If you’ve been to Disney World in the last several years, chances are you’ve worn (or at least seen!) a MagicBand.
It can be hard to believe when you’re in Disney World and EVERYONE has one on, but did you know that the MagicBand is a SUPER advanced piece of technology? Seriously! The capabilities of these cute rubber wristbands are insane. We’re making sure you know EXACTLY what’s going on with that MagicBand on your wrist with these five surprising facts!
1. The MagicBand Was Developed IN Hollywood Studios
Did you know that the technology for the MagicBand (and for MyMagic+) was developed in a lab in Disney’s Hollywood Studios? We know, it sounds crazy, but it’s true! From 2008 – 2013, a team of Imagineers set up camp in one of the Studio Backlot Tour buildings, right next to Toy Story Mania!
According to Wired, this team, sometimes called the Fab Five, was looking to create a “Magic Kingdom without turnstiles.” The idea they came up with was the paperless, cutting edge MyMagic+ system we see in use today. That took some time to develop — especially when it meant convincing Disney big-wigs like Bob Iger and (at the time) John Lasseter to okay the $1 billion project.
So, an out-of-commission theater in the back of Hollywood Studios was transformed into the MyMagic+ lab. The outside of the building looked like any facade in the park and featured benches up against the walls for guests to use. Tens of thousands of people walked by that building without having any idea of what was going on inside — perhaps even YOU walked by!
2. MagicBands DO Track What You’re Doing In The Parks
We’ve all made the joke at one time or another: Disney knows our EVERY MOVE when we’re wearing our MagicBands, don’t you think? Well, that’s not entirely true, but Disney is keeping an eye on what we’re doing when we’re in the parks.
Don’t worry, MagicBands don’t have any GPS tech built-in, so Disney can’t keep an eye on you when you leave. Instead, MagicBands use two types of RFID chips.
You’ve probably seen an RFID chip on your newer credit cards! These allow special RFID scanners to read one of the chips, some from a short distance (like when you tap your MagicBand to a scanner), and some from up to 40 feet away!
In general, Disney uses MagicBands to see where you’re making purchases, what purchases you’re making, what you’re riding, and where you are in the park, and to make sure you receive the right photos. Ever checked My Disney Experience and seen a picture you don’t remember scanning your band to collect on Haunted Mansion or Seven Dwarfs Mine Train? They’ve tracked your MagicBand!
All of this is to “enhance your experience” in the words of Disney. It’s kind of similar to how targeted ads work from reviewing your online purchases.
Collecting this info allows Disney to send you that pop-up messaging in the My Disney Experience app when you’re in the parks, or even let the Cast Members at Be Our Guest Restaurant know where to deliver your food.
Plus, knowing your location means that you’ll get access to a pic of YOU on Splash Mountain, and not the guy in the log in front of you.
3. MagicBands Can Last Two Years (Or More!)
Yes, MagicBands do run on batteries and those batteries will eventually run out. Still, it takes a while! Your MagicBand should work for two years, and some people have reported their bands working even longer!
So, if you’re headed to Disney World within two years, you don’t need a new MagicBand! Just snag your old one and make sure it’s still linked to your account. It should work just fine to open the door of your hotel room, get you into the parks, access your Lightning Lanes, etc. Remember that if you’d like to make purchases with your MagicBand, you’ll need to have a credit card linked to the account.
PLUS, when the MagicBand battery DOES die, you can still use it, just not for everything. Remember how we said the band has two RFID chips? The short-range one doesn’t need a battery to work. So, no your PhotoPass pics won’t show up and you won’t be able to use your MagicBand to have food delivered to your table; but you can still tap into the parks or your hotel room!
4. You Can Use Your MagicBand To Get Through Locked External Doors At Your Resort
You probably know that MagicBands can be used to access your hotel room. In fact, if you use online check-in, you can even bypass the front desk and go straight to your room when you get to your resort! But, you might not have known that you can use your MagicBand to open guest accessible external doors at your resort, too.
When you’re exploring your Disney resort, you might notice scanners on some exterior doors or pool gates. As long as you have an active reservation at that resort, you can use your MagicBand to scan these doors open. No more walking around to the unlocked front entrance after a night out at Disney Springs for you!
5. You Can Have More Than One Active MagicBand At A Time
And finally, did you know you can have more than one active MagicBand at a time? In fact, there’s no limit on how many active MagicBands you can have tied to your account! Ok, maybe there IS a limit, but we haven’t found it. And we have A. LOT. OF. MAGICBANDS. 🙂 So, feel free to link as many active bands to your account as you want and use whatever one you’re feeling most each Disney day.
BUT — if you lose a MagicBand or would rather a MagicBand can’t be used to access your account, you can deactivate any individual MagicBands you’d like via your My Disney Experience account. If you deactivate a band, it will still be linked to your account (you can’t link a MagicBand to someone else’s account once it’s been linked to yours), but nobody will be able to use it to make purchases, get into hotel rooms, or tap into theme parks. (Believe us, we’ve deactivated MANY a lost toddler MagicBand!) You can reactivate MagicBands at any time.
There are LOTS of cool MagicBand designs to choose from, so why choose? Grab all your favorites and you’ll be able to switch your MagicBand style out as you please.
These new bands will be used for much of the same things as the original, but will also include more interactive features like color-changing lights, haptic vibrations, and gesture recognition.
We hope this helped you understand a little bit more about that colorful piece of plastic around your wrist! We take for granted how much tech goes into something so small that we use SO MUCH on our Disney World vacation. It’s actually pretty cool and advanced, don’t ya think?
Were you surprised by any of these MagicBand facts? Tell us in the comments!