Testing the new Disney MagicBands

The MyMagic+ experience is alive and testing at Walt Disney World…and I had the chance to take them for a test run this week!

The new Disney MagicBand.

The new Disney MagicBand.

Disney does a great job of testing stuff with cast members before really rolling them out to the public.

I was able to be a part of the test due to fact that my husband works for the company.  So full disclosure here, we were given free Magic Bands and a free hotel room as part of the testing.  We did pay for our own dinner and food items in the fast food area.

So disclosure over.  Let the fun begin!

For those of you unaware, Disney is rolling out the MyMagic+ experience.  It’s all part of this new seamless planning system for guests.  Essentially, you make a hotel reservation, download an app, and your vacation planing…from restaurant reservations, fast pass reservations and more are, at your fingertips.  You check into your Disney resort and you are handed the Magic Bands.  These bracelets are your hotel room keys, your park passes, your credit card to pay in the stores, restaurants and bars.  This is your old “Key To The World” card.  And it really is life-changing  technology.

The three main components for the MyMagic+ experience:

  • MagicBands
  • FassPass+
  • My Disney Experience smartphone app

Disney World started this process a while ago and guests may have started noticing transitions without even really realizing what they were.

First came the room keys.  No longer are you able to slide your credit card room key into the door lock.  Instead, they rolled out new door locks where you waved your card in front of the door to unlock.

The transition to the MyMagic+ room key system.

The transition to the MyMagic+ room key system.

Another big change, turnstiles at the park.  Gone are the old enter your ticket, scan your fingerprint and walk through the arm entry gates.  Now, you enter through a gate-less area where a cast member scans your bracelet, scan your fingerprint and you’re in the park.

The new MyMagic+ turnstile at Disney parks.

The new MyMagic+ turnstile at Disney parks.


So now that the infrastructure is in place, they are testing the actual bands.  As a cast member, there are two different ways testing is being done.  The first is you go through the whole experience in terms of ordering and personalizing your band colors.  We had the second option, show up at the hotel and your bands are handed to you.  Either way is really fine – but can be a bit confusing.  Let me explain.

Upon check-in, we all received the same color band.  Apparently this will be normal at the resorts.  I’m told if you schedule a reservation way in advance you will get to pick your color and personalize your band a bit.  If you schedule a reservation with no time for shipping, you’ll be given the grey band upon check-in.

Magic Bands for all! We feel like superheroes!

Magic Bands for all! We feel like superheroes!

So we all got the same color.  Not a huge deal, except that each band has a unique 12 character ID that is tied to an individual person.  They are non-transferable and have to stay with the particular person at all times.  You do get a sheet with individual names matched to those numbers, but we knew that would be lost quickly.  We asked for a sharpie at the front desk to at least initial each bracelet.  We figured this may be a common problem for people, until we went into the gift shop.  You see, Disney thinks…really well sometimes.  They have designed ways to let you customize your Magic Band!

Customize your MagicBand with Disney accessories.

Customize your MagicBand with Disney accessories.

There are three different accessory items:  1) CoverBands – basic fabric that slips on the outside of the band.  2) MagicSliders that basically make your band look like a watch, without a clock and leaves the Mickey head in the middle.  And 3) MagicBandits that are kind of like the croc charms that snap into the holes.  Leave it to Disney!

Disney foodie accessories that snap into the bracelet.

Disney foodie accessories that snap into the bracelet.

The band itself is very comfortable to wear.  It’s durable and didn’t break, despite me trying multiple times.  My wrist did get a little sweaty in the heat, but nothing that was uncomfortable.  I didn’t break out into any rash, despite my terribly sensitive skin.  I went into the pool with it on.  I even went into the hot tub.  No problems at all.

Disney's Magic Band after surviving the pool and hot tub!

Disney’s Magic Band after surviving the pool and hot tub!

BIG BONUS: I think my favorite feature of the band is the convenience.  Picture this, you’re in the pool and you want a drink from the pool bar.  Just walk up, order and swipe your bracelet.  No need to try to find the room key.  Done and done.  Yes, this is the life.

I should also note, my kids loved wearing them.  They normally hate to have things on their arms.  At Mickey’s Not-So-Scary and Christmas parties, they always get annoyed when they have to wear the bracelet.  But these, they loved.  To the point that they wouldn’t take them off when we got home.

