dumping free MagicBands for hotel guests? Count me among those who won't miss them.So Disney's
As much as I respect the effort that Disney made with its billion-dollar-plus NextGen project, MyMagic+, MagicBands never delivered the intended care-free experience for me. First, the things just fell off my wrist too easily.
I almost always bring a backpack into the park, and many times when I went to put on or take off my pack, my MagicBand would fall off when my wrist inevitably bumped the backpack straps. Sometimes I would notice and pick it up, but I've also lost several MagicBands this way. If Disney had used a magnetic band or a buckle, maybe MagicBands might have worked for me.
But that probably would not have mattered. Because I never once considered using a MagicBand as a replacement for my wallet, much less for my phone. Even if you're not driving or buying a drink in the parks (for which you would need ID), there's no way that I am leaving my wallet back in my hotel room. Now it would be nice just to leave it in my pocket and not have to pull it out to get my ticket and credit cards, but I've got a more accessible and useful device that can cover my need for those.
We first broke down the cell phones vs. MagicBands question six years ago. And in the meantime, it's become clear that mobile phones remain people's preferred personal tech when visiting the parks.
Sure, a MagicBand works as your hotel room key, your theme park ticket, your Fastpasses, your payment method, and even a way to get your in-park photos. And it's way cheaper to replace than a phone, should you lose it.
But if you do lose a MagicBand, what's the quickest and easiest way to cancel or reassign it, so that someone else isn't racking up charges to your room? That would be Disney's My Disney Experience app... on your phone.
You can't use a MagicBand to call your friends and family elsewhere in the park. You can't use it to change or add a Fastpass+ or restaurant reservation without visiting a kiosk. Heck, you can't even use it to see what times you booked those reservations, either.
For me, the biggest technical drawback to Disney's MagicBand system was its lack of a display. The only possible way I could see using it as a wallet or phone replacement would be if it had worked more like Universal Orlando's TapuTapu, which has a display to let you know when and where you're supposed to head to next. But that wearable works only at Universal's Volcano Bay water park, which is probably the only environment in which waterproof wearable tech truly appeals as a wallet and phone replacement.
If I'm going to be carrying my phone and wallet around the park anyway, a MagicBand becomes an additional thing for me to take care of during the day. It's one more hassle - not one less.
All this said, MyMagic+ was much, much more than MagicBands. Disney dropped all that money not just to develop a plastic wristband with an RFID chip, but to redesign and reform its information technology management systems. For MagicBands to work, Disney's hotel reservation, theme park ticketing, Fastpass, restaurant reservation, Photopass, and customer account management systems all had to work together. That wasn't the case before MyMagic+, as each of those systems was developed mostly independently of the others.
The Walt Disney Resort could not just shut down for winter and switch to an all-new, built-from-scratch system when the parks reopened in the spring. Disney needed to switch from its legacy systems to a new, integrated "My Disney Experience" on the fly - and that costs a lot of money to pull off on this scale.
So as much as I didn't care for the plastic wristbands themselves, I am so happy that Disney made the investment to support them. It's just that I want to harness the amazing power of Disney's customer service systems through the My Disney Experience app on my phone, rather than by tapping a MagicBand at a glowing Mickey-head stanchion.
Now, if you love MagicBands, they won't go away. Your old bands will continue to work (if you keep them associated with an active account), and Disney even will sell new bands to anyone who wants them. (MagicBands are gonna be the new collectible pins, aren't they?) All Disney is killing here is its practice of giving complimentary bands to its hotel guests.
But even that marks the end of an era at Walt Disney World. So good-bye, Disney's MagicBand. Maybe I'll see you around the resort sometime. If you want to keep in touch, have your friends call.
'Cause I'll have my phone with me.Tweet
This article has been archived and is no longer accepting comments.