I wanted to share my thoughts on our experience with MagicBands/ MyMagic+ in Disney World a few weeks ago. For those of you who do not know, MagicBands are the new “Keys to the Kingdom” in Disney World. Instead of carrying around a room key (plastic credit card type card) to: enter the parks, retrieve Fastpasses, enter your room, and charge directly to your room, you now receive a lightweight wristband in its place.
Let’s start with the pros for MagicBands:
1. MagicBands come in cool colors and have your name printed on the inside of the band. (To receive a color other than gray, you must preorder these bands [for free] on the My Disney Experience webpage. They are shipped to your house and you must remember to bring them to Disney with you!)
2. You don’t have to dig through your bag, wallet, pocket, to find your plastic card to get into the parks, or your room, because ideally, this band should stay on your wrist for the duration of your visit. (I took mine off to sleep and shower.) Not having to enter Disney parks through a turnstiles was also pretty cool. This eliminated wait times as long as people didn’t ignore the Cast Members when they said, “This entrance is open too.”
3. Same goes with charging something to your room (with a preregistered credit card). You don’t have to take out your wallet to pay for meals, snacks, or souvenirs. Just place the Mickey on your band so that it kisses the Mickey on the scanning device, enter your preregistered pin, and walla, all paid for.
4. The band is synched with your dining plan so that your credits are stored on your band. We did not use the dining plan this time (and saved about $200, but I am a big fan of dining plans for expensive meals/character meals, we just didn’t do that this time.)
5. You can plan out your Fastpasses before you even leave for Disney. This is great because if you’re like me and pregnant, sleeping in instead of rushing to park opening to get a Fastpass is way better.
6. Even if you don’t have a smartphone (which we don’t) you can alter your Fastpass plans the day you’re touring the parks by locating one of the Fastpass+ kiosks, which are placed around all four Disney parks. (There are even Cast Members there to assist you!)
7. The plastic wristbands aren’t as annoying as I thought they would be. I actually missed mine once we left Disney!
8. We did have one Fastpass+ time mix up, but they still let us on the ride even though “they said” we were an hour late. I’m still convinced I was right, and they were wrong.
9. There are even more rides to choose from that now have Fastpass+. We wasted a pass on Pirates of the Caribbean, but it was never an option before. (There was only a 10 minute wait.)
10. We got lucky and were able to use Legacy Fastpasses and Fastpass+ on our trip. I know the Legacy Fastpasses will be disappearing soon and will be going “into the Disney vault” but we were able to use our park hopper passes given to us because we had the Military park hopper voucher. I have heard that even new Key to the Kingdom cards (which you most likely have to request at check in) do not work in Legacy Fastpass machines and that you have to use old ones from past trips (who keeps theirs?!)
Cons for MagicBands:
1. The new Fastpass+ system creates lines for rides that never had lines before. For example, the longest line we waited in, during the first week of December, was for Spaceship Earth. We waited for more than 20 minutes! It’s usually just a walk-in and walk-out kind of ride. There were lines for Nemo and Figment at Epcot, as well. Luckily, we had Fastpass+ for these and didn’t have to wait. These rides NEVER have lines, even in the summer.
2. I have heard of people having issues linking their bands up to the appropriate member in their party. We didn’t have this problem, but I would have been annoyed if we did.
3. As of now, you can only book THREE Fastpasses per day and they have to all be in the ONE park. I think this is ridiculous. First off, I have had many days in Disney where I was able to print more than three Fastpasses. Also, who really stays in one park ALL day long? Especially since Animal Kingdom always closes first. That’s the issue we ran into. I wanted to use two in AK during the day and one in MK at night, and it wouldn’t let me.
4. You have to plan your whole trip in advance. (Unless you’re Military and can not link your tickets to your bands until you get to Disney World. This really wasn’t an issue yet, because everyone in the parks isn’t using MyDisney+, but in the future, I think it will be harder to get good Fastpass times.) Generally, I do this anyway depending on which park opens early/closes late, what Easy WDW says about the week’s crowd calendar, and what dining reservations we have. But, some people have NO IDEA how planning a trip works, and how to get the most bang for your buck, and end up in the wrong park, on the wrong day, with Fastpasses that keep them from park hopping.
Overall, the pros outweigh the cons when it comes to Disney’s multi million dollar MyMagic+ program. According to the New York Times, the MagicBands are supposed to ease the “modern consumers” worries and make it “less daunting” to visit Disney. Last time I checked, Disney is the happiest place on earth, not “daunting” at all, unless you’re riding Mount Everest in AK.
I think on our next trip to Disney World, when legacy Fastpasses are a thing of the past, like Roger Rabbit appearing in the parks, I may have more issues with it. I was also pregnant this time and didn’t need Fastpasses for rides such as: Mount Everest, Rock n’ Roller Coaster, and Splash Mountain. Next time, I will want to ride these rides, plus all the kiddie rides with our baby (okay, maybe two year old.) This will create a stressful situation for us, but in the end the baby will win and we’ll choose Fastpasses for the kid rides (Who am I kidding? I love these rides, especially the new Under the Sea Little Mermaid ride,) and go in the single rider lines for the thrill rides. After all, Disney is for kids, right?