Walt Disney World's next-generation MagicBand - MagicBand+ - will launch next Wednesday at the Florida resort, Disney announced today.
The new version of the MagicBand adds interactive features while still working as the wearer's theme park ticket, hotel room key, and Lightning Lane pass, as well as a link for PhotoPass photos. But the new functionality comes at a price - starting at $34.99 per wristband.
The interactive features added to MagicBand+ include new lights and haptic effects, along with gesture recognitions that can trigger effects on nearby locations in the parks. As a result, the new MagicBand+ contains a rechargeable battery to power those effects, but the traditional MagicBand functions - including admission and room access - will continue to work even if your MagicBand+ battery runs out. MagicBand+ will come to the Disneyland Resort later this year, following its Walt Disney World rollout.
Walt Disney World is introducing two new interactive programs for MagicBand+ wearers: Disney Fab 50 Quest and Star Wars Batuu Bounty Hunters. Wearers can activate audio reactions from the various Disney Fab 50 statuettes around the resort's theme parks by waving their MagicBand+ at the statuettes. The MagicBand+ wristbands will help direct wearers to virtual bounty hidden inside the Star Wars Galaxy's Edge land at Disney's Hollywood Studios, though they will also need to log into the Play Disney Parks app to get the full functionality for that new game.
MagicBand+ also will react to Disney's nighttime spectaculars and the four "Beacons of Magic" locations in the parks, much like the old "Glow With the Show" ears did when they were a thing.
Disney has stopped giving out free MagicBands to its hotel guests, so the question for Walt Disney World visitors is whether paying for these new MagicBands is worth the extra expense over just using their phones or room and park admission cards and skipping the interactive effects now available on MagicBand+.
If you have been following me for a while, you might remember that I have not been a fan of using Disney's Magic Bands - the plastic snap attachments were just too flimsy for me, and I kept losing the things in the parks. I much prefer magnetic or buckled or even Velcro wristbands.
Ultimately, I found that it was just more convenient for me to use my mobile phone, which now has almost all the old MagicBand functionality in Disney's official park app. So I appreciate Disney upgrading its app to add that functionality! But I also appreciate how MagicBands provided a convenient option for families where everyone doesn't have a cell phone, or for people who did not want to bring a phone into the parks.
And yet, to kick off our discussion in the comments here, I also find it curious that some Disney fans who most vocally attacked the company for $15 Genie+ and Lighting Lane upcharges are enthusiastically embracing the $35 MagicBand+. Personally, I would much rather pay for Genie+ for the day and add an Individual Lightning Lane to get on all those extra attractions with minimal wait times than pay $5+ more than those costs for a wristband that just will light up and vibrate now and then and maybe make some little statues talk at me.
Again, that's just me. I get that some people love MagicBands and are looking forward to their next generation. So let's put this one up for a vote.
MagicBand+ launches at the Walt Disney World Resort on July 27.
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The phone option would be preferred over a sweaty plastic band in my opinion, but even better for me would be to let it all work through an Apple Watch. Have they made Magic Band functionality work on Apple Watches?
Great point, Rob. And I wonder why at the prices the deluxe resorts ($1,000/night) and even moderates ($300-$400) they couldn’t throw a couple of these in, at least for kids who don’t have phones. Feels like a nice safety feature too to help reconnect parents and kids who get separated.
Agree, with Rob. Apple Watch functionality world be great!
I'll buy one, just for the recharge feature. The signal is strong to start, but dies quickly when used over distance. I can get in the park, but getting ride photos is a joke unless it's out of the box. My'old' one wouldn't pick up the photo on GotG, so paid $20 for a new one, and miraculously they appear again.
Yeah I know, I'm paying for the convenience, but it costs me $99 a year now for photopass, so those freaking photos better appear in MDE ... Lol :)
I'll give this new magic band a month, b4 photos from GotG fail to show again, and then I'll see what the + is all about.
It's all about getting to hear the 6 songs before the VQ is taken away !!
The Disney apologists are working diligently to figure out a reason of why this is awesome. I’m sure they’ll come up with something soon, just be patient…
Does anyone remember when Disney Parks announced they would no longer use single use plastics? Any update on that? I ask because it seems like Disney is all in on creating additional waste. These bands are waiting for a landfill. You can do this with your phone!
Obviously making the Disney Parks App compatible with Apple Watch and other smart watches would be HUGE. However, why would Disney do that as it would directly undermine their efforts to generate revenue from Magic Band and Magic Band+. If personal wearables did everything (or at least mostly everything) that Magic Bands can do, why in the world would anyone buy the plastic bracelets?
Maybe we'll reach a point where Disney realizes that there's not much money in selling Magic Bands, but until we reach that point, they would be stupid to do anything that would make wearables mimic the features unique to Magic Band and/or Magic Band+.
I would say Disney is actually missing out on a potential revenue stream by NOT offering SmarWatch integration, albeit through In-App Purchases. Imagine the My Disney Experience App working with its current features free of charge, but for $4.99 ($9.99?) you can utilize this functionality on your SmartWatch instead for hassle-free entrance into the parks and Lightning Lanes. Disney could even sell customizable interfaces/interactivity for an upcharge ($2.99 for a limited edition Lightyear-themed face that recites "To Infinity...and Beyond!" whenever you scan into the park). Sure, the revenue may not be as high as a $35 MagicBand+, but they may be able to attract more buyers at these lower price points and make up for it in volume.
I can see the copy now: "Transform your SmartWatch into a MagicWatch(TM)"
I'm going to end my comment here, lest I speak more of this into existence.
I know I am old-fashioned but what's wrong with the old fast-pass system? Far more equitable and fair. I would have voted for that if it was included.
Surely, the essence of WDW, Universal etc is immersion not shackled to your phone all day?
Bring back spontaneity not mimicking a pre-programmed robot!
Honestly they should just make the app function like the magic band and make it compatible with smart watches. They can even charge the same price for the app and people would still get it cause it would be better then wearing a bracelet all day.
I voted for phone app but I'm done with Disney so doesn't matter. I'm very unlikely to go back. I just don't find booking everything in advance fun or relaxing. I had high hopes for Genie+ cause I had told myself that if Disney ever got a proper express pass I would start going back. Booking individual rides is nuts and again makes everything so annoying. Why can't they just get a proper express system. Pay a fee and that's it!! At this point I don't really care what they would charge for it I just don't want to plan my entire day months in advance!
I would love it if Disney put a focus on making guests look LESS at their phones or devices, rather than more.
I would love it if a vacation felt less like work, rather than an extension of it.
And I would love it if everybody was treated equally, once they paid their admission to the park.
That's what I would love.
MagicMobile turns your iPhone and Apple Watch into a magic band already. You get to tap in just as the same as you would a band. I think MB+ will look cool at night and finally pay off the fireworks sync tech that never took off. We’ll see how if Bounty Hunting and other activities are worth the upcharge.
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Just another revenue stream that Disney will continue to exploit. It's no longer good enough to simply buy an admission anymore. Things that used to be part of the cost of admission (i.e. "free") are now being separated from that admission price and charged a la carte. What is billed as a modest increase in admission price year to year is actually double or triple that advertised increase because Disney has reduced what guests receive as part of their admission to the parks. Before much longer, Disney will regress to the original concept where guests will be paying to experience each individual ride and attraction while still paying a steep price just to walk through the gates.
This kind of reminds me of Pal Mickey (which we still have BTW), except a Magic Band+ has little utility outside the parks. At least Pal Mickey, which I believe was @$50 when we bought him, does stuff at home and is a much more tangible souvenir than a plastic wristband.