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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