New wireless-tracking wristbands designed to make the “Most Magical Place on Earth” even more hassle-free will hit Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla., over the next few months. The “MagicBands” will be linked to customers’ credit-card information and function as room keys and park entry passes, thanks to radio-frequency identification (RFID) chips, which are most commonly used in wireless toll collection and public-transit turnstiles.
The MagicBands are part of a bigger system called “MyMagic+,” which also allows the theme park to collect sensitive personal information, including names of guests both young and old, their purchasing and riding patterns and real-time location data.
“Imagine booking guaranteed ride times for your favorite shows and attractions even before setting foot in the park,” wrote Tom Staggs, chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, in a blog posting on Monday. “With MyMagic+, guests will be able to do that and more, enabling them to spend more time together and creating an experience that’s better for everyone.”
Compared with many companies foraying deeper into the world of data collection, Disney seems to make it very easy for customers to control what and how much information is shared with whom or to opt out of the program completely.
The New York Times reports that, for example, mascot characters could use the information transmitted by the MagicBands to greet visiting children by name — and even wish them happy birthday if so informed.
But parents could also choose not to share their children’s information with park employees in that manner.
The Times said a new part of the official Disney World website, called “My Disney Experience,” makes it fairly straightforward to manage MagicBand privacy controls for each member of a family. (There’s already a MyDisneyExperience app for iOS and Android devices.)
Parents could share more information about themselves and less about their children, or choose whether to link a credit cardto the wristband or simply use it as a ticket to a park or attraction.
Creepy or convenient?
The operation is a huge one. Analysts told the Times that they estimate the cost of installing the system, which will impact 60,000 employees and more than 100,000 guests every day, at somewhere between $800 million and $1 billion.
Some commenters on the StitchKingdom Disney fan site said they felt “a bit creeped out” and “not terribly comfortable with the idea” in response to an article on MyMagic+ posted in March.
But most commenters there and on other Disney fan sites either thought MyMagic+ was a great idea, or lamented that its users would be able to jump queues ahead of holders of other premium Disney ticket options.
There’s no word on when the MyMagic+ program will spread to the four other Disney theme parks in southern California, Japan, Paris and Hong Kong.
Here is the official info Disney gave to the Agents like me:
At Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, we continually push the boundaries of creativity and innovation to deliver the best possible experience for our Guests. We’re always looking for ways to take what we do and do it even better. Over the past few years, we’ve devoted considerable time and resources to create a more immersive, more seamless and more personal experience for each and every Guest who spends time with us. I know there’s been significant speculation about these efforts among our fans, so we’re pleased to give you a glimpse into the work we are doing to take the entire Disney Guest experience to the next level.
Some of these initiatives are more apparent and can already be seen by our Guests – like our interactive queues at Walt Disney World® Resort and the Enchanted Art on our cruise ships – while others are more behind-the-scenes and are focused on “how” visitors plan, access and enjoy their experiences with us. Over the next several months, we’ll be rolling out a collection of tools at the Walt Disney World Resort called MyMagic+ that will give Guests more opportunities to customize and personalize their entire visit.
Like most people who visit Walt Disney World Resort, my family and I have our “must-do” attractions, and as the father of three boys, those attractions often end with the word “mountain.” Now, rather than dashing as a group, or even splitting up to gather FastPasses, imagine booking guaranteed ride times for your favorite shows and attractions even before setting foot in the park. With MyMagic+, Guests will be able to do that and more, enabling them to spend more time together and creating an experience that’s better for everyone.
A major component of MyMagic+ is the new My Disney Experience website and mobile app, which gives Guests planning their trip the latest information on all Walt Disney World Resort has to offer. We know that some people like to plan every aspect of their Disney vacation in advance while others like to plan very little, letting their day unfold spontaneously. No matter where Guests fall in that spectrum, My Disney Experience gives them the flexibility to plan as much or as little as they’d like to create the exact Disney experience they want. They can book dining and other experiences and reserve times for their favorite attractions, shows and more through an enhanced FastPass system, FastPass+. Once they arrive, they can use their smart phones to spontaneously change their plans in the moment, exploring our parks at their own pace and getting the most out of their visit.
Linking the entire MyMagic+ experience together is an innovative piece of technology we developed called the MagicBand. Worn on the wrist, it will serve as a Guest’s room key, theme park ticket, access to FastPass+ selections, PhotoPass card and optional payment account all rolled into one. We’ve began testing certain aspects of MyMagic+ in Florida last month and the early reactions we’ve gotten have been fantastic.
This collection of tools is another step forward in the ongoing evolution of our Guest experience, giving us even more ways to help friends and family create the unforgettable Disney memories that they want most. We’ll be testing, adjusting and adding features to MyMagic+ and My Disney Experience over time and will continue to make improvements based on our Guests’ feedback. We look forward to sharing more with you in the months ahead!
So tell me what you guys think about this new technology?