Guide to Disney's MyMagic+
Jump to any of these topics:What is MyMagic+?
Can You Tell Me More About Disney's 'NextGen' Technologies?
What About Privacy Issues?
How Does Disney's 'Family and Friends' Network Work?
How Does MyMagic+ Affect Online Check-in?
How Will MyMagic+ Change the Way I Plan Vacations or Tour Parks?
What's the Current Status of MyMagic+ - Who Gets What, When?
Additional MyMagic+ Updates, News, and Developments
What is MyMagic+?
After three years of development and $1 billion in expenditures, Walt Disney World Resort has unveiled new technology tools that will allow guests to customize and personalize their Disney vacation experience like never before. Collectively, these "Next Generation" (NextGen) efforts compose MyMagic+ - a vacation management system that connects nearly all aspects of the guest experience. MyMagic+ is comprised of 3 main components: My Disney Experience, Disney FastPass+ and the MagicBand. Each of these components are explained below.
- My Disney Experience, a combined new website and mobile application that will provide a one-stop shop for all things Walt Disney World for every phase of a guest’s vacation. Guests may use My Disney Experience to get information on all Walt Disney World attractions or characters, reserve dining and other experiences and make FastPass+ selections in advance. 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. The My Disney Experience is there to give guests the flexibility to plan as much or as little as they’d like to create the exact Disney experience they want.
The components of this new planning tool include:
The My Itinerary section of the web site gives guests a daily view of their plans; here guests can choose to add plans such as resorts, dining ADRs, and parks or locations they plan to visit on a specific day. My Reservations contains a list of resort and dining reservations, including confirmation numbers. Guests can also use My Disney Experience system to connect with Family and Friends to coordinate plans and share photos. There is no charge to use the My Disney Experience system.
To get started using MyMagic+, visit StartYourDisneyExperience.com and sign up for an account. Visit our Mobile Option page to learn more about the My Disney Experience mobile application. Disney also offers an official My Disney Experience FAQ.
- Disney FastPass+ service will allow guests to lock in some of their must-do attractions and experiences for each day of their trip through My Disney Experience - up to 60 (and possibly +10) days prior to day of use for Magic Your Way ticket holders and Annual Passholders. For the first time ever, guests can reserve experiences like firework and parade viewing areas, shows, Disney character greetings, quick service restaurants and more before ever leaving home. Generally, guests will be able to choose up to 3 (and in some cases possibly 4) FastPass+ experiences at one park per day for each day they hold valid theme park tickets. Guests can choose the same FastPasses for everyone in their party at once or individually. For guests who don’t know where to start, Disney will recommend FastPicks – a set of FastPass+ selections that serve as a starting point – and give guests the option to customize their selections. The system will then return up to 4 groups of availability from which to pick - early, mid day, late, or all day.
Additionally, all Disney tickets now comes with an ID code that may be entered on the My Disney Experience web site. Even inactivated annual passes purchased online or by phone and "Will Call" tickets may be entered.
Once guests arrive, they can use their smart phones or park kiosks to spontaneously change their plans in the moment, even once the FastPass+ arrival window begins. Those with My Disney Experience mobile app loaded on their phones can even be notified in the event of an attraction closure (guests may opt out of notification). Over 60 rides, shows, parades, and meet & greets will be included in FastPass+. There is no charge to use the FastPass+ system, but you must have a My Disney Experience account set up to use FastPass+. Additionally, you must have purchased theme park tickets prior to your vacation in order to make FastPass+ selections in advance of your trip. Visit our FastPass page to learn more about FastPass+. Disney also offers an official FASTPASS+ FAQ.
- MagicBands, are all-in-one wrist-band devices that connect all the vacation choices that guests make online using My Disney Experience. MagicBands are equipped with a radio frequency identification chip that is used to enter a guest's Disney Resort hotel room, pay for food and merchandise, and enter the "turnstiles" of any theme parks and water parks for which tickets have been purchased. Even parking plaza booths are expected to be equipped with RFID touch points to validate parking. Plus, the MagicBand provides FastPass+ access to all the experiences selected in advance and serves as the connection to Memory Maker Photo Service.
MFL Tip: Wear your MagicBand so that the Mickey head faces away from your body for easiest scanning.Please be aware that no personal information is stored on the bracelet. Rather, the bracelet contains a unique ID code that identifies guests in Disney's encrypted database and Disney’s readers use that code to look up guests' information. As an added safety precaution, to make a purchase using the MagicBand, guests have to enter a four digit pin number, which they set up when they arrive at their resort. If a MagicBand is lost, guests will have the option to disable it through their My Disney Experience account using their smart phones or by reporting it to any Guest Services Cast Member. In fact, Disney claims it will be very easy to replace a lost or malfunctioning MagicBand. Another optional precaution is that guests may choose or limit the amount of information shared when registering the MagicBand online.
When this officially rolls out in the parks, (beyond the testing period that's currently taking place) guests staying at Walt Disney World resort hotels, Annual Passholders, and those who purchase Memory Maker Photo packages will automatically receive a complimentary standard MagicBand. Guests staying in a hotel that is not located within the Walt Disney World Resort will be issued a special RF card instead of the MagicBand. It is expected that a paid version of MagicBand will be available at a later time for guests staying off-property.
Standard MagicBands are hypoallergenic and ventilated for comfort in high heat. They are also completely waterproof for use in water parks (bands do not float), showers, heavy rain and the washing machine. MagicBands will come in single adjustable size with a removable layer, allowing the bracelet to be sized for younger guests. It you remove the outside layer, however, you cannot add the outside piece back on; thus, it’s important to be sure that you want to shortened the band before you do so.
When using the band in the parks, the Mickey Mouse head symbol on the MagicBand must come into contact with the Mickey Mouse symbol on the RFID reader for your MagicBand to be read. MagicBands are also expected to be reusable for future visits, although we are hearing the non-replaceable battery has only a 2- to 3-year shelf-life.
An added perk of using My Disney Experience app or website is that guests will be able to customize their MagicBands with their names or nicknames (printed on the underside of the band using up to 9 or 10 characters). Guests will also be able to choose from 7 possible colors, including pink, green, red, orange, blue, gray, or yellow.
