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How MyMagic+ Will Affect Disney Dining

Planning your Disney World vacation is about to change—big time. While making your Advance Dining Reservations 180 days in advance will still be important, MyMagic+ is going to make it easier to pre-plan your trip and maybe even save your Disney dollars at the same time!

Mickey TartWe’ve outlined the basics of the new Walt Disney World Resort technology below, followed by a healthy dose of Disney dining tips for making the most of the new system — including how it will change your Disney Dining planning, and how you might save money using MyMagic+!!

MyMagic+: The Basics

This past week, MyMagic+ — a new, tech-savvy planning process for your Disney vacation — officially rolled out across the Walt Disney World resort. Relying on RFID technology, this will create a “more immersive, more seamless and more personal experience” for guests, according to Disney Parks Blog.

A major piece of the MyMagic+ puzzle is the new My Disney Experience website and mobile app, which help guests plan their trip. The interactive tools allow guests to log in to book advanced dining reservations and ride times for popular attractions as well as parade and fireworks viewing locations with FastPass+. They’ll also make it easy to change those plans on the fly from any smartphone or Guest Relations kiosk.

All of that MyMagic+ data—including ride and meals times—will be encoded onto the new must-have Disney accessory: the MagicBand. These high-tech bracelets will replace the Key to the World card, becoming a room key, theme park ticket, PhotoPass card, FastPass and charge account in one.

MyMagic+ MagicBand

MyMagic+ MagicBand in action

Right now, guests saying at WDW resort hotels, Annual Passholders, and those who purchase PhotoPass will automatically receive a complimentary standard MagicBand. Upgraded wristbands, decorated with characters, will also be available for an additional fee.

Guests who stay off property will receive an RFID-enabled card, which will act as a park ticket, charge account and FastPass+ ticket, but they will have to purchase a MagicBand separately.

Don't Forget Your MagicBand!

The new technologies will likely have a significant impact on your dining strategy, so we’ve put together a quick primer on how to make the most of MyMagic+:

Pay and Go

The most immediate and obvious impact of the MagicBand will be the ability to pay for snacks and quick service meals with the flick of a wrist.

Literally tap the RFID bracelet (or card for non-resort guests) against the sensor at the register to settle the bill on purchases of $50 or less quickly and efficiently. No more digging around for the Key to the World!

Schedule Your WHOLE Day

With the current system, FastPass dictates your return window based on how many FastPasses have already been distributed. On some days, it’s possible to arrive at Soarin’ at 9:30 a.m. only to be locked into a 6:35-7:35 p.m. return time. That presents a problem for those guests who’ve already booked a coveted Le Cellier ADR for 6:25 p.m.

Le Cellier Mushroom Filet

Le Cellier's Mushroom Filet Mignon with White Truffle Butter Sauce and Micro Chevril

With FastPass+, guests will be able to specify their own attraction return times and, as a result, pre-select complementary reservation times. The family who booked that Le Cellier ADR exactly 180 days before their trip will be able to set their Soarin ride time so that it doesn’t conflict.

This will give guests greater flexibility and the ability to plan their attractions around their dining plans.

Skip Rope Drop (and Sleep In)

If you, your teenager, or your sleepy spouse believe it’s not a vacation unless you can hit the snooze button a few times, you’ve likely experienced Rope Drop Anxiety: that awful, sinking belief that you won’t get to ride Toy Story Midway Mania unless you’re one of the first 100 guests through the turnstiles.

Schedule Your FastPasses Around Your Dining Reservations

Erin Foster, our Disney Food for Families contributor, experienced the new technology first hand and shared her impressions about how MyMagic+ will help families eliminate the Rope Drop Anxiety:

The main benefit I saw for my family is that the judicious use of FP+ could eliminate the need to wake up to get to rope drop. If I can schedule my Toy Story ride for the afternoon, then I don’t have to get to the park at 9:00 a.m. This may have implications for when people time their meals.

Will resort breakfasts become more popular because people don’t have to get up early in the morning?

By allowing guests to pre-schedule ride return times without physically being in the Park, MyMagic+ may very well mean more leisurely mornings at the resort—and more resort breakfasts.

We expect that the new technology will mean bigger breakfast crowds at some of the lesser-visited but delicious spots, like The Wave, The Grand Floridian Café, and Pepper Market. Maybe it will even result in breakfast being served at formerly lunch-and-dinner-only spots, like Shutters and Boatwrights. It could open up a whole new world of Disney dining options!

