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Disney officially announces FastPass+, MyMagic+ and MagicBands for a personalized guest experience

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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:

FastPass+ test at Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World - FastPass Plus

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33 comments

Jan January 7, 2013 - 11:29 am

And if you don’t have a smartphone??

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Toni January 7, 2013 - 1:48 pm

There better be fairness to those who stay off property.

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Margo January 7, 2013 - 3:57 pm

And if you don’t like wearing a bracelet what are your options. I go on vacation to avoid watches etc and would hate to be tied to something on my wrist. Just doesn’t seem practical to me especially when people are at WDW when it is hot hot hot and the last thing you want is something on your wrist. Sometimes to me the future changes aren’t all that it is cracked up to be. But we will continue to go to WDW and enjoy!!!!!

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Matt Roseboom January 7, 2013 - 4:07 pm

Jan: If you don’t have a smartphone, there will be kiosks set up in the park to use.

Toni: See our update about non-Disney resort guests.

Margo: Since those not staying at a Disney Resort will be able to use their tickets, it seems likely you could ask for a regular ticket with the RFID embedded instead of a band. But it’s unknown if it will offer all the same benefits. You could always keep the band in your pocket instead of your wrist too.

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Margo January 7, 2013 - 4:55 pm

Thanks Matt. We are Premiere APs and aren’t sure how we will be affected. We stay on property when we are there so I guess we shall wait and see what happens. Thanks for the prompt answer!!!

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Nick January 7, 2013 - 5:24 pm

This…is….creepy. I do not like this at all. If this is now new Disney and this is the current Tomorrow Land are we to have these wristbands so our DNA is tracked and we turn into robots of Disney perfection? If Disney thinks this is going to put them into the right direction then I think I’ll be officially done with attending Disney parks. There shouldn’t be special perks for wristband wearers when out of state guests it may cost over $1500 for 2-3 nights to go to Disney, our money we deserve all perks. V.I.P. to parade line? Wow that’s dumb. Great reporting as always but come on, people think, is this really what we want from Disney?

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Doug January 7, 2013 - 6:10 pm

So will you have to pick your fast pass times for each individual member of the family or is a family one entity? This could be time consuming for a family with say 4 kids.

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Jeremy January 7, 2013 - 9:22 pm

I’ll be interested to see how this ends up working for AP holders… Are we supposed to pick up a wristband every time we come to the parks, or are they just going to send us one to use all year? They can’t even get the AP newsletters to everyone!

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Scott January 8, 2013 - 2:58 am

Awesome!

Okay, when does this start?

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Philippa January 8, 2013 - 6:55 am

Very interesting to read. Going in June so hope it’s up and running by then. What I am wondering is if they will allow some members of a onsite stay party to have the wristbands and some to have the cards, as I have a small Daughter and would prefer a card I could keep in my wallet for her and wristbands for the rest of us.
Also if you have the photopass+ do you think it will mean that each member in your party can get the ride photos as it l be linked to your bracelet rather than the one card you currently have to run back and forward with. That would be much more useful.

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Nick January 8, 2013 - 8:50 am

So if I decide to go to WDW on a day trip to Orlando I can’t get a fastpass+ since I would have had to pre-select it prior to my trip? That doesn’t make any sense. What about Florida locals that have annual passes? Is the only way to get a fastpass+ to plan for one prior to your trip to WDW? I don’t always plan in advance – sometimes I just want to head to a park on the weekend and be spontaneous.

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Matt Roseboom January 8, 2013 - 4:42 pm

Doug: Each person that has a park ticket will be able to select their own FastPass options. As you can see in our video about of the testing, there is a “Select All” option when all of the members of your party come up.

Jeremy: You will keep just one band, but like now if you lose your pass, you can get a new one. But it’s unknown if a replacement band will be free.

Scott: They haven’t given an exact starting date. Rumors say February for certain resort guests then others as the months continue.

Philippa: That’s a good question. Can you just use a card instead of the band if you want to and will the card allow you all the same perks?
I would think each person with a band would be able to add the ride photos to their account, but that’s unknown for sure.

Nick: You can pick your FastPass+ selections when you get to the park via touch-screens set up various places as seen in our video above, or via their app once you get your ticket.

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Steve January 8, 2013 - 6:00 pm

Any idea how the free parking with ap is going to be applied at the toll booth?

