Walt Disney World announces MyMagic+ with MagicBand, adding NextGen access to theme parks, FastPass+, and interactivity

in Disney, Disney's Animal Kingdom, Disney's Hollywood Studios, Epcot, Featured, Magic Kingdom, Theme Parks, Walt Disney World

Walt Disney World guests will soon be introduced to the project that’s been secretly under development and gently rolling out for the past few years across its theme parks and hotels under the banner of NextGen. It’s called MyMagic+, first officially detailed in a New York Times article, then further revealed on the Disney Parks Blog. Combined with the My Disney Experience web site and mobile app as well as RFID-based wristbands called the MagicBand, Disney intends to offer new levels of trip planning and interactivity for its visitors through high-tech, but easy-to-use devices.

In the articles, Disney Parks & Resorts chairman Tom Staggs offered new details surrounding this initiative, which is said to roll out “over the next several months.” Guests wearing colorful MagicBands will have the opportunity to take part in a variety of activities and experiences that only new technologies installed on a mass scale like this can offer.

On Disney’s official blog, Staggs wrote, “Now, rather than dashing as a group, or even splitting up to gather FastPasses, imagine booking guaranteed ride times for your favorite shows and attractions even before setting foot in the park. With MyMagic+, guests will be able to do that and more, enabling them to spend more time together and creating an experience that’s better for everyone.”

Here is a summary of the offerings that will be available through MyMagic+, in conjunction with MagicBand, FastPass+, and My Disney Experience:

  • Guests can schedule 3 FastPasses before arriving to the parks for rides, shows, parades, fireworks, or to meet characters (more on that here)
  • MagicBands can be set up prior to visiting, linked to the a Disney account
  • MagicBands will be rubber, not paper, to allow reuse across multiple visits
  • MagicBands will be used as room keys, park tickets, FastPass+ access, PhotoPass, in interactive
  • MyMagic+ will be available to tourists as well as park regulars, including annual passholders – offering access to FastPass+, though usage will be different across ticket types (more information here)
  • MagicBands will be free / included for guests staying in Walt Disney World hotels, annual pass holders, and anyone who purchases a photography package. All other guests can purchase a MagicBand if they choose, but can otherwise still take part in My Disney Experience, including FastPass+, touch-to-enter, and touch-to-pay, via RFID-embedded park tickets.
  • Disney will separately sell MagicBand accessories and special designs as collectibles and to offer the ability to uniquely style each wristband, such as the “Pirates of the Caribbean” band seen in the photo below
  • MagicBands will offer turnstile-free access to the parks with a quick tap for entrance
  • Guests may choose or limit the amount of information shared when registering MagicBands online
  • Using information on the MagicBands, characters will “magically” know guests’ names before meeting them, also being able to note registered celebrations, such as birthdays or anniversaries
  • Rides and queues can use MagicBands for a personalized experience – with the example given of Scuttle in “Journey of The Little Mermaid” queue in New Fantasyland may soon be able to converse with guests


  • According to Staggs, Walt Disney World hotel guests will be among the first to experience MyMagic+, rolled out to all guests “over the next year.”

    The new experiences won’t be forced on any guests, as everyone wants to plan their vacations in different ways. In his blog post Staggs added, “We know that some people like to plan every aspect of their Disney vacation in advance while others like to plan very little, letting their day unfold spontaneously. No matter where guests fall in that spectrum, My Disney Experience gives them the flexibility to plan as much or as little as they’d like to create the exact Disney experience they want.”

    It’s easy to imagine that regular interactions with talking Mickey Mouse aren’t far behind. Having previously only made a few special appearances, he could certainly soon have an intimate conversation with every Disney fan who wants to meet him in the parks when coupled with the MyMagic+ program.

    Of course, amidst all these new and exciting features MyMagic+ and MagicBand will offer, there are some safety, security, and privacy concerns. If lost, guests can have their MagicBands deactivated by Cast Members or by going online and Disney claims no personal information can be retrieved from a lost or stolen wristband. Likewise, purchases totaling over $50 will require a PIN to support tap-to-pay.

    Read more information of the soon-to-debut project here and in the New York Times article and on the Disney Parks Blog.

