Disney World's MyMagic+ Review, Including FastPass+ and MagicBandsBy Dennis Almendares, Sunday, September 15, 2013 09:00
MyMagic+ is a massive project being implemented at Walt Disney World and includes the introduction of FastPass+, the MagicBands, and the touch-to-pay system.
Let’s get started with the MagicBand. The MagicBand is a “rubber”-like wristband that contains a Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) chip that acts as your park ticket, room key, and credit card. Wearing the MagicBand felt a bit awkward at first. It’s difficult to describe, but it seems as though the band would never want to stay with the Mickey head facing up. I suggest wearing the band prior to the trip to get the “feel” for it and to make adjustments. Though as the day goes on, you barely even notice that the MagicBand is on and this was on a hot summer day. It actually felt like I was missing something when I took it off at the end of the day. It may not have changed my life, but it was certainly more convenient to never have to take out my wallet to search for my room key or annual pass. For those of you wondering, it will sync with your annual pass once you connect it with your Disney account.
Once you book your reservation at one of the qualifying Disney resorts that are participating in the testing, you will be prompted to customize your MagicBand. Basically, you get to choose the color you want and the name you want printed on the inside of the band. It will tell you how many days you have left to customize the bands and when they will ship. My bands arrived only two days after shipment.
The biggest undertaking of MyMagic+ is the new FastPass+ reservation system. Once your resort reservation is linked with your Disney account, you can begin making FastPass+ reservations starting the day you check-in. FastPass+ is replacing the current paper FastPass system, but it is currently still made available to all guests. On the MyDisneyExperience website you begin by selecting the day you want to make your reservations.
Then you select the people in your party that you want to make the FastPass+ selections for.
Next you choose the park in which you want to make the FastPass+ selections in. The rules are that only three FastPass+ selections can be made per park per day and only one park can be used a day. Also, you cannot choose the same experience twice in the same day. I thought this was sufficient because, for example in Epcot we made a selection for Test Track, Soarin’, and Maelstrom. Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom were the same in that three FastPass+ selections were enough for the day. In Magic Kingdom we received a bonus fourth FastPass+ selection during our testing that we used for Haunted Mansion. Again, I did not feel that four was not enough. Although, I could still pull regular FastPasses from the machines, so my thoughts could change once that is no longer possible.
Disney will give you four recommended options for the times of the FastPasses, usually one in the morning, afternoon, and evening. But if you don’t like any of the choices, you could manually change the time of the FastPass+ experience and the experience itself (if it’s available of course).
Once you have gone through the process of selecting your FastPass+ experiences, which can be made up to 45 days in advance, then it’s off to enjoy your vacation.
When you arrive at the resort, nothing has to be done to the MagicBands, they will already be linked with the reservation and can be used as the room key as soon as the room is ready. So make sure to have your MagicBands with you before packing your bags. During my testing, they still gave out plastic room keys as well. This is also a good time to add that the MagicBands are completely optional. The plastic cards will serve the exact same purpose as the have the same technology in them. You can wear the MagicBand only if you want to. Moving on, you will need to tap the Mickey head on the MagicBand to the Mickey head on the door. This concept of tapping “Mickey to Mickey” will be repeated throughout your vacation.
To enter the park, you will go through the turnstile-less turnstiles (I guess). I call them Mickey Readers, but they can also be called Mickey Heads or Mickey Stiles or the green glowy thingy. I liked the new Mickey Readers better than the old turnstiles, mostly because it’s just cool to watch it light-up green and strollers are able to enter much quicker. But please remember to tap the band (or card) and put your finger on the scanner. The line can easily be held back because people keep forgetting to scan their finger.
The Mickey Readers at Animal Kingdom.
Here’s my best attempt at capturing a photo of the process. By the way, Cast Members at the Mickey Readers carry an iPod Touch-style device to see if you are cleared to enter. It will also display your name and any information you choose, such as a birthday or anniversary. Some Cast Members made me feel special by greeting me in by name.
Here is how they look when they are not in use.
Once inside you can make changes to your FastPass+ reservations from kiosks like the one shown below or the MyDisneyExperience app. It displays nearly the same thing you will find in the MyDisneyExperience website. This one is in Storybook Circus. There is also a Cast Member at every one I saw if you need assistance.
Most attractions now allow FastPass+ and are equipped with two Mickey Readers to scan your MagicBands (or cards). Again, my best attempt to capture this magical moment.
Paying for items, I used the touch-to-pay system. You just simply tap the Mickey Reader on this little machine and type a four digit pin code that you created either on the website or checking-in at the resort. It’s very quick and easy, although a regular credit card can be used as well.
Overall, my experience with the MyMagic+ system has been positive. I will be testing it again in a month and will be looking to see the improvements or changes that have been made, especially since it will be opening up to a larger test group. I am optimistic about the new system, but worry about the challenges that can occur when the system is rolled-out completely, such as FastPass+ availability and glitches. I saw very few people with MagicBands in the park and using the FastPass+ system. As the testing expands, the reality of the system will begin to show.
If you have any question, please feel free to ask them in the comments below.