Six Secret Abilities of Magic Bands
When The Walt Disney Company first introduced Magic Bands, they had a bravado about the new technology…and rightfully so. Disney invested roughly a billion dollars in the research and development of these devices. They even took the unusual step of outsourcing a great deal of the production to guarantee that the bands would demonstrate fresh thinking. You may not spend a lot of time thinking about these devices, but you should appreciate them nonetheless. Here are six things that your Magic Band does that you may not even know!
As a parent, you always have that worry that you’ll lose your child. We recently lived out this scenario for an excruciating 20 minutes at a local children’s entertainment center when our friends couldn’t find their son. At Walt Disney World, the company’s always done a remarkable job of finding children, but Magic Band technology has perfected the process.
Your Magic Band actually contains two different forms of communication. There’s a basic RFID chip and a two-way radio that operates on the 2.4-Ghz band of the spectrum. Disney uses that band for their own privatized communications. BOTH of these communication systems have tracking enabled. What does this mean for you as a parent? The moment you attach a Magic Band to your child’s wrist, you’re assuring the safety of your kid as long as they’re at Disney World. In fact, the bands work at the Orlando International Airport, too, so you’re covered there, too!
They Perform Crowd Control
By tracking your location, Disney gains an added benefit. They receive big data that’s otherwise incalculable on the fly. Disney’s park planners can see in real time where each guest is. In other words, they know about crowd congestion issues even before you do. You may not see the mob of people around the corner, but Disney does. They have an entire monitoring system in place for these situations.
Your Magic Band has a hidden tracking benefit, too. When cast members see a mob forming, they can take steps to address the issue. They can add performers or character meetings in other areas of the park. They can also add or extend line queues for attractions or open restaurants. All of these tactics have one primary goal: to reduce crowds. Your Magic Band is a refined method of reducing traffic at the most popular theme park on the planet!
Guests who stay at Disney resorts receive Magic Bands for free. Disney also offers them as benefits for Annual Pass Holders and Disney Vacation Club members. Disney is even kind enough to ship them for free. You shouldn’t mistake their generosity as a sign that the company gets these devices for free, though.
To the contrary, the $12.95 fee that the company charges non-Disney guests is more reflective of the cost per item. The specialty ones that are $30 or more in the specialty shops at Walt Disney World aren’t even unreasonable given Disney’s costs. According to Fast Company, Disney spent a billion dollars bringing this technology to life. Since they outsourced much of it and have to purchase the complex parts, they spend a few dollars on each “free” Magic Band. You’re getting quite a deal!
Magic Bands Reduce the Clutter
Let’s pretend for a moment that you’d never visited Walt Disney World prior to 2014. I certainly hope that’s not true, but let’s say so for the moment.
To have a smooth Disney vacation, you’d need your Magical Express tickets to board the Disney bus at the airport. You’d receive some sort of confirmation of your hotel room, which you would take to the hotel lobby. There, you’d show your information and receive a hotel key (or card or fob) that you would use to enter, exit, and lock your room. You’d also need park tickets for admission…and Disney will expect you to have, you know, money to pay for goods and services.
The genius of the Magic Band is how it does all of those things for you. You tap it against the matching kiosks, and you’re good to go! Disney views it as “invisible” wearable technology in that you forget that you have it until you need it. The Magic Band is no different than the clothes you wear in that regard. How often do you think about comfortable clothes during a day at the park? Disney’s duplicated that sense of seamless utility with its useful bands.
Magic Bands Are Fungible
Have you ever lost your Magic Band or at least worried that you might? It’s actually not a concern at all. Sure, that’s easy for me to say. You’re the one with your credit card information attached to the Magic Band. Should someone grab your wearable, you’re on the hook for all their expenses, right?
First of all, Disney took that into account when they designed the system. That’s why they require the pin number whenever someone uses a Magic Band. They also reserve the right to ask for additional verification for a purchase. They do that because something happens each time you make a purchase.
The cast member gets a pop-up window with lots of customer information. Most importantly, it shows your name and some other things that might tip off the Disney worker that the wrong person is using the Magic Band. So, your financial data is secure.
You likely knew about the security of Magic Bands, though. This article is about secret abilities. One of them is that Magic Bands are interchangeable. The information that Disney registers on each wristband is easily duplicated. Should you lose a Magic Band, your vacation isn’t ruined. All you need to do is ask a cast member for a replacement. They will make a copy of the Magic Band that holds all the details mentioned in the section above and all other Disney data needed for your trip. It’s fungible technology.
Magic Bands Saved Disney
Okay, that’s probably a slight exaggeration, but the stats are truly amazing. When Disney CEO Bob Iger signed off on the Magic Band project, he had a reason. Disney’s surveys showed a disturbing trend in “intent to return” due to long lines and other annoyances. Magic Bands almost single-handedly changed people’s perception of a Disney trip. It streamlined the process that much.
Statistics don’t lie. During 2013, Magic Kingdom received 18.6 million guests. In 2014, the year that Disney introduced Magic Bands, attendance increased to 19.3 million. In 2015 and 2016, the two years where Magic Bands were in operation year-round, Magic Kingdom’s enjoyed 20.4 million visits annually. The improved technology has enhanced vacations so much that “intent to return” metrics are at all-time highs. Thanks to Magic Bands, Disney improved attendance at what was already the most trafficked theme park on the planet by 1.8 million guests annually! They look so simple on your wrist, but their impact on the theme park industry is revolutionary.
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