From the days when Walt himself was at the helm, Disney has always been at the forefront of using new and innovative technologies in their parks.
One of the largest incorporations of new tech has been MagicBands, which were first introduced in 2013.
Sure, those brightly colored bands with Mickey’s head on them are cute, but they also serve some essential functions while vacationing at Walt Disney World.
Here’s what you need to know.
How do MagicBands work?
Magic. Clearly. It is even in the name.
Ok, it isn’t magic at all. It is a technology called RFID or Radio Frequency Identification.
Incorporated inside your band are 2 different types of antennae: a long-range one and a short-range one.
The short-range one interacts with touchpoints, such as the Mickey heads at the entrance of the parks and the Lightning Lanes (the new term for FastPass lines).
The long-range one is what is used to track guests for everything from crowd trends to ride photos.
Looking for more details?
Gizmodo has a fantastic article that breaks it down way better than we ever could!
How much do MagicBands cost?
Before January 1, 2021, Disney Resort hotel guests could receive free bands, but now MagicBands cost $5 each.
As of August 16, 2021, complimentary MagicBands are also no longer offered to Annual Passholders.
If you don’t feel like paying for a new band, you can re-use an old one (if you have one).
Guests without a MagicBand will have the option of using the new complimentary MagicMobile service.
This new option rolled out in stages throughout 2021 allows guests to use their phone or Apple Watch in place of a MagicBand or key card.
Note: the ability to open your resort room with your phone is already available via the My Disney Experience app.
Guests staying onsite can continue to pick up a Key to the World card at their resort.
In fact, we recommend that if you don’t have a MagicBand that you do just that. Although you can open your room with your phone, it is a good idea to have a backup method in case of technological difficulties (like a dead cell phone battery).
Reminder: Guests that would like to continue to use MagicBands will still have the opportunity to purchase discounted bands with their on-site resort reservations for $5 each.
Additionally, MagicBands will continue to be sold at retail locations and on the shopDisney.com website.
Looking for something a little bit more individualized?
You’ll also have the option to upgrade to one of the “premium” options available.
When upgrading, you’ll receive a $14.99 credit (which is the cost of a solid colored band), making most of the upgrade band options about $10.00 out-of-pocket.
If you are staying offsite and you’d still like a MagicBand, you can buy one in the parks (they are sold in nearly every store), or you can even order one ahead of time from the Disney Store online.
How do I order MagicBands?
When it comes to selecting MagicBands, you can do so through the official Walt Disney World website.
You will have to user your Disney account login to select MagicBands.
Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to do just that.
Go the Walt Disney World website
Hover over “My Disney Experience” on the top right, and select “My MagicBands and Cards.”
This screen will pop up
It will show a list of your upcoming Disney World trips, along with each guest in your party. Select “Get Started” for your designated visit.
You’ll select an individual MagicBand for each guest
To do this, click on “Select a New MagicBand.”
You’ll be able to browse a full list of styles and colors
When you hover over each band, you’ll see a “Special Pre-Arrival Price” listed. You can sort by theme and color and select “Grid” to see all of choices on one page.
Once you’ve found a band, you can personalize it
You can personalize it with your name or nickname (limit of 9 characters). When finished, hit “Complete.”
When you’re finished choosing MagicBands, make sure to tap “Continue”
This will complete your order and where you’ll pay for your purchases. If you don’t do this, your selections won’t be final and you won’t receive the bands you want.
Can I decline or reuse a MagicBand?
You sure can!
Whether your next trip is onsite or offsite, you can reuse old bands until the battery dies (Disney has said it is about 3 years).
Here’s how to decline a new MagicBand and reuse an old one…
Follow the same process as selecting a new MagicBand
Make sure you have the correct trip select and hit “Get Started.”
Then, tap “Select a New MagicBand”
Select “Decline a New MagicBand”
You’ll find this underneath your Disney/Pixar avatar.
This message will pop up
To complete your selection, click “Decline Pre-Arrival Offer.”
Hit “All Done!”
This will confirm and complete your selection.
When do I get my MagicBands?
For onsite resort stays, your bands typically ship about 3-4 weeks out from your trip.
Sometimes it’s a little less, but 3-4 weeks is a good number to keep in mind.
If you’re trying to keep the trip secret, you’ll be pleased to know that the box arrives without anything on the outside to indicate the happiness that is on the inside.
Important: Place your MagicBand order at least 11 days before your arrival if you want your MagicBands shipped to your house and at least 6 days before your arrival to have them shipped to your hotel.
Also: If you forget to decline a MagicBand or select a new one, Disney will select colors from the list of $5 MagicBands for each member of your party (and you will be charged).
What else might I find in the box?
