At the start of 2021, Disney World stopped sending free MagicBands to their on-site resort guests. Those guests would now need to either reuse an old MagicBand or purchase a new one, either online ahead of their vacation or at one of the gift shops in Disney World.
Since then, Disney World launched MagicMobile, a new way of using your smart phone for park admission, FastPass+ redemption (when available), and (eventually) as a payment method. With your phone essentially acting as a MagicBand, is it time to toss all of those wearable devices in the trash?
Not so fast! Bidding a fond farewell to your old MagicBands may not necessarily be the best choice for you right now. If you have an upcoming Disney World vacation, you now have the choice of whether you want to continue to use MagicBands, or if you want to give MagicMobile a try.
Pros to MagicBand
MagicBands are an independent piece of technology that you don’t have to charge! It lives on your wrist, and these days most guests are accustomed to having and using their MagicBand as part of the Disney World experience. Many of us know the excitement that came when our MagicBands arrived in the mail — it’s a key part of our vacations!
There are TONS of different MagicBand designs out there. You’re sure to find one that matches your perfectly planned park outfits, or one that features your favorite character, film, or attraction.
Right now, MagicBand is still the only option that has the capability to charge purchases to your room’s bill. This feature is expected to be added to MagicMobile in the future, but if your Disney World vacation is soon, and you don’t want to carry your credit card around (though you should still keep a backup payment option handy!) then MagicBand may be a more convenient option.
Pros to MagicMobile
All of your Disney World vacation essentials — your ticket, your FastPasses (when available), your PhotoPass photos, etc. — can now be found in one central location: your phone! You’re likely using your phone tons already while you’re on vacation with My Disney Experience, so why not have EVERY planning tool in one spot?
Perhaps the biggest draw to MagicMobile these days is that it’s free. Unless you’re reusing an old MagicBand (and don’t forget — the batteries inside don’t have an infinite lifespan!), you’ll have to pay to acquire a new one either ahead of your vacation or once you arrive. And for a family of four, that can add up quickly! With MagicMobile, you have one less line item in your vacation budget to worry about.
If you think you’ll miss the uniqueness of MagicBand’s colors and patterns, MagicMobile offers customizable features, too. It includes animated “cards” that live on your phone.
What are the shortcomings of MagicBand?
While many guests are used to their MagicBand being a part of their park day outfit, it’s still an additional accessory that you have to remember, keep on your person, and make sure you don’t lose. We’ve run the gamut of MagicBand problems over the years — kids losing them in the parks, leaving them in our room on accident, charging capabilities not working (and awkwardly finding out when trying to pay for something!). At the end of the day, it’s still an extra “thing” you need to be accountable for each day.
The biggest drawback to MagicBands now that wasn’t a drawback before is that it’s no longer free. It’s really easy to be Team MagicBand when they showed up free in the mail before you trip. When you have to shell out 10, 20, or more bucks per person for a band now? It can lose some of its shine. If you didn’t save your old MagicBands from previous vacations, you’ll have to pay to use this piece of technology from now on.
What are the shortcomings of MagicMobile?
If your phone dies, your “ticket” dies with it. With Disney World pushing you to do SO MUCH on your phone now on top of “normal” phone uses like photos, texting, and occasionally actually making phone calls, this is one more thing sucking up that battery life. Also, as of this writing, you still cannot use MagicMobile to charge to your room (though that feature is coming eventually).
When you think about it, your phone is in a much less convenient location than your wrist. If you need to access your ticket on MagicMobile, you’ll need to grab your phone and pull it out of your pocket, as opposed to a simple tap of your wrist. If you have a big family, you’ll be standing at the park entrance swiping through your MagicMobile passes to tap in each person in your group instead of the quick “divide and conquer” method of spreading your family to multiple available touchpoints to enter. Keep in mind that if you have an Apple Watch, you can use MagicMobile there to keep that “tap of your wrist” feature.
So, is it time to say goodbye to your old MagicBands?
Not quite yet! MagicMobile is still in its initial rollout phase, so for right now it’s probably best to have a “backup,” AKA your MagicBand. You can still totally give MagicMobile a shot at the same time — Disney is allowing for both MagicBand and MagicMobile to be used interchangeably.
If you don’t have a MagicBand, you can still buy one for a lower price ahead of your vacation. You can scroll through the colors and patterns that Disney is offering at their resort guest rate before you leave home from My Disney Experience, and they’ll mail them to your house!
Whether you choose to continue using MagicBands or you switch over to MagicMobile, know that you can always have the other option available to you to use on your next Disney World vacation. We’ll keep you updated on all the latest developments with MagicMobile, so be sure to follow along!
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Would you prefer to keep using MagicBands or are you ready to make the switch to MagicMobile? Let us know in the comments!