Making huge investments during a recession, means a lot of things, the drain on vital reserves usually signifies that any new investment has been justified and interrogated time and time again by analysts. With that in mind the new MyMagic+ initiative looks set to lead the way in theme park guest management!
What is MyMagic+?
This is Disney World’s marketing brand for a collection of high tech developments aimed solely at the guest experience of their theme park operations.
Rumoured to have cost a whopping $1.5m this immense capital investment is clearly of huge importance to the Disney Parks. All guests can expect to be encounter some aspect of MyMagic+ as it rolls out fully over the coming years.
Branded online as My Disney Experience, this is s whole range of technologies including FastPass+ along with the new MagicBand. The new developments will not only help future guests make the most of their day, but, undoubtedly help Disney make the most of your dollars!
What is FastPass+?
Annual Pass Members & Guests staying on Disney property will be able to pre-book their FastPass times using a personal device. (Currently an RF card, but in the future, probably the MagicBand wristband)
Disney recently announced that Firework displays and parade viewing areas would also be dedicated to FastPass+ users!
FastPass+ reservations must currently be made online although changes can also be made on the hoof via the ‘My Disney Experience‘ app and is free of charge.
Up to 3 advanced FastPass+ reservations a day can be made in any one park.
FastPass+ Bookings may be made within 60 days of your visit if you are a resort guest and 30 days if you are a regular park guest.
How does the MagicBand work?
The MagicBand looks set to be the guests gateway to ‘everything Disney World’ by giving guests entry to rooms, entry to the parks, ability to reserve FastPass+ times, reserve dining options and if you are staying in Disney Resort accommodation, you may charge purchases to a linked payment service such as a credit card.
Initially, trials will commence for certain guests of Disney World Resort Hotel guests, however, as the system is tested and developed further, it is likely that the MagicBand will be provided to all park guests at some point, albeit optional.
The MagicBand uses RF technology, allowing contactless communication to Disney’s systems. In reality, the transaction and payment systems will require a very close proximity and a confirmation in order to debit your account. For other services, the technology may also be used to track your whereabouts in the park from longer ranges, making this a good method for guest control to enable ride wait times etc.
The removable wrist bands are made form soft colored plastic (red, blue, green, yellow, pink purple, grey) and are shipped to your address or resort if bookings are made inside 10 days of check-in. Color choices are set by Disney if bookings are short notice.
All MagicBands are waterproof and batteries last up to 3 years.
Who can obtain a MagicBand and where from?
|Disney Hotel Guests
||Free By Post
My Disney Experience
60 Days advanced FP+
|Guests Without Park Tickets
||$12.95 from various locations inside WDW.
||A Ticket can be assigned to the Magicbands at a later date, allowing Magicbands to be purchased as gifts, or in advance of a visit to WDW
(At some point in the future, we can probably expect Magicbands to become available from the Online Disney Store
|Annual pass Holders
||Free By Post
$11.65 in Park
My Disney Experience
30 Days advanced FP+
60 Days if in Disney Hotel
3 FP+ reservations per day
|Regular Park Visitors
My Disney Experience
30 Days Advanced FP+
3 FP+ reservations per day
*Please note, that all park tickets now include RFID chips for Fastpass+
Guests DO NOT NEED A MAGICBAND to gain access to FP+ etc
How Does Fastpass+ Work For Annual Pass Holders?
Annual Pass holders may apply for a Magicband through guest services.
Upon completion, they will receive a Magicband and a Discount card.
The old paper Annual Pass will not be required for any future usage once your Magicbands have been linked to your MyMagic+ account.
In order to enter the parks, all you need to do is take your Magicband along with you and zap the RFID reader at the turnstiles.
Inside the parks you may make purchases with your Magicbands at stores and restaurants, however to obtain a discount, you need that discount card and a photo ID as proof of identity.
Disney are issuing two types of discount card to annual pass holders, dependant upon their annual pass type.
Black = Annual Pass Discounts but no free parking
Gold = Annual Pass Discounts and includes free parking
Note: 7 day rule explained:
Disney have introduced a limit on how many Fastpass+ days can be booked in advance.
Within any rolling 30 day period, you may only have 7 current live days with Fastpass booking active.
In other words, you could still in theory have Fastpasses every single day of the year, but you would have to wait until one of your days has passed by before booking another.
This rule is not an attempt to restrict your fun, but merely acts as a deterrent to prevent people from blocking out Fastpass+ in large quantities that they have no real hope of attending.A good example would be that it helps prevent people from blocking out a few weeks of Fastpasses even though they are only planning to visit for one day, but not quite sure which!
The familiar PhotoPass
system will continue with the use of the Barcode tags offered to guests, however, initial trials will also allow the selected resort guests to tag their PhotoPass images to their wristband.
As of the fall of 2014, guest’s ‘on-ride’ Photopass pictures automatically appear in their My Disney Experience accounts if wearing a Magicband.
