So… you’ve got (or will soon be getting) a MagicBand for your Walt Disney World Resort vacation! But how, exactly, does this unique piece of technology-on-your-wrist work, and what can you DO with it?
Or maybe we should ask what can IT do for YOU? That’s what we’re discussing in our Ultimate Guide to MagicBands at Walt Disney World!
The History of MagicBands
MagicBands made their debut in 2013 as one component of MyMagic+, a system allowing guests to plan and experience their Disney World vacation in a whole new way. The suite introduced and incorporated MagicBands along with FastPass+ and My Disney Experience.
Guests with valid theme park tickets, Annual Passes, or a vacation booked at Walt Disney World Resort can begin planning their visit within My Disney Experience (which is available to all guests by registering for an account via the free My Disney Experience smartphone app or online at disneyworld.com). This advance planning tool includes the ability to schedule FastPasses to reserve times to experience select attractions in the theme parks prior to your visit.
MagicBands are the wearable technology (a band worn on the wrist containing a Radio-Frequency Identification or RFID chip) that connects — or “unlocks” — all the experiences booked through My Disney Experience once guests arrive at Walt Disney World.
What Can MagicBands Do?
MagicBands can be “put to work” the very moment you arrive for your vacation!
Disney’s Magical Express
Guests flying into the Orlando International Airport who utilize the complimentary Disney’s Magical Express transportation service may check in for the service with their MagicBand!
It serves as your travel voucher upon arrival (so it’s advised that you NOT pack it in with your checked luggage, but rather have it on hand to place on your wrist when you arrive at Orlando International Airport).
Resort Room Access
Your MagicBand serves as the “key” to your Resort room!
And if you have utilized the online check-in service before your arrival, your MagicBand allows you to bypass the front desk entirely and proceed to your Resort room from the very start of your trip.
TIP: MagicBands are waterproof, so there’s no more worrying about keeping track of your room key while in the pool, because you can wear your room “key” while you swim since it’s actually your MagicBand!
Your MagicBand also serves as your “park ticket” (when linked to pre-purchased valid admission).
Park entrances are equipped with readers to tap with your MagicBand (or Card, if you opt out of the Magicband).
If you have reserved FastPass+ selections to enjoy your top choice attractions, your MagicBand lets you “check in” at the designated FastPass+ entrance for each attraction.
And in VERY select attractions (“it’s a small world,” for instance!), the long-range RFID technology may allow you to enjoy “surprises” in the ride that we won’t spoil for you here!
Disney’s PhotoPass and Memory Maker
Disney’s PhotoPass service is offered at over 100 locations around Walt Disney World. PhotoPass Photographers are stationed at character greeting spots and around iconic locations (such as Cinderella Castle), and select attractions (including the Haunted Mansion, Splash Mountain, Frozen Ever After, Expedition Everest, and more) even offer on-ride photographs.
Upon having your photo taken, your photographer will scan your MagicBand and the image will then be ready to view in your My Disney Experience gallery afterward! Then, PhotoPass downloads are available through individual purchase or you can download all your photos for one price with Memory Maker.
Guests who opt to link their MagicBand to a credit card during their Resort check-in may charge purchases to their room.
It is not required for Resort hotel guests to link their credit card; however, those who choose to do so will assign a Personal Identification Number (PIN) to their MagicBand for additional security. Note that this option is only available for guests during their Disney Resort hotel stay, and is not available for Annual Passholders or guests who are not staying at a Disney Resort hotel.
Disney Dining Plan Payment and Credit Tracking
Are you participating in the Disney Dining Plan during your vacation? If so, simply touch your MagicBand to a touch point to “pay” (using your allotted meal or snack credits). For snack or Counter Service meal purchases, the touch point will be available at the ordering register, and at Table Service restaurants your server will bring the touch point to you!
(Bonus Tip: if you’re ever wondering how many snack or meal credits you have left, you can find out by viewing your receipt after purchase OR by checking your My Disney Experience app!)
How Do I Get a MagicBand?
Purchase as a Pre-Order with a Walt Disney World Resort Reservation
Guests with 2021 Disney World vacations can now purchase solid colored MagicBands at a Special Pre-Order Price of $5 each. (The solid color MagicBands normally retail for $14.99.)
