Big Thunder Mountain Railroad

Taking the Disney Guest Experience to the Next Level

posted on January 7th, 2013 by Tom Staggs, Chairman, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts


At Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, we continually push the boundaries of creativity and innovation to deliver the best possible experience for our guests. We’re always looking for ways to take what we do and do it even better. Over the past few years, we’ve devoted considerable time and resources to create a more immersive, more seamless and more personal experience for each and every guest who spends time with us. I know there’s been significant speculation about these efforts among our fans, so we’re pleased to give you a glimpse into the work we are doing to take the entire Disney guest experience to the next level.

“Haunted

Some of these initiatives are more apparent and can already be seen by our guests – like our interactive queues at Walt Disney World Resort and the Enchanted Art on our cruise ships – while others are more behind-the-scenes and are focused on “how” visitors plan, access and enjoy their experiences with us. Over the next several months, we’ll be rolling out a collection of tools at the Walt Disney World Resort called MyMagic+ that will give guests more opportunities to customize and personalize their entire visit.

Like most people who visit Walt Disney World Resort, my family and I have our “must-do” attractions, and as the father of three boys, those attractions often end with the word “mountain.” Now, rather than dashing as a group, or even splitting up to gather FastPasses, imagine booking guaranteed ride times for your favorite shows and attractions even before setting foot in the park. With MyMagic+, guests will be able to do that and more, enabling them to spend more time together and creating an experience that’s better for everyone.

“Guests

A major component of MyMagic+ is the new My Disney Experience website and mobile app, which gives guests planning their trip the latest information on all Walt Disney World Resort has to offer. We know that some people like to plan every aspect of their Disney vacation in advance while others like to plan very little, letting their day unfold spontaneously. No matter where guests fall in that spectrum, My Disney Experience gives them the flexibility to plan as much or as little as they’d like to create the exact Disney experience they want. They can book dining and other experiences and reserve times for their favorite attractions, shows and more through an enhanced FastPass system, FastPass+. Once they arrive, they can use their smart phones to spontaneously change their plans in the moment, exploring our parks at their own pace and getting the most out of their visit.

“A

Linking the entire MyMagic+ experience together is an innovative piece of technology we developed called the MagicBand. Worn on the wrist, it will serve as a guest’s room key, theme park ticket, access to FastPass+ selections, PhotoPass card and optional payment account all rolled into one. We’ve began testing certain aspects of MyMagic+ in Florida last month and the early reactions we’ve gotten have been fantastic.

This collection of tools is another step forward in the ongoing evolution of our guest experience, giving us even more ways to help friends and family create the unforgettable Disney memories that they want most. We’ll be testing, adjusting and adding features to MyMagic+ and My Disney Experience over time and will continue to make improvements based on our guests’ feedback. We look forward to sharing more with you in the months ahead!

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Filed: My Disney Experience, MyMagic+, Walt Disney World Resort

220 Comments 8 Replies

151

Nathan on January 11th, 2013 at 2:46 pm

Is there any truth in the rumors that WDW will be phasing out EMH and regular FP with the institution of FP+? In a way, I see that as both good and bad…. Good, because it would likely make stand-by lines shorter/faster (not having to be clogged up with regular FPs AND FP+s…. Bad, because it seriously limits/discourages park hopping (as you only get FP+ at one park per day).

152

Rosalie on January 11th, 2013 at 5:31 pm

I am so excited for this!!! Not having to run back and forth across a park to use fastpasses is wonderful, not to mention having the ability to secure a spot at Ariel’s Grotto and Enchanted Tales with Belle without having to be in line at park opening to avoid long lines… I can’t wait!!!

My big question is: Will my four year old and 6 year old have to where a wristband? I would love to wear one, and love all that would go with it, but I don’t know if I trust my little ones with them. Can we opt to have just one person in our party wear the band containing the names of everyone in our group?

153

Mona from BDA on January 11th, 2013 at 6:13 pm

Can we still use the regular fast pass if we have reserved 3 rides on fast pass+?
3 rides is not enough for Magic Kingdom and waiting in line is something we never do. We always get enough fast passes for the day, but the thought of getting stuck with only 3 fast passes scares me!!

154

Carol from OR on January 11th, 2013 at 8:00 pm

We are planning our next trip for late 2013 to early 2014. Will the Magic Bands for AP holders be available by then? What is the cost of the Magic Band for regular ticket holders? What would be the added benefit of purchasing the band other than to have as a souvenir?

155

Greg on January 11th, 2013 at 10:19 pm

Why did the responses to questions end on January 8th?

156

Ryan on January 11th, 2013 at 10:34 pm

You have mentioned on-site guests will get the magicband and FP+ included, does this include Swan/Dolphin?