    (Photos by Kent Phillips/Disney)

    67 Comments

    1. Todd

      So, how will this effect AP holders? Will we get an AP MagicBand? Will we have the option of attaching a credit card for tap to pay? Can we preplan our FastPasses?

      1. Ricky Brigante

        Yes, I believe so. Either MagicBands for all annual passes or at least RFID chips in AP tickets. APs won’t be forgotten in all this, though the rules for FastPass+ scheduling will be different for Magic Your Way tickets than APs.

    2. Tim

      They’ve introduced this idea at the “Be Our Guest Restaurant” with those Mickey sensor things. You get a ‘rose’ when you order and it’s linked up to something so that the cast members know what you ordered and where you’re sitting. It’s pretty awesome.

      1. Ricky Brigante

        Indeed. That is just the start. Many merchandise locations and hotel check-ins already have the touch sensors as well. It will all be rolled out little by little over the next few months.

        1. Ed Hiatt

          When will the new Magic Bands be put in DisneyLand/California Adventure Parks? For the most part Disneyland Resort areas?

          1. Ricky Brigante

            For now, the MyMagic+ program with MagicBands appears to be for Walt Disney World only.

            1. Ed Hiatt

              That’s a bummer.
              That would be a massive improvement out here. Being a AP holder I would like to see that come to the West coast. 🙂

    3. InsiderWAR Craig

      Any idea of cost? Will they charge or this just an added benefit? Their use of technology is amazing.

    4. Jessica

      Will these bracelets be a one time use? Or can they be used for multiple visits?

      1. Ricky Brigante

        Multiple visits. They’ll be rubber and Disney hopes to make them collectible, allowing guests to add charms and other accessories to customize them.

    5. We are going the last week of January, will they be available by then?

    6. Joe

      Is this exclusive to resort guests? Or can anyone who buys tickets through Disneyworld.com get one?

      1. Ricky Brigante

        Everyone will be able to participate in some way, though the exact details will change depending on the ticket type. You definitely won’t have to stay at a Disney hotel to be part of this. The goal is for everyone to use the new system.

        1. Ethan Shue

          Everything sounds great! Can’t wait!
          I am a bit concerned about how much information Scuttle will be able to access. But I am also positive that someone at Disney has been closely making sure of this as well. Last thing you need is
          “Hey Happy Birthday Kid! Hope you’ll be enjoying your 1 night stay in the grand Floridian tonight, hope that wasn’t a suprise. No worries kid, it’ll be better than the tent site 104 where all your valuables are right now while you’re in the park. In any case better not fill up too much on those Dole Whip floats before dinner, you’ve already had three today and you only have four snack points left. Bon voyage kid, watch out for people with machetes hanging around outside the park. They’re looking for a hand-out”

          1. jsonson

            hahahahahaa, too funny

    7. Marie Rossiter

      I sent this on Twitter, but realized I should have come here. I’ve already booked a trip to WDW, arriving Feb 24. Do you have any idea if Fastpass+ users still are only being selected randomly at this point or will this be open to all upcoming guests? Thanks for all the great information!

      1. Marie Rossiter

        We’ll be staying at All Star Music Family Suite. Forgot to mention this in my last post.

      2. Ricky Brigante

        FastPass+ testing has come and gone many times, so it’s not clear if it will be going on during your upcoming trip. It will be officially rolled out in the coming months.

    8. Mikey

      So will Disney mail the band to you or will you also be able to pick one up at check-in or if you buy a ticket at TTC?

      1. Ricky Brigante

        They’ve noted that the MagicBand will be able to be registered prior to arrival to the parks, so it’s likely tied to park tickets. Whenever/wherever you get those, you also get your MagicBand.

    9. Gio

      What happens with Cast member tickets? Can cast members no longer get fastpasses? With about when CMs let their family in with their main gate pass – can they not get FPs anymore?

      Thanks

    10. Larry

      Since activity can theoretically be tracked, it would be cool if Disney could provide a virtual timeline scrapbook (maybe an extension of PhotoPass). The timeline would capture guests visits and could include stock video/photos of attractions, resorts, restaurants, events; as well as PhotoPass shots and personally uploaded video/photos that could be added to or substituted for stock imagery. Once the virtual scarpbook is completed, guests could relive their trip moment by moment, exactly as it occurred, Day 1 to Day “N”.

