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Review: Disney Magic Band

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I’m with the band. The MagicBand, that is.

What’s a MagicBand? Well, it’s Disney’s sparkly new wearable tech that serves as your wearable key to the magic. They’re basically Disney bracelets with Radio Frequency (RFID) technology.

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Here’s what MagicBands can actually do:

  • Room Key
  • Park Ticket
  • Magical Express check-in/ticket
  • Charge any purchase to your credit card on file
  • Photo Pass
  • Fast Pass +
  • Use Disney Dining credits
  • Interactive games throughout the Parks/rides

 

I got to check out this new technology first hand a few weeks ago on my vacation to the Pop Century Resort at Walt Disney World. Here are my thoughts and experiences with MagicBand.

About 6 weeks out from our vacation, my friend Ashley and I went online to customize our MagicBands. You pick the color by choosing from 6 options with gray as the default; I chose pink and she picked orange.  The MagicBands arrived close to 3 weeks before our vacation in one Incredible box.

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Upon arriving at Orlando International, I headed straight to the Magical Express check-in. This was the first time I got to use my MagicBand.  Of course, I’d put it on before I even left Philadelphia, so when I arrived at check-in, I just held my MagicBand up to Mickey. Mickey to Mickey. It glowed green and all my reservation info came right up for the Cast Member. Off to Pop Century I went.

At Pop Century, I headed to the concierge to add my credit card and choose a PIN number. Each person picks a PIN number so you’ll know who makes any charges to the MagicBand. Keep in mind, you can choose your PIN ahead of time if you do online check-in before arrival. When I got to our room, I simply held my wrist up to the door, got a green light and walked in.

Our first dining experience with the Magic Bands was just as easy. We enjoyed a mouthwatering meal at Sannaa at the Animal Kingdom Lodge. Our waiter asked if we were on the Disney dining plan and when we confirmed we were, he scanned a MagicBand (only one since we were a shared account) and used two table service meals – just like that. We were also able to charge the gratuity and extra food purchases we made directly to the room without whipping out a single credit card. It was all done through the MagicBand. This is when I realized, happily, I really didn’t need to carry any credit cards with me – I could use my MagicBand for everything.

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MagicBands are also integrated into the interactive part of the rides. On the new re-imagined Test Track, I used my MagicBand to create my SimCar for the ride experience. I just held it up to Mickey and voila, I created a fast and fabulous car in just 3 minutes. When I got on the ride, I scanned my MagicBand and my car was loaded and ready to ‘test’ the design on the ride. There are several interactive items like this throughout the parks, but this was the only one we did on this trip.

 

The last and one of the coolest things to do with MagicBands is to plan out your Fast Pass ahead of time. Oh yes, ahead of time. Like before the park even opens! For this feature, you do need to use either the Disney Experience website or free app (on iPhone and Android). But then you go online and choose 3 rides, attractions or experiences. For our first day, we used it to get Star Tours, Toy Story Mania and Fantasmic preferred seating.  This was incredible, because Toy Story Mania normally has a 150 minute wait, but we knew what time our Fast Pass was before we even walked in the park. And a bonus feature, if your plans change or you want to do something else, the app lets you make time and experience changes based on what’s still available. One downside to this feature, right now, you can only choose your 3 attractions at the same park. So while you can park hop, your 3 pre-chosen experiences have to be at the same park. Disney’s working on this, but for now, only one park at a time. And here’s a Disney tip, you’ll still receive a card park ticket as ‘back-up.’ Use this in the legacy Fast Pass machines at the park and you can still get a Fast Pass the old way too!

Disney Magic Band gives you access to airport transportation from Orlando to the property.

Disney Magic Band gives you access to airport transportation from Orlando to the property.

Keep in mind, MagicBands are only if you’re staying on Disney property or an annual passholder. Also, they’re not 100% available at all Disney resorts yet; they’re still rolling them out.

I’m personally totally in love with the MagicBand. It was a fantastic user experience; I loved the technology factor, the interaction with the app and the ease of not carrying a wallet with me.  I also got to keep my MagicBand and can use it the next time I head to the Mouse House – which I’m hoping is soon!

If you want to do some more reading on MagicBands, check out Disney’s website for more of the details: https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/faq/bands-cards/understanding-magic-band/ .

Have you gotten to use the MagicBand yet? What do you think of the new idea? And of course, what color MagicBand would you get?

Hear Sarah’s review on the Weekend Travel Show.

Content/Photo credit: Sarah Phillips

 

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