Walt Disney World Announces Next-Gen Digital Assistants

September 30, 2021, 12:04 PM · As part of its 50th anniversary "The World's Most Magical Celebration," the Walt Disney World Resort has announced two new tech devices to enhance visitors' stays at the resort.

MagicBand+ is an upgraded version of Disney's original MagicBand wearable device. Enhanced with haptic feedback, color-changing lights, and gesture recognition, MagicBand+ can interact with more locations across the resort, including inside Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge and the "Disney Fab 50 Character Collection," the new golden character sculptures spread throughout the parks.

MagicBand+
Photo courtesy Disney

MagicBand+ also will work as a park ticket, room key and payment device, just like the current MagicBands. It will be available at a discount to Disney World hotel guests and annual passholders. Disney will continue to see the original MagicBands and to support the free MagicMobile service that extends MagicBand functionality to mobile devices through Disney World's My Disney Experience app. More details, prices, and a specific sales start date are yet to come.

Next year Disney also will introduce "Hey Disney," a digital assistant that works via the Alexa platform. "Hey Disney" will be an optional, complimentary feature in Walt Disney World hotel rooms and available for purchase as for supported Amazon Echo home devices via the Amazon Alexa Skills store. "Hey Disney" will feature a new character, the Disney Magical Companion, who will answer questions about the resort and take orders for room amenities, as well as offering greetings, jokes, and trivia from Disney character voices, in addition to the usual Alexa services.

Disney also will sell two Mickey Mouse-inspired OtterBox Den Series stands for the Echo Show 5, one inspired by Mickey's classic red shorts and the other by Mickey’s 50th anniversary celebration outfit, which is the one that will be found in WDW resort hotel rooms.

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Replies (11)

September 30, 2021 at 12:36 PM

So tell me again why WDW guests need to buy a MagicBand+, let alone a regular MagicBand? They spent all that time developing and upgrading the MDE app after the original MagicBand failed, why not create a companion app for smart watches instead of pumping money into another wearable device that will ultimately underwhelm guests?

Also, who needs "Hey Disney" listening to their every word while they're onsite? Disney collects enough personal data to fill a million square foot server facility, yet it's still not enough for the nosey mouse.

September 30, 2021 at 12:48 PM

I swear that there's a crew at Disney specifically charged with devising ideas for stuff so ridiculous that even the most dedicated Disney fans won't buy it. They keep trying, but haven't found that line yet.

September 30, 2021 at 1:11 PM

please god just let me go to a theme park, buy a ticket and go on some rides without needing an electronic device to Help Me Enjoy Myself. i am getting so old, so quickly

September 30, 2021 at 3:47 PM

@ Jacob -- I was thinking the same thing. All these aids to help us have fun, have taken the fun out of the theme park experience. It's just like home with attention on the device rather than the experience. Plus, I swear that some companies outright lie on things like wait times on their aps. Universal this spring wasn't within a country mile of being accurate, and Six Flags would kill for Universal's accuracy.

September 30, 2021 at 4:53 PM

Maybe I'm wrong but I think I'm hearing dinosaurs. When television was invented people complained that it would wreck movies theatres (it didn't). When tape recorders were invented people complained that it would wreck the music business (it didn't). When VCRs were invented people again complained that it would wreck movie theatres (it didn't). When walkman players were invented people complained that it would wreck human interaction (it didn't). When video games were invented people complained it would make everyone violent (it didn't). So here we go again. Smart phones and magic bands are going to wreck theme parks. Deja vu all over again...

September 30, 2021 at 5:27 PM

Well...an argument can be Made about cell phones hurting social interaction and messing with out social skills and attention span and memory skills and a long etc.
I do belive that the immersion aspect of the parks are somewhat Lost, as well as the feeling of Discovery when your head is instead buried in your phone or ipad screen....

September 30, 2021 at 8:04 PM

My question is how easy it will be to unplug the device in your hotel room. I don't have any smart speakers in my home and very limited connected devices. Hard to feel great about a smart speaker in a hotel room from Disney and Amazon. Two companies built on collecting customer data and analytics. Before people forget: Magic Bands were created to be able to easier collect data on the habits of guests from spending to what rides they like.

September 30, 2021 at 10:59 PM

Disney said that Hey Disney will be optional for hotel guests, so I take that to mean that you will be given the option to opt into (or out of) having it in your room at all. But we'll see.

October 1, 2021 at 6:03 AM

Oh, goodie. I don't have enough notifications being blasted at me all day, every day to respond to like Pavlov's dog. Now I can have them on vacation, too!

October 1, 2021 at 10:09 AM

@arrow you see how those things are ... not like this at all, right? it's not, "all technological improvements are bad," nor is it that, "everything with a screen is bad." it's that certain things add to the enjoyment of the experience (or remove complications) and others add complications. this feels like the latter -- and in addition to that, you should ask yourself who it's benefitting ... because as it's been pointed out, the data-tracking on these devices is no joke.

i get it. so is your phone. so is your computer. so is your car. guess what? i need my phone so i can keep my job. i need my computer so i can keep my job. i need my car because i live in los angeles. you know what i do not need? a goofy looking wristband to go to a theme park. i'm good, man. disney is one of the richest corporations on earth, and they get enough of my data by looking at my credit card swipes and my browsing history. it's ok to opt out when ya can and recognize when ya can't. late-stage capitalism, baby.

October 5, 2021 at 12:33 PM

@arrow-

I’m kinda late to the party but movie theatres are dying. Even before covid, people were going to the movie theatre less and less. In 2016 it was reported that people had gone to the theatre around 5 times a year. Unfortunately, television and smaller devices are beginning to over throw the theatre. Covid even proved this with mockes now streaming the same day they come out in theatres, with it even being cheaper than going to the theatre for families. Yes movies we’re making a lot of money, but the theatres are making less since less and less people were attending every year. People just go to see the big 2-3 big blockbuster movies that year and skip out on the smaller films.

Anyways, yeah can Disney just stop trying to know everything about me.

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