Monday, January 7, 2013

Disney Parks and Resorts Chairman Tom Staggs makes the official announcement of the Next Gen 'MyMagic+'

Walt Disney World guests will soon be introduced to the project that’s been secretly under development and gently rolling out for the past few years across its theme parks and hotels under the banner of NextGen. It’s called MyMagic+, first officially detailed in a New York Times article. Combined with the My Disney Experience web site and mobile app as well as RFID-based wristbands called the MagicBand, Disney intends to offer new levels of trip planning and interactivity for its visitors through high-tech, but easy-to-use devices.

In the following article, Disney Parks & Resorts chairman Tom Staggs offered new details surrounding this initiative, which is said to roll out “in the coming months.” Guests wearing colorful MagicBands will have the opportunity to take part in a variety of activities and experiences that only new technologies installed on a mass scale like this can offer.

"At Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, we continually push the boundaries of creativity and innovation to deliver the best possible experience for our guests. We’re always looking for ways to take what we do and do it even better. Over the past few years, we’ve devoted considerable time and resources to create a more immersive, more seamless and more personal experience for each and every guest who spends time with us. I know there’s been significant speculation about these efforts among our fans, so we’re pleased to give you a glimpse into the work we are doing to take the entire Disney guest experience to the next level. 

Some of these initiatives are more apparent and can already be seen by our guests – like our interactive queues at Walt Disney World Resort and the Enchanted Art on our cruise ships – while others are more behind-the-scenes and are focused on “how” visitors plan, access and enjoy their experiences with us. Over the next several months, we’ll be rolling out a collection of tools at the Walt Disney World Resort called MyMagic+ that will give guests more opportunities to customize and personalize their entire visit. 

Like most people who visit Walt Disney World Resort, my family and I have our “must-do” attractions, and as the father of three boys, those attractions often end with the word “mountain.” Now, rather than dashing as a group, or even splitting up to gather FastPasses, imagine booking guaranteed ride times for your favorite shows and attractions even before setting foot in the park. With MyMagic+, guests will be able to do that and more, enabling them to spend more time together and creating an experience that’s better for everyone. 

A major component of MyMagic+ is the new My Disney Experience website and mobile app, which gives guests planning their trip the latest information on all Walt Disney World Resort has to offer. We know that some people like to plan every aspect of their Disney vacation in advance while others like to plan very little, letting their day unfold spontaneously. No matter where guests fall in that spectrum, My Disney Experience gives them the flexibility to plan as much or as little as they’d like to create the exact Disney experience they want. They can book dining and other experiences and reserve times for their favorite attractions, shows and more through an enhanced FastPass system, FastPass+. Once they arrive, they can use their smart phones to spontaneously change their plans in the moment, exploring our parks at their own pace and getting the most out of their visit. 

Linking the entire MyMagic+ experience together is an innovative piece of technology we developed called the MagicBand. Worn on the wrist, it will serve as a guest’s room key, theme park ticket, access to FastPass+ selections, PhotoPass card and optional payment account all rolled into one. We’ve began testing certain aspects of MyMagic+ in Florida last month and the early reactions we’ve gotten have been fantastic. 

This collection of tools is another step forward in the ongoing evolution of our guest experience, giving us even more ways to help friends and family create the unforgettable Disney memories that they want most. We’ll be testing, adjusting and adding features to MyMagic+ and My Disney Experience over time and will continue to make improvements based on our guests’ feedback. We look forward to sharing more with you in the months ahead!"

One can hope that this technology will finally mean the debut of the talking Mickey at Walt Disney World - remember the previews? How magical would it be for ANY of the characters to know and greet you by name when you visit? An intimate conversation with Mickey, Minnie, Goofy or any number of other Disney characters cannot be far behind when coupled with the MyMagic+ program.

Safety and privacy concerns? Disney has that covered. Your MagicBand can be deactivated in park by Disney Cast Members or by going online. Disney claims that no personal information can be retrieved from a lost or stolen wristband. Additionally, all purchases made with the MagicBand will require a PIN to use tap-to-pay. (it was originally $50 or more but Disney has altered that policy).

To summarize the My Magic+ offerings:

  • Guests can schedule 3 FastPasses before arriving to the parks for rides, shows, parades, fireworks, or to meet character
  • MagicBands can be set up prior to visiting, linked to the My Disney Experience account 
  • MagicBands will be used as room keys, park tickets, FastPass+ access, and at touch-to-pay locations for shopping and dining
  • MagicBands will offer turnstile-free access to the parks with a quick tap for entrance
  • Guests may choose or limit the amount of information shared when registering MagicBands online
  • Using information on the MagicBands, characters will “magically” know guests’ names before meeting them, also being able to note registered celebrations, such as birthdays or anniversaries
  • Rides and queues can use MagicBands for a personalized experience – with the example given of Scuttle in “Journey of The Little Mermaid” queue in New Fantasyland may soon be able to converse with guests
  • Disney will sell MagicBand accessories to collect and make each wristband unique

  • So what do you think? Excited for the new technology or happy with the status quo? Let us know by leaving a comment below.

    Photos ©Walt Disney Company

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