In addition, Disney has introduced collectible sets of MagicBand accessories and charms that park guests can purchase to make each wristband even more unique. These items are known as MagicBandits, CoverBands, and MagicSliders.
- CoverBands ($6.95 single & $15.95 trio) - Slide over MagicBand and come in either plain or print material. Styles include designs based on Haunted Mansion wallpaper, "it's a small world" and other Disney rides and attractions, as well as polka-a-dot Minnie print, Mickey icons (ears, hand, pants), Mickey balloons and more.
- MagicSliders ($12.95 Mickey & $14.95 Minnie) - Large charms that slide onto MagicBand and frame the touch point for RFID readers. Designs include both Mickey and Minnie.
- MagicBandits ($6.95-3 charms, $8.95-4 charms & $12.95-3 charms + Mickey) - Smaller charms that come in sets of 3 or 4 and snap into the unused holes of the MagicBand. Sets include Phineas & Ferb, Sorcerer Mickey, The Muppets, Tinker Bell, Nightmare Before Christmas, Mickey or Minnie icons (ears, hand, pants/dress, shoe/bow), jeweled Minnie heads and more.
Disney is expected to use the following world-wide delivery schedule in regards to delivering complimentary MagicBands to resort guests. From booking until 10 days prior to check-in dates, guests may customize their MagicBands online and choose to have their bands sent to their homes or to their resorts where they may be picked up at the front desk upon check-in. Guests who elect to have their MagicBands sent to their home, will receive them no more than 30 days prior to their arrival dates. From 9 to 5 days prior to arrival, guests may still customize their MagicBands online but must then pick them up at their resorts. Guests who have less than 5 days prior to arrival or who do not wish to pre-customize their bands will receive a plain gray band at check-in. Replacement bands will also be gray. Guests who do not wish to wear the MagicBand can request instead, a RFID card similar to the current Key to the World card. Each MagicBand can handle multiple numbers or types of ticket entitlements. Off-site guests For additional MagicBand information, Disney offers an official MagicBand FAQ.
MagicBands will also be available for off-site guests to purchase at select merchandise locations within the Walt Disney World theme parks for $12.95 plus tax; these bands will not be eligible for the "touch-to-pay" feature. After a MagicBand is purchased, a Cast Member will link the guest’s admission media (or other RF media such as an existing MagicBand or Memory Maker card) to the retail MagicBand. If the guest’s ticket is already linked to his/her My Disney Experience account, all of the plans, such as tickets, dining reservations and FastPass+ selections, will be seamlessly linked to their new MagicBand. Guest must already have an RFID ticket or MagicBand to purchase a MagicBand. Guests cannot buy additional bands for other guests not present, but may purchase multiple bands in multiple colors for themselves. Once linked to a My Disney Experience account, MagicBands can be retained and used for future trips. A 10% discount on MagicBands is available to Annual Passholders and DVC Members.
As the MyMagic+ program rolls out for Annual Passholders, the first MagicBand will be free and additional replacement bands will cost $50. Additionally, while annual passholders will be able to add a credit card via their My Disney Experience account to use with "touch to pay" devices, they will still need their RFID cards to take advantage of passholder discounts.
The MagicBands will not only be able to unlock hidden magic throughout the parks when the MyMagic+ system is fully unveiled, but apparently you will also be able to use the bands for surprises at home. One little Easter Egg is that the MagicBand can also be used to unlock extra elements in the Disney Infinity video game and in fact, at least one nugget has been discovered. Placing a MagicBand against the game pad of the Disney Infinity game will unlocked “Dragon Gate” with a Flying Fire breathing Dragon, which can then be used in Toy Box Mode within the game, plus discover a whole new prebuilt Toy Box to play in called "Dragon’s Keep." The dragon is similar to the dragon that made a one-night appearance over Fantasyland in the Magic Kingdom during a press event in December of 2012.
Disney's MagicBand Demonstration at the 2013 D23 Expo
New at each of the Walt Disney World theme parks' entrance are Guest Relations Cast Members stationed who are ready to help guests, equipped with iPads or iPhones, should guests have a hiccup with their MagicBand or any My Disney Experience related issue or question. Before, when a guest had a problem with a ticket, they were re-directed to Guest Relations, but now Guest Relations should be able to resolve your issue on the spot.
Additionally, as part of the new Mobile Lobby Experience, trained Guest Relations Cast Members using iPads are also now available in the lobbies of Disney resorts to aid new arrivals with check-in. Guest will be able to check-in quickly from curbside or from anywhere within the lobby area - without having to stand in check-in lines.
Can You Tell Me More About Disney's Next-Gen Technologies?
Other changes that have taken place in as part of this Next-Gen technology roll out is that Disney has introduced a new refillable mug system at Walt Disney World Resort hotels called Rapid Fill. This new system replaced the existing refillable mug system. The new Rapid Fill mugs will employ a radio frequency identification (RFID) chip embedded into the mugs that allows guests to select a time frame for the mugs to be activated.
Also, several new interactive ride queues, such as those at the Haunted Mansion, Under the Sea: The Voyage of The Little Mermaid and at Big Thunder Mountain Railroad attractions have been installed in the Magic Kingdom. These queues help to create a more immersive, personal experience for park guests. Down the road, these queues and others are expected to interact with guests in much more sophisticated ways.
To facilitate the use of the My Disney Experience mobile app, Disney has installed complimentary WiFi at the theme parks, Downtown Disney and resort guests rooms, as well as in some public areas. Also installed was an outdoor seating area in the Magic Kingdom adjacent to the new Rapunzel themed restrooms that features 6 charging stations with 2 outlets and 2 USB ports each to recharge mobile and electronic devices. (These can be found concealed in tree stumps). There are also recharging stations in the FASTPASS tent in the Storybook Circus area of Fantasyland and at the gift shop arcade area at the exit of Space Mountain. Guests should expect to see more charging stations pop up at other parks in the near future. In short, Walt Disney World is preparing full steam ahead for the arrival of MyMagic+.
