It had been over 10 years since I jumped on a plane to the theme park capital of the world. But my recent trip to Walt Disney World for the grand opening of Pandora – The World of Avatar prompted me to go. I arrived a day prior to the Pandora press events to explore the entire resort…because you need to have fun before work, you know?
Arriving on property, everything started to become extremely familiar to me. The arched entryways on the roads, the basic shape road signs, and even the guest-laden parks themselves. What became very familiar to me throughout my trip out of all the things I saw, however, was something that was entirely new.
And it was on my wrist. It’s called the MagicBand and literally was probably the best thing ever.
I remember writing about the band, which was part of the new tech-centric experience called MyMagic+/My Disney Experience, back in 2013. It took a few years for the entire system to roll out because of the development of the app and the entirely new physical infrastructure that needed to exist at the park in order for it to all work.
That connection between the app and your actual visit to the resort was incredibly crucial since My Disney Experience promised to remove the hassle of planning and enjoying your visit to Walt Disney World by allowing you to do things like pre-schedule FastPasses, pre-buy your meals, and be your “key to the magic” i.e. your hotel room key, charge card, and admission ticket.
I began to notice how awesome the MagicBand and app were when I first entered the various parks I visited. All I had to do was wave my MagicBand across a visually stunning, LED-lit, Mickey Mouse shaped reader. After a few seconds and prompting me for my fingerprint, the light turned green and was allowed to enter. No turnstile to climb out of, no ticket to lose, no fuss.
— Jordie Poblete (@jordiepoblete) May 31, 2017
The no-fuss experience extended to all the times I used FastPass+. The same procedure applied and with a green light from the reader, I was allowed to enjoy the attraction with no fuss.
I know that the system has been around for a few years now, but I haven’t seen that many people tout how great the whole system is. I believe it very much kept on its promise to make your entire Disney vacation experience more enjoyable from beginning to end through its ease-of-use and sense of purpose.
Both know-how and purpose are key to be able to develop the service even more, especially as Disney readies to launch a modified version of the system for the Disneyland Resort in California sometime this year. As Disneyland officials have already announced with the new MaxPass system, guests will be able to pre-schedule their FastPasses and download photos they take at the parks for a premium.
As for how guests will be able to make use of these features, Disneyland has remained quiet for now. Our sources have pointed out that instead of a physical MagicBand like at Walt Disney World, Disneyland guests who opt for MaxPass will either have a “smart ticket” with a chip inside of it or be able to use their smartphones with the Disneyland app to access the readers that have already been installed at select attractions.
While Disney has argued that MaxPass was designed with Disneyland’s visitor culture in mind (e.g. that more locals visit Disneyland compared to Walt Disney World), it would be unfortunate to not include something like the MagicBand as part of this heightened experience.
It really was the best thing to arrive to Walt Disney World since churros, in my opinion, because it really made everything about visiting extremely ease and even fun. Hopefully that will be the case for us Disneyland-goers, too.