    11. Larry

      In addition to the advertised benefits for guests, the MagicBand could enable Disney to provide better crowd control. If for example they see an inordinate amount of guests in or headed in the direction of Tomorrowland, they could slow or redirect crowd flow using street performers or characters.

    12. jennifer

      how many fast passes per person on APs? and can we still get regulars ones or limit to a certain number?

    13. Roddy Barros

      This keeps getting better and better the more they let us know that it’ll be more than mapping out your vacation from home weeks in advance. I don’t like Fastpass and really don’t care to schedule may whole day in advance like this. But having restaurant reservation and vacation info with you at all times to the point where CMs will know my boy’s name or if we’re celebrating an anniversary is pretty cool.

      1. Rob Stevens

        Roddy: This doesn’t really take spontaneity out of your trip. Worst case, your pre-planned Fastpasses go unused.

        But I will say this … just doing a little planning (ok, in my case, a LOT of planning) in advance ends up making the trip run so much more smoothly. My wife was just as concerned as you were, but when we went on our honeymoon (and then to Aulani the next year), she realized that the reason why she never has to worry about anything on our trips is because I already took care of those details. It probably helps that we don’t have kid, though. 😉

        Just use something like TouringPlans to figure out which park is optimal for each day, plan to go there, and set up your Fastpasses for that day. If you decide later you want to go somewhere else, you have that flexibility, but the more you stick to the plan, the smoother things will go. If you decide to ditch the plan and have a beach or pool day, no worries.

        I will say that restaurant ressies are the hard part in all of this. It’s very hard to get into many Disney restaurants without a reservation, and you do need to plan those well in advance. All the more reason to do the other planning, though.

        1. Roddy Barros

          Rob: sure, I’d never go without no plan at all., especially because we’re flying in from another country (Brazil). I finally returned after 12 years last January and took my wife and 6-year-old boy for the first time. I didn’t study the “best” day for each park, but did schedule where we’d go when, had lunch reservations for all 4, had days set aside for hotel pool, Downtown Disney, DisneyQuest and even a possible MK repeat. But that’s as far as I’d go. I mean, I knew my “plan of attack” for every park and as soon as we passed the turnstiles it all went to bust because the wife HAD to stop for pictures with every single character. 🙂 So yeah, I’ll take the interactivity and the “speeding up” the MagicBands will provide, and maybe I’d schedule FastPasses for a show or even fireworks, but no attractions.

    14. Ryan B

      A bit of snark I saw on Twitter actually made me think about this.

      TDA spends $1b on DCA- revamping old and adding new lands. Attendance skyrockets.
      TDO spends $1b on NextGen tracking system- ?

      I don’t believe this will be of much benefit for WDW in the long run. Sure, TDO can use it to track & trend demographics, and the use of personalization is appetizing, but this doesn’t really pack the whollop that new attractions would.

      Just seems like an expensive gimmick.

    15. Chuck

      I was under the impression the the number of Fastpass+ tickets you would be issued would be based on whether you stayed in a Value Resort versus a Moderate or Deluxe. This sounds like where you stay would not matter. It’s based more on your tickets. Right? We are DVC Owners and AP holders. Do we know how many tickets we would be allowed?

      1. Ricky Brigante

        That has been going around but Disney hasn’t officially confirmed that yet. No specific details regarding the number of FastPass+ tickets versus the ticket type have been announced and that detail may change over time.

    16. Nat

      Naw. I am so tired of technology tracking me. I really dont want disney knowing every single place I walk in the park and what I eat. I really dont. I will gladly pay for a paper ticket with cash and enter disney as an annonymous person. Shoot why not just chip us like dogs.

      1. Andrew O.

        That’s going way too far Nat. This is only an RFID chip, and only is activated near the Mickey Mouse head RFID Readers! It doesn’t actually save anything on the bracelet either, it just links your online account.

      2. Justus

        You don’t think they’re fairly cognizant of where you are at any given minute in the park? Ever seen security swoop in?

    17. Andrew O.

      My high school band will be at Disney World from Thurs, March 20th to Sunday, March 24. There will be 400 of us on this trip! I was wondering if you guys think they will offer this to us if they are still testing this MyMagic+ at that time or not?