Sometimes you’ll find other things inside the box.
If you booked a package (room and tickets) and your “magical extras” (mini-golf vouchers, etc.) would also be inside of the box.
And, if you are receiving your Annual Passholder MagicBand, you’ll find your complimentary “Annual Passholder” slider inside.
What if I live out of the United States?
MagicBands aren’t shipped outside of the United States, but don’t worry – you still get them!
Instead of them arriving in the mail, you’ll pick them up at the front desk of your resort.
What if I book a last-minute trip?
If your trip is more than about 10 days away, Disney will likely still mail you your bands. If, however, there isn’t enough time to mail them, they will be available for you to pick up at the front desk of your resort.
What can my MagicBand do?
It can be used to:
- Unlock the door of your Walt Disney World Resort hotel room
- Enter any of the Disney World theme parks and water parks
- Redeem Genie+ and individual Lightning Lane selections
- Charge items, including food/beverages and merchandise, to your resort room (only if staying onsite)
- Redeem Disney Dining Plan credits (only if staying onsite) — this service is temporarily suspended but Disney has confirmed the Disney Dining Plan will return in the future
- Link PhotoPass images to your account
Do I need one?
But, there is one thing that you can only do with one: ride videos.
Both Tower of Terror and 7 Dwarfs Mine Train records actual videos of you on the attraction; however, those ride videos are only available to guests with Memory Maker and a MagicBand.
If you don’t have a band, you’re still able to get ride photos, but you’ll need to scan your ticket at the Mickey head touch points outside of the rides to attach them to your PhotoPass account.
Or, you can scan your MagicMobile pass on your phone for on-ride photos, but make sure to turn on your Bluetooth and that you’re signed into the My Disney Experience app prior to boarding an attraction.
However, guests with MagicBands don’t need to scan anything as their MagicBand sends a signal that is used to pair your photos to your PhotoPass account.
Is my information safe?
Yes – because very little information is stored directly on the band itself.
No financial information is stored on your MagicBand. In fact, no personal information at all is stored on the band.
Instead, Disney describes the process as “each band being assigned a random code that securely links to an encrypted database.”
And, since each band also has a personalized PIN attached to it, that adds another level of protection.
Want more information on the privacy and safety aspects? Check out the official Disney World website.
Do I need to carry my ID with me?
Disney makes it seem like you’ll be able to handle everything with just your MagicBand.
Want to buy something? SCAN YOUR MAGICBAND!
Need into your room? SCAN YOUR MAGICBAND!
Want Mary Poppins to clean your house? SCAN YOUR MAGICBAND!
(We made that last one up.)
And while that is true for most things, it isn’t for everything.
Unfortunately, even Disney World requires IDs sometimes – like if you want to purchase alcohol.
Yep. If you want to “drink your way around The World,” you’re gonna need an ID.
Planning on using your Annual Pass for discounts?
You’re gonna need an ID.
And, while it is true that you can pay for most things with your MagicBand, system errors aren’t unusual, and you’ll be left high and dry and unable to buy that churro and adult beverage if you don’t have some backup cash or card on you.
We hate seeing sad faces at Disney World – especially adults sad because the scanners are down, and they can’t get that frozen Grand Marnier slushy drink thingy in France.
Do not be that person. Bring your ID. And some cash and maybe even a backup credit or debit card.
Do they have kid sizes?
One of the super cool things about the design is the ability to adjust the size.
For children and people with small wrists, you can remove the outer section to create a smaller-sized band.
Something to keep in mind is that once you pull that outer layer off, you can’t reattach it. Make sure you’re positive that is what you need to do before you do it!
What happens if I lose it in the parks?
First – if you lose it while on vacation at Disney World, we highly recommend you report it missing as soon as possible.
In addition to reporting it lost, you also need to go into the MagicBands and Cards section of My Disney Experience (either via the app or online) and deactivate it.
You can also ask Cast Members at Guest Relations or at your hotel’s Lobby Concierge to deactivate it for you, too.
Selecting “LOST” in My Disney Experience also deactivates it.
It seems like Disney used to be more generous when replacing lost MagicBands. Now, they say the replacement of lost bands is handled on a “case by case basis.”
You can always, however, purchase a new band and use that if you need to.
Here’s how to report MagicBands as “lost” online and via the My Disney Experience app.
Scroll to the bottom of the My MagicBands and Cards page
You can access this page on the Walt Disney World website (as explained above).
Click the arrow next your avatar
Here you’ll be able to see all of your — and which ones are active or inactive. You can also click on “Report Lost” if you’ve lost a band.
And here’s how to report a lost MagicBand in the My Disney Experience app…
Open the My Disney Experience app and click the three lines at the bottom
Scroll down and click on “My Profile.”
Your profile will appear
You’ll want to click on “MagicBands & Cards.”
Select “Your MagicBands & Cards”
This is where you view all of your MagicBands, reset your security pin, and also link a new MagicBand or Card.
Click the MagicBand you need to report “lost”
FYI: Each individual MagicBand ID number will be listed, but we’ve removed ours for privacy reasons.
Hit “Report This MagicBand as Lost”
It’s that easy! As you can see, this is also where you can “Activate” an inactive band. You can also “Deactivate” a band as well.
Can I have more than one MagicBand active at a time?
Think back to the olden days when people had landline phones in their homes.
Most people with landlines had multiple phones in their house – maybe they had one in the living room and one in the kitchen, etc.
When somebody called your home phone number – all of your phones would ring at once.
Just like you can have multiple phones all connected to the same landline number, you can have multiple active MagicBands connected to the same profile at once, too.
Is there a maximum number of MagicBands I can have active at one time?
Disney doesn’t say, but we can tell you that people we know with lots and lots of active MagicBands (think 10+) run into more issues with them than those that don’t.
The most common problem we have heard of involves bands not working to open up resort doors, which is why we always recommend you test everybody’s bands on your resort room door on your arrival day.
Are they waterproof?
Yes! Which is a good thing since it rains a lot in Florida.
Can I customize the MagicBand I get when I book a room at a Disney World resort?
$5 Pre-Order Options (these were formerly complimentary)
When you stay onsite, you’ll get the option to choose your MagicBand color (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, pink, or grey).
Premium MagicBand options
Want something a little bit fancier?
You can do that.
In addition to the $5.00 options, there are many premium MagicBand designs that you can choose from.
The cost to upgrade will be the retail price of the specialty MagicBand plus a discount, with most bands running around $15.
There are lots of different options available, with pretty much something for everyone.
All of that customization is done inside of My Disney Experience.
Are there other ways to customize your band?
Try swapping the pucks
You can also swap out the puck in the middle with other bands to make fun color combinations:
Give MagicKeepers a try
Hate wearing things on your wrist? You can get a MagicKeeper puck holder like these:
Another cool way to customize your Magicband is by using skins, which are basically super-adhesive stickers that go right over the top of the band itself.
Our favorite MagicBand decals come from MagicYourBand.com.
They have a huge collection of options; plus, you can even create your own customized decals.
Even more ideas
Another great place to find unique items for customizing your MagicBand is Etsy. A simple search for MagicBand returns tons of different options, including decals and puck holders.
Can I give my band to somebody else to use for their trip?
Nope. Once a MagicBand is assigned to you, it is always assigned to you. There isn’t any way to re-assign it to somebody new.
What are limited/special edition MagicBands?
You may want to sit down for this:
Disney sells ultra-cute limited edition MagicBands.
Seriously, some of the bands available are adorable, and if you are a frequent visitor, they are a great way to highlight some of your favorite things in the parks!
Want to see all the different MagicBands that have been released?
MagicBandCollectors.com is the spot to go.
In September 2021, Disney announced MagicBand+, an upgrade to the original MagicBand.
This new version includes all of the same features as a regular MagicBand with some interactive additions.
Disney describes MagicBand+ as “the next-generation wearable technology.”
At different parts of your theme park experience, “MagicBand+ will come alive at various times with color-changing lights, haptic vibrations, and gesture recognition.”
For example, you’ll be able to use the MagicBand upgrade to engage with the following:
- Take on the role of a bounty hunter in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Hollywood Studios and find virtual bounties throughout Black Spire Outpost.
- Interact with the Disney Fab 50 Character Collection.
- Experience nighttime spectaculars as your band lights up and complement the magic in the skies, including with Happily Ever After and Fantasmic!
There will even be fun new designs to choose from, like this one:
You’ll be able to purchase MagicBand+ sometime in 2022.
There will also be a discounted, pre-arrival price for Disney Resort hotel guests and also renewing Disney World Annual Passholders. Exact pricing hasn’t been revealed yet.
Current MagicBands are still available and will continue to be alongside the launch of MagicBand+. The same with MagicMobile.
MagicBand+ is also coming to Disneyland sometime in 2022.
MagicBands and special effects
If you are a DVC owner, an Annual Passholder, or if you have one of the limited-edition MagicBands, you may get a little treat when scanning your band at some Mickey head touchpoints.
Usually, when a band is scanned at the touchpoints, the Mickey head will turn green, but some special bands activate different colors or color combinations. Some even have audio attached!
Video: Unboxing MagicBands
There you have it! Lots and lots of fun information all about MagicBands. Did we forget to answer any of your questions? Let us know in the comments.
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