As far as what the future holds for the new Next-Gen technology, MagicBands may be encoded, at the guest's election, with all sorts of personal details allowing for more personalized interaction with Disney employees, characters or rides. For example, a guest's "favorite" character would "magically" know the guest's name before being told or announce the guest's birthday or anniversary. Rides and queues could potentially use MagicBands to give guests a more personalized experience. For example, the Audio-Animatronic Buzz Lightyear in Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin queue may some day in the not too distant future, converse with guests on a first name basis or the ride itself may remember your previous scores. Rumors suggest there are plans currently in the works for the "it's a small world" attraction in the Magic Kingdom to say goodbye to guests personally after gathering their names off of their MagicBands. (And screens have been installed that would indicate this is a correct assumption. However, they are not turned on at the time being.) We've also heard that at some point in the future, your child might be able to create a doll online and then have their video creation say hello to them personally when they ride on "it's a small world." Meanwhile, a new Bark-O-Lator machine has recently been installed in Disney's Animal Kingdom that allows guests to bark into the machine and then have the barks translated into English, similar to the collar Dug the dog wore in UP that translated his barks. At some point in the future, guests wearing MagicBands may find these messages personalized to their information.
Another upcoming feature of MyMagic+ will be Disney FastPass+ Quick Service. This will allow guests to select a quick service restaurants and order food up to 60 days prior to arrival. Or, imagine while standing in line for an attraction, using your smart phone to get a same-day time-window for a quick service restaurant, placing your order and paying for your food prior to arrival. How about placing your lunch order for Be Our Guest restaurant in Fantasyland online before your vacation, and then upon your designated arrival time, simply entering the restaurant and taking a seat. By virtue of your MagicBand, the restaurant will know you have arrived and will deliver your food when it's ready without having to do anything else.
Moving even farther into the future, imagine no lines at all, just plenty of entertainment and seating to accommodate parkgoers while they wait for their designated ride times. Read this story on the Disney at Work web site to learn more about what might be in store in the distant future with Next-Gen Technologies.
In the meantime, here are some things Disney is or may currently be working on:
- NextGen Story Makers: Installation has begun at Walt Disney World Resort for a new interactive adventure that would encompass all 4 theme parks and perhaps the entire resort. According to Disney at Work web site, 'Story Maker' (also being referred to as Memory Maker) will encompass a "host of still and video cameras" capable of capturing "photos and video, and then thematically weaving them into a variety of media outputs such as a flip book or a photo keepsake." New props at 'Muppet Vision 3-D' and the hallway of Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and new signs at the exit of "it's a small world" ride in the Magic Kingdom "could" bring a whole new layer of interactivity to the ride experience. Using a recent patent called 'Storytelling Engine,' a guest's MagicBand could be used to track which attractions a guest has visited and based on the guest's pre-selected theme and a corresponding template's criteria, create a virtual scrapbook to be shared online with family and friends. The patent application provides one such example, titled 'I Conquered the Mountains,' which requires guests to visit Space Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and Splash Mountain to complete the story. Guests may also be able to prompt a simple interactive moment when they wave their MagicBands in front of the new props. The system would read and connect the guest with their account on MyDisneyExperience, sending their video right into the app on their phone or to an email account. They could then share the experience with family and friends.
- Autonomatronics: At Disney's first two D23 fan expos in Anaheim in 2009 and 2011, the company debuted Otto and Destini, "autonomatronic" characters. Cameras and sensors enable them to identify and react to facial expressions. Could this be the next generation of autonomatronics at Walt Disney World - interactive, robotic characters that can sense the world around them and perform in unexpected ways based on their interaction with people? The 2013 D23 Expo featured an autonomatronic head of Abraham Lincoln - one of the most advanced Audio-Animatronics currently in use at the parks. Mr. Lincoln is all electric, has 16 facial functions (previous AA figures had only 6), and has an outer covering that has light scattering equivalent with that of human skin.
- Interactive Scavenger Hunts: Guests can already play Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom and "A Pirate's Adventure: Treasures of the Seven Seas" in the Magic Kingdom, as well as Phineas & Ferb: Agent P's World Showcase Adventure at Epcot. The recently debuted pirate-themed game has its headquarters in Crow's Nest (the old Kodak store in Adventureland).
What About Privacy Issues?
On the flip side of the experience, parts of MyMagic+ will allow Disney for the first time to track guests' behavior during their vacations - many believe primarily for the purpose of maximizing guest-spending. Have you purchased Disney collectibles during your vacation, such as trading pins or Vinylmation or stopped to greet Donald Duck while walking past Minnie Mouse? If you give Disney permission to send you special offers during your stay via the My Vacations Notifications feature on the My Disney Experience website or mobile app, this information could be used to target real-time marketing ads on your cell phone by text or email, or to customize information you see while visiting Disney's web site in the future. During Disney's second-quarter earnings call with analysts, Chief Financial Officer Jay Rasulo said that by getting guests to plan ahead, vacationers are less likely to be enticed by other parks and tourist offerings when they set foot in Orlando, FL. To read more on this subject, visit the Orlando Sentinel.
For guests who are a little worried about privacy concerns, it's good to know that guests must opt in to use the MyMagic+ service. Therefore, should you have concerns, you may choose not to participate in MyMagic+ or you will be able to limit the information you choose to share.
According to Disney's web site, the information required to use MyMagic+ is consistent with practices utilized by the hospitality and travel industries for guest registration, and in fact, guest staying at Walt Disney World resorts have already provided the same information before. Guests who participate in MyMagic+ need only provide basic contact information: name, email, address and date of birth. Guests would also provide the name and age of other members participating in the program. Any additional information provided would be at the guest's discretion.
Another section of Disney's web site confirms that "by using My Disney Experience Website or the My Disney Experience Mobile Application [Disney] will collect information from you through [its] Site/App, and through your experience at the Resorts." In addition, a prepared comment from Disney affirms: "MyMagic+ is a completely optional program. Disney’s privacy policies and practices are fully transparent, and guests can choose whether or not to participate in MyMagic+. Guests will be able to control whether their personal information is used for promotional purposes and no data collected is ever used to market to children. MyMagic+ is designed to make [guests'] visit to Walt Disney World more personalized, seamless and customized than ever before."
