If you’re planning a trip to Walt Disney World in the near future, you’ve likely heard about Magic Bands, but may be wondering what they are.
These colorful wristbands are more than just a bracelet with the iconic mouse ears on it. The bands are an all-in-one-device, designed to allow you to connect several aspects of your vacation, and store them in one easy place.
Magic Bands are currently in “testing phase,” available only to those guests staying at Walt Disney World Resort hotels.
Before we talk about all the things the bands can do, we should talk about how to get them. The first step is to set up an account, if you don’t have one already, with MyDisneyExperience.com. Note: if you have ever set up an account with Disney or one of its affiliates (even ESPN or Club Penguin) then you’ll use the same email address to log into your My Disney Experience (MDE) account.
Once your account is set up, you will be able to view any upcoming resort reservations, or use the confirmation number to link one if the reservation does not already appear there. This account will become your Disney home base, and can even be accessed on your smartphone with the MDE app.
You will use this account to set up your very own personalized Disney vacation. You will be able to make dining reservations (180 days prior to the reservation date; Disney resort guests can make reservations for their entire vacation 180 days prior to arrival date) and view them in your account; share your plans with family and friends; and even make reservations for select rides and attractions before you even leave home, with the new Fast Pass Plus (FP+) feature.
Once you are eligible (currently only guests staying at a Disney resort) you may be notified, or you may find out by logging into My Disney Experience. When it’s time, you will be able to customize your MagicBands and choose a different color for each member of your party, if you’d like. Usually this happens around 30-60 days prior to travel, and the bands are shipped directly to you a few weeks before you leave. If you don’t customize the bands, Disney Resort guests will be issued standard gray MagicBands upon arrival at the resort. The bands are made of Croc-like material, which can be accessorized if you so choose. Wraps and accessories, made especially for the bands, are sold throughout the Walt Disney World Resort.
Disney calls MagicBands, “your key to a carefree visit,” and they will definitely allow you to travel lighter. MagicBands are equipped with RFID technology, and can be used as your room key, park ticket, boarding pass for Disney’s Magical Express ground transportation, to access Disney Dining Plan credits, and charge food and merchandise to your room, if you choose.
One of the most popular features of the bands is using them as your ticket to return to rides that are scheduled in advance, with the new FastPass+ system.
So, what is FastPass+ and how does it work? For many years, guests at Disney theme parks have used Disney’s FastPass service, to enjoy popular attractions, without the long waits. Guest visit kiosks throughout the parks, insert their park admission tickets, and then receive a ticket with a scheduled return time. This has been very popular, allowing guests to return to the ride with a shorter wait time, bypassing longer standby lines.
FastPass+ makes it even easier allowing guests to schedule 3 rides per day (at one park) right through their MDE accounts, before they even leave home! Eligible guests (currently those staying at a Disney resort hotel), can log into their account and make selections for rides and attractions, character greetings, entertainment and some parades and firework shows.
If you aren’t sure where to start, you can use the “FastPicks” recommendations to add multiple options, and update your selections at any time, from home, or even in the parks, with the My Disney Experience mobile app. Traveling with another party? You can secure the same FP+ return times for everyone in your group by connecting to them with the Family & Friends feature in My Disney Experience.
Once your selections have been made, they will be displayed in the daily plans in your account. When you’re at the park, and it’s time for your scheduled ride or attraction, you will go to the FP+ entrance during your return window to enter the queue.
This service is free, and included in park admission.
Over the coming months, this service is being tested with Disney Resort hotel guests only. The same-day FastPass service will still be available for all other guests.
Coming Next Time: My personal experience with MagicBands and FastPass+
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