There are many aspects of a Walt Disney World vacation that make it like no other resort you’ve visited before. One of those aspects is the use of technology throughout the resort in an effort to streamline your trip and make your stay a breeze. One of the most innovative ways that Disney uses new technology to improve your visit is with MagicBands. MagicBands are plastic and rubber wristbands that can be used to hold all of your reservations and tickets, and give you access to the parks or even your hotel room!
MagicBands debuted at Walt Disney World in 2013 and in their original form, were given complimentary to any guest that had booked a Walt Disney World vacation package or hotel stay. Guests could upgrade their bands with designs featuring characters and special events for an additional charge. Starting in 2021, Disney discontinued the distribution of complimentary MagicBands. Now, all guests who wish to use a MagicBand during their stay will need to purchase one as an add-on to their existing reservation through My Disney Experience or purchase one through shopDisney or a retail location. For those that wish to forgo the use of MagicBands during their stay, they will receive a Key to the World Card that will hold all park tickets. Let’s take a look at all these little bands can do!
Guest staying at a Walt Disney World Resort hotel can link a credit card to their room reservation that can be used for incidentals as well as purchases throughout the resort. MagicBands are linked to your account and can be used as a form of payment at almost any retail or dining location. Walt Disney World card readers are equipped with a scanner that can read your band with a simple tap and entry of a personal security pin code you choose when setting up your account. Your charges are added to your hotel folio and can be viewed at any time in your My Disney Experience account. Pin codes can be set up for all MagicBands in your reservation, and adults can turn off charging privileges for younger guests’ MagicBands. If you choose that option, the bands will only work for the room, park admission, dining reservations, fast passes (when and if they return), and Memory Maker for those guests.
No one likes having to fish a keycard out of their wallet or purse just to get into your room after a long day in the parks. MagicBands make your hotel stay a bit easier by having the ability to unlock your Walt Disney World hotel room! All Walt Disney World Resort hotels have room doors equipped with scanners that read your MagicBand in the same way as the point of sale terminals in retail and dining. To unlock your hotel room door, simply place the Mickey shape on your band to the Mickey shape on the door scanner, or as Cast Members call it: “Mickey to Mickey”. If you’ve lost your MagicBand or forgotten it inside your room, you can also unlock your hotel room with the My Disney Experience app on your mobile device in much the same way.
Disney’s PhotoPass is the resort’s system to capture and organize all of the photos taken by photographers and ride cameras found around the resort. Your MagicBand can be used as a way for the photographers to easily link your images to your My Disney Experience account allowing you to keep all of your PhotoPass pics together. All you need to do is have the photographer scan your band after taking photos. In most cases, your images from the photographers and attractions will appear within minutes in your account and are then available for download. If you’ve purchased Memory Maker, your photo downloads will be included in your purchase.
The main way MagicBands are used throughout Walt Disney World is for park admission. MagicBands can contain all park tickets as well as Annual Passes. To use the MagicBand to enter a park, simply put “Mickey to Mickey” on the turnstile and wait for the green light. In the past, you would also need to place your finger on a biometric scanner to ensure you are the correct ticket holder, but during the phased reopening of the resort, the finger scanners have been paused to increase safety. Always keep your eyes peeled as park entrance lanes have multiple MagicBand scanners to expedite the entry process.
Where To Purchase and Customize MagicBands
Guests staying on Disney property can select MagicBands from their My Disney Experience account for an additional fee. The fees range from $5 for a solid color MagicBand to upwards of $15 for specially themed bands. There is a myriad of MagicBand designs, with new ones coming out almost every week, but it should be noted that guests purchasing their MagicBand through the My Disney Experience site will have a limited selection to choose from. Each MagicBand preordered as part of a vacation package or hotel can be customized with a name or word on the inside of the band (space is limited). To order MagicBands in advance, enter the name on the band for each person, confirm your mailing/billing address, and your bands will be shipped within a few weeks of your arrival. Don’t worry if your trip is a surprise, the bands are shipped in an unmarked white box. Those not staying on Disney property can either purchase MagicBands ahead of time online, at Disney Springs, or any of the parks. There is no customization available for those bands though. After you’ve purchased a MagicBand in the store or online, you can easily link it to your MyDisney Experience account and then assign it to a person. On property guests will receive their bands with everything linked and ready to go. A cast member at your resort can scan your band and verify that your park tickets, Memory Maker, dining reservations, and a credit card are linked and active.
If you’re not into wearing a wristband during your vacation, you can purchase a “MagicKeeper” that can hold the small center puck of your MagicBand within a keychain equipped with a clip to keep it handy.
MagicBands are a one-size-fits-most item. While most adults will be able to easily wear a standard MagicBand, they are obviously too big for little ones in their standard form. Luckily these bands have a little trick in that you can easily tear away the outer edge of the band magically making it much smaller. This makes MagicBands useable for almost any member of your family. Please note that once you remove the outer edge of the band you cannot replace it. So once you’ve sized a MagicBand down to the kid’s level, you won’t be able to change that back to an adult size. If you’re purchasing a special band for a child and would like it to fit for multiple visits and years, we would suggest leaving it as the original size. Sliders can be purchased online (check Etsy or Amazon) and can be added to the band to help secure it. These do come in handy for smaller kids and add peace of mind to any wearer.
If you are staying on property and lose your band, you’ll want to first deactivate the band in your My Disney Experience account. If you can’t deactivate it in your account and you’re in the parks, you can visit Guest Relations where a Cast Member will be able to assist you in deactivating it. If your band goes missing while you’re at your hotel, stop by the Lobby Concierge and they will assist you. New MagicBands can be purchased onsite and a cast member can help you get everything quickly linked to the new band.
Packing Your MagicBand
Make sure you pack your MagicBand in luggage that you will have easy access to before you arrive at your hotel. If you’re taking Disney’s Magical Express airport transportation, you will need to scan your MagicBand when checking in, so it’s not a good idea to pack them deep in the bottom of your suitcase. We recommend keeping your band in your carry-on if you’re flying. At this time, Walt Disney World is recommending that all guests use their online check-in service before arrival. Not only does this cut down on physical interactions, increasing safety, it also sets you up to go straight to your hotel room upon arrival! Your MagicBand will be linked and ready to open your door. If you don’t use the online check-in or need to speak to a Cast Member, you can still check-in in person and your MagicBand will be scanned to verify your information at that time.
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Photos Courtesy Disney