Disney also may share information about your experiences at Walt Disney Parks and Resorts locations with other members of the Walt Disney Family of Companies, such as ABC, Baby Einstein, BabyZone, Club Penguin, ESPN, Hollywood Records, Kaboose, Marvel, Muppets, Pixar, Playdom, Tapulous, Touchstone and others. However, information about your specific Park Experience collected automatically through your use of the RF Device will not be shared with members of the Walt Disney Family of Companies unless you have elected that Disney do so.
Disney has said that the MagicBand is not GPS-based and does not enable collection of continuous location signals, but rather are detected by long-range RF readers (bluetooth). Guests who are uncomfortable with the MagicBand can still participate in MyMagic+ while visiting the parks by choosing a RF-enabled card instead. The card contains a short range chip whose location cannot be detected by the long-range readers stationed in the park. The MagicBand contains both a long range chip and a short range chip to be used for things like touch-to-pay or entering your resort room. Disney also plans to provide the option for such guests to use the FastPass System by simply providing basic contact information (name & email address).
Radio-frequency identification aimed at travelers isn't new, however. Great Wolf Resorts has been using wrist bands since 2006 to eliminate the need for cash or room keys, and even to allow guests to transmit photos to Facebook over the course of their stay. Las Vegas has been using RFID chips in high-value casino chips that can be immediately render worthless if stolen. Data collection and targeted marketing is used by many smart phone applications these days and conducted by Google, Apple, and others. Walt Disney World guests should also see some benefits to Disney knowing what they do in the parks, such as more efficient managing of in-park traffic patterns, the deployment of additional entertainment as needed or the increase of an attraction's capacity upon demand.
United States Congressman Edward J.Markey of Massachuesetts, Co-Chairman of the Congressional Bi-partisan Privacy Caucus, sent a letter to Disney Chairman and CEO, Bob Iger, on January 24, 2013, requesting answers to a series of questions regarding privacy concerns over MyMagic+, how it relates to children, and Disney's plans to use MagicBands at its Walt Disney World Resort. You can read about the letter and the full text of Iger's response on our MyMagic+ supplemental page. You may also be interested in reading an interesting article by Theme Park Insider that explains that Markey/Iger fight isn't about Disney - it's about the future of RFID tracking.
At the present, it is unclear as to just how information will specifically be used when "opting in" to MyMagic+. Additional concerns center around how the park experience of the guest who opts out may differ from the guest who opts in. We know that guests will be able to gain admission to the park without having to register or provide any personal information all. But, will the "opt out" guest have to wait longer to ride popular rides, being relegated only to standby lines, or will he still have access to standard FastPass machines at the parks? Many of these questions remain unanswered at this time. Those interested in exploring the subject further can review the Disney Park Experience Terms and Conditions, My Disney Experience Frequently Asked Questions and Disney's Privacy Polices.
How Does Disney's 'Family and Friends' Network Work?
Guests can also use the My Disney Experience system to coordinate and make plans with family and friends and to share photos. The Family and Friends feature allows you to assign Experience benefits you've purchased to your "Friends" such as ticket entitlements and plan activities for them such as Disney FastPass+ selections and dining reservations. "Friends" will fall within either of two groups, "Managed" friends or "Connected" friends.
You can add "Managed" friends to your account and create a Site/App profile for them that you control. "Manage" friends do not have their own account or are ineligible for one such as guests under the age of 13. You are completely in control of your "Managed" friends profiles, information and whom they may connect with. You manage on their behalf. Anyone on your Disney Experience reservations (such as aroom, package or dining reservation) will automatically be listed in your account as a "Managed" friend.
You can also connect with friends who have their own Site/App profiles; these are "Connected" friends. Connected friends share itinerary and activity information and can book activities for one another, such as FastPass+ selections and dining reservations. If you want to allow others to make reservations for you, add them to your "Connected" friends. You may choose whether your "Connected" friends can see all of your activities or only activities that you have in common with them. In your Friends List, there is also a box that can be checked so one friend cannot see another friends information. If your "Connected" friends have selected activities for you, you may also choose not to participate in those activities. However, FastPass+ selections made for you by your Connected Friends will count against the number of FastPass+ selections you may hold, and are subject to modification restrictions and expiration rules. Thus, it appears that some care should be used when selecting your "Connected" friends. You can edit your "Friend List" at any time.
How Does MyMagic+ Affect Online Check-in?
Disney’s Online Check-In service is a convenient option that starts your check-in process online from home and may reduce registration time upon arrival at your Disney Resort hotel. As part of Disney's recent MyMagic+ updates, Disney has made several changes and enhancements to the Online Check-in process. First, all Guests, no matter how their reservations were booked (i.e. directly through Disney or using a travel agency), will be required to log on to My Disney Experience to complete the Online Check-In process. This means, travel agents will no longer able to complete the Online Check-In process on behalf of a client and each guests must sign into their Disney account with their personal I.D. and password if they wish to use the optional Online Check-In. Additionally, the service is now available up to 60 days in advance rather than the previous 10 days. Guests will also now have the option to prioritize room ready upon arrival over room requests. Guests who select this option should be aware that it is a non-guaranteed request. Lastly, guests who will be staying at a resort where 'touch to pay' functionality is available will have the opportunity to create a Personal Identification Number (PIN) during the Online Check-in process.
If you add a credit card to your profile on My Disney Experience during the Online Check-in process, everyone on your reservation ages 10 and over will have charging privileges during your vacation. To change charging privileges assigned to each member of your party, you will need to visit the front desk of your resort after your arrival. Guests may prohibit minors (or anyone on a reservation) from having charging privileges or limit the amount available. For example, each child could be limited to $25 to spend at touch-to-pay locations using their MagicBand. At some point, Disney may begin to allow guests to make these designations online as well.
The PIN chosen during the online check-in process will be required when using the new MagicBand bracelet's touch-to-pay capability. Guests will touch their bracelet (or RF-enabled card) to the touch point on the payment device and provide the unique PIN provided at check-in to complete the purchase.
How Will MyMagic+ Change the Way I Plan Vacations or Tour Parks?
