I took a break from my regular programming last week to talk about Disney cruises, but it’s back to the most magical place on earth this week. Today, let’s talk about Magic Bands.
Disney World rolled out the Magic Bands for testing back in August 2013. Officially, the bands are still in the testing process, but all Disney resort guests have been able to use them since January. As of last week, anyone visiting a Walt Disney World park has the option of using a Magic Band.
What are they? A Magic Band is a waterproof armband that, during your Disney World vacation, holds your room key, park ticket, FastPasses, photo pass, meal credits, and credit card for incidentals while you’re touring Disney’s parks. An RFID chip inside the band holds a code that, when you scan it at touch points throughout the property, links to a secure database where your vacation information is stored.
What’s the point? To make your vacation as hassle-free and seamless as possible. You may begin customizing your band and selecting FastPass choices up to 60 days in advance of your trip using the My Disney Experience website. This website helps you plan every detail of your vacation. Your reservation links here, showing where you will be staying, for how long, what kind of tickets you’re using, etc. When we make your dining reservations, these will show in your account on this site. All of your FastPasses will be saved here. There is also an app for smartphones and tablets that you can use while you’re traveling. Disney is now providing complimentary wi-fi in all of their resorts and parks to make Magic Bands very user-friendly. They are even beginning to add charging stations in the parks, knowing that as they encourage visitors to use the My Disney Experience app on their phone, they’ll likely be needing to power up throughout the day.
If you’re staying at a Disney resort, Magic Bands for each member of your party will be included with your package. They are available in red, orange, yellow, green, blue, pink, and gray. You can customize each one with a nickname that will be printed inside the band, so if multiple members of your group want the same color, you’ll be able to tell them apart.
If you are staying off property, you can now set up an account on My Disney Experience and link your tickets before you go. You’ll also be able to make FastPass selections. Once you arrive at the park, you can purchase a Magic Band in one of the gift shops and link it to your ticket through My Disney Experience. A cast member will be nearby to help if you need assistance with this process.
A few other fun facts about the Magic Bands?
- They are waterproof and designed for cool comfort. There were definitely some warm days while I was in Florida, and I don’t remember feeling any discomfort because of my Magic Band. (Some of my shoe and clothing choices are another story.)
- Magic Bands are made from a hypoallergenic, non-latex material.
- The battery can last for up to two years.
- You can link multiple bands to the same ticket/account. Think of this like accessing your e-mail from two different devices. If you’ve traveled to WDW more than once and have multiple colors, you can use them all on your next trip. Match them to your outfit, if you’d like!
- There is a peel-out option to make the bands smaller for kids. This is printed in the instructions on the box, but people must not be noticing it. I can’t tell you how many little ones I saw with their band wrapped around their wrist 3 times.
- Magic Bands do not contain GPS tracking devices. You cannot use them to find a lost child at Disney World.
- If you want the Magic Bands shipped to your home, you have until 10 days before your trip to customize them. Otherwise, they’ll be waiting at the front desk of your resort for you when it’s time to check in. (Resort pick-up is a good choice for surprise trips or if you’re afraid of forgetting them at home.)
- There are over 60 experiences that you can choose a FastPass for using your Magic Band. (If I’m helping plan your trip, I’ll make sure you know which attractions you don’t really need one for.) At the time of posting, you may choose 3 FastPass experiences per day, and they must all be in the same park. As part of the test and adjust period, Disney is still determining how many people want/need and how to accommodate park hoppers with the new FastPass system.
- If you don’t use a smartphone, Disney still has you covered. There are kiosks throughout the parks where you can change or add FastPasses while you tour. You can also ask a cast member to help out.
- Your children will not be able to make charges on their Magic Bands. That option will only be accessible on the adult bands. In addition to scanning the band at a touch point, you will enter a PIN code to make charges, much like the old Key to the World cards. Even if you lose your Magic Band, it would be very difficult for someone to steal it and purchase souvenirs on your dime. 😉
- Don’t think you’ll use your Magic Band again? Or maybe you just don’t want it taking up space when you return home? That’s OK. You can turn it in at the front desk when you check out, and it will be recycled or repurposed.
My only, tiny, minute complaint about the Magic Band is that the positioning of the touch point on the hotel room doors is a little…odd. I wished for arms like Mrs. Incredible a time or two. Easy fix? Remove the band when it’s time to unlock the door. You’re not going to wear it while you’re sleeping anyway.