If you’re totally new to the magic of Walt Disney World, or you haven’t visited for a while, you may be wondering what all this fuss is over the Disney Magic Bands; a plastic bracelet that links to a computer and acts as a ticket… Is it really magic? Well, it doesn’t do tricks, but it does do some other pretty impressive stuff!
So if you’re new to the phenomenon that is the Magic Band, here are the most important things you should know about it:
1. It connects up your whole Disney World experience
Walt Disney World’s official description explains in a concise way exactly what a Magic Band is: “this colorful wristband is actually an all-in-one device that effortlessly connects you to all the vacation choices you made with My Disney Experience”.
2. They’re free to Disney World hotel guests
Magic bands are given to guests who are either staying at a Walt Disney World Resort hotel or are an Annual Pass-holder. If you are staying off-site, you will be issued with a Magic Card (still pretty magical!), but don’t worry – you will have the option to buy a band at the parks.
3. It stores all your park photos
The Disney Memory Maker Package stores all of your ride and park photos for you to download when you get home. If you have the Memory Maker package, you just need to scan your Magic Band whenever you have a professional photo taken (or a ride photo) and it’s saved in your account!
The Memory Maker is usually $199 but for 2016 it’s free with Walt Disney World tickets!
4. You can leave your money and room keys at home!
The band acts as your theme park entry ticket, your Disney Resort hotel room key and a charging card for buying merchandise, food and drinks. They are made to be so convenient that you won’t need to bring any money into the parks.
5. It’s your FastPass for the rides and your Dining Credit
If you make Fast Pass+ reservations using My Disney Experience, they will be stored on your band. If you are on the Disney Dining Plan, you can use it to spend your credits.
6. It scans you in!
If you have booked a FastPass to any rides or attractions, just scan your magic band on the Touch Point sensor (Mickey Head to Mickey Head) at the ride entrance, and once it flashes green, you are in! Every member of your party with a band needs to do this at each attraction they have FastPasses for.
7. It’s totally secure
Magic bands use Radio Frequency technology which interacts with long and short readers in the Disney parks. No personal information is stored, and you will be required to set up a 4-digit PIN for added security before you can use it to make purchases.
8. You can personalise it with your name and favourite colour….
If you are staying at a Walt Disney World Resort hotel, you will be able to customise your band online at My Disney Experience up until 1 calendar month before you visit. Because the bands can’t yet be posted to addresses outside the US, they will be waiting for you to collect when you check in to your hotel!
At the moment, you can chose from 7 colours and have your name (up to 9 characters) in the inside. If you choose not to customise your band, you will receive one in the standard grey colour.
9. ….. and even accessorise it!
You can make your band totally unique by decorating it with accessories! “Magicbandits” are similar to the charms you can put on Crocs, and you can also buy “sliders” which fit around the centre of your band. These are the official options that can be purchased at the park, but there are also websites where you can buy stickers which are like a cover for your band.
10. You don’t HAVE to have a Magic Band (but why wouldn’t you??)
The plastic “Magic Cards” (which you’ll receive when you first book your tickets) can also store your information, but they cannot be scanned by the long-range readers in the parks, which can sometimes personalise your visit and give you a special Disney surprise, like a birthday cup-cake!
And a bonus fact: It’s waterproof!
So you can wear your band to the water parks, in the pools, on the wet rides and not worry about getting caught in those typical Florida afternoon downpours.
There are rumours that in the not so distant future, you may be able to personalise your ride experience on various attractions, just from the information stored in this magical band. All I can say right now is: Watch this space!
Want to know more about Disney’s FastPass? Read the Guide to My Disney Experience