Tuesday, January 21, 2014

My MagicBand Experience

This last September we took a week long trip to the Walt Disney Resort in Florida. During our stay at Disney's Beachclub Resort we were lucky enough to be able to try out the new MagicBands that are in Beta. I know many of you have not yet tried them out and I just wanted to share our personal experience. Hope it helps some of you out!

Before the trip:

Customize Your MagicBands! This part was super fun for us. You can add a name (or a fun nickname) for each of your travel party. You can also request a color from these choices: Red, Blue, Yellow, Green, Grey, Pink and Orange. Don't worry, once you get your color you can change up the colors by purchasing a CoverBand (those accessories are for another post completely lol)

Load your MagicBand with Fastpasses! Once you have confirmed your shipping address and customized your bands...you are now ready to load them up with fastpasses! The new Fastpass+ system allows you to book your ride times in advance. While this part seems a little silly...I mean I don't know what I want to eat for dinner tonight, how am I going to know what time I want to ride Space Mountain two months from now?!?! Well...we found it to be quite useful, actually! If you are unsure of what to ride when, you can always count on an authorized travel planner (like moi) to help you with your touring plans. We loved the fact that we didn't need to run in seperate directions to obtain fastpasses and head towards rope drop attractions. We moseyed into the park and in some cases even stops for a bite for breakfast!

Receive the MagicBands! Getting that awesome Incredibles box is like Christmas! The packaging for these bands are unreal! You can sure tell that the marketing crew at Disney really thought long and hard about how these bands were going to arrive to you. Enjoy it...because they are meant to be used again and again. Once the system is in full swing, you will not order another one unless your original has been lost.

During your trip:

Use them to board Disney's Magical Express! Make sure you wear them on the plane or have them handy in your carry-on bags, because your DME tickets are now going to be loaded right on your MagicBand! Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy!

Use them as a room key! Once you check in and get a room number, your bands will be activated. Hold your band to the RFID reader in the door and BAM...your in! We had fun with this. Our 3 year old son would hold his up to the door and use a made up magic words to get us in each time. Have any of you seen that Mickey Mouse Clubhouse where Goofy keeps messing up Hocus Pocus by saying Hokey Pokey? Well...this was our go to phrase ;)

Use them to get into the resort parking lot! If you can, get used to wearing them on your left wrist if you plan on driving a car for your stay. You will be able to pull up to the security gate and tap the MagicBand to enter the lot, however it can be difficult if you have it on your right wrist. I remember seeing a man fumbling with his and he dropped it...then had to open the car door...and now there is a line of cars behind him. Don't be that guy.

Use them to get into the pool! While staying at the Yachtclub or Beachclub you need to prove to the cast members that you belong in the pool. Stormalong Bay is probably the best pool on Disney property and guests and locals alike know this and try to "pool hop". At one time guests wore wristbands to obtain access, now since they have RFID you can either use your key, or as we did, your MagicBand to get in. They have handheld RFID readers that let them know that you are okay to enter. Don't worry...they are waterproof up to depths way deeper than any of the Disney pools!


Use them to retrieve dining reservations! Thanks to your handy dandy travel planner...your ADRs are booked! When you arrive to the table service restaurant, just have them scan your MagicBand so that they know who you are and what time you had an ADR for!

Use them to get food! As previously mentioned, we like the Disney Dining plan. It just works for our family. If you are a DDP hater, than skip to the next point ;) Once you check into your hotel, your dining credits are stored on the band. Use them the same way you would have with your KTTW card...and don't forget to double check your receipts to make sure the correct credits were taken! We found this to be a fast and easy way to order, especially at counter service locations.

Use them to get into the parks! The days of long lines and turnstiles at the park entrances are over! Just tap the Mickey and watch it turn green! Again...this proved to be much easier than fumbling with paper tickets or KTTW cards. We only had one problem with a MagicBand not reading properly and a cast member with a handheld device came over and resolved our problem instantly. Even with the snafu, we still entered the park faster than if we had old school paper tickets!

Use those Fastpasses! You booked the rides in advance...but do you remember what times you had?? Don't worry...you can use your smartphone and the My Disney Experience App to locate all of your reservation info! Once you get to the ride...just tap...bing bang boom...you're droppin' like it's hot from 13 stories up on Tower of Terror! Or riding Dumbo (for those of you less adventurous folk). You can also use the app to change reservation times or book dining if you need to! Although there are some charging stations, you may want to bring a portable charger for your device. We never use our enough to zap them.

Use it to SHOP! When you check in you will assign a credit card to your bands and choose a PIN. If you opt to, you can make all of your purchases by a tap of the MagicBand. For your security, you will be required to enter your PIN. We didn't use this feature as much, because we like to take Disney Gift cards with us to control our spending...Disney is the ONLY place where I get out of hand with shopping!

Use it to connect Photopass pictures! This was still just rolling out when we were there, but a couple of the Photopass photographers asked us to tap our MagicBands to load our Photopass pictures. One less card that I need! I like it!!

After your trip:

Save them somewhere safe! We have a large bag that has nothing but Disney vaca stuff in it. We have left over ponchos, plane toys, battery operated hand fans,autograph books, etc. This is where I put our magic bands. If you do happen to lose them, just go to the Disney website and sign in. Click on My Disney Experience on the upper right hand side of the screen and then click on MagicBands and Cards. Just deactivate the MagicBand that has been lost and then is should ask if it is lost...you will say yes. You should then be able to order a new one for your next trip. At this point because they are in Beta, it appears that you can order a new MagicBand for any upcoming trip even if you have active bands from your last. I am assuming that this will not be the case once the complete program is rolled out.

So that's it! Now that I am looking at all of the info, it does seem like a lot to take in. If you are ever overwhelmed with planning a Disney trip, I can help! My service is fee free and I can do all of this for you...and more. Just ask! If not...stay tuned for more helpful random info. This is a all purpose blog after all!


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