First the Business stuff……. All opinions in the following post are my own (just as they always are!) and have nothing to do with my employer or it’s subsidiaries. I am writing as a guest/fan and not as a Cast Member.
Magic Bands! The system is still in beta, but you wouldn’t have known it at the parks. It seemed like everyone was wearing one of the these colorful bands.
I had limited use for mine for a couple of reasons:
For tickets, as a CM, I use my credentials to get myself and my guests in. The new CM system at WDW is even easier than before, with RFID chips embedded in the media (DLR is still on the old system) but our bands are not tied into it…crossing fingers… just yet. In fact, the turnstiles at the four WDW parks move so quickly, it doesn’t feel like there are lines at all. It’s kind of amazing!
Because my ticket media isn’t tied into the bands, I couldn’t use the FastPass+ system either. The old system is still working for the time being so it didn’t make much difference to me, but it was neat to see people scanning through.
I was able to use the band as the key to my room at the hotel and as a point of pay for both my Disney Dining Plan (DDP) and to buy things to charge back to my room/credit card on file.
There is a learning curve, you’ll hear the phrase “touch Mickey to Mickey” constantly, referring to Mickey on the face of the band and the Mickey on the point of purchase machine that lights up green when done right. I was finally able to do it first time every time by the last full day of our trip. Next time I’ll be a total expert! When making purchases we put in the pin code that we chose at pre-check in. You can make them all the same or give each guest their own.
The bands come in “One size fits all” but the grey part peels off to make the bands fit kids wrists better (or me, because I have the wrists of a 5-year-old). I found it hard to take the band off at the end of the trip because it had become such a part of me.
My one complaint, give this goth-at-heart girl a band in black or even purple. My orange band just didn’t go with everything I wore! They also sold add on’s for the bands so you could bling them out. I opted to keep mine in its natural, blingless state.
I’m told there are those who are a bit paranoid about the bands in a creepy, Big Brother way. I see the point but I see so much potential in these bands. In the parks, they could know where guests are going, and what they’re avoiding. This could be a great way to know when to improve on an under utilized attraction or location. I have no idea if that is a capability of the bands, I just see the potential.
From a lodging standpoint, a guest never has to say their room number out loud, a privacy issue, or even remember it (because we know that you memorize the path to your room, but not always the number). When making an inquiry at the front desk, you scan your band, “Mickey to Mickey”, and your reservation comes right up on their screen. This is great for making dining reservations as well. I could see a touch-point set up in each building or in the lobby where guests could touch to check out and receive their final list of charges.
Everything syncs to My Disney Experience (MDX), an App and a website. I can’t tell you how many times I saw guests pull out their iPhones to check wait times, dining reservations or character locations.
If I could ask for any improvements, besides other color choices, I would ask that the DDP have better tracking in the MDX app. I’d like to know how many meals & snacks I have left and which band scanned for them and where. But I’m one of those people who keep crazy track of things like that.
My other issue is that I was unable to cancel dining reservations, even within the acceptable timeframe, online or through MDX, I had to go to guest services at my hotel to make those changes. Disney’s Art of Animation has almost 2000 rooms, which meant the lines at the front desk were almost always busy. Canceling reservations took time, every time. It’s a glitch, I’m sure, as the option was there, it would just time out.
The other hidden benefit to the bands it the WDW wide wi-fi that is now accessible to guests. It was told to me, by someone who should know, that the wi-fi is in place because of the bands and the system it runs on. Free wi-fi for guests doesn’t suck…not even a bit.