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Disney’s Billion Dollar Theme Park Gamble

The new MyMagic+ system at Walt Disney World promises a much richer experience, but so far many guests don't like it.

Chris Queen


March 12, 2014 - 7:00 am
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Guests travel to Walt Disney World seeking the ultimate vacation experience, and Disney continues to develop new ways to deliver the best possible vacation. The company has invested over a billion dollars in their MyMagic+ system, which employs wearable technology and RFID (radio frequency identification) chips to fine tune and customize guests’ experiences. Disney has high hopes for MyMagic+, but so far many guests aren’t sold on the idea.

A recent MSN Money profile on MyMagic+ reveals the technology behind this new system, Disney’s expectations for the program, and guests’ decidedly mixed reviews.

It’s a sweeping reservation and ride planning system that allows for bookings months in advance on a website or smartphone app. Bracelets called MagicBands, which link electronically to an encrypted database of visitor information, serve as admission tickets, hotel keys, and credit or debit cards; a tap against a sensor pays for food or trinkets. The bands have radio frequency identification (RFID) chips — which critics derisively call spychips because of their ability to monitor people and things.

That tracking power also is what makes them so important for Disney’s $14.1 billion theme park and resort business. Intelligence collected using the bands coupled with what visitors input into the related My Disney Experience app and website — all voluntary — help Disney determine when to add more staff at rides, what restaurants should serve, which souvenirs should be stocked, and how many employees in costume should roam around at any given time. Data about customer preferences could be used to craft e-mails or text messages alerting them to restaurant menu changes or sudden openings for reservations in an expedited queue at Space Mountain or the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror.

The goal is to offer people what Tom Staggs, head of the company’s parks and resorts unit, calls “a more immersive, more seamless, and more personal experience” — allowing Disney employees to address a child by name, for example, or wish someone a happy birthday.

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I also used it last October, and beyond a little account confusion, had no problems. It does, I think, make "park hopper" passes less useful. The only way I saw it creating long lines was people getting in line for their fast pass BEFORE their scheduled time.

Yes, there's a little more tracking capability with the RFID, but you ARE on Disney property, and you've ALWAYS been on their cameras.
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
Took the family to WDW last October and we got to be one of the 'testers' for the wristband. We didn't have any problems with it although since it is your room key, charge key and pass key, you find yourself spending a lot more. I agree that the Fastpass issue is going to cause some headaches down the road although I don't recall getting to stock up to six of them in the past. If memory serves, you could get up to two rides but I may be faulty in my recollection.

As for the big brother aspect, give it a rest folks. Your room key was also your charge key and park pass so anytime you used it 'Micky Mouse was watching!'
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
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