Disney will track everything now
- Blog Post by: James Lileks
- January 8, 2013 - 12:39 PM
Can you identify this bygone Minnesota landmark?
Answer at the end, along with my reason for posting it.
Disney will be tracking every move, gesture, and expenditure you make at their parks. This violates every expectation of privacy you have at Disneyworld. In related news, some people still have an expectation of privacy at Disneyworld. The NYT says:
Imagine Walt Disney World with no entry turnstiles. Cash? Passé: Visitors would wear rubber bracelets encoded with credit card information, snapping up corn dogs and Mickey Mouse ears with a tap of the wrist. Smartphone alerts would signal when it is time to ride Space Mountain without standing in line.
Fantasyland? Hardly. It happens starting this spring.
Disney in the coming months plans to begin introducing a vacation management system called MyMagic+ that will drastically change the way Disney World visitors — some 30 million people a year — do just about everything.
Scary! No, wait. Great. No more FastPass tickets to lose. No more digging through your pockets for the card that shoots all purchases to your room charge. But there are Troubling Concerns, I guess:
Disney is aware of potential privacy concerns, especially regarding children. The plan, which comes as the federal government is trying to strengthen online privacy protections, could be troublesome for a company that some consumers worry is already too controlling.
Are you alarmed yet? You’re supposed to be. This nefarious plan is arriving just as the government is trying to strengthen online privacy protections - as if somehow it’s an additional obstacle whose timing couldn’t be worse, and as if this has anything to do with “online.” It could be troublesome. Says who? A company that some consumers worry is already too controlling. Who are these worried consumers? What do they mean by “controlling”? Disney’s parks are privately owned businesses. A certain amount of “control” is expected. They can’t make you go there, and once you’re inside they can’t make you do anything. Maybe some of the Worried Consumers are concerned about Disney’s aggressive pursuit of extended copyright, but that has nothing to do with this.
The article notes that the band will detect whether your kid shakes hands with Goofy and spurns Stitch, or vice versa. The company will then - gasp - use that information. You may yank your child away from anything Disney at this point and swear that your child won’t be a data point, no sir. But if there was a park employee - sorry, a cast member with a pocket tabulator standing near Stitch, noting how many kids approached Stitch for a hug or a photo, and Disney used this information to cut back on Stitch appearance or hire additional Stitches, would this be an invasion of privacy? No. It is different to have an ID associated with a particular bracelet identified as a Stitch-interactor, of course, and this might mean that Disney would send you mailings that had Stitch on the envelope instead of, say, Dopey. The horror.
The article does note:
Guests will not be forced to use the MagicBand system, and people who do try it will decide how much information to share. An online options menu, for instance, 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?
Nevertheless, someone on a blog said it was creepy, so there. Also, the bands could be used to let characters know a kid’s name or special event, so when the tot approaches Cindyrella, the actress can say “why hello, Ashely Sue, it’s your birthday today, isn’t it!” In a few years actual robot WALL-Es will be driving around calling out kid’s names. If you ticked the box online that says “permit characters to address us by name.”
This sounds like hell to some people, and they’re welcome to avoid it entirely. It reminded me of the old Paul Bunyan park up north, the one with the giant seated statue. Your parents told the ticket-taker your name when you weren’t looking, and when you walked in the enormous robot said hello to you. Absolutely terrifying. But it’s something else to be six years old, sitting in the Laugh Factory waiting for the animated characters on the screen to choose you, and hearing them speak to you by name. When you grow up you’ll figure out it was the guys in the back room in mo-cap suits who had a screen full of first names harvested up when the scanners read everyone’s wristband in the holding tunnel. But when you’re six? Magic.
Speaking of that Paul Bunyan statue: found a video today. It’s at the 1:30 mark.
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