157

Susan on January 11th, 2013 at 10:55 pm

what about those of us using ft. wilderness? do we get a wristband? thank you, Sue

158

Martina from TN on January 11th, 2013 at 11:45 pm

We will be visiting in March. Will my family be able to take part in this new experience? We will be staying on Disney. If so is the website for this up and ready for us to use? I am a planner and I am ready to get on top of this task.

159

Rebecca on January 12th, 2013 at 9:33 am

Will you have youth and adult sizes for the wrist bands?

160

Rebecca on January 12th, 2013 at 9:40 am

As AP holders that live about 45 mins. away my family visit nearly every weekend, and often spontaneously decide to visit. I’m concerned about the impact of enjoying the attractions. If we don’t plan in advance, are we going to be “locked out” of the major attractions or experience long wait times?

161

Tricia on January 12th, 2013 at 8:19 pm

Here’s hoping we will also be able to FP+ at the waterparks and that photopass+ will be able to be assigned to multiple magic bands within our group

162

Donald on January 12th, 2013 at 10:55 pm

Hello I am not sure if this has been asked. But when will they be available, the RFID Bracelets that is? We stay on resort in about 48 days and were psyched about the ability to pick out a color of our choosing for each of us and excited at the thought of not having to pull a card in and out of the wallets every time we need entry or purchase something.

Thank you

Donald

163

Robert on January 13th, 2013 at 8:52 am

Glad to see the MagicBand will have an opt in/out feature. How will as consumers be educated on the terms and agreement of the magic band; and how the data is used and secured?

Will the band track physical movement around the park? If so, who has access to this information, how is it protected? This information could put children at risk if in the hands of a predator.

164

Donald on January 13th, 2013 at 10:36 am

I read about that “Robert” but it is a passive RFID that is activated in close proximity to Disney’s Receivers. Not a full time on or anything so your children will not be tracked.

165

Kit on January 13th, 2013 at 10:48 am

While I’m excited for this on the whole, the thing that immediately comes to my mind is what happens should you lose / drop your wristband? Or if it simply unfastens? I’ve lost park / mnsshp party tickets myself in the past and Guest Relations were easily able to replace them on production of my ‘proof of purchase’ email & photo ID, and while I can see that the same goes for regular keys to the world tickets, what about the new bracelets should you happen to have ‘everything’ locked in? In an ideal world we’d say no opportunistic person would ever take advantage and use another’s lost band but for some the temptation may be too great and they could easily spend a fair whack of cash in a store / restaurant before the band was reported missing and its owner finds a dent in the bank account. So do you still need to produce other ID to make purchases or is this band really the only thing you need if you choose that option?

166

Donald on January 13th, 2013 at 7:12 pm

Well “Kit”, they say as soon as you notice the Magic Band missing or lost you can report to the nearest cast member which is supposed to help you have it deactivate it immediately and they will re-issue another Band for the missing one.

On another note about the spending good deal of cash. Well anything over 50 dollars will require a pin code so that issue is mute and I know that if a cast member saw someone buying something then buying another item and repeating the process I am sure there are procedures for suspecting a stolen band is being used.

Hope this helps!

167

Nicola from Cheshire on January 14th, 2013 at 4:28 am

Hello, I am very excited to use the new features, very innovative. HOWEVER, will there be an alternative to a wristband for those unable to wear them? I would much prefer a card which I can store around my neck or in my pocket. Would love an alternative to a plastic wristband in the florida heat.

168

Candee on January 14th, 2013 at 8:58 am

I CAN NOT WAIT!!!!!!!!
Just really hoping that it’s in place in 42 days! ;) This is way too exciting to me (i’m so Type-A…one of those Moms who books ADRs instantly and makes lists on little notebooks and index cards) Already using the new mobile app (i can’t see how to link my resort reserv on that, tho). This is so exciting!

169

Emryss on January 14th, 2013 at 9:16 am

Will any of these great new components be available February 10-February 18, 2013?

170

Donald on January 14th, 2013 at 9:18 am

Candee, we are 46 days out ourselves and were told maybe at Port Orleans they might have it but they might not. Because it is supposed to start around late spring and be completely integrated by the end of this year. So it is a toss up.

171

Donald on January 14th, 2013 at 9:20 am

Emryss, they have RFID technology already in place but you are using a Key to the world Card with a chip in it to access the features for now. See the post two down from yours about releasing the Magic Band dates.

172

LAURA on January 14th, 2013 at 12:49 pm

I’d like to know what the plans are for us who do not have, or want, smartphones? We also do not travel with a laptop or tablet (We go on vacation to get away from it all, and those are part of “it all”.) This programs sounds like we will totally be left out in the cold, unless we are comfortable with our plans being cast in stone before we leave home. Don’t like that so much.