Guests with RFID cards instead of Magicbands, can also use one of the new ‘touch points’ to associate their ride photos to their My Disney Experience accounts.
The move does spell the end of the walls of photo viewing monitors at Walt Disney World as Disney steers guests towards their ever evolving My Disney Experience
NOTE Photopass images remain available for viewing for 45 days after they are taken.
Allowing guests a limited time after leaving Orlando to buy or customize Photopass products.
MyMagic+ reviewed by totalorlando.com
MyMagic+ will certainly improve congestion in the parks, which is good for every guest whether they are using the system or not.
What the system may certainly do though, is further divide those guests that are entering the park with a bare minimum intent to spend from those that have less limited means.
It would not be unimaginable to believe that a time may come that annual pass holders and guests staying on Disney property for example, are the only ones that stand a chance of a good view of the parade!
MyMagic+ Reactions from Guests
- Disney report that during recent trials, 80% completed surveys answering with an overall positive experience. Only 2% considered the MyMagic+ negatively.
- One of our Facebook Page Fans loved her experience with MagicBands overall
The experience was a novelty, but she had concerns that using the bands meant that tracking how much you’ve spent seems much harder, making it easier to go over budget very quickly.
Annual Pass Holders
Annual Pass Holders can request a MagicBand through Guest Services.
The same FastPass rules apply and guests can assign a credit or debit card to the MagicBands for in resort purchases.
The Annual Pass card is still needed for any discounts on purchases made within WDW
In Resort Kiosks – For FastPass Bookings
For guests without smart phones or data connections (often overseas visitors should always turn off data roaming to avoid huge phone bills!), Kiosks are located in the parks at points located on the Parks Guide maps. More are being added regularly as Disney roll out the MyMagic+ program.
Resort Parking with MagicBand+
RF readers will be added over 2014 to the parking plaza toll booths to enable faster entry into the parking lots for guests with Annual Passes and MagicBand+
Room Check in with Magicbands
During summer 2014, guests staying at WDW Resort accommodation can pre check in to their accommodation by use of the My Disney Experience App or webpage.
Provided guests already have their Magicbands, have paid their remaining accomodation balance and have pre checked in via the online service, they can walk right up to their room without waiting in line. As with resort accommodation doors, the Magicband will provide easy access to the room right away.
Will MagicBands be optional?
At the moment Disney state that the MagicBands will be entirely optional.
Regular guests and Annual Pass holders may use their RFID park tickets to activate the park turnstiles and Fastpass+ kiosks.
Obtaining FastPasses via RFID tickets or MagicBands, and interacting with Park attractions look set to be an important trick up Disney’s sleeve as they win hearts and minds for their $1.5bn investment.
NOTE: If you prefer more privacy, you may elect to use a card instead of a MagicBand. Cards contain a passive HF Radio Frequency chip and cannot be detected by the long-range readers.
What Could MyMagic+ do in the future?
Ticket Security and Fraud will be a big area that Disney will hope to target.
Although only our guess that this might be a solution to ticket fraud, if Disney switch over entirely to RFID, guests could be asked to assign a pin number to paper/plastic tickets for entry.
This will reduce the ability for crooks to resell part used tickets.
Only authorised ticket vendors would have access to the central ticketing system to be able to activate park tickets.
Why have Disney spent $1.5bn on RF/MagicBand technology?
In simple terms, they want you to spend more with them!
They also want you to stay on Disney property instead of heading off to SeaWorld and Universal by being tempted to use the fun technology and the features that MagicBands can offer.
Not only will using a MagicBand be more fun, they will also provide a more convenient way for any guests with a connected payment method to purchase inside the parks and resorts.
By using the MagicBands to access rides and play games, they are working on breaking down the initial barriers that people may have in using the devices. This of course, paves the way for purchases of gifts, meals and snacks!
Also, Disney will be armed with a very comprehensive list of things you did and where you stayed last vacation, right down to whether you like diet or regular soda, and what size ponchos you bought, helping their marketing team put more tempting merchandize and vacation packages your way.
E.g; If the system recognised you had no kid’s on board, expect a lot of irresistible deals during slack season when the kids are back at school for example!
To put things in perspective: In order to get their money back for this project in the first year, they need only squeeze an extra $28 per person* per theme park day of their stay in order to break even, without even thinking of the benefits that targeted marketing will offer later on!
* The project is believed to have cost Disney $1.5bn. That comes to $28 per WDW park visit
(based upon the 2012 park attendance figures for Disney, which totalled 52 million turnstile clicks!)
Also note, that the $28 dollar payback could be covered by WDW alone, so the amount needed form guests would be lower when including the Californian Parks!
We bet that the park execs have a more achievable first year target ‘up-spend’ of around $10/day per guest when the system is up and running!
Our Other Ticket related articles you may be interested in!
Disney Annual Pass Benefits
Our Independent Guide to finding the best Disney ticket Deals
Disney Parks MagicBand FastPassplus MyMagicplus and PhotoPass Explained
Choosing the best Disney Ticket Options