When you check in, you also pick a pin number, and you are required to put that pin number in before charging, a nice extra-security measure.

CONS: There were just a few things I didn’t love about the band.  In the resort itself, it was hard to open the room door.  You have to get that small Mickey head to line up just right to get the green light of the door to open.  It can be difficult if your hands are full, as they often are on the way back to the room.  I found I had to empty that hand and hold my arm in a bit of an uncomfortable position to make it quick.

The same thing happened to us in the quick-service restaurant.  It took some wiggling to get the mickey head to get the light to turn green.  Nothing major, but some time.

Also, I worry about tan lines.  But, just another reminder to lather up your sunblock around your band and you should be fine. 🙂

The big part of this experience relies on the internet, in particular, Disney property-wide wifi.  In the past, guests would have to join a wifi network.  Recently, Disney unveiled the property-wide wifi that automatically connects to your phone.  We did not have wifi at all in the room most of the night.  I’m guessing they are still working to make this work, I can only image how many people use it – that’s a giant project.

MyDisney Experience App/ FastPass+

The wifi is important for use of the apps.  The MyMagic+ app allows you to schedule your fast passes, called FastPass+, and change them on the fly if you need to.

MyMagic+ Fast Pass scheduling

MyMagic+ Fast Pass scheduling

You are limited to three fast passes per park.  It’s super easy to change them if you realize you aren’t going to make it on time or adjust depending on weather.  This is a great thing to come to the park so you no longer have to run to the attraction to snag a paper pass.  Eventually, you’ll be able to reserve access to even more attractions—plus shows, parades, fireworks and Character Greetings!

Overall, this is an efficient and revolutionary experience coming for Disney park guests.  I’m not exactly sure how they decide which cast members get to test, but I’m happy we were chosen!  I’m told they will roll out to annual passholders at some point, but not sure when.

Are you excited for the new MyMagic+?  What are you most looking forward to? Will you bling out your Magic Band?

11 thoughts on “Testing the new Disney MagicBands

  1. I’m glad to hear about your experience with the bands but I am sad to say I am not on board with them. I do not like wearing things on my wrist and really hope that keeping our AP card will suffice in the future. I don’t like feeling like I’m forced to wear it if that isn’t an option. I’m also interested in hearing more about how Fastpass + will work. There is so much confusing information I’m reading about it and I’m curious how it will impact passholders like us, who like to play things by ear and not plan so much. I don’t want to have to book a Fastpass 90 days out or anything like that. We pay a lot for our passes and spend a ton of money in the parks throughout the year, the equivalent of how much some people pay for a weeks vacation at WDW. I’d hate to see Passholders get the shaft. (maybe you can explain more on our bike ride? LOL)

    • Yeah – I think information for passholders is really sketchy at this point. At least for testing purposes, the FastPass+ thing was SUPER EASY. But that’s with a limited number of users. So I can’t image how it will be when everyone has access to it.
      I was surprised how much I enjoyed wearing it. And it was kind of cool, only because everyone else was jealous of our bling 😉

  2. I wonder if they will let you loop your band through a lanyard. I mean, they do have lanyards with all of those gigantic pins on them, why not loop it through that so as to reduce that awkward arm positioning problem. Just a thought.

  3. Thanks so much for the info! It sounds great! Do you know if the bands are coming out to Disneyland in California for Passholders to try out?


  4. The MagicBands are not mandatory such that you can ask for a card instead although not all service features will be available to you.

  5. My family will be visiting WDW in the next few weeks and we were invited to test the bracelets. We have adult children in different parts of the country so we all downloaded the app. I invited them to join in on our plans through the app and with the app we all customized our bracelets. Within 12 hours of the last customization I received an e-mail the bracelets were being shipped. When they arrived each bracelet had the individual’s name on the inside and printed on the packaging below each bracelet. We have visited many times and are especially excited about trying this new technology. We have already used the app to schedule fast passes and mark dining reservations.

  6. So, I was googling info on the Magic Bands and came across this blog. So ironic! Don’t know if Kevin or Michelle have mentioned it, but our crew is heading there right after Christmas. I’m hoping the bands will be at all resorts by then. We are really wanting to try them out. Your blog has tons of answers to the questions I have about it. Love the blog! Maybe we will run into you guys when we are there.

