MagicBand+ has been available at Walt Disney World since late July and is also launching at Disneyland Resort. These new MagicBand products boast new functionalities and a larger price tag.
So, is the price tag worth it for these new bands? Well, I tried out MagicBand+ for a week at Walt Disney World to test whether you should be spending extra or saving your money.
How Does MagicBand+ Work and What Does It Cost?
First, let’s go over what Disney advertises as the functionalities of MagicBand+ that differ from the other MagicBands. The first thing that MagicBand+ can do is interact with those Fab 50 statues that are located around Walt Disney World. They are also said to light up and vibrate during nighttime spectaculars such as Disney Enchantment at Magic Kingdom and Harmonious at EPCOT and World of Color and Fantasmic at Disneyland Resort. Finally, if you are a Star Wars fan, you can use MagicBand+ to participate in virtual bounties around Galaxy’s Edge.
MagicBand+ is more expensive than the other MagicBands. They range in price from $34.99 for a plain color band to more than $50 for special edition bands. The other MagicBands range in price from only $19.99 for plain color bands to just under $50 for some of the higher-end band designs. Disney also notes that MagicBand+ has a rechargeable battery. All other functionalities like linking to park tickets, Genie+, and room entry are the same for both MagicBand+ and MagicBand.
My Experience with MagicBand+
When it came to the overall setup and technical functions of the MagicBand+, I ran into several issues. First, they are slightly more complicated to pair in the MyDisneyExperience mobile app. You also need to download the Play Disney Parks mobile app to your phone. Additionally, you must make sure that you fully charge it before your first day of use. I made the mistake of only charging mine for a short time prior to my first park day and found that the battery was still completely dead, and I was unable to use it to access any of the “bonus” functionalities.
Fortunately, even when MagicBand+ has a dead battery, it still functions the same as a MagicBand and you can still access the basic functions. I encountered some difficulties pairing my band after it had been dead and it took some trial and error to get it to finally pair. I found that I needed to charge my MagicBand+ each night which just added to the list of things that needed charging. They come with a six-inch-long charging cord that is specific to the MagicBand+. This means if you lose, forget, or damage the cord, you will have to purchase a new one.
The MagicBand+ does vibrate and light up when you near one of the Fab 50 statues, however, there were almost always people either sitting in front of or taking pictures with these statues (at least in my experience). Sometimes I couldn’t even locate the statue that was making my band vibrate. Once I could get close enough to the statue, I had to wave my arm around the statue for several seconds before the statue would finally let out a short soundbite. There were a couple of times I tried and did not hear any soundbite.
You will need the Play Disney Parks mobile app to participate in the Star Wars bounty-hunting activities. When searching for a target you will venture around Galaxy’s Edge near doorways using the lights on the MagicBand+ to locate targets. If you complete enough of these bounties, eventually you will be invited to join the Guild of Bounty Hunters. I did not complete my bounty as it took a bit of time, and the land was quite crowded on the day we visited.
Personally, when I am at Disney parks, we usually are quite busy bouncing between Standby lines, Lightning Lanes, and grabbing food. Unless you have several days where you can visit Galaxy’s Edge, or you are a huge Star Wars fan this particular functionality probably isn’t worth it. Additionally, there are other interactive games you can play on the Play Disney Parks app that do not require the purchase of MagicBand+.
Finally, I did not get to see the MagicBand+ functionalities when it came to nighttime spectaculars as my band was not working on our Epcot day, and there was no Disney Enchantment during our Magic Kingdom visit. Unfortunately, these issues are also something you may experience as well. I was disappointed to find the bands did not light up to any of the nighttime entertainment offered at Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party.
So, what is my final verdict?...
We bought MagicBand+ only because our previous MagicBands, from four years ago, including my adored EPCOT anniversary band, were presumed dead and unusable. The extra features were generally worthless. Yes, after each major ride the band would light up in that ride's color scheme. And, yes, it would vibrate as we passed one of the scattered gold statues. But my wife tried in vain multiple times at different statues in various parks to get the Play Disney app to register her presence, and, despite lots of arm waving and band tapping and reinstalling of the app and re-pairing and rebooting her phone, only once did it work.
Is it worth having a rechargable band we can use for future trips? Yes. Is it worth any other features? Not as I can tell.