One of the goals of Disney's MyMagic+ is to reduce the amount of time park guests must spend waiting in lines and to enhance the user's park experience. The less time guests spend in the queue lines, the more time they are likely to spend shopping, dining and doing other activities in the parks. Disney's touch-to-pay systems may stimulate more guest impulse buying. In the future, MyMagic+ may generate one or more schedules, based on a guests' pre-selected experiences and resort areas, designed to optimize the guests' route through the theme park and placing them at desired locations during meal- or down-times. Those who wish to explore the subject further should read our supplement regarding Disney's patents application for a "Guest Experience Management System and Method" relating to MyMagic+. No one can say exactly in what ways the user's park experience may change, but as with anything else, guests can expect some practical and enchanting pros, as well as some not-so-magical cons. Here are a few topics recently discussed by various Disney fandoms that may loom on the MyMagic+ horizon. Information in this section is largely speculation.
The Convenience Debate: First, guests will spend more time planning and setting up their vacations prior to leaving home than ever before. Many think perhaps too much time and feel Walt Disney World parks are quickly losing their spontaneity. Those who prefer not to spend so much time pre-planning their vacations fear that FastPass+ will become just like a lot of the Walt Disney World table service restaurants that are largely unavailable on a walk up basis to those who have not made Advance Dining Reservations. The fear is that access to popular rides and attractions may soon become even more limited to those lacking pre-planned FastPass+ reservations.
Once guests using MyMagic+ arrive at Walt Disney World Resort, for the most part, they will be able to leave their wallets securely stored in their room safes (or wear it on their wrist so to speak). No more scratchy lanyards around guests' necks or fanny packs loaded with 'Key to the World' cards or park tickets, PhotoPass cards, reservation lists and itineraries. RF-enabled wristbands or cards will become guests entry ticket, room key, store FastPass+ selections and Dining Plan entitlements, and can be used to pay for dining and merchandise. Cash (credit card purchases), dining credits, FastPasses and park ticket-days are electronically deducted as they are used throughout the Walt Disney World Resort. If additional identification is needed, Disney can use stored biometric information or require the use of a personal PIN pre-selected by the guests during the Online Check-in process.
Guests will be able to access their itineraries, reservations, and other important information through their smart phones and change selections on the fly. Plus, anyone who's witnessed how RFID reduces congestion at highway toll booths via speed lanes will appreciate its efficiency at the park's concession stands. Those who don't have smart phones or similar devices may find themselves standing in new MyMagic+ kiosk lines, however, just to make adjustments to their existing plans.
FastPass+ Quick Service: While Disney has made very few changes to booking online Advance Dining Reservations (ADRs) with recent MyMagic+ enhancements, it has mentioned one change guests can expect in the coming months. Disney FastPass+ Quick Service, which will allow guests the opportunity to select a quick service restaurant and order food up to 60 days prior to arrival. Disney's FastPass+ Quick Service should also allow guests standing in line for a ride to get a same-day time-window for an available quick service restaurants and order food prior to arrival, using only their smart phones.
Speaking of ADRs, some Disney-specialized travel agencies make online reservations for their guests for table service restaurants, character meals and dinner shows as part of their services. Travel agents will still be able to provide these services for guests using Disney's new My Disney Experience web site enhancements, however, each guests will need to make sure to add their agent's email address to their "Connected" friends list to grant authorization.
Dining-FastPass Conflicts: For the first time, Walt Disney World guests will be able to specify ride times for their most important "must do" attractions and experiences up to 60 days in advance. If dining reservations have already been made, guests will be able to choose FastPass+ times that won't conflict with their already scheduled dining reservations. Under the old FASTPASS system, ride time return windows were based on how many FastPasses were distributed on any given day, making return times for popular attractions basically a crap shoot. One could easily find themselves with a return window for an attraction such as Soarin' that conflicted with an evening dinner reservation at Epcot - even if the FastPass was obtained very early in the morning. With careful planning, those so inclined, should be able to eliminate the possibility of such conflicts, with only one small caveat. While it more than likely won't happen often, Disney has the right to re-assign FastPass+ selections for you in the event of unplanned attraction down time.
FastPass Machines vs. FastPass+: While Disney has not said whether the new FastPass+ service will eventually eliminate entirely the existing paper FASTPASS machines in the parks, all signs seem to signify that once FassPass+ is completely phased in and operating as intended, the existing FASTPASS machines will be eliminated in favor of the new paperless system. That being said, evidence seems to point to the fact that park-goers will only be able to get one FastPass+ for a specific attraction per day (i.e. you will not be able to select to get two FastPass+ options for Splash Mountain in a single day). Thus, those with a favorite attraction wishing to ride multiple times, will need to hit the standby line for additional rides or make a FastPass+ selection for the attraction on another day. For those who don't schedule their FastPasses in advance, any remaining FastPasses for the day, will be dispensed via park kiosks or via mobile device through guests' My Disney Experience accounts. Guests using FastPass+ will also receive a limited number of FastPasses per day. Disney's FastPass+ FAQ suggests three per day for MYW ticket holders and annual passholders for each day they hold tickets. Although Disney maintains that the new FastPass+ system will remain free, several sources are convinced that park-goers will eventually see 'FastPass+ extra packages' or 'FastPass+ on demand' for an additional fee.
Rope Drop and Morning Extra Magic Hours: Pre-arrival FastPass+ selections could also spell the end of the long-standing conventional wisdom that dictates guests must arrive at parks early in order to ensure riding all of their "must do" attractions. In the future, resort guests may find better uses for their early morning hours than selecting the day's park based on its morning Extra Magic Hours schedule or waiting patiently with coffees in hand for opening rope drop and the mad scramble for popular FASTPASS machines. For example, the new FastPass+ system may allow more park guests (who have already secured their FastPass+ selections) to spend their mornings over a leisurely breakfast at some out-of-the way resort restaurants, which offer bountiful breakfast choices (Boma at Animal Kingdom Lodge comes to mind). Breakfast is almost always cheaper than lunch or dinner, and having a large leisurely breakfast may become the new best way to save on Disney Dining when paying by cash or getting the most value from your Disney Dining Plan. FastPass+ could also make it practical for Disney to do away with Extra Magic Hours altogether, saving money on labor and the cost of running the park extra hours.
