Love them or hate them, MagicBands have become a huge part of the Walt Disney World experience. These small RFID-enabled devices debuted only a few years ago, but are now used for everything from gaining admission to the theme parks, to redeeming FastPass+ reservations, unlocking hotel doors, linking PhotoPass photos to a My Disney Experience account, and even paying for food and merchandise.
The bands are used for so much that its hard to even imagine a Walt Disney World vacation without them. However, the MagicBand as we currently know it may be disappearing from Disney parks forever in the very near future.
Free MagicBand distribution ending in 2021
According to Disney, Walt Disney World will be retiring complimentary MagicBand distribution to Disney Resort hotel guests for new reservations with arrivals beginning Jan. 1, 2021. This will also apply to Disney Vacation Club Members, with arrivals on the same date. Disney Resort hotel guests will continue to have the option to purchase new MagicBands at a discount. Disney has not said anything about the complimentary MagicBand that is included with annual pass purchases, but we'd guess those will also be phased out in 2021 as well.
Moving to Smartphones
Replacing the features of the MagicBand will be smarphone features tied to the My Disney Experience app that build on Disney’s Digital Key feature, which can currently be used by guests with hotel reservations to use their NFC-compatible phone quickly to unlock their hotel room using their smartphone. Guests can also use their digital key inside My Disney Experience to unlock the hotel entrance gate and common area doors requiring a key, which may include pools, fitness centers, elevators and club level lounges.
In the future, it looks like Disney will be expanding this feature to work as a digital pass to gain entry to theme parks, redeem FastPass+ reservations, etc. all from within the My Disney Experience app. Though Disney has said that they will continue to offer MagicBands for sale, it looks like these wearables are being phased out in a practical way as Disney shifts their focus towards using guests' smartphones to manage their Walt Disney World vacation, while still offering the legacy MagicBand experience for those who want it.
The program isn't totally dead yet, but the phase out begins now
Guests who prefer not to purchase a discounted MagicBand will be able to use the My Disney Experience app or a Key to the World card during their visit.
Though we don't know exactly what prompted Disney to phase out their MagicBand program, it looks like this billion dollar experiment only lasted about a decade, and will be coming to an end in a rather unceremonious fashion. And while we'd imagine you'll still see MagicBands used sporadically (and supported by the parks) for the next few years, this former theme park mainstay will be fading away in the next few years, and will soon become another part of Walt Disney World's past.
Will you miss MagicBands?