In 2013 Disney introduced Magic Bands to the Orlando, Florida Walt Disney World resorts and parks. Now they have evolved with Magic Band and Magic Band +. This article covers questions for first timers- such as, What exactly are Magic Bands? And are Magic Bands worth it?
Simply put, Magic Bands are a plastic bracelet with the guests’ key to the parks and hotel rooms.
Since the Magic Band was officially introduced, it has excelled at holding all of the guest’s pertinent information for their vacation; their electronic hotel key, their park ticket, their photo pass, their credit card information, etc… All for the ease of the guest to carry (or rather wear) one device instead of being afraid they may lose their hotel key, or misplace their park ticket for the day, or worse, misplace their wallet with their credit card.
They are water resistant which makes bringing the devices to the hotel pool and on water rides in the park convenient for ease.
Are Magic Bands Worth it?
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As part of the original promotion to get guests accustomed to using their Magic Bands when visiting Walt Disney World, anyone who was staying on Disney Property would receive a package of complimentary Magic Bands for each member in their party prior to their vacation. This is no longer the case and they come as an additional charge.
A point to note is you don’t need a Magic Band or Magic Band+ to enjoy the parks. Yes, they do have interactive features and lights go off and you can participate in missions in Batuu in Star Wars Galaxy Edge in Hollywood Studios but you don’t actally need them to access rides.
You can also use your phone or a card issued by Disney via Disney Guest Services or your Disney Hotel to enter the parks, join Lightning Lanes etc.
From the information that had been entered into the My Disney Experience in order to book their stay, the Magic Band would be ready to go for each guest with their electronic hotel key, photopass, lightning lane passes (with as Genie+ and or Individual Lightning Lanes), park tickets, and credit card information.
This is still the case if you have one which still works (ours does from 2019!) or if you buy a new one. If you buy a new one for the very first time, you just need to add it to your My Disney Experience.
Parents are given the control to have their credit card linked to whichever bands they felt needed it. Guests are able to use the Magic Bands to charge their card instantly for food, beverages, and merchandise.
So yes, they are convenient and fun to have, but if you looking to cut costs for your DIsney trip, then this is one additional expense you can skip.
How To Use Your Magic Band At Disney Parks
Specialized touch points are installed at each park entrance. Magic Band holders simply place the face of their band with Mickey’s silhouette on the touch point and use their finger to gain entry. (The finger print makes sure that the magic band can’t be passed on for someone else to use.)
A flashing light will turn green for entry or blue for assistance. (Red was forbidden due to the negative association with the color).
Every ride has their own touch points installed for the Lightning Lane and will grant access if that guest had signed in for that specific lightning lane time. Each parking attendant, store, and food location is also equipped with handheld readers for easy access in using the band.
The original design consisted of an outer gray band that could be removed for smaller wrists and an inner plastic bracelet. This design is still in use today.
There were a few basic colors that came complimentary in the vacation package but each guest had the option of keeping the original band given to them or buying a new one with their favorite character or movie on it.
Setting Up Your Magic Band
Set up for the Magic Band is easy and quick and you can deactivate the basic Magic Band easily with the click of one button online.
Adults and children can easily fit their bands to their wrists as they came standard with an adjustable connection. Third party vendors even got in on the action by selling Magic Band keepers, a simple silicone addition to the strap to keep the band from accidentally unhooking and falling off.
In November of 2016 the band went through a bit of an upgrade. The new design increased the size of the center plastic piece as well as giving the owner of the Magic Band the ability to unscrew the center plastic piece with all of their stored information and transfer it to a keychain or another band. The Magic Band program had been quite successful the way it was implemented, however, in 2021 the program was revamped.
Although the Magic Band is still is use today, a new Magic Band, so dubbed the Magic Band+, was revealed in July 2022. They are sold alongside its predecessor.
This ‘new’ Magic Band Plus has some differences besides the price point. To use this band with all its bells and whistles, it needs to be charged, however, using the basic functions of getting into the park and downloading photopass content the Magic Band+ can be used as is. Guests do not need to worry if their Magic Plus+ is not charged to enter Lightning Lanes, etc.
When the new Magic Band+ is charged it includes all the basic features of the original Magic Band plus some fun features.
Magic Band Plus Features and Differences to Magic Band
When entering any one of the parks, there is a hematic pulse and the face lights up.
During the fireworks shows in Magic Kingdom and Epcot the band receives signals and will light up and pulse in rhythm with the show.
Plus, there are some interactive scavenger hunts that connect the Magic Band+ with the My Disney Experience App where a guest can search for the 50th celebration statues hidden around the parks and the hotels.
As the bracelet nears a statue, a sound will play that is associated with that statue’s movie.
There is also a bounty hunter game in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge where guests use their Magic Band+ to “capture” Star Wars characters.
As of this writing, Disney World is fully Magic Band+ capable. Disneyland was supposed to start rolling out this technology in October of 2022, but no word has been released as to how it is going.
And the Disney Cruise Lines with Aulani have simplified bracelets similar to the original Magic Band used as room keys as well as child trackers for the kids’ club.
Every new Magic Band+ (as well as the Magic Band, which is still sold) will range in price from around $25-$54.99 depending on how new the design is, whether or not it is a limited edition, or if it is a simple Magic Band or Magic Band+.
In my opinion, the regular Magic Band is well worth the price (although you can find older designs in the local outlet malls) and I’m still on the fence about the new Magic Band+ being worth the price tag.
Frequently Asked Questions About Magic Bands
A. Yes, all types of magic bands are waterproof and can be used on water rides and in swimming pools.
A. You can buy a Magic Band or Magic Band Plus at Disney parks, on the Shop Disney website and at various Disney stores, inside Disney hotels. The Galactic Star Cruiser band is normally given to you at check-in.
A. In my opinion, yes. Having stayed both on and off property, having the bands for park visits saves having to worry about phones being charges or losing key cards.
A. The basic bands are no longer included with Disney resort packages and stays. The only exception is on the Galactic Star Cruiser.
A. No, unless staying at the Galactic Star Cruiser.
A. They are not required, but we find them useful! You can still use your phone or card ticket to gain entry to the parks or use lightning lanes and more.
A. Yes, they are! Normal magic bands have a battery inside. We have our from 2019 which are still going strong in 2023, but once they expire, that will be it. The newer Magic Bands Plus are rechargeable.
A. Yes, they are. You can adapt them to fit a tiny tot if needed.
A. $25-$50 depending on how new the design is, whether or not it is a limited edition, or if it is a simple Magic Band or Magic Band+. The regular Magic Bands are the cheapest option
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