If you have been planning a trip to WDW for any amount of time, you’ve probably heard about the MagicBand. But, what is a MagicBand, what makes it so magical, and how do you go about getting one? Read on to learn everything you need to know about this game changing device.
So what is a MagicBand?
The MagicBand is one of the most significant improvements introduced to Walt Disney World parks over the last few years. Put simply, it is a brightly colored bracelet that looks pretty plain and non-functional on the outside. But the “magic” is all about what’s on the inside.
Each band houses two RFID (radio frequency identification) antennae. There is a long-range unit, used to track crowd trends and link your ride photos. In addition, there is a second, short-range unit that interacts with touch points, like when you are scanning your park ticket to enter a park and using FastPasses.
I want one, how do I get it?
So how do you get a MagicBand, and do you need one? If you are staying at a Walt Disney World resort or if you are an Annual Passholder you will receive these bands for free. If you don’t get one for free, you can purchase them in the parks or even order them ahead of time from the Disney Store, and link them in your My Disney Experience prior to your visit.
When to get them by
If you are staying onsite then your MagicBands should ship around 3-4 weeks prior to your trip, it could be a little less, but 3-4 weeks is the usual amount of time. Disney will email you the tracking, and update it in My Disney Experience so you will know when they are on their way. You will also get them in a nondescript box, important in case you are keeping the trip a surprise.
If you live outside of the United States you will not get your MagicBands via mail, you will pick them up when you check-in at the front desk of the resort you are staying at.
What can you do with a MagicBand
The MagicBand has all your park tickets, water park tickets, and ticketed events associated with it. All you need to do is scan at the entry of the park.
Once you make your FastPasses they will be automatically linked to your specific MagicBand. If your party isn’t doing all the same FastPasses you just need to make sure that everyone has the correct band. If you chose Tower of Terror as a FastPass for some members of your party, and Rock N Roller Coaster for others, the FastPass will only work if specifically linked to the correct band.
Disney Dining Plan
If you are staying onsite and have the Disney Dining Plan, you can use your band to redeem your credits at participating restaurants and quick service locations.
The MagicBand can be used as your room key. Just like scanning the band at the entrance of each park, you scan your band at the door and it will unlock it for you. Anyone registered as staying in the room will be able to do this.
If you are staying on site you can use your MagicBand to make purchases in the parks. The MagicBand is linked to your room reservation and you can see all purchases in the My Disney Experience app. Just as a reminder, not all kiosks have the ability to scan MagicBands so make sure that you do have some cash on hand.
When you use a FastPass, if the ride or experience has photos they will automatically be linked to your account, if you are staying onsite. If you aren’t using a FastPass just make sure to scan your band at the end of the ride or experience at the photo kiosk.
Any time you have a photo pass photographer take a photo make sure to have them scan a band of someone in your party, and it will show up in your Photos. Again, anyone in your party can have their band scanned in order to receive the photos. So if Mom is on a ride with some of the kids, and Dad is taking someone to meet a character you can both use your MagicBands to get photos.
Just as a reminder: ride videos are only available to those with Memory Maker and a MagicBand.
If you plan on taking the Magical Express from the airport to your resort, make sure that you have your MagicBands readily accessible as you will need to scan them in order to get on the bus. I recommend packing them in your carry on, not in your checked luggage.
What about security?
Are the MagicBands secure? Very little information is actually stored on the MagicBand. Disney states that “each band is assigned a random code that securely links it to an encrypted database”.
For added protection Disney also has you create a PIN for each band. That means when you purchase an item you have to enter the PIN in order for the purchase to go through. This protects you from someone taking your band and running up charges, but also prevents your children from making rogue purchases.
If your band gets lost or stolen, you can turn it off in the My Disney Experience as well. I will also suggest that you report it lost to Disney, especially if it is one you bought, that way if it is found they can get it back to you. You can also verify at Guest Relations in the parks or at the front desk of your resort that the band is turned off.
The MagicBands are waterproof. You can keep it on while in the pool or shower, and that means you don’t have to worry about it getting ruined on a ride or at the water parks.
Adjustable sizing for kids
The MagicBands all come in the same size, but if you have a smaller wrist or a child wearing the band, you can take the outer layer off and make it kid-sized. However, once you remove that gray layer you can not put it back on.
Once your trip is booked, you can customize each MagicBand for the members in your party, but you need to do it at least one month prior to your trip in order to get the colors and personalization you want.
You can choose from: Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Purple, Pink or Gray. If you don’t pick any color, everyone will be sent a gray MagicBand.
For Personalization you can enter any name or nickname up to 9 characters, which includes numbers, letters and spaces. This is great if you have more than one person that wants the same color. If two people want a blue MagicBand, you can just personalize it with a name or nickname. The names are printed on the inside of the MagicBand.
If you choose to buy one, make sure you link to it in your My Disney Experience app. Even if you are getting a free one, you can opt to buy one, or if you check Etsy, there are plenty of options of items to purchase to customize your MagicBands using labels and stickers.
Do you need one if you are not staying on property
You don’t need one, but you may want one. You get a card to scan for park tickets and FastPasses, which may be a pain to dig around for, it may be easier for some to wear a MagicBand, but it is optional for guests not staying at a Walt Disney World Resort.
Can I reuse it?
Disney claims that the MagicBand is active for up to 3 years, so if you are going more than once in that amount of time, it is possible to reuse an old MagicBand. You can also have more than one linked in your account, just make sure your park tickets, FastPasses, etc… are all linked to the one you are currently using.
MagicBands are a great addition to your Walt Disney World trip and can make everything much easier when all of your tickets and FastPasses are in one place. Do you have a MagicBand tip for anyone new to the Walt Disney World experience? Share your ideas here. Or, until next time, have a magical trip.