand // Photo by Maureen Stone

Addressing Privacy Issues

While some Disney guests have reportedly objected over potential privacy issues surrounding the MagicBand, and fear having their movements tracked within a Disney vacation, officials of Walt Disney Parks & Resorts have sought to calm concerns. There is no GPS technology attached to the MagicBand, according to Disney media sources, and no personal guest information is stored or shared.  

Guests are free to decline use of Magic Bands or any other MyMagic+ feature in favor of standard reservations, room cards and park passes. A MagicBand reported lost or stolen is quickly de-programmed. Note that there is no credit card, or any other personal information, registered on the MagicBand.  All MagicBand charges are linked to the resort hotel bill of the guest, who is not held responsible for unauthorized charges on the lost or stolen band.

The MyMagic+ experience begins at home on the website www.mydisneyexperience.com. Guests making Disney reservations can set up their personal password-protected account and begin linking hotel reservations, Disney park passes and FastPass+ selections of up to three reserved rides or attractions per day. These selections allow guests to bypass longer “standby” lines on more popular attractions. Both in advance and during their guest stay, guests can use their digital phones, tablets or laptops to access their MyDisneyExperience account, make changes and reservations, consult maps and obtain vacation management customized assistance.

Reserve a "Frozen" Dessert Party with MagicBand. // Photo by Maureen Stone
Reserve a "Frozen" Dessert Party with MagicBand. // Photo by Maureen Stone

Using FastPass+ and MagicBand

Once FastPass+ selections are used, additional rides may be added via the Magic Band at rides and kiosks inside the Disney Parks. The selections may also be changed at any time prior to redemption. Disney Resort guests can have their MagicBand, programmed with their selections, either shipped to home ahead of the vacation or presented at their hotel check-in. 

Last week on a multi-generational family visit to Disney’s Boardwalk Villas Resort, our three adults and one four-year-old each had a MagicBand. We were able to flash each Magic Band on radio frequency readers throughout the hotels and parks that turned bright green to signal our success in:

  • Unlocking our hotel guest room door at the Boardwalk Villas.
  • Entering theme park gates on band-imbedded Park-Hopper passes.
  • Using the Fast Pass + feature to bypass standby lines on the most popular rides. We skipped a 40-minute wait at the new Seven Dwarfs Mine Train.
  • Confirming table reservations and charging meals throughout Disney hotel and theme park restaurants to our guest room.
  • Charging merchandise purchases throughout Walt Disney World to our guest room.
  • Capturing a collection of online photos by Disney photographers in the parks or on theme park rides using the Disney PhotoPass feature.
A red MagicBand and a Disney toy memento for Colin // Photo by Maureen Stone
A red MagicBand and a Disney toy memento for Colin // Photo by Maureen Stone
Kelly Glassburn, marketing manager of Disney Photo Imaging
Kelly Glassburn, marketing manager of Disney Photo Imaging // Photo by Maureen Stone

Collecting Photos with No Camera

Disney guests have new photo services to complement the popular PhotoPass in which professional Disney photographers take their pictures at popular locations throughout the destination, and from which photos for purchase are selected online after the return home. 

In addition to being able to collect photos online by touching their MagicBand to each photographer’s reader, guests can now purchase the Memory Maker product in advance or at the Disney theme park.

Available for $149 in advance or $199 at the park, Memory Maker provides an unlimited number of photos for all family members on the same MagicBand account, according to Kelly Glassburn, Manager of Marketing and Communications for Disney’s Photo Imaging.

“How many of you have gone on vacation and taken great pictures, but the one missing from the photos is you, the cameraman?” asked Glassburn. “My mom used to be missing from all our family vacation photos.”  

The Disney manager noted that the person constantly taking the photos is often the one missing the vacation memories while focused on the camera. Additionally, professional Disney photographers capture tough shots such as action photos, nighttime events, and fireworks, among other technical challenges.

Leaving the camera in the guest room, and having advance reservations for popular attractions and Disney dining venues, based on recent experience, is a welcome convenience. Using the MagicBand instead of repeated wallet searches to access hotel rooms, park entries and product purchases allows family members to focus on each other and overcome the devil lurking in vacation details. 

A vacation management program at first sounds daunting, especially to seniors less comfortable with modern technology or worried about experiencing confusion. Once the simple convenience of using the MagicBand to open doors and skip the lines kicks in, however, most worries are over.