Free MagicBands Discontinued?! Your Options for 2021 Vacations

in Walt Disney World


If you are heading to Walt Disney World Resort in 2021, there’s something that you need to know before your trip: you will not receive a free MagicBand. That’s right — Disney has officially discontinued complimentary MagicBands for 2021 vacations.

Let’s dive into what Disney World MagicBands are, what you can do in 2021 since MagicBands are no longer free (even if you are a hotel Guest), and why the new MagicMobile service will be a game-changer for your upcoming trip. Trust us when we say that you will still experience that Disney magic even without a complimentary MagicBand.

Credit: Disney

What Is a MagicBand?

A MagicBand is your key to Disney World. It is an RFID wristband that Disney World Guests can wear while on vacation that allows them to unlock the magic of the parks. Typically, MagicBands are highly convenient because they allow Guests to have their theme park admission, a form of payment, and so much more all attached to their MagicBand, providing them with a seamless vacation experience.

Credit: Disney

The official Walt Disney World website provides the following description of MagicBands. Keep in mind that certain amenities, like FastPass+, have been suspended amid the pandemic. But right now, information about your MagicBand having your verification for Disney’s Magical Express, hotel key, park ticket, and form of payment still applies.

Tap into the magic with your MagicBand on your wrist. This colorful wristband is actually an all-in-one device that effortlessly connects you to all the vacation choices you made with My Disney Experience.

Your MagicBand enables you to travel lighter throughout your vacation. Use it to enter the parks, unlock your Disney Resort hotel room and buy food and merchandise. Plus, your MagicBand gives you FastPass+ access to all the experiences you’ve selected online, so you can simply concentrate on enjoying the fun with the people you care about.

MagicBands add a touch of magic to your vacation by unlocking special surprises, personalized just for you, throughout the Walt Disney World Resort. Once you’ve linked your MagicBand, you don’t need to do anything different. Your MagicBand and My Disney Experience profile will do the rest, creating unexpected Disney moments–just like magic.

And, each of these magical moments will be transformed into a one-of-a-kind digital keepsake by Disney PhotoPass Service. All you have to do is go to your PhotoPass account to see all the memories we’ve captured and created for you.

Valid theme park admission is required to use FastPass+ service.

disney magicband
Credit: Disney

No Free Disney World MagicBands in 2021

So, what does this mean? Can you still purchase a Disney MagicBand or receive one in the mail before your trip? Can you reuse an old MagicBand? Or can you opt-out completely and navigate the theme parks without one? What about MagicMobile, the all-new service that brings your MagicBand to your mobile device? Here’s everything you need to know about your options for Disney MagicBands for your 2021 vacation.

its a small world magicband
credit: shopDisney

Below is an email that Disney is sending as a reminder to Guests with upcoming trips:

Your Walt Disney World vacation is right around the corner and we can’t wait to welcome you here! But before you go, we wanted to send you this helpful reminder.

MagicBands will no longer be provided complimentary to Disney Resort hotel Guests with arrivals beginning January 1, 2021. For Disney Resort hotel room entry, Theme Park entry and charging purchases to your hotel room with a valid credit card, you may use a Key To The World card (provided at the Front Desk). Or, you may use a MagicBand from a past visit (view potential limitations) or purchase a MagicBand prearrival. For more about these options click here.

In addition, we highly recommend using our Online Check-In/Direct-to-Room service, which allows you to get to the fun faster with real-time, room-ready updates. Sign up for room ready notifications and use the MyDisneyExperience app as a digital room key to enter your Disney Resort hotel room. The app is also a great tool to help you plan before and during your visit.

Thanks for your time. See ya real soon!

Screenshot via Disney World website

Based on all of the information we know now — and the most recent update — here are your options for a 2021 trip to Disney World.

You Can Purchase a New MagicBand For a 2021 Vacation

Yes, that is correct. Even though complimentary MagicBands are no longer available, you can still purchase a new MagicBand for your 2021 vacation.

The My Disney Experience section of the Walt Disney World Resort website shares the following message on the MagicBands webpage:

Please note: Starting in 2021, we plan to unveil an innovative new offering as part of the My Disney Experience app that will bring features of a MagicBand to your smart devices. Guests staying at Disney Resort hotels with an arrival date through December 31, 2020 will continue to receive complimentary MagicBands. With the new My Disney Experience offering, MagicBands will no longer be provided on a complimentary basis with new reservations for Disney Resort hotel Guests with arrivals beginning January 1, 2021 and beyond.

