Last night I returned from a fabulous visit to Walt Disney World. I was fortunate enough to be included in a test of the new MagicBand, which is a plastic wristband that uses HF Radio Frequency (RF) technology and is picked up by short- and long-range readers located at the Walt Disney World Resort. The MagicBand does everything the Key to the World card does … and more!
So where can you use a MagicBand?
I was on the lookout for all the places we could use the MagicBand, and here’s what I found:
Disney’s Magical Express (used at podiums and boarding)
- Resort check-in
- Your resort room door (unlocking)
- Club/concierge level access in elevators
- Alternate entrances to resorts (like the doors at the ends of the wings at Wilderness Lodge)
- Disney parking lot entry
- Park admission (if you’ve purchased admission, of course)
- Attractions with FastPass+
- Stores (parks, resorts, and Downtown Disney)
- Counter-service restaurants and snack stands
- Table-service restaurants (servers carry portable scanners)
- PhotoPass photographers (photographers with portable scanners)
Interactive games (such as Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom, A Pirate’s Adventure, Test Track’s Vehicle Design Studio)
- Booking and modifying FastPass+ at the kiosks or with cast members who have iPads
- Disney’s Infinity game on XBOX (unlock the Disney Dragon and new Toy Box)
- Guest Relations and Concierge Desks
Places and things that were NOT using the MagicBands during my visit in October 2013: arcades, lockers, in-room safes, on-property taxis, and purchases of Disney gift cards.
I found MagicBand readers everywhere we expected and hoped to find them, and then some! I was issued a Key to the Word card, and dutifully carried it with me, but I never had to actually use it. The MagicBand made my visit very simple.
My favorite experience with MagicBand happened when I arrived at the Wilderness Lodge to check-in. We had just exited our taxi and were standing under the portico, gathering our luggage, when a Cast Member walked up with a big smile and said, “Ah, the Marx Family has arrived! We’ve been expecting you. Come right in!” I was thrilled. The Cast Member would not reveal her secret (just “Mickey told us you were coming!”). But I snuck a peek at her iPad and I could see that it was tracking arrivals,
presumably with long-range radio frequency receivers. While I imagine there are some guests who would not be happy with this, I absolutely loved it. I felt recognized and welcomed. I’m on vacation and quite fine with Disney knowing what I’m doing. The MagicBand has nothing more than a randomly assigned code that securely links to an encrypted database and is configured to not store any other information. If you’re among those who feel funny about this, opt for a Key to the World card instead — cards contain a passive HF Radio Frequency chip and cannot be detected by the long-range readers.
[Edit: I’ve since learned that the personalized greeting is probably due to giving my name at the security gatehouse rather than anything going on with the MagicBands. I usually arrive on Disney’s Magical Express, so I hadn’t experienced this greeting before and automatically assumed it was our shiny MagicBands. Ah well! I still loved it!]
My second favorite experience was when we used FastPass+ at the Haunted Mansion. Besides the fact that we whizzed past a very long queue, we were delighted to hear a creepy yet fun sound when the MagicBand was held up to the sensor. I even took a video, which you can see below:
I also have more experiences and opinions on wearing the MagicBands, decorating the MagicBands, and using the MagicBands. I took photos of nearly every place we used them — even some video. Let me know what you’d like to know and see.