If you prefer a MagicBand with a design for your upcoming vacation, some are also available for purchase as a “Pre-Arrival Exclusive,” also at a special pre-order price. For example, we spotted this Character Autographs MagicBand available for $15, normally retailing for $24.99. (Prices may vary depending on design.)
After you customize your MagicBands, they will be mailed to you at home! Guests visiting from outside of the U.S. can pick up their MagicBands at the front desk of their resort upon check-in. (Note that if you do not select a MagicBand, a complimentary Key to the World card is the default.)
Again, your customized MagicBand is automatically linked to your MyDisneyExperience account, so it is ready to go to work for you the minute you arrive for your vacation!
Purchase Individual MagicBands
MagicBands are available for individual purchase at retail locations throughout the Walt Disney World Resort.
Of course, since the MagicBands sold around the Resort come in MANY unique designs and themes, lots of guests buy them as collectibles! You can find MagicBands themed to park attractions, Disney characters, special events or seasons, and MUCH more.
Limited Edition MagicBands (which sometimes activate unique sounds at the MagicBand touch points around the park) often sell out quickly.
Outside of the Resort, you may purchase MagicBands on shopDisney.com. You may also find MagicBands for online purchase on Amazon or resale sites such as ebay.
No matter how you purchase it, all MagicBands comes with instructions — and we will provide them below — so you can manually link it to your My Disney Experience account. You can link several MagicBands to your account and wear them interchangeably.
Personalize Your MagicBand
Beyond selecting your favorite, there are many ways you can further personalize your MagicBand. For smaller wrists, for instance, the inner gray wrap can be removed for comfort.
You can purchase accessories such as Magic Bandits or Sliders to decorate your MagicBand. You’ll find accessories such as the MagicBandits in the photo below where MagicBands are sold.
Magic Band On Demand can be found at D-Tech merchandise locations around Walt Disney World, which allow you to design and personalize your very own MagicBand with your choice of color and theme!
For some extra customizing fun, you can search etsy.com, where shop owners sell adhesive decals in a variety of themes for an inexpensive way to customize your MagicBand. You can even find MagicBand display cases with a quick search on etsy to enjoy your MagicBands after you return home!
How To Link a MagicBand to My Disney Experience
MagicBands are automatically linked to your My Disney Experience account when purchased as a pre-order as part of a Resort reservation. Guests who purchase an individual MagicBand must manually link their new MagicBand to their My Disney Experience account. (If you have not registered for an account already, you may do so at disneyworld.com.)
From the available options once you’re logged in, select MagicBands and Cards. You’ll then see a reminder to link your MagicBand with a blue box to click to lead to the next steps.
Confirm that it is a MagicBand that you wish to link from among the options.
From here, simply enter the ID Number for your MagicBand to link! A diagram reminds you where you can find the ID number on your new MagicBand’s interior strap.
And now, your MagicBand is activated, meaning you’re ready to roll!
How To Deactivate a MagicBand
If you have a wide variety of MagicBands, or simply prefer that your MagicBand not be considered active after your vacation, you may deactivate your MagicBand as well.
Upon logging in to your account, you’ll once again visit My MagicBands and Cards. In addition to linking MagicBands as seen above, this is where you can manage the status of any MagicBands by simply selecting “Deactivate” for any MagicBand you choose. You can’t reassign a MagicBand to another person, but you can reactivate them at any time for an upcoming trip!
How Long Do MagicBands Work?
MagicBands come equipped with a small battery that is not replaceable. Generally speaking, they tend to last about two years or maybe a bit longer. And certain features may work better than others with extended use.
For instance, you may find that the MagicBand works longer term for touch points at a park entrance or a FastPass+ queue. But it may not work as well for “longer range” things like on-ride attraction PhotoPass pictures. It’s advisable to replace your MagicBand about every two years.
What If I Don’t Want to Purchase a New MagicBand for My Next Resort Reservation?
You may be perfectly happy to reuse your MagicBand from a previous vacation for your next Resort reservation. And that is certainly allowed (as long as your MagicBand is activated).
Or perhaps you don’t particularly want to keep your MagicBand, but you don’t want to simply throw it away. You can turn in a deactivated MagicBand to the front desk at your Resort, and they can recycle it for you.
See MagicBands in Action
MagicBands have truly revolutionized the Walt Disney World vacation experience. And to see them in action — and learn MORE tips! — you can view our DFB YouTube video below.