MagicBand makes Disney even more magic

  • Article by: TOM KELLEY , Atlanta Journal-Constitution
  • Updated: January 10, 2014 - 9:55 AM

The wristbands can be used to unlock your room, reserve a FastPass, even find a lost child.

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Writer Tom Kelley used his MagicBand at the entrance to Epcot at Disney World. The bands speed the admission process.

Photo: Robert Cortez • Atlanta Journal-Constitution,

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Walt Disney World is asking its guests to jump on the bandwagon with MagicBands, its new way of storing your ticket, room key and more on a wristband.

The MagicBand, a plastic strip that wraps around your wrist like a bracelet, allows you to do a number of things quickly and easily, without having to hunt through a purse or wallet for a room key, credit card or admission ticket. It’s light and a little stiff, but after wearing it for about an hour, I didn’t notice that I had it on.

The band is also waterproof. Going to the pool? You don’t need to bring a room key, cash or a credit card. Just wear the band in the pool, and you don’t need to worry about having anything stolen.

At certain Disney World hotels, guests are encouraged to use the bands during a trial period, though they can opt for the plastic key card instead. The trial continues to expand to more Disney World hotels. Eventually all Disney guests will be able to use a MagicBand, but it’s not certain when that will begin.

The device uses radio transmitting technology. To use the band, guests register for a My Disney Experience account at www.disneyworld.com; hotel reservations and admission tickets are connected to the account, and thus to the MagicBand.

Once that is done, there are a variety of uses for MagicBand.

It can be used as a room key. Hold your wrist up to a sensor above the doorknob until a green light blinks and the door unlocks.

Disney has accelerated the admission process by removing the turnstiles at the entrance to its amusement parks and water parks. Instead, you hold your wristband (or plastic admission ticket) up to a sensor attached to a post until a green light blinks, place your finger on a scanner, and walk into the park. The MagicBand reader works faster than the old system that read magnetic strips on tickets, and the process drastically speeds up the lines when the park opens.

Use it as a FastPass. The band allows you to reserve ride times on Disney’s FastPass system up to 60 days before arriving at the park. So if you want to ride Space Mountain at 2 p.m., you can now arrange that before leaving home. Previously you could not get a FastPass ticket until arriving at the park, and many popular attractions on busy days exhaust the entire day’s supply of FastPasses by 11 a.m. Currently you can reserve three FastPasses per day using your MagicBand; all passes must be for rides at the same park.

If your child gets lost, a Disney security employee can scan his or her MagicBand and call the phone number you left when you registered at the hotel.

If you lose your MagicBand, alert any Disney employee and the band will be deactivated, and you will be issued a replacement. You don’t have to worry about anyone using it as a credit card because a PIN number is required for transactions.

After two days at Disney using a MagicBand, I was impressed with how practical and easy it is to use.

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  • A guest taps the MagicBand to enter an attraction at Walt Disney World Resort.

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