173

Christopher from CA on January 14th, 2013 at 1:55 pm

How will this affect Annual passholders? Will they be limited to a certain number per day?

How will park hopping work with these? From what we have read, it will be limited to one park per day, but we certainly don’t visit like this.

And how will this affect guests with non-visible disabilities?

Obviously, all of these questions are important and need to be addressed prior to any roll out.

174

Donald on January 14th, 2013 at 2:32 pm

Well Christopher, in your first concern I see park hopper to still be allowed just like before with the original Key cards, but what they might be adding is if you don’t have the park hopper feature added they give you one courtesy park hop then that is it. As for disabilities, there will always still be the option to keep the Magic Band in your belongings or pocket and also don’t rule out that you will be able to still get the Key to the world card that currently has the RFID chip inside it.

175

Seth on January 14th, 2013 at 4:23 pm

What about DVC members? I would love to use these bands at the end of Feb when we are coming…

176

Carolyn on January 15th, 2013 at 10:34 am

Will the app be available both for Blackberries as well as iphones – i.e. which types of Smartphones will the app be available for? Thank you!

177

Mark from IL on January 15th, 2013 at 11:42 am

Sounds great, but have concerns with being able to use our disability pass for our severely disabled son….also, rumor is that this is the beginning to the elimination of the “no expiration” ticket which is how we can come every year as a DVC member and a family of 7. We use our tickets over 3 years because we don’t go to the parks every day….also concerned about loss of wrist band since it has “everything” on it and we have some younger children….and our disabled son absolutely would not wear it and if we forced him, he would chew on it endlessly….I would have to wear his too so it didn’t get lost. I would love to see how it works in reality….

178

Mark from IL on January 15th, 2013 at 12:10 pm

One more thing….how would you “schedule” your fastpass for a Handicap car so we don’t have to transfer our son? Since most of the rides only have one, I’m not sure using that feature would help if there are other people waiting for the car….even using fastpass we have to wait a lot of times…..

179

Jennifer on January 15th, 2013 at 4:08 pm

I am taking my daughter to disneyworld for our first vacation in april. we are staying at the contemporary resort and i have also purchased photo pass plus. will i be receiving one of these bands? this is the first time i’ve heard of these and would love to be able to reserve rides/ experiences for my daughter ahead of time to make sure she gets the best experience possible…

180

Beth on January 15th, 2013 at 8:30 pm

Has FastPass+ been implemented? How do I utilize it?

181

David on January 15th, 2013 at 8:32 pm

What colors do the bands come in?

182

Adam on January 15th, 2013 at 9:13 pm

This sounds incredible! I will be at Disney World this friday through monday, and I have a few questions about the Magic Bands.
1. will it be available to me when i visit
2. if the answer to the first question is yes then my second question is how and where do i get it when i visit?

please responds ASAP

-Adam

183

Ashley on January 15th, 2013 at 10:45 pm

Hi Im arriving to WDW end of Feb, how do we get the opportunity to use the “reservation” fastpass for rides? Has it been implemented yet, if so where can I do this at

184

Linda from NJ on January 16th, 2013 at 12:14 pm

When will the FastPass option be available for use on Magic+? We are visiting this February and would be very interested in using this!

185

Mary on January 16th, 2013 at 12:22 pm

While I like the idea behind the concept, I do not like being required to wear a wrist band for my whole vacation. I also have an autistic son who would freak out wearing one.

186

Kathleen on January 16th, 2013 at 12:37 pm

Do swan and dolphin guests recieve a magic band? How do you start signing up for ur fastpasses?

187

judy on January 16th, 2013 at 12:59 pm

Sounds terrific but am wondering how this new technology will affect our vacation prices??

188

Renee on January 16th, 2013 at 2:47 pm

Our Family loves DW and have been 7 times and planned on coming for a full two weeks in December. We love the old FastPass system. The kids love that they can get a pass for their favorite ride and come back later without having to wait in a long line. Lets face it, there are several of the “hot” rides that the lines are hours long and to be able to get a fast pass to ride it later it just the best invention ever. Especially for those more popular rides that the fast passes for the day are gone before lunch time approaches. So that is one problem I see with this, it leaves those who do not stay on site no options for rides causing more family stress of keeping the kids occupied while waiting in the long lines.

Being a family of 7 we don’t typically stay onsite because our family is so large, so this to me is very concerning and gives me the feeling of a un-relaxing and stress from not being able to go with a spare of the moment type of trip to the park, we would have to plan it all out day by day. From what I am reading it appears that unless you onsite you will not be able to make reservations and will take the possiblity of the new FastPass system not being available to you. Is this being considered in the research of this new pilot program?

I hope my opion matters and it heard….have a magical day!

