Disney To Discontinue Free MagicBands January 1st, What Do You Do Now?

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Earlier this year, we announced Walt Disney World would no longer be sending out complimentary solid colored MagicBands for guests with vacation packages beginning January 2021.

Beginning December 31st, 2020 Disney will immediately stop sending the complimentary bands out to guests with reservations and start charging for bands or having guests switch 100% over to their My Disney Experience app for their vacation stay. **Existing MagicBands will continue to work, you will just have to pay for bands going forward***

The My Disney Experience app now has the features of a MagicBand for your smart devices. Disney has since expanded on the app’s Digital Key Feature which allows guests to unlock their rooms using their smartphones. In addition, you’ll also be able to pay for your dining and purchases in the parks directly through the app as well. You can already use the mobile ordering system to prepay for your food, but soon you will be able to charge your meal at any sitdown location within the app and pay for your purchases while shopping in the parks and resorts.

So, what does a new vacation look like without a MagicBand? It looks very similar to before, just a few changes. Let’s take a look at the process from start to finish:


From the moment you begin planning, you can do it all through the My Disney Experience app. Once you have your reservation booked through your travel advisor, you can update your app with your reservation, and your plans will automatically appear within the app. From there, you will have to book your park reservations to ensure you can get into the park you want, when you want it.

Related: Park Hopping Coming Back in 2021

You can also book dining reservations through the app when you are within the 60-day window of check-in. All Guests may now make advance reservations for dining and other experiences up to 60 days in advance. In addition, Disney Resort hotel Guests can make reservations up to 60 days in advance plus the length of their stay (up to 10 days).

Related: All Guest Now Able to Make Dining Reservations at 60 Days

Another advantage of to using the app is the online check-in capabilites. Disney resort guests can do online check-in 60 days in advance of their vacation. If you have a specific room request, you will be able to indicate if your priority is checking in early, or having that room request granted. Once you have your online check-in completed you will be able to use the app to go directly to your room when it is ready and unlock your door from the app.(stay tuned for more below on that.

Unlock door Disney

Vacation Arrival:

Before you leave home, make sure you have all of your check-in and info updated on the My Disney Experience app. You will be able to skip the front desk and go directly to your room when it is ready. During the online check-in process, you are able to choose your arrival time. Check-in time for all Disney Resort hotels is 3:00 PM, except for Disney Deluxe Villa Resorts, which have a check-in time of 4:00 PM.

**While we have often had our room ready earlier than that, it is not guaranteed or to be expected. The new cleaning proceedures often delay check-in.**

You will receive a notification on the app when your room is ready where it will then show your room number and location at the resort. Onces you have arrived to your door, you will be able to unlock your door with the app. **see photos above.

Magic Kingdom Walt Disney World

Going to the Parks:

Disney has still been a little fuzzy on some of the details on the future plans they have for the My Disney Experience app, but we have what we need to know for now! Let’s break down what you can do with the app in the parks right now:

  • Park Tickets- Right now, you still have to scan a MagicBand or your park tickets/Annual Pass to gain entry to the park. Disney has hinted at having a feature on the My Disney Experience app that would allow you to use your phone. We will update you when that happens.
  • Mobile Ordering- You can order at any of the mobile order locations in the parks directly from your phone. This makes life so easy. You can order, pay, and then show up to pick-up your food when it has been prepared.
  • Park Hopping- Park Hopper hours will start at 2 p.m. each day and end at the park’s scheduled close time. You will be able to check the My Disney Experience app for the most up-to-date Park Hopper hours, as they could start earlier at a later date, depending on the day and park.
  • Shopping- Disney is testing a new way to pay via the My Disney Experience app.  Walt Disney World debuted the system as a test at MouseGear in Epcot and Everything Pop at Disney’s Pop Century Resort.  The process is very easy! Grab a mobile checkout shopping bag when you enter the store, scan the items from the app, place them in the bag, tap checkout when you are done, and pay from your phone. There are designated exits for self-checkout that you have to show your receipt to a cast member and they make sure all items are paid for.

There is still a lot we don’t know about the new feautres coming to The My Disney Experience app, but for now we are excited to start using it as a one-stop location for all of our Walt Disney World vacation needs.

**Disney Resort hotel guests will still be able to purchase new MagicBands at a discounted price, and Disney says they will continue releasing new MagicBand colors and designs. These will continue to be sold at retail locations as well as online.

If you love following along for the most up to date park information and news, follow us on Instagram too: @themeparkprofessor

This is a great time to plan your perfect vacation! Having a travel advisor means someone there to have your back in any occurrence. There is no additional cost to you and you have peace of mind knowing that your vacation is in good hands. Contact our friends at Key to the World Travel® for a free, no-obligation quote for your next trip. Click here.