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, and a revamped MagicBand+ on the way, is it time to toss all of those old 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 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.
Are our readers ready to make the switch to MagicMobile? Here’s what they had to say!
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.
Click here to learn more about MagicMobile!
Pros to Magicband+
MagicBand+ will be debuting later this year, and while it has the same capabilities as a MagicBand, there is also more! MagicBand+ lights up and has haptics that the original MagicBand doesn’t, and it has more ways of interacting with the parks!
MagicBand+ will light up along with nighttime shows in the parks, and will interact with the 50th Anniversary character statues scattered throughout the parks! It also allows you to be a Bounty Hunter in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. You can even use it with Amazon Alexa, which will be introduced to the Disney World Resorts later this year as well. It’s going to come in tons of colors and designs, so there’s one for everyone!
Click here to see the Only MagicBand+ Guide You’ll Need!
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.
Click here for a list of Disney World essentials you’ll need in 2021.
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.
Click here to learn more about some of the features available on MagicMobile.
What are the shortcomings of MagicBand+?
While MagicBand+ has more capabilities than the original MagicBand, there are some differences that make it a little bit more of a hassle. While the MagicBand’s battery doesn’t last forever you never had to recharge it. MagicBand+ is rechargeable, so it will last much longer, but it’s another thing you have to remember to charge.
It’s also a bit larger than the original MagicBand, which makes it a bit bulkier on your wrist. If the extra bulk is something that bothers you, then you might want to consider one of the original MagicBands or MagicMobile.
Disney Accidentally Released MagicBand+ Early and We Got One
So, is it time to say goodbye to your old MagicBands?
Not quite yet! 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!
When MagicBand+ comes out, this option will probably be available for those as well!
Whether you choose to continue using MagicBands or you switch over to MagicMobile or MagicBand+, 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!
Click here for our step-by-step guide to setting up MagicMobile.
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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!
The biggest drawback I experienced on my trip in May was MagicMobile also doesn’t allow you to open your hotel room, so I ended up deleting my pass on my watch. There is no point to it unless it has the same functionalities as a MagicBand.
Is there a watch version app, e.g., iWatch, for the magicmobile , like using Apple Pay? If so, that would be the easiest.
christine y bunt says
Lost my room key, ticket, etc. card many times or had to go back to the room after I got to the park or back to the room. $ times in one visit. And I had a list to check off what I needed for the park. Never lost or forgot my magic band once. Love my magic bands. Not tech savvy at all Bought a cell phone to use at the parks and could not figure out how to use the app. Disney cast spent a long time trying to get it to work. No luck. I have a feeling I can lose/forget the cell phone as easily as I can a
card. I’ll have to stick with the magic band until I have a way to (1) carry the phone conveniently and as un-forgettable as the magic band . (2) am able to use a cell phone as easy as a regular phone.
DFB Sarah says
KWT, MagicMobile functions are usable through AppleWatch once you’ve gone through the set up. For example, you can use your AppleWatch to tap into the Parks and to make payments.
Elizabeth Wood says
Also, magic bands are a must for kids who don’t have smartphones!
Susan Zahn says
Another con to the phone app is that it requires every person to HAVE and CARRY a phone. It means bringing your phone to places you might not otherwise (waterparks and poolside). It means backtracking if cast members are struggling to identify children who are separated from parents (those armbands are electronically personalized, remember). It means that any older kids can’t spit off and do their own thing for a while unless they own phones (as young teens, there was nothing like splitting off and riding whatever we wanted, then meeting my folks back up later).
Personally, I hate it because I want to remain in the moment, and the more Disney forces me to constantly use my phone, the more it pulls me out of the experience.
We could not get the magic mobile app to work with our tickets. Went to desk to try and resolve the issue but they could not get it to work either. So they issued us magic cards.
Nancy Kelly says
The Magic Band is so convenient!! I would not use my phone as it usually loses power before the end of a park day. The band allows me to carry nothing!! I pray they don’t do away with the bands!!
Val W says
And if you have an “older” phone (ie one over 3-4 years old), the app may not work even for mobile order. My husband’s indestructable 6 y o Android didn’t work for ANYTHING on our trips last year, mobile order, virtual queues, etc. hung up or erred out right before completion. If we had been using it for park or room entry, we would have been SOL.
Magicband batteries might not last forever but I was told you can still use them for things like getting into the park, getting into your room, fadtpasses when they have them. I was told you can still use the bands at touch points after the battery dies, Disney just won’t be able to track you all over the park.
Last trip we had both our bands and my phone. Used the phone to see wait times, make reservations, etc. Used bands like above and if is much faster.
I have been in line behind the family who has to scroll through their phone getting each kids ticket…..it is a PAIN
Mike Certain says
I will stick with Magic Bands as long as they are available for convenience. You don’t have to get you phone out, unlock it, open the app, scroll through… You get the idea. You also don’t have to worry about battery life on your phone, at least as far as tickets, dining reservations, FP, etc. are concerned. Paying a small cost for the band to provide this insurance is worst to me.
Why mess with a system that works? Unless it’s another chance to sell something that was once “free”
Lois McGurk says
I have boxes and boxes of magic bands from the beginning of magic bands. I love them! I don’t want to use my phone for anything other than photos or wait times. It will always be magic bands for me!
Kenneth Mulder says
Don’t complain about something until you have tried it. This works with the express pass feature on the iPhone. The phone does not have to be turned on or have an app open. You just touch your phone to the kiosk. It will even still work if your battery is dead. If others don’t have a phone you can have everybody’s pass on one phone and only then would you have to swipe between different psssed to scan. If you have an Apple Watch it is just like a magic band and you no longer have to have two things on your arm.
I have lots of magic bands including special ones that were gifts to me from family members. I will keep using them as long as they work. I love my magic bands.
Personally I HATE having to bring out my phone on vacation at Disney. Also, I find the wifi isn’t very good which is key for those out of country guests!! Not everyone has a phone to bring not should they have to buy one in order to visit Disney, teens, elderly, lots of people don’t have a phone. Someone else also mentioned, pulling out a phone to do everything really takes away from experiencing the trip, a lot of families want to spend time together without constantly being on a phone on vacation. They seriously need to update the wifi in order for all guests to be able to use it well enough for all this stuff!! Also, if my parent doesn’t have a phone and my preteen doesn’t have one, it doesn’t allow much freedom for them as opposed to the magicband. .
Cell Phones can get lost, dropped, require charging, and can have tech problems with the internet service in WDW. Depending on how often you need to charge your phone, it can take hours out of your day … if you can even locate a charging station in the parks that is not being used.
The bands are attached to your wrist and can get wet, and are better than your cell phone.
Susan Zahn says
Speaking as someone who suddenly had phone issues in the middle of my Disney/Universal vacation last month, thank god I had my wristband! Just sayin…
Brenda Crewe says
I want to purchase a Disney Aristocrats Marie magic band for our Disney vacation in March. Where can I get one?
DFB Gigi says
Hi Brenda! Thanks for reaching out. Currently, you can find all of the MagicBands available for online order by clicking here, ShopDisney. Oftentimes the parks have more of a selection than you will find online. I didn’t see a Marie band on ShopDisney, unfortunately.
I prefer a magic band 10 to 1. I already use my phone a lot at Disney I don’t want to have to pull my phone out for even ride, entrance and reservation. Also we got stuck behind soooooo many people using their phones who either didn’t know how to use their phones correctly or who had problems holding the lines up for rides many times in January.