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Angela January 9, 2013 - 9:16 am

Do you know if you will be able to still go to a kiosk and still be able to get fast passes through the day in addition to the three? I was able to get well over three the last 6 years we have gone to WDW. Also, I think VIP Parade seating would be nice that way you don’t have to wait forever to get a spot. Only if you can still get more FP in addition to the 3 you are allowed to schedule.

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Matt Roseboom January 9, 2013 - 10:19 am

Steve: That’s a good question. We don’t know that yet. Maybe you’ll scan your band or will be giving a paper parking ticket.

Angela: I believe you will be able to get more than three a day but you can only book three in advance. When you get to the park you can most likely select from whatever Fastpasses are left via a touch screen or your app.

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Tiago Duarte January 10, 2013 - 3:09 pm

Am I the only one wondering WHEN this will become available?

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sam January 10, 2013 - 3:48 pm

this is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard of! We are living in a society of everything right now, and nobody can wait, what about people who can’t afford to stay onsite, what about people who have tickets that are non-expired from a previous visit? What’s wrong with the old way, everybody waits their fair share of time and takes their turn? I have been to Disney over 50 times in the last 20 years, but this will keep me away for sure. How sad that I have lost my love for the Magic of Disney now.
how stupid.

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Tiago Duarte January 10, 2013 - 4:06 pm

I suggest you folks chill out. Disney is not inventing the wheel here. They are making it easier for people to have a planned and orderly trip, with your attractions scheduled in advance and minimal wait times. Yes, guests staying at Disney property will get extra rides, but they already get EMH and nobody is crying about that. If you think that this is bad because you like to “wing it” and not plan anything in advance, well, you need to rethink how you spend your money. If you think it’s cool to wing it and spend anything over 30 minutes in line you’re just wasting your cash. Yes, the bands will be available to property guests before regular guests, but this will only last for a few months, at most. And for the paranoid bunch worrying about Big Brother, the ONLY difference between the new system and what we already have is that they’ll know DAYS in advance who is riding what, as opposed to knowing it a couple of HOURS in advance (when you get your Fastpass). I think Disney made a mistake in focusing on the RFID technology, because that initialism conjures up paranoia. It they had said that the Magic Band is powered by fairy technology and uses pixie dust and smiles and sunshine, nobody would be complaining.

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Scott January 12, 2013 - 4:43 am

My next visit to WDW is on January 29, 2013 and I was able to do online check in seventeen days in advance. In addition, under terms and conditions it stated that the “use of a MagicBand to enter my room” would constitute acceptance.

Now I just need to figure out how to have my no expiration date tickets applied to my MagicBand.

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Nancy January 13, 2013 - 9:29 pm

I am going to be travelling in July with 6 others from Canada. We will purchase our tickets at CAA, and wonder if we will be able to link our tickets to the “my disney experience site”, so that we can book fastpasses in advance?
If now, would we be able to pre register the tickets and pre book the fastpasses if we buy our tickets through Disney’s site?
Thanks and can’t wait to arrive!

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Matt Roseboom January 14, 2013 - 10:02 am

Nancy: It doesn’t matter where you buy your tickets, if you’re staying at a Disney resort, you’ll get the MagicBands. The ability to book your Fastpasses in advance hasn’t been rolled out to everyone yet, so we don’t know if it will be available to you in July.

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Ken January 26, 2013 - 12:27 am

Maybe in the future I will be part of this wonderful world. But currently, I just go to the parks when I want, so I wait in a line to get -in, wow, maybe 10minutes at the most, all depends on what day, what time, and what day of the year I go. I know that on Holidays its always a longer wait but then again, I chose to go to the park that day.

For me being budget minded, I stay off part now, its usually just me the single person, which spending $100.00 a nite on a room is rarely done, thats 3-4 days off site, which means more time to see everything. I enjoy the bus system that disney has, its free! Also, staying off site allows me to splurge in the parks on food then, that $10.00 hamburger is my reward for saving money staying on the outside, and besides, I’m there to be at the parks, at the malls, at somewhere, not to sit in a room an stare at the walls.

There have been many versions of the annual passes, I still have some from the 80s that included our photo and laminated. As far as the Cast members saying my name, they already have for years, your name appeared on the turnstile when the machine read your card.
And really folks, if you want to stay unknown, there is always CASH, but really, we go to WDW to have fun, forget our troubles, and feel like family, otherwise we WOULD NOT BE THERE. Its an option, thats all it is, personally I will stay disconnected when I visit, the phone is turned off, I dont Facebbok, I dont tweet, I RELAX and forget the fast paced world we live in now, even if its only for a few hours.

