Walt Disney World’s investment in MagicBands seems to be paying off, according to Disney CEO Robert Iger.
In a conference call to discuss third quarter earnings, Iger said about half of the guests at Florida’s Disney theme parks are using the colorful wristbands at a cost of $12.95 plus tax. He said 90% of users rate the MagicBand experience as excellent or very good.
The MagicBand uses radio frequency technology. Guests can tap the band to touch points in places around the park entrances and FastPass+ entrances. Guests are also required to provide biometric identification – a fingerprint – or a photo ID at the entrance.
A four-digit PIN is required for purchases using the MagicBand, and the same band can be used on return visits to the park. MagicBands are never turned off, so it’s up to guests to deactivate them.
But there’s a catch if you want to use it for more than park admission and a FastPass onto the rides. “The ability to use the MagicBand for meal and merchandise purchases is currently available only to those guests who are staying in a Walt Disney World owned-and-operated hotel,” says Disney spokeswoman Marilyn Waters. “The charges are applied to the guest’s hotel room account. The MagicBand does not connect directly to a credit card.” Resort guests can use the bands to unlock their room door and pay for most anything on site.
MagicBands can be disabled if they’re lost or stolen, and there is no GPS-tracking on the bands. Disney says security measures are in place to keep users’ personal information safe. No private information is stored on the MagicBand, which contains a randomly assigned code that links to an encrypted database, which in turn keeps track of the experiences the user has selected.
The bands were rolled out in conjunction with the guest vacation planner MyMagic+, an app that enables users to book a trip and keep track of their plans through their mobile device. Q3 was the first full quarter that all Disney World guests could participate in the program.
Iger says the whole MyMagic+ experience is still in a test phase so there’s no revenue impact to speak of yet. “This is a very significant undertaking from a technological perspective, and we really want to make sure that we walk before we run because we don’t really want to overload our technological backbone,” Iger told reporters.
He says another beta phase started Aug. 2 and he expects MyMagic+ to start contributing to park earnings growth by late this year. “Right now, we’re mostly adding costs associated with Magic+ ahead of what will be, we believe, some interesting revenue generating opportunities,” Iger says. “I can also say that it’s working, meaning those that are using it – and we’ve got a number of people that have used it – have reacted very well. This test that we’re in right now will probably be used by over 80,000 guests based on the reservations that we’ve written with this initiative attached to them.”