At Walt Disney World, it may seem like magic that a little plastic wristband can do so much. Disney’s MagicBands, introduced a few years ago, are still a novelty to many visitors who don’t visit Disney often. Here we answer 12 frequently asked questions about MagicBands and all the conveniences they offer.
If you haven’t been on a Disney vacation in the past few years, then you may not be familiar with Disney’s MagicBands. These bands were introduced in 2013 as part of a major overhaul to the technology behind the guest experience at Walt Disney World called MyMagic+. Disney guests start by planning their vacation and pre-booking their desired experiences on online MyDisneyExperience accounts.
Once arriving on site at Disney, MagicBands are tools to unlock many features of that vacation experience. These small bands are made of flexible plastic embedded with an RFID chip and fit around guest wrists. The technology is impressive (hence the “magic”), as the bands double as a park ticket, room key, Fastpass+ reservation, credit card, and much more. The idea behind them is to make all aspects of your Disney vacation as seamless as possible.
Many Disney visitors are confused about how MagicBands work, who can get them, and all of their features and conveniences. Here’s what you need to know about using MagicBands on your next Disney visit.
1. They’re only at Walt Disney World.
The first thing you need to know about Magic Bands is where you will find them. As of early 2016, the answer is only at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. There have been no definite plans for introducing Magic Bands in Disneyland or in any of the international Disney parks, although the rumors are always flying.
2. MagicBands are free for Disney resort guests and annual passholders.
If you are staying in a Walt Disney World resort hotel or if you have an annual pass, MagicBands are free to you! You’ll be shipped a set of MagicBands before your trip if you request them through the MyDisneyExperience online account. Otherwise, they’ll be waiting for you upon check-in at your hotel.
If you aren’t staying at a Disney resort hotel during your vacation, you can still get a MagicBand at a fairly reasonable price. The most basic models are available for purchase as low as $12.95 at DisneyStore.com or at most stores on Disney property.
3. They work as your park tickets.
The most convenient feature about MagicBands is that they store your park tickets. A simple tap of the band on a reader at park gates plus a fingerprint check are all you need to enter the theme parks every day of your vacation. No more worrying about forgetting or losing your park tickets! (To save money on those very same tickets before your trip, TravelingMom recommends trusted reseller Parksavers – use code TM2 for an additional $2 off each ticket.)
4. MagicBands access your Fastpass+ reservations.
Walt Disney World offers a free cut-the-line service called Fastpass+ at all theme parks. Fastpass+ allows you to pre-select up to three attractions each day where you make a reservation time and ride the attraction after a very short wait. Simply pre-select Fastpass+ times online on your MyDisneyExperience account and those times are then linked to your MagicBand. When your reservation time arrives, scan your MagicBand at the Fastpass+ entrances to the attraction and breeze on through.
If you don’t have a MagicBand, Fastpass+ is still available to you by using a RFID card in the parks.
5. The bands double as a room key.
All Disney resort hotels now have MagicBand readers on guest room doors. A simple tap of the MagicBand opens your room too. No keys to lose!
6. MagicBands are customizable.
Since Disney visitors wear MagicBands for the entirety of a Disney vacation, many guests want to add a bit of originality and flair. Luckily, Disney has a number of options available for personalizing your wristband.
The most basic form of customization is color selection. When you book a Disney vacation, you can choose one of seven color options to be shipped to your home before your vacation or that will be waiting for you at hotel check-in.
Customization doesn’t stop there. Disney sells a number of special edition MagicBands: everything from Star Wars to Mickey Mouse is available to purchase. Most of these special bands are about $20 and can be purchased from DisneyStore.com in advance of your trip or in theme park stores on-site.
For even more customization, guests can add accessories like character images and jewels called MagicBandits. These decorations pop into the adjustable holes on the MagicBand.
7. MagicBands link to Photopass and MemoryMaker.
One of my favorite services at Disney parks is Photopass (also called MemoryMaker). Professional photographers are located throughout the parks to take shots of your family’s vacation. Even more cameras snap shots on rides. You can use your MagicBand to add photos to your online account where you can purchase some or all of them at the conclusion of your trip.
8. They’re your ticket aboard the Magical Express.
When Disney resort guests arrive at Orlando airport, Disney offers free ground transportation aboard the Magical Express motorcoaches. For guests who already have their MagicBands in advance of their trip, simply scan them and board the bus bound for your resort.
9. You can leave the credit card at home.
For even further convenience, Disney guests can link a credit card to their MagicBands and use the bands to charge for purchases in the parks.
If you don’t want your kids to have unfettered access to charging privileges (who does?), there are plenty of controls in place too. You can specify that only the adults in your party have MagicBand charging privileges if you so choose. Plus, you can add a PIN that you can keep to yourself.
10. MagicBands are adjustable.
How can one size really fit all when it comes to a little soft plastic wristband? Disney has wisely created the magic band to have a tear away layer to make the band much smaller for the littlest of guests. Both my 2 and 6 year olds were a fit. Of course, getting my toddler to keep his MagicBand on was a different matter entirely.
11. Bands are reusable.
If you’ve created a MagicBand original that you can’t part with, you don’t have to. MagicBands can be used again and again for your next Disney trips if you choose. If you want to try a new look on your next vacation, you have that option as well.
12. No need to worry about losing them.
With all these features, I bet you are worried about losing your MagicBand. Don’t be! Any guest services counter can get you a new one right away and deactivate the lost one to protect your security.
Have you used MagicBands on a Disney vacation yet? Share your experiences in the comments.