Screenshot via Disney World website

Note that the price of adding a Disney MagicBand to your vacation through My Disney Experience will cost you a fee of $5-20, depending on the MagicBand you select. For example, basic colors that were previously complimentary now cost $5, and other designs (such as those with characters, text, or various motifs) cost $10-20.

You Can Reuse an Old MagicBand For Your Upcoming Trip

Additionally, you can choose to reuse an old MagicBand from one of your previous trips. As MagicBands are no longer free when you book a Disney World vacation package, Guests are not obligated to purchase one. As Disney shares, “All your MagicBands and cards can be used interchangeably as long as they’re active.” This means that if you already own a MagicBand, you can make sure it is connected to your My Disney Experience account and therefore use it for your next Disney World vacation. You may not get a complimentary MagicBand, but perhaps reusing one of your existing MagicBands is the next best thing.

Credit: Disney

You Can Decide Not to Use a MagicBand

Additionally, you do not have to use a MagicBand on your Disney World trip. That is because everything you need is on the My Disney Experience app, the official mobile app of Walt Disney World Resort. Yes, your MagicBand is your “key to Disney World” — but so is your Disney World app. And, in many ways, the My Disney Experience app offers so much more than a MagicBand. That means you can use your smartphone to check into your Disney Resort hotel, unlock your hotel room door, and mobile order from a variety of dining locations. You can make dining reservations and even join mobile waitlists and virtual queues on the My Disney Experience app.

MagicBands are highly convenient, as they bring your theme park tickets, room key, and payment method all to your wrist. But with so much being added to the Disney World app, MagicBands are not always a necessity anymore.

Cinderella Castle Makeover my disney experience
ITM Screenshot via My Disney Experience app

Related: What We Know About Disney World’s “Genie” Vacation Planning App

Disney MagicMobile Service!

As we wrote above, even more offerings are going to be enhanced on the My Disney Experience app. Now, as of spring 2021, Guests have the option of using their mobile devices instead of a MagicBand.

Credit: Screenshot MDE/ITM

To reiterate Disney’s announcement, “Starting in 2021, we plan to unveil an innovative new offering as part of the My Disney Experience app that will bring features of a MagicBand to your smart devices.”

As Disney has hinted and as more Guests have suspected, a new offering has been introduced to allow Guests access to the features of the Disney MagicBand straight on their smart device. We see this at Disneyland Resort, which does not utilize MagicBands. We said we would update this article as more information about the My Disney Experience updates becomes available. And now, we have an update!

disney magicmobile service
Credit: Disney

Disney has officially announced that an all-new service — Disney MagicMobile — is being rolled out in 2021 as an alternative to MagicBands. Disney MagicMobile will allow Guests to access many of the same features of the Disney MagicBand straight on their smart mobile device, like iPhone or Android phone. Plus, the MagicMobile service is completely free. So, if you do not want to pay for a MagicBand, it is the perfect solution.

Credit: Screenshot MDE/ITM

Here’s what the company announced in March 2021:

Launching in phases starting later this year, Disney MagicMobile service is a convenient and contactless way to access MagicBand features like theme park entry through the power of your iPhone, Apple Watch or other smart device. Guests will be able to create a Disney MagicMobile pass through the My Disney Experience app and add it to their smart device’s digital wallet. It works like magic – most features will be available by just holding up your smart device near an access point, just like you do with a MagicBand. Disney MagicMobile service and its features will roll out first on Apple devices.

As of this spring, MagicMobile is officially launched. At first, the service debuted to only Apple users in March 2021. And, as of April 2021, it is available for Android users, as well.

You can read all about MagicBands vs. MagicMobile in our guide here.

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Credit: Disney

Read More: Using Magic Mobile? Some Guests Still Suggest Wearing a MagicBand

Book a Trip

Want to book a trip? We’ve got you covered. Our friends at Academy Travel are the most knowledgeable Authorized Disney Vacation Planners around. They know everything there is to know about Walt Disney World vacations and can help you navigate all of the changes and new offerings at the Disney Parks in 2021 and beyond. Academy Travel agents are experts on Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom, as well as Disney Springs and all of the Walt Disney World hotels. Plus, you know you’ll get an awesome deal on your upcoming trip when you work with Academy Travel — and their services are completely free. Click here to book a vacation!

Screenshot via Disney World website

So, what do you plan to do: buy a new MagicBand, use an old MagicBand, or just use MagicMobile on the My Disney Experience app? Let us know in the comments!

This article has been updated since it was originally published.

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