Longer Standby Lines at Less Popular Attractions: Some of Disney's most popular rides and attractions, such as Toy Story Mania at Disney's Hollywood Studios park, have limited capacity. FastPasses go quickly and standby lines can be long throughout the entire day. It simply would not be possible for Disney to give out enough Fastpasses to accommodate everyone who would like to ride Toy Story Mania in a single day. With Disney's new FastPass+ system, Disney may be offering its FastPasses in tiers. Guests will be asked to select their FastPasses from several levels of FastPasses, ranging from popular rides to not-so-popular rides and attractions. This scheme would of course allow everyone to experience at least one of Disney's best park rides using the new system. It will also mean that rides that formerly did not offer FASTPASS as an option, may now offer FastPass+, and park guests will be motivated into selecting them. This may then drive up wait times on attractions that previously didn't see considerable waits. For example, Disney recently began offering FastPass+ for "it's a small world", a Magic Kingdom ride with typically very short wait times. Those without a FastPass must now wait in a standby line where none existed before. Since those with FastPasses are served first, those in the standby line are likely to have much longer waits for the attraction than they experienced prior to FastPass+. Then again, the opposite may hold true, if enough guests are motivated to choose between enough minor attractions, the length of standby lines may remain the same or even be less at some attractions. We'll just have to wait and see how this one plays out.
Park Hopping: Disney's new FastPass+ system may make it difficult for guests using the new system to affectively park hop. Under Disney's stated rules for the new system, guests may only make FastPass+ selections for one park per day. If a guest wishes to change parks at the last minute, he or she cannot make selections for the new park without first canceling the previous FastPass selections for that day, at which point FastPass+ selections for the new park may be scant at best. Additionally, if the day's allotment of FastPass+ selections was used up prior to switching parks, guests are just plain out of luck making new ones at a second park. While it is unclear whether the new FastPass+ service will eliminate the existing park FASTPASS machines, it is becoming clear that those holiding FastPass+ selections won't be able to use them. Is something doesn't change, Park hopping may become a far less desirable ticket option than it once was. Of course, Disney tends to catch on quickly and additional FastPass+ selections for a second park in one day, may eventually become a "new" park hopping benefit. Only time will tell where MyMagic+ will take us.
Note: Disney has recently announced that a FastPass+ park hopping option will soon be available, but as of yet has not given any specific details or dates.
'NO Expiration' Tickets: As of January 2013, Disney has altered the way it sells the "NO Expiration" option for Magic Your Way tickets. The option is no longer be available through Disney online. The "NO Expiration" option is also no longer listed on theme park ticket signage. The "NO Expiration" option continues to be available at theme park front gates or by calling Disney directly to purchase. For the time being, the option remains available to travel agents through their portal into the WDW system. Walt Disney World Tickets with the NO Expiration option are also available through our discounted ticket partner, Undercover Tourist. Disney may be attempting to phase out the option as it moves toward the use of the MyMagic+ system or tie the older tickets to the system. Tickets that never expire would present Disney with some challenges - leaving those possessing them out of the MyMagic+/MagicBand loop. At any rate, those with old non-RFID tickets will need to associate them to a My Disney Experience account and convert them to an RFID ticket or MagicBand in order to use the FastPass+ advance selection system.
What's the Current Status of MyMagic+ - Who Gets What, When?
Disney will be testing, adjusting and adding features and improvements to MyMagic+ and My Disney Experience based on guests feedback over the coming days, months and years. Any guest, regardless of how they booked their vacation (i.e. directly through Disney or through a travel agency or those staying off-site), will be able to participate in the MyMagic+ program. Initially, however, MyMagic+ was available only to guests staying at Walt Disney World Resort hotels, but has been rolled out in phases since it's introduction. Originally, Disney had said that if all went as planned, MyMagic+ would go live as currently outlined for guests staying at Disney-owned resorts by Spring of 2013, but in retrospect, missed that mark by many months.
The standard MagicBand is complimentary only for Walt Disney World hotel guests, Annual Passholders (whose passes provide admission to the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney's Hollywood Studios or Animal Kingdom), and guests who purchase other specific products such as a Memory Maker Photo package. Guests who stay at non-Disney hotels will receive a ticket with features of touch to enter the park and touch to redeem FastPass+ but not touch to pay. These guests can participate in My Disney Experience, including FastPass+, and are able to purchase a MagicBand for an additional fee if they wish.
Recent testing has included the ability for guests to choose 3 FastPass+ selections per day at Disney's theme parks for attractions and viewing for parades and fireworks, including Disney Festival of Fantasy Parade, Main Street Electrical Parade, Wishes, Reflections of Earth and Fantasmic!. Disney is also currently testing a "tiered" FastPass+ system in some of the parks in which guest must select one ride or attraction from an "A" list and 2 rides or attractions from a "B" list of offerings. Guests are also using MagicBands to access the full range of MyMagic+ services during tests, including checking in for Magical Express at that Orlando airport, checking into resorts, playing interactive games at the parks (Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom, A Pirate’s Adventure) and securing free parking at the theme parks. With the new system, guests may have multiple MagicBands and RFID cards or tickets all connected to the same account; each will work independently of the others. The online site and My Disney Experience app will let you manage multiple passes and MagicBands.
Overall, MyMagic+ intially fell behind the schedule that was somewhat outline when the new vacation management system was first announced by Disney. Going into 2014, however, Disney has made changes to the 'My Disney Experience' web site and mobile apps aimed at solving frequently report issues, including the access speed of the online platforms. Testing of FastPass+ for guests staying off-site has also been expanded in 2014 with the goal of eliminating legacy FASTPASS and fully deploying MyMagic+ now realized.