Whispering Canyon Cafe sign

Will MyMagic+ mean more breakfasts at the resort?

Save on Food

All of these changes are great, but what will they mean for your bottom line? Here at Disney Food Blog, we’ve been thinking about how these changes may save you money.

Have More Inexpensive Breakfasts and Fewer Expensive Lunches
If you don’t have to be at the Park at 9 a.m. to get your FastPasses, as Erin points out, you could enjoy a late breakfast at the resort. Breakfast usually costs less than lunch and dinner at Disney restaurants, which means indulging in a big breakfast could allow you to skip lunch (or just have a small snack instead of a full meal), and pay less overall!

That pattern could result in significant savings over the course of a long trip to Disney World, and it will definitely mean we need to crunch some new numbers to determine whether the Disney Dining Plan is worth the cost.

More to Come!

We’ll keep an eye on the new MyMagic+ technology, so stay tuned to Disney Food Blog for our tips and tricks as the technology continues to develop.

What are your thoughts about the new MyMagic+? Will it change your dining strategy? Let us know in the comments section below! 

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66 Comments

  1. Erin says:

    I’m really excited about this and can’t wait for my trip to try it out….but I am confused about one part….if we don’t get the bands until we check in then does that mean we can set any fast passes up on them until after check in? Thanks!

  2. Mike says:

    Hack into the RFID Chip in a Magic Band and you know what you will find?
    An 18 Digit Entitlement Number! That’s it, nothing more to see here, no value to anybody except Disney!
    This number means nothing to nobody except Disney’s Reservation System. THAT’S where your information is safely stored, like it has been for many years!
    Since your entitlement number is unique, it’s the Disney software that can quickly link your number to your provided information, and bring them together.

    Don’t want to wear the band around your wrist? Put it thru one of your belt loops! Keep it in your pocket. Nobody syas you have to wear it 24/7! Disney is just trying to make it easy to find, and fun to wear.

  3. Heather Louise says:

    I am a planner by nature and this sounds great to me, but I can definitely see how you could feel locked in to a very strict plan while at the World. I know they give you the option to change “on the fly” but how many options will be left when you make the changes day of?

  4. Dana says:

    I’m a huge planner, but I’m not sure how I feel about this. I don’t have an issue planning my meals 180 days out, but somehow planning what rides you want to go on and when sounds a little extreme to me. This just sounds like it’s going to take all the spontaneity and fun out of going there. :(

  5. Susan says:

    I am not happy at all about the pre planning. I think planning what you will eat 180 days away from your trip is rediculous, but of course, we had to do it because on our last trip we couldn’t get in to the restaurant we FELT like eating at that day. We are spontanious people and like to take our VACATIONS one day at a time. We spend everyday planning and scheduling, we don’t want to do that with our trip. We spend a lot of money to enjoy our vacation and all this pre planning will take the joy right out of it. It is in no way “magical” to us. :(

  6. LoriD says:

    My family thinks I’m nuts for making as many ADRs for meals as I do and I don’t lock us in for every meal.

    While I can see some advantage for the super popular attractions – maybe – I can’t imagine such a regimented “vacation”. I guess we’ll see if it works for us in a few weeks. Though we can’t pick up our tickets till we arrive (Shades of Green) so securing FP times ahead could very well not be an option for us anyway.

  7. Kathie says:

    Is this OFFICAILLY rolled out yet, or just the latest testing BEFORE Official roll out?

    Still not clear on how this will work for obtaining traditional FP though. Since each person is connected to an individual band, will each person need to go to the FP dispenser now? Before the bands you could give one person everyone’s tickets to get the passes for everyone and not have a crowd of people at the machines, plus the group could be gathering for another ride or even getting a table for a meal.

  8. Cheryl says:

    Count me in the not happy about it group. I hate the idea of wearing a bulky wrist band and if you put it in your purse or pocket, you have to worry about losing it. Also, I hate having to plan everything about my time there in the parks. Bad enough we have to plan dining but then we’ll have to plan times to ride popular rides!

  9. Matt says:

    According to the date at the top, this blog post is from January. Has anything new actually rolled out, because unless you are in a test group, nothing has really changed. As for what happens when it does finally roll out, you do make some good points. But you leave out many of the downsides. For example,”rumors” say that you will not be able to get as many FP’s as you could before. Also, you maybe able to book meals and rides 180 days out, but will Disney start setting hours and show schedules that far in advance, without changing them later? And sure, you can “change on the fly”, but will actually be available?

