I was fortunate enough to be part of the MagicBand testing on my last trip to Walt Disney World. Disney has plans to begin testing in all resorts by the end of the year so I thought I would write a review of my experience and offer a few tips that might help some of you who may be using it for the first time on your next trip. As you read, please remember that Disney is still in the testing phases of MagicBands and FastPass+ so what I write about is not set in stone.
Before You Go
Before your trip be sure to check your account on My Disney Experience (MDE) because it is there you can customize your MagicBand by selecting a color and choosing the name that will appear on the inside of the band, which is helpful if you are traveling with someone with the same color band. If a shipping address is confirmed MDE then the bands will be sent before your travel date. If you receive your MagicBands in the mail before your trip and are flying, be sure to pack them in your carry-on so you can have them on hand…or on wrist rather, when you arrive at Walt Disney World and you can hit the parks right away.
It is also important to log into you account on MDE because this is where you will schedule your FastPass+ reservations. I was only able to make a reservation for 3 different attractions at one park per day. There are rumors of moderate and deluxe resort guests receiving more than 3 reservations and questions as to whether, in the future, if guests will be able to make reservations for multiple parks in one day.
In my opinion, MagicBands have made entrance into the parks so much easier and faster. The bottlenecks caused by guests attempting to corral through the narrow, annoying turnstiles are a thing of the past at Walt Disney World parks! This has opened up the entry way making much easier and faster, especially for guests who might have difficulty fitting through turnstiles or guests with strollers. All that exists now are posts with a Mickey on them, along with a finger scanner. All you have to do is touch the Mickey on the MagicBand to the Mickey on the touch point post. Once the touch point Mickey lights up just place your finger on the scanner until it lights up green. Then it’s off to the races for Toy Story Mania! Another advantage to the new system is the space that has become available after the removal of the turnstiles. Not only if there more space but there seem to be more touch point posts than there were turnstiles. The increased amount of entry points along with the quicker, easier entry process will allow you to enter the park quickly, no matter how larger the pre-rope drop crowd may seem.
Overall, I thought the FastPass+ system was great! Most people know what attractions they are going to get FastPasses for before they hit the parks so scheduling my FastPasses was not a problem for me. Of course, between the time I left for Walt Disney World and the time I was hitting the parks for the last day of my trip, my plans had changed. This was not a problem because there are multiple ways to alter your FP+ reservations.
The most convenient way to change your FP+ reservation is to use the free My Disney Experience app on your smart phone. I originally planned to hit the Magic Kingdom for the half day before my flight home so I had FP+ scheduled for that park but since I spent more time there during my stay than I had anticipated, I decided to have one last go at Toy Story Mania before heading home. I got a late start on that day because I checked my luggage and checked into my flight at the resort before hitting the park. On the bus ride to Hollywood Studios, an hour after the park had opened, I schedule FP+ selections for Toy Story Mania, The Great Movie Ride, and Tower of Terror. When I arrived at the park, I scanned my MagicBand and finger and went straight to Toy Story Mania and was a minute early for my scheduled FP+ time! I used my other 2 FP+ reservations and utilized the single rider line on Rockin’ Roller Coaster. Pretty good for a last-minute schedule change! I would have never been able to do that on the old FastPass system.
We all know that Walt Disney World is a magical place but unfortunately some of this magic is used to drain your smart phone battery twice as fast as anywhere else in the world. If this happens to you, like it did me, or maybe you do not own a smart phone (my fiancée), you can still reschedule your FP+ selections. The other way to alter you FP+ selections once you are in Walt Disney World is by using one of the FP+ kiosks in the parks. All you have to do is scan your band and reschedule like you would on My Disney Experience. There is usually a Cast Member hanging around to assist you so do not fret if the system scares you. There is always someone to help!
The unfortunate part about using the kiosks to reschedule your change your FP+ selections is you can only make changes for the park you are in. For instance, I could not change the selections I had for Magic Kingdom later that night from the kiosk in Epcot. I have not heard of any changes being made to this but I feel like it would be an easy to implement. I also think it would be good to have at least one kiosk at every resort, ideally at the bus stop. I realize most people have come to the dark side (smart phones) so kiosks may not be utilized by the majority but I would use a kiosk at a bus stop if it meant saving my phone battery. Whether you have a smart phone or not, write down your FP+ schedule for the day because if you are like me you will forget and you will either have to guess at your return time or possibly backtrack to the kiosks for a reminder.
Linking a Form of Payment to Your MagicBand
I did not get to do this but wanted to and tried. The Cast Member who assisted me seemed to be having issues getting it set up but ended up handing my MagicBand back to me and told me I was all set. I thought this was odd because I thought I remembered reading that a pin must be set up in order to use the MagicBand for financial transactions even if using a credit card. I found out I was correct when I tried to pay for something and they asked for my pin. The MagicBand would not be easy to lose as long as it’s on your wrist but if it were to be misplaced and you had a credit card stored on it you would not have to worry about someone buying 100 Dole Whips with it. I prefer the ease of swiping my MagicBand as payment over searching all my pockets or digging into my backpack frantically looking for my credit card.
A Few Other Notes and Summary
- The MagicBand is waterproof so feel free to wear it in the pool, shower, and at the water parks. This is very handy if you like to purchase food at the water parks. Now you don’t have to carry a form of payment with as long as you have a card linked to your Band.
- There are many accessories available to customize your MagicBand to make it unique. Accessories range from charms to covers and can be found in gift shops all over the Walt Disney World Resort.
- Keep the paper the Cast Member writes your resort room number on unless you have a good memory. Otherwise, you will be like me, going door to door the first night trying my MagicBand until I get a green light on the lock.
Disney’s motivation behind MagicBands was to enhance a guest’s overall experience. I think they are well on their way to accomplishing this. I believe the current MagicBand system, despite a few existing bugs/flaws, can enhance your Walt Disney World vacation once guests fully understand it. I can also see and have heard rumors of even more potential possibilities for MagicBands that could create an even more unique experience while visiting the Walt Disney World Resort. I think and hope that this is only the beginning!
What are your thoughts about MagicBands and MyMagic+? Do you love it or are you skeptical? I’d love to hear your experience, thoughts, questions, concerns in the comments below!