Last May when we visited Disneyworld as part of the Travelingmom.com Influencers’ retreat, we were among the first to ‘test drive’ their new MagicBands during the system’s Magic Plus event.
The band is Disney’s attempt to create an all-in-one digital device that can be used both in the theme parks as well as within the resort area to enhance the guests’ overall experience.
Since it is rumored that the company spent over a billion dollars and six years developing this band, we were curious to see how the system worked and measured up to its the hype?
You can customize your band
Our son with autism loved the fact he could order one in yellow with his name printed on the back.
If you are staying on a Disney property you can get the colorful wristband for free), personalize it and load it with your booked attractions up to 60 days in advance.
If staying elsewhere, one can purchase a band for $13 in one of the park stores.
Either way, make sure you download the free mobile application with the interactive map that can tell you pertinent information such as waiting times for attractions, the location of the characters , and even the menus of different dining venues ( particularly helpful for guests with dietary restrictions).
Load your experiences
Once you’ve booked your hotel and bought your park tickets you can set up an account and link everyone who is traveling with you to it. You can book rides together and even share Disney photographers’ photos through MemoryMaker. This feature was helpful for us as we could plan the day for our son with autism and load some much needed fast passes on top of the essential disability pass.
At Walt Disney World
Leave your wallet behind
If you are staying at a Disney property, as we did ; the waterproof magic bands will be waiting for you at check-in and serve as your room key.
Though, our son, was initially enthralled with the band ; he found it somewhat challenging to match the Mickey icon to the Mickey touch points on the room door .It took a few trials but he eventually learned the trick.My husband and I found the band easy to use and enjoyed the fact that we didn’t need to worry about lost/misplaced room keys.
Talking about lost, our son lost his original band (it wasn’t fastened well, so it flew off his wrist) and the staff at the Boardwalk hotel couldn’t have been nicer about it. They replaced it and reloaded all the information within minutes.The only disappointment was that the replacement bands only come in grey as opposed to the diverse choices online.
The magic band serves as your resort credit card similar to the cruise ship charge-cards, enabling guests to charge all expenses incurred in all dining venues and stores in WDW.
I appreciated the added safety feature that requires a four digit code when used as a charge card so it could be utilized by anyone who is not unauthorized like younger kids or a stranger who happens to find the band if lost.
It’s your ticket
The band is most helpful in the park, acting not only as a ticket and guide through the mobile App, but also as a replacement to the now defunct Fastpass. By using the new system you can book over 60 attractions ahead of time, even reserve meet and greet sessions with favorite characters without having to wait in any lines. The advantage is that you can change your plans as you go via the App or at the designated kiosks in the park which is ideal for parents who need the flexibility for their children who are special needs or are simply tired or having a bad day.
Any negative observations to the system?
No, not really. Except for the minor glitches we experienced the first day when the bands needed to be reactivated, the system ran pretty smoothly for us.
Autism Travel tips
Overall, we liked the system and enjoyed its multi-functional aspects that helped lessen the amount of items like passes and cards we had to carry.
The new pass system is an ideal way to help our son become more independent since now he can check his bookings via the application on his own without asking us to do so.
.Furthermore our son with autism who has always hated wearing anything on his wrist found the band comfortable to wear, a fun fidget toy and a great souvenir of his visit to the park.
In fact he has continued to wear it months after the visit and mentioned how he felt a sense of security knowing that Mickey was with him at all times.