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How Walt Disney World’s Billion Dollar MyMagic Bands Work

Aug 24, 2013 10:44 am

Skift Take

Disney knows that it’s guests don’t hesitate to spend big at its parks and also like perks. If the new tech makes both of these things easier for everyone it will likely succeed.

— Jason Clampet

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MyMagic┬áis a billion-dollar technology project that’s currently in testing at Walt Disney World. Its central elements include “MagicBands,” which are rubber bracelets that function as all-in-one theme park tickets, hotel room keys and credit cards, and “FastPass+,” a new ride reservation system that will allow visitors to book times for experiences such as rides, shows and parades weeks before they leave on vacation.

Related: Read our full coverage of Disney’s MyMagic band, here.

MagicBands are rubber bracelets equipped with radio-frequency identification chips that interact with sensors installed across Walt Disney World. Wearers will be able to wave the band in front of readers to pay for open hotel doors, enter theme parks and pay for food and souvenir purchases. The wristbands can also trigger unique moments in attractions, based on details visitors provide in advance. And they will also allow Disney to track visitors’ movements and spending in far more detail.

FastPass+ is expected to eventually replace Disney’s existing FastPass structure. Instead of getting paper FastPass tickets in the parks, visitors will instead be able to book attraction times weeks in advance. In current tests, guests have been able to make advance reservations for three attractions in a single theme park per day, or four in the Magic Kingdom. When guests arrive in the parks, RFID readers installed at attraction queues will interact with guests’ MagicBands to confirm reservation times.

Disney hasn’t yet said how far in advance reservations will begin, though the current speculation is that visitors will be able to book ride times at least 60 days out from the arrival. Guests staying in Disney-owned hotels would likely get an even longer window.

Walt Disney World is believed to be spending between $1 billion and $1.5 billion on MyMagic–and the company expects to recoup its investment through several channels. It expects that pre-planning guests will ultimately spend a larger portion of their vacation on Disney property. It also expects the cash-less MagicBands will ultimately spur guests to spend more money on food and souvenirs. And it expects to cull far more personal data about its guests, which should allow it to customize more profitable sales offers.

(c)2013 The Orlando Sentinel. Distributed by MCT Information Services.

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