Walt Disney World rolls out free Wi-Fi Internet at Magic Kingdom theme park, enabling further NextGen Fastpass testing

in Disney, Theme Parks, Walt Disney World

Free wireless Internet access is now available at the Magic Kingdom theme park, part the an ongoing “NextGen” project that’s using technology to improve guest experiences at Walt Disney World.

Guests visiting the Magic Kingdom can currently connect to a Wi-Fi network called “Disney-Guest” and, after agreeing to Disney’s terms of usage, are able to tweet, post to Facebook, browse the web, and freely use the Internet. The new wireless access follows just a couple months after Walt Disney World Resort added free Wi-Fi across all its hotels.

The addition of free Wi-Fi to the Magic Kingdom has been confirmed by its announcement on the internal Disney Cast Member web portal known as the Hub. Disney didn’t immediately respond to a request for a comment regarding the in-park Internet access, which is believed to be just the first step in a resort-wide roll out reaching across all four Walt Disney World theme parks and possibly even into water parks and onboard the monorail system.

UPDATE: Walt Disney World spokesperson Laura Spencer let me know that Disney plans to provide free Wi-Fi in all four theme parks (Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom) as well as Downtown Disney by early 2013.

Don’t always expect blazing speeds while surfing the ‘net in the parks. While at the Magic KIngdom, local guest Johnny Norris (@NorrisJohnyWG) sent over one surprising result of a Wi-Fi speed test:

But others have reported speeds far greater, reaching nearly 10Mbps down and 8Mbps up, so how fast the Internet works depends on how many people are using the system and how close guests are to the nearest hotspot. Speeds and connection strength, of course, may vary as Disney continues to roll out and test the availability of Wi-Fi.

Directly related to the addition of Wi-Fi in the park, testing on the NextGen Fastpass system will soon be resuming at the Magic Kingdom, scheduled for August 14-20, just a couple weeks from now. Familiar RFID-equipped posts have once again begun showing up outside various attractions around the park (still under covers in the photo below, taken two days ago).

UPDATE (8/14/12): The next phase of NextGen Fastpass+“>Fastpass+ tests has been moved to September.

(Photo by @TravisInOrlando)

The public Wi-Fi network will reportedly be used to connect the new NextGen Fastpass system with a mobile app called “My Disney Experience,” building upon the existing Mobile Magic app, which already offers attraction wait times, Fastpass availability, and more information helpful to guests inside the park.

One of the biggest complaints guests have had in using the Mobile Magic app is the unreliable availability of Internet access over cellular connections, necessary for receiving park information. Disney aims to fix this problem by making free Wi-Fi available to park guests, also allowing future integration with Internet-enabled mobile apps.

Smart phones and other Internet-capable mobile devices won’t be required for guests to utilize the NextGen Fastpass system, previously tested using RFID-based cards that provide the necessary information regarding pre-scheduled ride and show return times. But as the saturation of mobile devices continues to grow, more guests will find increasingly convenient ways of enjoying Disney’s theme parks with less time spent waiting in line – or, at least, that’s the goal.

Beyond its initial announcement in February 2011, Disney has yet to fully reveal plans for their NextGen project. Testing continues this month in the Magic Kingdom and on and off until Disney is ready to officially debut their revolutionary new ways to experience theme parks.

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