Daily Dose of iQ: MagicBand Concept Makes Me Want to Go to Disney World

Mar 10, 2015 — Diana Thomson

It's back in the news: Disney's incredible MagicBand! We blogged about this a couple years ago (I can't believe it's been two years already); the bracelet was being called "MyMagic+" at the time.

Today, WIRED published an in-depth look at the MagicBand, written by Cliff Kuang. It's worth checking out.

MagicBands are free for Disney Resort guests and Disney World passholders; they're a $12.95 option for all other guests.

First off, the bracelets are out of the testing phase. Go to Orlando and try them out with your family. The Disney MagicBands are currently available for free to guests staying at a Disney Resort Hotel, or if you are a Walt Disney World Passholder. If you are not, you have the option to purchase one for $12.95, as well as various accessories to personalize your MagicBand ranging from $6.95-$12.95.

MagicBands integrate your pre-booked theme park itinerary, streamlining visits with characters, rides, photo shoots, meals and more.

The experience the bands offer starts when you initially book your trip. Qualifying bookings will receive the band in the mail prior to leaving for the trip. It handles airport shuttles, hotel check ins, luggage delivery to hotel rooms, park tickets, and all of the options you choose to select, including meet and greets for favorite characters, booking rides, photo packages, preordering meals, etc. -- all are optimized for an itinerary to ensure a shortest wait times; routes between stops are streamlined, and the path does not leave you zigzagging around the park.

disneymagicband5_f-1024x681 - photo credit: kent phillips/wired

RFID chips and radio allow for employees to track guests. One of the benefits of this is showcased in their restaurants. Employees are notified when guests are getting close, allowing them to greet the guests by name. Preordered food is ready almost upon arrival, and the radio receivers in the tables are able to determine the location of each guest in the restaurant, where food is promptly delivered. Credit cards are also synced to the bands, so financial transactions are handled automatically.

Of course, the bands allow Disney to track guests' movements and behavior -- data that improves operations, personalizes the experience and increases sales opportunities.

I am blown away by the level of integration between the bands and essentially every aspect of attending the park. Disney has taken great care and put a lot of thought into identifying the pain points, and creating what sounds like a seamless experience.

WIRED's Kuang calls the MagicBand a $1-billion investment on Disney's part. The article reveals the investment of $1 billion was actually an initial estimate; the project ended up costing significantly more.

In my opinion, I feel the investment is definitely worth it. Guests are not spending as much time waiting in ride lineups, purchasing tickets, or in restaurants, and Disney has found that they are spending more money.

The MagicBand project was first estimated to cost $1-billion, and even though it's proven to have cost more, it's worth it.

The technology could support additional revenue streams, such as the example in the article: triangulating a guest’s location and personalizing a video/photo album of their trip for them. If a guest does end up waiting in a long lineup, automatically sending them a small gift of compensation such as an ice cream cone can go a long way.

In addition to the “magical” guest experience, they are also optimizing their employees' time. Rather than busying staff with processing transactions, Disney can ensure they spend their time personally interacting with guests, which essentially creates an even better experience, and could support repeat business.

Topics: Privacy, Retail Operations, Mobile Industry, Internet of Things, Customer Experience

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