  7. I just had an opportunity to test the bands this week, and I just have to say it was a nightmare experience. The resort and park staff could not get my daughters’ tickets to work with their bands so they were denied admittance to parks, they could not fast pass, we could not make dining reservations. I stood in line or sat on phone hold more than four hours during our trip last week, and no one was able to help us. They just kept shrugging their shoulders and passing us off to other people. Or they would stand around in a group and stare at the screen and say, “Wow, we don’t know how to fix that. This is a job for IT.” “IT will email you when it’s fixed.” “IT doesn’t work weekends.” We lost two of our four days on vacation to this nightmare and Disney did ZERO to compensate us for our troubles — and we paid full fare. They told us that since we chose to use the bands this was the risk we ran. Only, we were not given a choice; we were told this was just the new system.

    The website was buggy, and their kiosks were constantly down. My BIL who works in IT Support for a major cell phone company and was traveling with us, commented that he thinks the same people who built the Obamacare site built the mydisneyexperience site — it was that bad. It was not ready to go live. And Disney had no common sense stopgaps in place for situations that could not be managed. I asked for a business or VIP card I could show at the park to get my kids in. I asked for the bands to be reissued. I asked for escalation in support. I called the internet help line, and I was told by the person who answered the phone that I needed to call the internet help line. Mydisneyexperience was THAT ridiculous. No solutions or compensation were offered or provided. Disney just kept canceling my kids tickets and reissuing them, which never fixed the problem.

    Ultimately, the issue was that they could not link the tickets to my children’s avatars. So they made shadow avatars, which then made the problem even more confusing and difficult to resolve because the shadows would not link either. And then, in a final act of desperation they told me that this was my travel agent’s fault and there was nothing more they could do for me unless I showed up in person with the agent at one of their guest services locations. What are the odds of any guest being able to make a travel agent magically appear? As luck would have it, I actually had access to my agent and drug him to the support counter in downtown Disney. We stood in line and he did noting but lend me moral support until they completely wiped out both of my children’s accounts and reissued their passes in about 10 minutes. When the agent asked if he could have done something different to avoid the issue, the employee said, no this was an implementation issue on our end. So it WAS Disney’s problem the entire time. Their staff just passed the buck over and over. Everyone in our tour group had some sort of issue, no one was immune.

    I was only able to make fast pass selections for myself, but the rides I wanted to do were already booked. So I what I see coming is the need to schedule rides like dining experiences — 6 months in advance and after you’ve already paid the money for the trip. Anyone who wants to attach their credit card to a system so buggy and poorly designed is asking for trouble. I would wait to visit Disney until next year. Hopefully they can get the kinks worked out and actually train their staff on implementation by then. Meanwhile, we repurposed a 1st Visit button we found to a “Last Visit.” Maybe you can pass this feedback on to your mouse, I mean spouse.

    • BTW! The magic bands are in a testing phase. They are not available to every guest and only to certain guests staying at certain resorts. We just go back from 5 days at WDW Bay Lakes. You opt in to help Disney test the magic bands. You have to link your passes to your band via the MyDisneyExperience website. There were people that didn’t do this and tried to use the bands anyway. Even if your band didn’t work, your park passes are still valid and will work. So, carry both. Also, there are guest services reps at all entry points that help guests that are having trouble with the bands. They have hand held devices that read the bands. Mostly the issues were guests being impatient and not placing the band in the right position. The Fastpass+ worked fine for us. You use your MyDisneyExperience account to manage them. Present your band the to the cast member at the Fastpass entry point. They have hand readers there. The main issues we had experienced were caused by a delay in the readers. You have to present the band to the reader and wait for it to read, process and return results back. This at times, took a couple of seconds. We found that this happened mostly when entering our hotel room. At first we thought the band didn’t work. So, it is natural to remove and retry the band. But, by doing this it resets the process. Which causes further delay. So, just leave the band on the reader, in the correct orientation, for a few seconds. As with all new systems, there will be scenarios that get over looked. But, Disney will get them all figured out before allowing all guests access to the bands.

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