Saturday, October 26, 2013

Magic Bands at Disney Parks and Cruise

Magic Bands at Disney Parks and Cruise

What I’m going to share is the information Disney has put out about their Magic Bands and my opinion and concerns. I wish to share both the good and the potentially bad for these new devices.

What is a Magic Band? A Magic Band is a “bracelet” you ware at the parks. (For now only being “tested” at WDW) It acts as your resort room key, park ‘ticket’, Fastpass and even charge card. Sound good to you? Well that is just PART of the good things it can do. Let’s explore more about how it works.

The Magic Bands have an RFID chip in them that you can place near (about 2 inches) a RFID reader on your room door or resort pool that acts as your “key” opening the locks. These RFID chips are also programed to act as your park tickets so you place your wrist near the reader at the park entrance and are let into the park. No fumbling for your Key to the World Card or paper tickets! Your credit card information can be programed to work with your Magic Band for charging purchases. Well the Key to the World room key cards also did that so why change?

Here is something the Key to the World Cards did not have. There is a new program in the final testing phase. It is call Fastpass+. With Fastpass+ you will go online and/or download an app to your smartphone. Before you leave your home for the parks you can schedule times for rides that have a Fastpass option! Just think! No more running to Toy Story Mania, Space Mountain or Test Track to get a Fastpass just to return hours later! Just go online or pick up your smartphone and schedule 3 Fastpasses for one park per day! Want to change your Fastpass? Decided not to go to the park chosen or you would rather go on a different ride? No problem! Pull out that smartphone and using the app change it! No smartphone? No problem! Just stop by one of the kiosks and make the changes.

You can add “bling” to your Magic Band! You can wrap it up and embellish it with many different options.

Do you have a member of your party celebrating a birthday or achievement? Make note of it on their Magic Band! When they walk up to a character the character will great them by name and wish them a Happy Birthday or congratulate them for their achievement!

Did you ever want to be part of the parks? Want your name on a tombstone in the Haunted Mansion graveyard? Well, you Magic Band could trigger it! Some attractions, like the Haunted Mansion will “readers” that read your Magic Band and will put your name on something in the area, such as the tombstone!

This sounds like so much FUN!!! Who would not want Mickey Mouse to wish their child Happy Birthday BY NAME?!? So what am I concerned about?!?! What could be the problem with these Magic Bands that can add so much Pixie Dust to your time at Disney? It is possible that in the future some rides, such as Small World and Pirates of the Caribbean will be able to make use of the Magic Bands to call you by name during the ride and actually interact with you.

Recently Magic Bands have been added to the Kids Clubs on the Disney Cruise Line. This means the kids no longer have to have a Key to the World Card or a lanyard they can remove and lose. One Magic Band that can be soaked and played hard in and keep working will get them through the cruise.

As stated these bands have RFID chips and some reports also state they have Bluetooth in them. This makes them readable/tractable from both short and long distance. (RFID a few inches where Bluetooth could be as far as 150 feet depending on signal strength.) Well, it is Disney doing it so why worry, right????

Having been a victim of stocking I’m careful of putting my location out. Yes, while I’m at Disney I’ll post on Facebook, “I’m at Star Tours!” or “Just got off Radiator Springs Racers!” So why am I worried about Disney knowing where I am? I also may wait a while and post I’m on a ride after I’ve left that location. The point is it is MY decision to put the information out there.

I’m also concerned because there are reports of people downloading RFID reading apps and being able to “see” their Magic Bands with their phones. The person I know of did this did not know how to interpret the information they saw but who knows what someone else could do with the information.

Over all Disney is a good and trustworthy company. I feel they have the guest’s best interest in mind when they do things. BUT! Like any company they cannot guaranty that ALL employees are as ethical or trustworthy as the company as a whole. Statics prove that a percentage of people any company hires, no matter how stringent background checking is done, will be criminals and possibly dangerous. Just look at several news articles from the past year to prove my point. Disney has had employees arrested for theft, credit card fraud and even child porn on the job! I am not thrilled with the idea of the outside possibility of some unknown person being able to know where I am and possibility other information.

Here is an article about the Magic Bands on the Disney Parks Blog:

Here is an article that mentions the Bluetooth on the Magic Bands that is found in The Next Web:

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