The Magic in Magic Bands

A recent trip to Walt Disney World revealed that the My Magic + system can be truly magical for guests of the Walt Disney World Resort. Everything was easier with the Magic Bands, from arrival to departure.

Before traveling, we customized our Magic Bands, using the My Disney Experience website and app to choose color and the names we would have printed on the bands. We received our Magic Bands about a month before departure. When we checked into our Disney resort hotel online, we added a credit card and PIN number for purchases made during our stay.

Upon arriving at the Orlando airport, we scanned our Magic Bands before boarding Disney's Magical Express transportation to the Resort. This was much easier than the paper ticket system used in the past. When we arrived at the hotel, we scanned our Bands again to check that the correct Bands were linked to the system (we have other Bands for future trips).

This is when the magic truly began! We used our Magic Bands for the following:

  • To unlock our room door (much easier than searching for a key if your hands are full).
  • For entrance into theme parks (much faster because the readers take up less space than the former turnstiles, and more than one person can go through a line at a time. The picture below shows the new RFID readers at the Magic Kingdom, which took the place of the turnstiles).
  • For FastPasses (more accurate as the computer kept track of accurate times and cast members didn't have to waste time reading the tickets; plus, by having readers at the beginning and end of the line, it is much harder to jump into the FastPass line without a FastPass).
  • For dining (our Magic Band was scanned at the table both to use our Disney Dining Plan and to pay for additional expenses; no more fishing out a credit card).
  • For PhotoPass photos (we purchased Memory Maker, which includes digital downloads of all photos taken by Disney photographers, as well as attraction and dining photos. We simply scanned our Band after each photo, and they appeared on our online account).
  • For purchases throughout the resort (again, all we needed was the Magic Band and PIN).
New scanners in place of turnstiles.

New scanners in place of turnstiles.

There were a very few negative aspects, which I hope will change:

  • To use any discounts, we did have to carry the appropriate card (annual passholder, Disney VISA, etc) and photo ID. Hopefully at some point this will be integrated into the system.
  • The in-room wifi was generally unreliable, though the public system at the hotel and in the parks worked much better. Sometimes, though, I was unable to access the My Disney Experience account via wifi, but could access it through my 3G data.

There were also some unexpected perks:

  • It is much easier to keep track of a child's room key / park ticket when he/she is wearing it!
  • Rescheduling FastPasses was easy and convenient, when we were unable to make our original time.
  • The Magic Bands are waterproof, and can be used for all add-ons, including water park admissions.
  • The Bands can't be used for purchases or dining without a PIN, so there are no worries if it happens to be misplaced.

Overall, the Magic Band and My Magic + system made our experience much easier. I am excited to use them again!