About the reporter
Tom Kelley is a lifelong amusement park and roller coaster fan. He is a member of the American Coaster Enthusiasts, a worldwide group that enjoys rides and amusement parks worldwide and works to preserve them.
Consolidates tickets, room key and more.
Band is always at hand.
Easy and fun to use.
Great convenience at the pool.
Band’s stiffness takes a little while to get used to. For now, guests must stay at a Disney resort to get a band.
Walt Disney World is asking its guests to jump on the bandwagon with MagicBands, its new way of storing your ticket, room key and more onto a wristband.
The band allows you to do a number of things quickly and easily, without having to hunt through a purse or wallet for a room key, credit card or admission ticket.
The MagicBand is a plastic strip about an inch wide. It’s light and a little stiff, but after wearing it for about an hour, I didn’t really notice that I had it on.
The band is waterproof. If you head out to the pool, you don’t need to bring a room key, cash or a credit card; the MagicBand does it all. And since you can wear the band in the pool, you don’t need to worry about leaving a room key or credit card at poolside and having it stolen or losing it.
Guests staying at certain Disney World hotels currently are being asked to use the bands during a trial period; if you don’t want to do that, you are issued a plastic key card instead. The trial continues to expand to more Disney World hotels. Eventually all Disney guests will be able to use a MagicBand, but it’s not certain when that will begin.
The device uses the same radio transmitting technology as a MARTA Breeze card or Peach Pass. To use the band, you register for a My Disney Experience account at www.disneyworld.com, and your hotel reservation and admission tickets are connected to the account, and thus to the MagicBand.
Once that is done, there is a variety of handy uses for MagicBand:
Room key: The door of your hotel has a sensor above the doorknob where the key card slot used to be. You hold your wrist up to the sensor until a green light blinks and the door unlocks. There's no more fumbling around for a room key somewhere in a purse, pocket or wallet.
Admission ticket: Disney has speeded up the admission process by removing the turnstiles at the entrance to its amusement parks and water parks. Instead you hold your wristband (or plastic admission ticket) up to a sensor attached to a post until a green light blinks, place your finger on a scanner, and walk into the park. The MagicBand reader works much faster than the old system that read magnetic strips on tickets, and the process drastically speeds up the lines when the park opens.
FastPass: The band allows you to reserve ride times on Disney's FastPass system up to 60 days before arriving at the park. So if you want to ride Space Mountain at 2 p.m., you can now arrange that before leaving home. Previously you could not get a FastPass ticket until arriving at the park. Many popular attractions on busy days exhaust the entire day's supply of FastPasses by 11 a.m., so you would have to arrive at the park in the morning to get one. Now you can reserve a ride in the afternoon and not have to arrive early in the morning. Currently you can reserve three FastPasses per day; all passes must be for rides at the same park.
Credit card: You can choose to link your credit card to your MagicBand and use it to make purchases at virtually any vendor in Disney World. A PIN number must be used to make a purchase. If you are at a full-service restaurant, the server scans your MagicBand with a device attached to an iPhone and you tap your PIN onto the phone screen.
PhotoPass: When you have a photo taken by a Disney photographer, your MagicBand is scanned and the photos are connected to your account. You can view them at the photo shops in the amusement parks, or wait until you get home and see them at your My Disney Experience account.
Lost child: If your child gets lost, a Disney security employee can scan his or her MagicBand and call the phone number you left when you registered at the hotel.
Security gate: If you drive your car out of the resort, when you return, you can open the security gate with your MagicBand instead of having to dig out a room key.
If you lose your MagicBand, alert any Disney employee and the band will be deactivated, and you will be issued a replacement. You don’t have to worry about anyone using it as a credit card because a PIN number is required for transactions.
After spending two days at Disney using a MagicBand, I was impressed with how practical and easy it is to use. Most other people I talked to also liked using the bands for the convenience and ease of use. I’m looking forward to my next trip and wonder what other uses Disney will find for the bands.
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