  10. Matt says:

    Kathie, rumors are that traditional FP will be no more, so eventually, there will be no machines at all. As for how it works with the bands, you can already specify your traveling partners online when you book ADR’s, so anything you book that way should automatically include anyone’s band you specify.

  11. Alex says:

    There seems to be some confusion on this new system. No one is forcing anyone to plan what rides they want to ride, this is only for people who use Fast Passes or wish to use them. In no way does this affect Stand-by lines for the rides. If you usually don’t use Fast Pass and just wait in the 90 minute queue line for Soarin’ then it doesn’t affect you. If you’re the kind of person who wants to ensure you ride Soarin’ without having to wait in the line then this benefits you because you can choose to set it at 11am and go ride it then, and even then no one is forcing you to go ride it at that time, that is completely up to you.

  12. Bev says:

    I am totally looking forward to this. My son loves to ride the thrill rides multiple times so using Fastpass+ is going to be great. We also ride standby because I enjoy the queues so we can use the FP+ and standby. If you plan your FP+ rides for areas near your ADRs you won’t be crisscrossing the park to get fastpasses. I don’t have a runner to get FP for a group so this is a big plus for me! I do the meal planning and carry my smartphone to track wait times so we still have some spontaneity, but my son likes to know what is ahead. That said we still stop to watch butterflies, catch lizards, or meet and greet characters unplanned.

  13. Beth Carbonaro says:

    Is it easy and comfortable to take the MagicBand on and off? Or must you wear it all day?

  14. TL says:

    How does this work with food with kids?? I don’t want my teenager going on a hunger binge and visit every food cart/stand/restaurant when we are not together and charge everything to the room. Can I lock “charging to the room” for certain bracelets??

  15. Shelley says:

    We got our Magic Bands and scheduled FastPasses on them since we’re staying at Port Orleans-Riverside where they are testing them starting in September. Since we are traveling with an 80+ yr. old, the benefit of not having to criss-cross parks is a bonus! TL, yes, you can block charging privileges to any band (i.e. hungry teenagers). It took some tweaking to finally get the FastPass times we wanted so that they were near where we have ADRs around the same time frame, but we finally did. We were allowed to schedule 3 fast passes per day (we are NOT doing ParkHopper – I’m not sure how that would work) and in the Magic Kingdom, the system threw in a “bonus” 4th FastPass. I tend to be a planner, but we saving time normally spent in lines will allow us more time to stop and smell the roses.

  16. JVG says:

    We used the magic band and the fastpass+ during our recent stay at Disney world Pop Century Resort (Aug 31- Sept 6 week). We are usually not planners, but having read so many articles about planning, an off season planning for ADRs about 60 days before the trip did help us get in to the park at 8 am for breakfast at Crystal palace where we could pay with the magic band. We had a 5 day park-hopper ticket but when choosing fastpass+ attraction, the system lets you pick only one park a day and 3 attractions/rides (the fastpass+ now includes also additional attractions such as character meet and greet fastpasses as well as fastpass to “be our guest restaurant..we did not use either of these so don’t know how ell that works or how useful it is)

    Also, the ability to change fastpass+ attraction using the phone was good because there were several instances where I could change my options about 10 minutes or so before the actual time if we saw that the ride was not crowded. The bands worked very well for the fastpass+ rides.

    Since they are still testing out the system, there were a couple of instances where the magic band did not work well for restaurant payment, and we had to use the resort card instead (which were told may be a good idea to carry). I am guessing (and hoping ) that the need to do that would change once the testing is over.

    Since this was a fisrt trip for my 7 year old, I would say that FastPass+ was actually a good option, as it helped us ensure that we got to go on the most popular rides when we wanted, without having to run and collect fastpasses first thing in the morning. We also were able to be somewhat spontaneous several times by changing the fastpass attraction times/rides….and going back for an afternoon nap, when needed.

    All in all, our experience with the magic band and fastpass+ was positive. But since I am not a basic planner by nature, and also not a frequent Disney visitor (first visit 2004 or around then and second visit in 2013) planning everything including the ADRs, the park, the rides was a bit overwhelming the first time around….but if I had to do it again, I would do it in areal quick next time…takes a bit of getting used to….once you do, it does make life easy but thats just my opinion.

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