Freedom. That’s the word that came to mind after experiencing the new MagicBands at Disney last week. Freedom from searching for a hotel room key or fumbling for it when my arms are full. Freedom from hotel keys being demagnetized and having to go wait in line for a new one. Freedom from keeping track of tickets at theme parks and the fear that I’d accidentally toss one out. Freedom from carrying a camera around to capture our magic moments. Freedom from carrying cash or credit cards to make purchases.
The fun started after we had our reservation for our stay at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge. (All resort guests are offered MagicBands at no charge, as are annual passholders. Day guests may purchase them for $12.95.) We could then go to the website My Disney Experience where we could add dining reservations, purchase tickets and personalize our MagicBands with names and colors. I chose green for me, pink for my daughter, Catherine. If you are able to do this 10 days prior, the MagicBands will be shipped to you. As I ordered ours too late than that, we received them when we checked in.
To enter our hotel room, we simply touched the Mickey on our band to the Mickey icon on our door. When we entered a theme park, we did the same thing — Mickey to Mickey — then put a finger on the fingerpad, which measures the metrics of that finger to match it to the MagicBand holder. For the purchases we made, we again just had to touch our MagicBand and our purchase was complete.
As we traveled through the parks, we encountered many of the 200 photographers that can be found throughout the resorts. After taking our photo, he or she would scan our MagicBand, and voila! Our photos are added to our account to view and order later.
At the uber popular Be Our Guest restaurant in the Magic Kingdom, where stand-by guests wait up to 45 minutes for a table, you can not only make your reservation in advance, you can go ahead and order your meal. When it’s time to eat lunch, just stroll in and sit down. Your food will magically appear at your table.
The MagicBands are available in seven colors, and are waterproof and hypoallergenic. But wait, there’s more! You can accessorize your MagicBands with covers and themed MagicBandIts, which slip or clip on. According to Liz Boice Hankins, Senior Vice President of Merchandise Development, some families change their accessories according to which theme park they are visiting. Themes include Disney characters and Star Wars (light and dark).
Of course, as anyone familiar with Disney stories know, magic can be used for both good and evil. As one Disney exec told us, one of his sons figured out that he could go in the hotel room first, get on the computer to deactivate his brother’s MagicBand, which also served to lock him out of the hotel room.