Additional MyMagic+ Updates, News, and Developments
MagicBand Update: MagicBands will be available for guests to purchase at select merchandise locations within the Walt Disney World theme parks for $12.95 plus tax, but will not be eligible for the "touch-to-pay" feature. Guest must already have an RFID ticket or MagicBand to purchase a retail MagicBand. Guests cannot buy additional bands for other guests not present, but may purchase multiple bands in multiple colors for themselves. Retail MagicBands are available in pink, blue, red, green, orange, gray, yellow. After a MagicBand is purchased, Cast Members will link the guest’s admission media (or other RF media such as an existing MagicBand or Memory Maker card) to the retail MagicBand. If the Guest’s ticket is already linked to his/her My Disney Experience account, all of the plans, such as tickets, dining reservations and FastPass+ selections, will be seamlessly linked to their new MagicBand. Once linked to a My Disney Experience account, MagicBands can be retained and used for future trips. A 10% discount on MagicBands is available to Annual Passholders and DVC Members. MagicBands may be purchased at the following locations:
- Emporium on Main Street U.S.A.
- Frontierland Trading Post
- Space Mountain Gift Shop
- Mickey's Gift Station at the TTC
- Big Top Souvenirs
- Disney Traders in World Showcase
- Camera Center under Spaceship Earth
- World Traveler at the International Gateway
Disney's Hollywood Studios
- Legends of Hollywood
- Stage One
- The Darkroom
Disney's Animal Kingdom
- Chester and Hester's Dinosaur Treasures
- Disney Outfitters
- Creature Comforts
- Disney's Pin Traders in the Marketplace
- DisneyQuest gift shop on the West Side
Turnstile Update: On November 27, 2013, Magic Kingdom Park reached a milestone in Disney history when the park’s final touch point entry system was unveiled at the park – a moment that signified that all Walt Disney World Resort park entrances are now turnstile free! New touch point entries make it easier than ever for guests – especially large groups, or families with strollers or wheelchairs – to enter the park together. To enter a park, guests now simply touch their ticket media, Annual Pass or MagicBand (in testing) to the touch point on their way into the park. Cast members are still stationed at entrances to greet guests and assist when needed.
FastPass+ Update:A number of new attractions have been added to the list of attractions that will offer FastPass+. To see a complete list, visit our FAStPASS page.
New MagicBand-themed shirts UPdate: MagicBand-themed shirts are for sale at select locations at Walt Disney World Resort!
FASTPASS+ Quick Service Update: FASTPASS+ Quick Service is now being tested at Be Our Guest restaurant during lunch for all Walt Disney World hotel guests. Guests will either receive an email invitation in advance or invited to take part in this testing upon check-in at their resort.
In order to take advantage of this offer, guests must log into the Be Our Guest lunch reservation site using their Disney account information and resort reservation number. Guests are then able to select a 30-minute arrival window (from 10:30 a.m. to 1:45 p.m.) and pre-order their meal(s) if they so desire for guests on their reservation only. Guests may cancel or modify their reservations at anytime via the website, and there is no credit card guarantee required, and no penalty for no-shows. Guests arriving at the restaurant will be identified via their MagicBands and may then pay using their MagicBands or credit card. Guests who have pre-selected their meals can then bypass the ordering parlor and head directly to the dining room or place their order if they have not already done so. Servers will locate you via your MagicBand or MagicRose for those not wearing a MagicBand.
RFID Tickets Update: As of February 1, 2013, all single-day and multi-day tickets purchased at Walt Disney World theme parks are enabled with the new RFID chip. The sturdy plastic tickets will allow guests to use the new main entrance touch points as the old style turnstiles are eliminated. The new turnstiles with the Mickey symbol RFID readers are much quicker and can accommodate four guests at a time. Also, those with non-expiring tickets, or paper tickets with days and/or "Water Park Fun and More" options left over can exchange them in at any Guest Relations window for a new plastic ticket with the RFID technology embedded. RFID tickets and cards may also be scan from inside of a plastic holder such as those that clip on lanyards. Just be aware that when several RFID cards are contained in the same holder, such as a Key to the World card and the new RFID annual pass, the sensors will pick up both chips and can not tell which is which.
Guest Assistance Card (GAC) Update: Disney formerly offered a Guest Assistance Card (GAC) that allows guests with special needs to use alternate attraction entrances (when available), among other special assistance features, should they have difficulty waiting in line. Often guests with an "alternate attraction entrance" stamp on their GAC could enter the attraction through the FastPass line without actually holding a paper FastPass. Many Disney fans wondered how the GAC program would work with the new FASTPASS+ system. Now it appears that Disney has overhauled GAC program. Here's what we know so far. Beginning October 9, 2013, Disney has replaced the Guest Assistance Card with the new Disability Access Service Card to create a more consistent experience for Guests while providing accommodations for Guests with disabilities. Those using wheelchairs, electric scooters, or tagged strollers will not need to obtain a DAS card, as most queues are handicap accessible. Here the answers to a few questions concerning the new program:
Update: Beginning March 28, a Disability Access Service (DAS) card with a photo will be valid for length of stays up to 60 days, based on the type of tickets purchased.
- Who may use the new Disability Access Service?
DAS is designed for Guests who are unable to tolerate extended waits due to disability. This service allows guests to schedule a return time that is comparable the current queue time for the given attraction.
- How do you get a DAS Card?
The disabled guests and the entire accompanying party must go to Guest Relations main entrance locations to discuss the disabled guest's situation with a cast member and to obtain a DAS card. Guests will participate in a registration process, which also includes having their photo taken.
- How does the new program work?
The Disability Access Service Card will offer guests a return time for one attraction based on the current wait time. If the attraction has a wait time that is 10 minutes or less, the guest and the entire party will be granted immediate access to the attraction. If the attraction has a wait time of more than 10 minutes, the guest will give the card to the cast member standing at the attraction's entrance. The cast member will then fill in the information on the back of the card with a return time equal to the current wait time minus 10 minutes (example: wait time is 60 minutes, so the cast member will add a return time of 50 minutes to the back of the card). Only one (1) attraction can be scheduled at a time and the process will need to be repeated to schedule a return time for a second, third, etc attraction. This service can also be used in addition to Disney’s FASTPASS Service and Disney FastPass+ service.
- Does the DAS Cardholder have to be present to obtain a return time at an attraction?