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Diana February 4, 2013 - 1:54 am

It mentions 3 advance reservations for fastpasses.
But how many parades or firework shows can you reserve spots for in one park in one day?
I’m wondering whether this will be available for all shows (like beauty and the beast, lion king, & maybe even fantasmic?)

Also how does it work if you preorder tickets online but aren’t staying at a Disney resort? (I’ve never ordered tickets online, so I don’t know whether or not you pick them up at the park or if they’re sent to the persons house-which is why I have a few questions) 
When people preorder tickets online are they linked to that persons disney account (&by email?)? And if so would I be able to log into the my Disney experience app and see my tickets in there, & be able to do all the fastpass+?  Cause of course if I preorder tickets I would love to be able to plan all this out days in advance instead of having to wait til I get to kiosk in a park.

I’m just wondering. We are going in late July, but since we own a timeshare we never stay at a disney resort. Would love to able to reserve spots for parades/fireworks/&other shows.

Of course this is me hoping that I’ll be able to have these features in July. 

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Morgan March 10, 2013 - 10:13 am

When do these become available to those staying off Disney property?

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Dave March 17, 2013 - 2:50 am

Sorry, but I strongly feel that the MyMagic+ / FastPass+ should be offered to people staying at a Disney resort and not for those staying offsite. We pay 3x more to stay at the resorts so it should be a perk for us.

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Dawn March 23, 2013 - 12:24 pm

Everyone that is ‘upset’ about this really does need to relax. Nothing is being forced on you, put the band in your pocket, dont register it with your name, pull fastpasses the old way. Goodness, I never realized there was so much paranoia out there! Im excited about seeing how it works, I dont have a smart phone, nor will I carry one in the parks..they provide the technology to change things from Disney kiosk…really I dont understand why everyone is so worried. The bands are not welded to your wrist…you can opt for a card if you choose, Im SURE..there are people with disabilities and phobias and allergies, people that are too large, or too small or just plain wont want to wear anything…geez! chill.

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rachael August 5, 2013 - 1:31 am

I’m not sure if this question has been answered yet, but do you know if the MagicBands can be linked with the Guest Assistance/disability pass? My brother is disabled & he wouldn’t want to wear a MagicBand on his wrist.

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Matt Roseboom August 17, 2013 - 9:05 am

We’re not sure exactly, but he could just carry the band or most likely get a card instead.

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Dana August 25, 2013 - 2:43 am

I think it sounds great. Will people who stay at the Swan & the Dolphin be able to get magic bands and use fast pass + ? Working on booking my next trip & I’d hate to miss out 🙂

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Matt Roseboom August 30, 2013 - 9:08 am

We’re not sure if those hotels will be included since they’re not officially Disney hotels.

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Donna September 21, 2013 - 3:26 am

We go in Nov 2013 staying at the Carribean Resort any word as to if the magic bands will b available for that time frame

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Michelle November 4, 2013 - 10:16 pm

I just got back from my annual visit to Disney and hated the magic band experience. I will be going to Universal next year and will skip Disney. The rides were not working at the time of the Fastpass so the app gave me a new time to a ride of their choice and would not let me get the original ride at a different time. I tried going to kiosks and the system was down on a couple of occasions. A lot of mis-information was given at desk and I finally got angry enough to start complaining. I have never complained at Disney and this made my trip a miserable experience:((((

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Joe November 11, 2013 - 8:38 am

I just got back from disney. I bought a 6 day park pass for my 4 family members.
I was not able to by a wristband. It is not an option unless you are on the property.
Here’s the deal: it really sucks for those that don’t have it. Many rides only offer fast passes to those with wristbands. Those lower class citizens have to stand in line and watch the special people walk past them. The ride attendants would just say “no paper fastpasses available for this ride”.
Then, because fastpass plus people can get their fastpasses before they get to the park, on some rides all of the fast passes for the day were gone before 10:00am. For example, Toy Story Midway Mania. The line was 1 1/2 hours long and all fast passes were gone. The park had only been open for 1 hour.
This is not the first time Disney has actively tried to alienate those that don’t stay on the parks: EMH, dining plan, etc.
I’m tired of it. After spending thousands of dollars at Disney this past week and feeling like a 2nd class citizen, I’m done with them. I’m glad my kids are older now – we can visit other parks that don’t go out of their way to make guests feel like steerage.

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