Disney files "Magic Band" with FCC

Posted on Monday, November 12th 2012 at 3:57 a.m.

Disney has long since been the leading innovators in the amusement park industry.  With groundbreaking attractions and game-changing ideas such as FastPass, Disney has been altering the landscape of how people visit amusement parks for years now.  Now they are looking to change the way we enter the parks as well.  Disney currently uses biometric verification (fingerprint) and paper/card style tickets as a means to enter their park.  Disney filed an application with the FCC for a new wearable device called the “Magic Band”.  Read on for what I believe are possible uses for the new device… all unofficial of course.

The FCC filing description of the device reads: “The radio of the device, Model MB-R1G1, is a wrist worn arm band that transmits a 2.4 GHz signal to an indoor wireless infrastructure. The PCB assembly is potted in plastic and completely overmolded with thermal plastic polyurethane. The band has no on off switch and is powered with a non-replaceable coin cell.”

The bands can be personalized as noted in the picture above and are nontransferable (like the existing tickets).  The initial intention, as various reports note, are to use the band as a way to enter the park instead of using park tickets.  However, that cannot be the only use otherwise this change would make no sense.  Disney is making a 1 billion dollar investment in NextGen improvements and I believe this “Magic Band” is at the heart of all those changes.

Since the device will contain RFID technology, the “Magic Band” can have several uses that Disney will either experiment with or they have already confirmed this device will be used for.  I would assume that Disney will use this as their new FastPass+ device and they will do away with the paper slips as a way to handle FastPass return times.  Also, as FastPass+ is supposedly a way to book times for rides in advance, this device would probably come pre-loaded with all those FastPasses before you even enter the park.  I would also guess that since your park ticket can be your “Key To The World” and it can be your hotel key, credit card, and park admission in one card, that this device will also be able to take on those purposes as well.

Disney has always been very interested in knowing exactly where you are going to be every minute of your visit at their parks.  That is mainly why they invented FastPass.  Disney couldn’t stand to see people waiting in line for an attraction.  The longer you wait in line, the less money you can spend at a food or merchandise cart.  With FastPass, Disney is basically saying don’t wait in line… go grab a snack and come back in an hour and you’ll be able to ride your ride then with little to no wait.  This “Magic Band” will one-up FastPass, and will assumingly be used to track what attractions you ride, what places you ate at, what stores you visited, when you ate, when you went to the bathroom, when you entered and left the park, when you posed for pictures with Mickey and friends, and the list goes on and on.  In other words, their marketing and operations teams are probably salivating at the opportunities to be able to fully customize and understand the traffic patterns of particular visitors.  If they can make your trip more efficient and enjoyable, you’re more likely (and able) to spend more money.  It’s a win-win.

The last thing I believe these devices could be used for is to store your Advance Dining Reservations (ADRs).  It makes sense that if Disney is going to store your FastPass+ information on these devices to know what rides you are going to be at during certain times, it makes sense that they know what restaurants you have reservations with and when those reservations are supposed to take place.

So to wrap it up, I am guessing (nothing is official yet) that this device will be used for these various purposes:

  • Park entry
  • FastPass+
  • Credit card purchases
  • Track visitor habits (attraction visits, restaurant visits, store visits, etc)
  • Store Advance Dining Reservations (ADRs)

People may be breaking out the tinfoil hats to protect themselves from this “outrageous privacy invasion”, but I’m not that worried.  I know Disney wants to make money and wants to allow people to spend more money by not waiting in lines for attractions.  If Disney can make my visit more enjoyable and efficient by tracking my visiting patterns, I say by all means go ahead.  Use that technology and make my life easier and I’m willing to provide my park visit information.

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