No. Another member of the DAS Cardholder’s travel party may obtain a return time but the DAS Cardholder must board the attraction with his or her party.
- Does a DAS Cardholder have to ride the attraction at the exact return time listed?
No. Return times are valid until redeemed by the DAS Cardholder.
- How long is a DAS Card valid?
A DAS card is valid for up to 14 days depending on a guest’s ticket entitlement.
- Is a DAS Card issued at one Disney theme park valid at other Disney theme parks?
Yes, the card will be valid throughout the resort at which it was issued.
- Why doesn’t Disney Parks ask for proof of disability, such as a doctor’s note?
Disney Parks takes Guests at their word and there are legal restrictions around asking for proof.
- Is this the only service available to Guests with disabilities?
Disney Parks offer a variety of services to guests with disabilities, such as Disney’s Handheld Device that offers assistive listening, captioning and audio description. Additionally, Disney Parks has developed a “Guide for Guests with Cognitive Disabilities.” This serves as a tool on how best to experience its theme parks and is expected to be available online by mid-October.
- Why is Disney doing this?
Disney Parks is modifying the current Guest Assistance Card program so it can continue to serve the guests who truly need it. The new program is designed to provide the special experience guests have come to expect from Disney. Disney Parks also hopes it will help control abuse that was, unfortunately, widespread and growing at an alarming rate.
- Who will be eligible for a Disability Access Service Card?
The goal is to accommodate guests who aren’t able to wait in a conventional queue environment due to a disability (including non-apparent disabilities).
- Will Guests on wish trips also use Disability Access Service Cards?
No. Guests who are visiting through wish-granting organizations will have access through a separate program.
- Does a Guest whose disability is based on the necessity to use a wheelchair or scooter need a DAS Card?
No, a Guest whose disability is based on the necessity to use a wheelchair or scooter does not need a DAS Card. Depending on the attraction, the Guest will either wait in the standard queue or receive a return time at the attraction based on the current wait time.
- What will Disney Parks do if a Guest is concerned the DAS Card doesn’t meet their needs?
Disney Parks have long recognized and accommodated guests with varying needs and will continue to work individually with guests with disabilities to provide assistance that is responsive to their unique circumstances. Guests should visit Guest Relations to discuss their individual needs.
'Tap to Enter' Update: All of Walt Disney World Theme Parks have now been converted to Tap To Enter Points of Entry. (IE: Turnstiles) Walt Disney World's Next-Gen turnstiles are available to Resort guests and all other guests with RF-enabled tickets, including tickets sold at park entrances.
'Touch to Pay' Update: Disney has incorporated the 'Touch to Pay' system for all it's Quick Service and Table Service restaurants, and snack stands and merchandise shops. To use the service, guests will touch their RFID Key to the World card to a Cast Member's mobile device. A pin number must be enter to complete the transaction. The system will also work with dining entitlements for those on the Disney Dining Plan. Guests may also swipe Disney Gift Cards using the device. A blue light has been added to the devices that will indicate if a guest's Key to the World card or Magic Band is not being read properly.
Guests staying at a Walt Disney World Resort hotel that has been activated with touch to pay functionality will have the opportunity to set up a PIN during the check-in process or through a modification to the existing Online Check-In Service. Guests with RF-enabled Key to the World cards or MagicBands will then have the ability to make purchases using this payment process wherever a new payment device is available. 'Touch to Pay' is not available for laundry, valet and arcade locations in resorts. Photo ID will be necessary, however, to make purchases for alcohol and tobacco or to obtain Tables in Wonderland, Annual Passholder or Disney Vacation Club member discounts since the RF-enabled Key to the World cards or MagicBands do not have any identification information; these special discounts will also have to be made at a regular register for the time being. At some point in the future, Tables in Wonderland, Disney Vacation Club, and Annual Pass discounts will automatically be recognized and applied if they’re noted in your My Disney Experience account on the DisneyWorld.com website. Additionally, at table service restaurants, you must still tally the tip on a printed receipt for the transaction to be completed. Lost cards should be reported at the Front Desk or Guest Relations and will then be deactivated immediately. Guests will also have the option to bypass 'Touch to Pay' devices and use cash or credit cards when paying for transactions.
Wireless Update: Disney and AT&T have announced an agreement making AT&T the official wireless provider for Walt Disney World. Through this agreement, AT&T and Disney will collaborate to enhance the experience for a growing number of Disney guests who will rely smartphones and tablets to take advantage of MyMagic+ during their visit. AT&T network enhancements across Walt Disney World Resort will include:
- More than 25 distributed antenna systems to increase the wireless capacity in areas with high mobile traffic
- More than 350 small cells to extend network connectivity
- 10 cell sites across Walt Disney World Resort to provide wide-ranging mobile service to guests
- More than 40 repeaters to further enhance the mobile experience for both guests and Cast Members
MagicBand and the Law Update: After Disney lobbied the Florida Legislature to rewrite the state's ticket laws to cover its new MagicBands, a Senate committee approved a bill on April 8, 2013, that addressed several of Disney's concerns. First, Disney wanted to see the definition of "ticket" go beyond the conventional printed media. The new bill broadens the legal definition of park tickets to include new technologies. The new bill also increases fines on people who fraudulently re-sell theme-park passes from $500 to a maximum of $10,000. Repeat violations will also become a felony, instead of a misdemeanor. Currently, it is illegal to resell or transfer a multiuse theme-park pass to someone else after it has been used at least once — but only as long as a phrase such as nontransferable; must be used by the same person on all days is printed somewhere on the pass. Disney hopes that eventually, it be illegal to resell any such pass unless the ticket or venue owner's website clearly specifies the pass may be used by more than one person. That's because it will be unsightly to print warnings on it's new MagicBands which Disney hopes to turn into collectible souvenirs. Some sports fans and activist groups, however, say such a measure would go too far and would unfairly impede consumers from reselling tickets to football games, concerts and other events. The Senate committee has said, however, that the focus this year's legislation was solely on combating theme-park ticket fraud and that so late into the session, the committee simply did not have time to sort through it all. Read more of the story in the Orlando Sentinel, here and here.
Updated April 2, 2014