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Monday Mouse Watch : Get ready to make the "Disney Magic Connection"

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Monday Mouse Watch : Get ready to make the "Disney Magic Connection"

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Imagine that -- as you walked through a Disney theme park -- you could carry with you a wireless device that would:

  • Tell you in real time what the current wait time at your favorite attraction was
  • Also let you know whether there were any FastPasses left for that particular attraction
  • And when these FastPasses were available for

Better yet, what if you could in-put a "wish list" of your favorite rides & shows into this hand-held unit, and it could then tell you the most time-efficient way to experience all of those attractions? Wouldn't that be amazing?

You wanna hear something that's even more amazing? Starting today and the next 10 days, the Imagineers will actually be field testing a device like the one I just described at Walt Disney World. Known as the "Disney Magic Connection," WDI R & D hopes that this hand-held, wireless unit (which runs on a Nintendo DS ) will be the next big technological breakthrough at the Disney theme parks.

As to how these field tests will be conducted ... As I understand it, each day, 60 families who are visiting the Magic Kingdom will be recruited to take part in this pilot program. Those who accept WDI's invitation will be then be able to use the "Disney Magic Connection" unit during the entire time that they're in that theme park (Provided -- of course -- that they're willing to put a credit card deposit down on this device. Which would then result in a $300 charge should they not return this hand-held unit before exiting that theme park).

As to what else the "Disney Magic Connection" can do, I'm told that this wireless device (Which -- according to the literature that I've been shown -- is designed to help " ... Guests make the most of their visit to the Park") will feature:

  • Show schedules
  • Parade routes
  • Interactive maps which reveal the location of rides, shows and attractions, restaurants, restrooms, etc.


 Copyright 2007 Disney. All Rights Reserved

This "Disney Magic Connection" unit will also reportedly have a feature that will tell guests where their favorite characters are in the park in real time. In addition, this wireless, hand-held device will be able to tell which queue you're standing in at that precise moment. So that it can then offer you the opportunity to play a game that's themed to that particular ride, show or attraction. Or just offer you some ride-specific trivia to read while you wait in that line.

If some of the features included on this Nintendo DS are starting to sound familiar ... Well, there's a reason for that. "Disney Magic Connection" actually builds on a lot of the lessons that WDI learned when they sent "My Pal Mickey" into the parks back in May of 2003.

Speaking of lessons ... The Imagineers hope to learn an awful lot from the over 600 families that they plan on recruiting for this "Disney Magic Connection" field test. Which is why -- as they return these hand-held, wireless units to Town Square Exposition Hall each night -- these WDW guests will be asked to take part in a brief survey which will discuss what they liked (More importantly, what they didn't like) about this device.

Should this test go well ... Well, from what my sources in Glendale tell me, a full-blown version of "Disney Magic Connection" could be up and running at the WDW Resort by the Spring of 2009. And then things get really interesting, as the guests visiting the Florida parks effectively get divided into two classes: The haves (i.e. Those who are armed with up-to-the-minute info thanks to this amazing wireless device) and the have-nots (i.e. Those who couldn't afford "Disney Magic Connection" and thus have to rely on old fashioned information sources like guidemaps and tip boards).

So what do you folks think? Are you aching to head out to the Magic Kingdom right now with the hope that you and your family will then be recruited for the "Disney Magic Connection" field test? Or are you one of those types who actually goes to the theme parks because you want to get away from Crackberry-like hand-held devices?

Your thoughts?

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  • I can't imagine it would be that expensive if Disney rolls it out. Since it's for the DS, one would assume that you would purchase a cartdridge and utilize the wi-fi of the DS. If it we're $20-$30 bucks to own it, I'm in! It's amazing how technology is making our lives more connected. (But is that a good thing?)

  • I think it would be an excellent tool for better planning, they should make it windows mobile compatible as well so that phones and pdas can access the data as well.

    What would be a good addition as well as parade routes is an update on crowd levels along the route so you can see if the popular sidewalks like Main Street are empty, busy, full. This would mean you wouldn't have to sit down an hour before a parade and realise 30 mins later that you could have done another ride and then sat down because there's still plenty of room or if you're running late for a parade you can go straight to where you are likley to be able to get a viewing spot rather than somewhere that's already totally congested.

  • Nice idea Strongstyle!  Have colors like the traffic maps on Google maps - red for packed, yellow for congested and green for plenty of room.  As wedway pointed out, it would be optimal to sell the cartidge that could be used in an existing DS, with a way to play the games and do some things when you get home.  Of course, for those who do not own a DS or did not bring it, a Disney branded model would be availabe for purchase (or rent?).  The best thing about this, is that people will read the information, rather than have to listen to a talking toy (I was in line with as many 3 different Pal Mickey conversations going on at once).  What will be bad is the number of people who will be buried in the electronics rather than enjoy the beautiful parks.

  • A couple of questions:

    What's wrong with being bored sometimes??

    Is all of this information making people smarter?

  • Blech.

    Just what we need ... more self-absorbed boobs wandering around the parks with their heads buried in some handheld device. Maybe they can send one to the jackass I had to sit behind at Candlelight Processional this year who literally spent the ENTIRE SHOW texting on his Treo. I can't TELL you how fun that was, being half blinded by the light from his screen and listening to that "click-click-click-click-click" while I was trying to watch the show.

