Disney has officially released information on the next generation of their FastPass system and other enhancements they’re calling MyMagic+. The new system is said to give guests a more personalized vacation through the use of a new wristband called MagicBands.
Parts of MyMagic+ have already been introduced. We’ve previously told you about Disney resort guests being able to enter the parks without turnstiles and pay for their Walt Disney World purchases with touch to pay technology. This is currently being done through RFID (Radio-Frequency IDentification) chips embedded into their “Key to the World” cards, which also serve as their room keys. Within in the next few months, Disney will be forgoing the cards for wristbands dubbed MagicBands, with RFID chips in them. These wristbands will serve as resort guests’ room keys, park tickets and FastPass+. They’ll also be able to charge purchases to their account using the bands and collect their PhotoPass pictures.
Disney’s announcement came via a Disney Parks Blog post by Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Chairman Tom Staggs:
A major component of MyMagic+ is the new My Disney Experience website and mobile app, which gives guests planning their trip the latest information on all Walt Disney World Resort has to offer. We know that some people like to plan every aspect of their Disney vacation in advance while others like to plan very little, letting their day unfold spontaneously.
No matter where guests fall in that spectrum, My Disney Experience gives them the flexibility to plan as much or as little as they’d like to create the exact Disney experience they want. They can book dining and other experiences and reserve times for their favorite attractions, shows and more through an enhanced FastPass system, FastPass+. Once they arrive, they can use their smart phones to spontaneously change their plans in the moment, exploring our parks at their own pace and getting the most out of their visit.
An article in the New York Times gave a few more details on the new system:
• Hidden sensors will read MagicBand data, providing information needed for a personalized greeting: “Hi, Angie,” the character might say without prompting. “I understand it’s your birthday.”
• The Under the Sea attraction features a robotic version of Scuttle the sea gull from “The Little Mermaid” that will be able to chitchat with MagicBand wearers.
• An online options menu will offer various controls: Do you want park employees to know your name? Do you want Disney to send you special offers when you get home? What about during your stay?
• MyMagic+ will allow users of a new Web site and app — called My Disney Experience — to preselect three FastPasses before they leave home for rides or V.I.P. seating for parades, fireworks and character meet-and-greets.
* Disney plans to introduce collectible sets of MagicBand accessories and charms.
The MagicBands will be rolled out throughout the year, initially only to guests staying at Disney resorts. It’s expected that MyMagic+ will be available to all Disney World guests by the end of the year.
Guests worried about privacy concerns can opt out of part or all of MyMagic+, although they won’t be able to take advantage of the benefits. If your MagicBand is lost, you will be able to disable it through your smartphone or by telling a Disney cast member. The RFID chips in the bands will not hold any personal information, just code that the Disney computers can read to look up your information.
It’s still unknown how this new system will affect annual passholders and guests not staying at a Disney resort. Disney has said that annual passholders will receive mail and/or e-mail in the coming months telling them how they can become part of MyMagic+ and how and when they’ll receive their MagicBands.
UPDATE – 2 p.m. Jan. 7, 2013 -Disney has released a few more details:
• Disney FastPass+ service is included with theme park admission.
• The MagicBand is initially available to select Walt Disney World Resort hotel guests and guests who purchase other specific products.
• Other guests will be able to use their standard ticket to access the benefits of MyMagic+, such as making FastPass+ selections on the My Disney Experience website and app.
UPDATE – 3 p.m. Jan. 7, 2013 - Disney Parks and Resorts Chairman Tom Staggs has provided a few more details on how the experience will work for annual passholders and guests staying at off Disney property:
• Our Annual Passholders are very important to us and we’re taking extra care to provide access to all the features and benefits of MyMagic+.
• Guests staying at Walt Disney World Resort hotels, and Annual Passholders will receive a band, as well as those guests who purchase a photography package. Guests who stay at non-Disney hotels will receive a ticket with features of touch to enter the park, touch to redeem FastPass+ and touch to pay. These guests can participate in My Disney Experience and purchase a MagicBand if they wish.
UPDATE – Jan. 30, 2013 - Disney has started selling single and multi-day tickets with RFID chips embedded. The tickets are plastic with a green background and can be used for entering the park through the turnstiles or the new touch to enter stations. The tickets will also work with the current FastPass machines.
Annual passholders will soon be told how to convert their pass to MyMagic+.
Here’s a video of the new FastPass+ being tested in the parks using a FastPass+ card instead of MagicBands: