(A 3 minute read…)
Three years ago, Disney World in Orlando not only welcomed visitors to be their guest, but also began presenting them with a new way to enjoy the experience.
The Magic Band
Disney introduced the Magic Band, a waterproof, electronic wristband enables the park’s guests to wander through every area of every theme park without an admission pass, wallet, credit card, or even a room key.
This optional wristband features an embedded RFID chip and a tiny radio (like those in a smartphone) that includes the guest’s information.
The sensor transmits a signal up to 40 feet in any direction. So, when you arrive for your dinner reservation, you’re greeted by name. You receive an alert when your favorite ride suddenly has an opening. And you no longer have to hunt down those Disney characters. They’ll find you.
Reserve your space in line at your favorite attractions (although, unlike the FastPass, which allows you six shortcuts a day, MagicBand limits you to three).
Make all your purchases at the park by tapping your MagicBand. And if you’ve purchased your MagicBand in advance, you can even use it to board the shuttle from the airport to the Happiest Place on Earth. Your luggage is on its way to your hotel room, because it was tagged at the airport when you checked in.
Disney invested $1 billion in this technology, with the intention of improving its already-stellar guest experience while also increasing its volume of big data on guests’ preferences—like who prefers Tower of Terror or dining at the Rainforest Café.
Disney can use the information that is gathered every minute of every day to make agile adjustments in staffing, like reducing wait lines or sending a Disney character to a busy location. They also apply this knowledge to send you targeted marketing messages, like suggestions for places to visit, eat, and stay, according to your behaviors.
Studies also show that people who use the MagicBand are likely to spend more money.
“When you make [the logistics] easier, people tend to spend more time on entertainment and more time on consumables,” explains Disney Chief Financial Officer Jay Rasulo.
The system enabled Disney to accommodate 3,000 more guests during the Christmas season by increasing efficiency. While Disney applauds the impact on the guest experience, you can’t overlook the dollar value of those 3,000 extra visitors.
There are other eyebrow-raising implications here.
The RFID technology that Disney’s MagicBand system uses is considered invasive by some critics. Consumer advocate and “Spychips” author Katherine Albrecht says these devices at the world’s biggest family theme park normalizes the use of tracking.
“Most of us have a line we think we’ll never cross,” she said. “We don’t want people tracking us in our homes or in the bathroom, right? But if you go after kids, and you make it fun, you can introduce a technology that most of us would object to in our everyday lives. And people will thank you for the privilege.”
Children can be greeted by name, which concerns some parents. A Disney character or employee may seem innocent enough, but they are still strangers. When parents and educators invest so much effort in reinforcing the “Stranger Danger” warning, Disney may want to rethink their leverage with regard to compromising child safety measures.
Read more about one of our own team members experiences with the Disney Magic Band here.
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