    Honestly, I wish Disney would stop wasting money on stupid crap like this. Wasn't Pal Mickey a dismal failure (if not, it should have been ... what a waste of time!)? Spend some freakin' money on new, GOOD rides and attractions and quit pouring money down the drain on things that are only guaranteed to make my park going experience more irritating.

    I'm sure it will be great standing in the dark, dank Pirates queue only to have the illusion shattered by 18 morons standing around me trying to figure out how long the wait time is in Aladdin's Magic Carpets.

    Once again ... Blech ...

  • And thanks to Disney, the average park goer just gets stupider and stupider as the company takes their hands and gently guides them through their vacation.

    Seriously, park maps and times guides have been effective tools for decades.  Is this electronic nonsense really necessary?

  • Put it on an iPhone and I'll pay $200 for it! :grin:

    People who are Disney-compulsive enough to visit this site probably don't have much use for such a device. I already know how to minimize wait time and wouldn't gain much from such a device. But it will be interesting to see how the trials go and how first- and second-timers react. During busier times it could be very helpful -- or not. The poor schmoes who show up at MK at 11:30 during spring break and want to ride all three mountains after eating lunch are still going to be out of luck, regardless of technology.

  • I'd be more impressed with this if Universal wasn't already doing it.  They have a free service available for use across all mobile devices with an internet connection, namely practically every phone on the market now.  I'm sure Disney will market this as "revolutionary" when in reality they are second banana.

    ...and to think, I should have patented this idea when I had it two years ago. :-)

  • I’m sorry, as one who takes his family to Disney to get away from video games and “crackberry’s” and the like… I would never sign up for something like this. Our gameboys and cell phones stay in the car when we visit as this is one of the few times it seems that the entire family is together and we all get the chance to actually TALK to one another! I too have been annoyed several times recently by other guests who just can’t seem to part with texting on their beloved cell phones in places like Mickey’s Philharmagic and the Finding Nemo musical… and will bet this would only get worse with a device like this! I’m sorry, on our family vacations, this would be a big NO.  

  • I agree with the comments that say it should be available on PDAs, iPhones, ect. When I'm at a theme park, the last thing I need is another clunky peice of equipment in my pocket. I can hardly enjoy the rides when I'm worried about my cell phone sliding out of my pocket the whole time. While a DS is small as compared to other gaming devices, it is quite large and bulky compared to an average cell phone or PDA. I think they would see a much better return on this investment  if they allowed your average internet compatible mobile device to download this service. As also stated above, this is really only going to be useful to Disney newbies and the uninformed. This is also the demo that will most likely get completely confused and frustrated with this device and end up even angrier at Disney than had they just had to wait in a normal line.

  • I am skeptical of the idea.

    *Guests have to learn how to operate the system.  Who is going to coach them and teach them to make the most of it?  They are going to turn to any CM at hand if they don't know where to click.  I can't imagine Disney going to train everyone.

    *It has to work perfectly all the time and what are the odds of that?  What about when it's down or showing results from 30 minutes ago?  Guests are going to be arguing that they "should" get a FP or have a shorter wait because the device told them so.  

    *The way to maximize the fun on your Disney vacation is to do some planning and research AHEAD OF TIME.  Know what you want to do & roughly where things are located.  Seems like this device would encourage people to fail to plan, play by ear, and they would actually get less enjoyment.

    *I think Disney would do better to play to its supposed strengths.  Add "vacation guide" CMs to the resorts to help guests plan their activities before & during their stay.   I know there are concierges to book things for you, but this would be a person to help you decide where to go which days, what park to skip if you have to.  Maybe a certain amount of time would be free and beyond that youd'd pay an hourly rate.  That way you're giving guests personal interaction.  It's something more to make people want to stay at a Disney resort.

  • In some ways I do like the idea.  I'd love to be able to see if there is any current seating available at various eateries before heading over, or whether it is worth it to run to Soarin' to try to grab a Fastpass.  What would be even better though would be that when you got to a certain point in the queue, it gave you a warning that it would not operate within certain areas, ie. the areas where you should be paying attention to a CM and within the attraction itself.

    I DON'T like the idea of it playing games, and for that matter, that it is on a DS, for just that reason.  The cell phones and PDA's are bad enough; I actually got stuck behind a family at Splash that didn't want to get on before their child finished a level in their game on their DS or Gameboy or whatever it was at the time.  But giving people more of an excuse to bury their face in a screen instead of enjoying the park theming and heaven forbid, talking to their families, is just taking away from the Disney Experience (trademark copyright all rights reserved do not taunt Happy Fun Ball).

    What I will be VERY curious to see is if recomendations change based on where people are staying on-property if applicable.  Will someone staying at the Grand Floridian be recommended to head to the Coral Reef for something wet and refreshing, where someone staying at the All Stars will be directed to a counter service (or even Club Cool)?  Word has been around for a long time that the higher the cost of the hotel, the higher the priority for seating and Fastpasses, may be around the corner.  It will be interesting to see if they somehow integrate this into this new idea.

  • Another issue is the DS' battery life, which is about 10 hours. Now, the kids are bound to shave off some of that.

  • Tomoyo, that's why you charge your DS at night.

    I for one will probably buy the cartridge if it is released, play with it for a while, and then realize that I already know pretty much everything that it can tell me.

    Same as Pal Mickey...

    :(

  • worse than DS's battery life?  DS's life in water.  One good "splash mountain" trip and the device may be history...

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