      1. Nicole

        I’m really excited about the possibilities. I can definitely see a special edition wristband that glows with the show! Just like the wristbands worn at the 2012 Coldplay concerts!

    18. Cannot wait until this technology becomes available! 🙂 Disney always keeps me coming back for something new every time :D!

    19. Ariel

      When I went to disneyW We where able to get way more than 3 fast passes in a day. And At disneyland this year we got 6 in one day! With the fastpass+ will that mean they are limiting the number of fastpasses you are aloud to get in a day? or will they have you plan 3 then when you get to the park will they have the normal fastpass distribution boxes with now a “tap to get a ticket” instead of the old way of sliding your ticket? Or will they be taken out all together meaning you can only have 3 rides per day?

    20. Mel C

      How will this new technology effect guests who don’t use it? Are there going to be less Fast Pass oppurtunities for them if Fast Passes can be booked in advance by others?

    21. IntroGuy#2

      Quick question. The WDW today boys tackled this very topic. What they were saying is that once you go with FastPass+ you can not go back to the old fastpass system. Is that just for AP holders? Or am I missing something entirely.

    22. kim

      What about security? Could a guest loan this new pass to another person who did not pay for admission?

      1. Jon

        Ticket Tag will still be in effect as far as I know

    23. Kai

      So how does this affect CMs? Will some of us lose our jobs?

    24. Loch

      Another idea I would think would be good, is if you have children you have them measure the child at the door and have them input it on this chip. Making it so that when they reach a ride they don’t have to check the height two sometimes three times. If they are not tall enough the chip won’t let them on the ride.

    25. Brandy

      In a word, this stinks. We are long time ITM listeners and disney fans we go at least 2 times a year for 9 day trips. We stay on property, get the dining plan, spend a fair chunk of change. And we love getting many fast passes a day and going from park open to close. For our trip this December we got a pleas try our new Fast pass plus email. So we did. We had NO idea it meant we would not be able to use normal FP. I would NEVER have done it if Disney had told us the truth on this fact. My 8 year old was literally in tears. It is already awful enough that I wake at 6 am 180 days pre trip to hope for a meal res. now I have to pre plan what ride I want to be on 60 days in advance! Are they crazy? This sucks the remaining life out of what has already become the least spontaneous vaca I take. And you only get three options per day, at times you would not prefer, for some less than FP worthy rides. It is not like you can pick any ride at any time, not even close. Really since when is FIGMENT FP worthy? Or Small World? No offense I like both rides., but there is a reason they don’t have FP booths. It sucks to know I can’t run from test track to soarin and get the FPs I want any more. And it also seems there is a class system. More expensive hotel, you get more FP options. Yikes. That’ll make you feel like crud if you aren’t in the 1% and you have to stay a disney value hotel (which is what we are doing, Art of Animation, which I was fine with until I heard about the caste system in FP plus. Call it FP minus is my vote. Sigh, guess next year we will be back at universal and may skip disney. At least universal and harry potter don’t lie or hide the ball. There you know what you get and what you pay for up front and you chose accordingly.

    26. Jim

      will the magic bands be available on the Disney ships?

    27. E Bogdanoff

      Used them this past week. Was difficult to get the rides we wanted on first tries. Learned to take rides we did not want and then change them to rides we wanted. Times offered were about an hour apart. They first offer you 3 time plans but if you are persistent with going back onlinefor each ride you get more time offerings. Why? Why not offer all available times the first time you sign on? And the rides you want the first time? We found our plans changed due to weather etc. and were able to change rides early in the day to much later in the day. Each person can have their own ride times or you can go as a group. But when using them for the meal plan it can get confusing, not all cashiers told you how many meals or snacks you had left, and it did not print out on receipts. Never did figure out how to get FP for fireworks but others said the area for FP was not that great. But with little kids, I think the old credit card like ticket was better as the adult could control the cards. We had to keep watching that the 4 year old did not take bracelet off. It WAS a pleasure though to walk onto empty fast oass lanes during Spring Break Week. We rarely waited longer than 10 minutes for the 3 rides we were able to choose each day.

    28. Jake

      Do they use magicbands in disney land paris?

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