189

buddy from MD on January 16th, 2013 at 3:44 pm

This sounds great. I am a DVC Memeber and Annual Pass Holder. Which wrist band would we get?

190

Michael from GA on January 17th, 2013 at 1:29 pm

How will the Fastpass+/MyMAgic+ work if I am an Annual PAss holder and I am staying on site for ‘ride reservations’ and ‘park entry’. As a fast pass holder will I end up in a long line to gain entrance to the parks, or will i be able to get in the resort entrance lines and use my fast pass there ?

191

Jennifer on January 17th, 2013 at 8:00 pm

How does one go about getting one of these types of passes? Are they just in the testing phase? Can we volunteer? We are a family of 6 going in May and it sounds very interesting

192

Barbara from PA on January 17th, 2013 at 8:23 pm

We are traveling to WDW in March to march down Main Street USA! Our band will be staying at ALL STAR MUSIC Resort. The students are SO excited about this! Any chance we will receive the armbands, or do I have to break it to them that we still get the old stand-by tickets ?? ;)

193

Vicki on January 17th, 2013 at 8:38 pm

I am coming in March with my family and staying in the Fort Wilderness cabins. Will this feature be available to me by then?
Thank you!

194

amy from GA on January 19th, 2013 at 10:06 am

I wonder how this will work with military discounted tickets. We have a resort reservation for June but since we buy the tickets upon arrival at WDW there are no tickets attached to our reservation. If other guests have been able to make FP ressies like way in advance will this system be very for us… or anyone else who is able to use the military discount.

195

Kirsten on January 19th, 2013 at 6:38 pm

Are the band waterproof?

196

Elizabeth on January 20th, 2013 at 11:42 am

Hello Tom! I was very excited to hear this news a couple of weeks ago, and my family can’t wait to try out the new system. We are planning to visit Walt Disney World in late March/early April. Is there any update on the timeline of when we will be able to make FastPass+ reservations, or if this will even be an option for those of us planning a Springtime visit? Also, what are the restrictions as far as which guests will be able to enjoy this feature? Do you have to be staying at a Disney resort? We are staying at the Walt Disney World Swan and will be purchasing our tickets through AAA before we leave home. I am considering purchasing the new PhotoPass+ package before we leave home. You mentioned something about MyMagic+ or FastPass+ being available to guests purchasing a photo package. Please comment on the details of how this works. Thanks very much!

197

Donald on January 20th, 2013 at 2:10 pm

Bands are waterproof! Also as for colors: pink, red, lime green, purple, light blue, yellow, and gray as of now. Also there will be “Themed” ones, example; Pirates of the Caribbean, Cars, Tinkerbell, Peace Signs, and more to come.

198

Karen on January 21st, 2013 at 8:47 am

These ideas are interesting. But they do bring up some concerns. As a few people have already pointed out; how is Disney going to ensure the fastpasses are available to all resort guests and not just those super planners who know what they are doing 5 years from now? I am a super planner so I’m confident my trip will include everything we want, but some people have a more relaxed view of vacationing and don’t want to have to worry they will be locked out of their favorite ride because all the times have been nabbed 180 days ahead of time. Resort guests are already paying premium dollars for the excellent service and accommodations Disney provides. I know there is no extra dollar amount to utilize the MyMagic+ but do we actually have to compete for the chance to go on a favorite attraction? I can see scalpers out in the parking lots selling their fastpass tickets to soarin’ and expedition everest in the future!
The wrist bands are a neat idea and if they help clear the turnstiles that’s great. You still have to wait for the ropes to drop like everybody else so I don’t see a big advantage other than less hassle upon entering the park which makes for a more relaxed atmosphere overall.

199

Shana on January 21st, 2013 at 1:13 pm

I’m really excited about Fastpass+, I think it has the potential to make my vacations much more amazing. But, I really wish you would release an implementation timeline asap. I have big trip coming up in May, and it’s difficult to plan restaurant reservations, backstage tours, car rentals etc without knowing if we’ll be dealing with the old Fastpass system or the new.

For example, it sounds like Fastpass+ would enable us to have a more leisurely morning, and book table service breakfasts that I don’t usually have time for in the rush to the rides. But if Fastpass+ isn’t starting in May, I don’t want to miss out on my favorites because of the delay.

When will you have a timeline up?

200

Jennifer on January 22nd, 2013 at 2:14 pm

I love the idea of being able to schedule fast passes, if it can be done only on the day of. In the past, I skipped getting a fast pass and never went on the ride at all, because the fast pass return time was not convenient at the time I was near the attraction. We have two young kids and are not usually in the parks from 2pm-5pm. I would love to schedule a fast pass return of say 8pm when the fast pass distribution is currently on a 4pm-5pm window. I do agree with others though, I hope this is not available well in advance, just the same day.

220 Comments