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Walt Disney World pushes back the initial roll-out / in-park test of MagicBands to late February / early March

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Walt Disney World pushes back the initial roll-out / in-park test of MagicBands to late February / early March

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You only get one chance to make a first impression. Which is why Walt Disney World's initial roll-out / in-park testing of the MagicBands component of MyMagic+ -- which was supposed to begin being offered to Guests staying at Disney's Boardwalk Resort next month -- has quietly been pushed back for a few weeks.

"Pushed back?," you ask. "For how long? And for what reason?" To be blunt, the My Disney Experience program isn't quite ready for prime time. Not yet, anyway. Some tiny glitches have been discovered in  the software that WDW Guests are supposed to be using to schedule in advance their trips on attractions like Test Track or character interaction experiences like meeting with Winnie the Pooh and Friends at the UK Pavilion. So the software writers & computer engineers that the Company hired to write the code that drives MyMagic+ are now holed up in their offices at the Team Disney Building, trying to get a handle on that balky calendar function.

Mind you, this delay is perfectly okay with the folks who are putting together all of the training materials for the My Disney Experience program. Given that the cast members who took part in the first round of MyMagic+ training came away with more questions than answers when it came to how exactly they were supposed to help Resort Guests customize and personalize their Disney World vacation experiences ... Some tweaks obviously still have to be made to these training materials.

WDW Resort Guests using the newly installed tap-and-go gates at the entrance of Magic
Kingdom Park this past Wednesday. Photo by Nancy Stadler

But the upside is ... The Walt Disney Company remains firmly committed to the My Disney Experience program. WDW's Casting office has hired dozens of new Guest Relations Cast Members over the past few weeks specifically to staff MyMagic+.  Most of these WDW employees will be right on the frontlines when it comes to My Disney Experience. These new hires will be greeting Resort Guests as they arrive at their respective hotels or as they come through those tap-and-go gates that have been installed at the entrance at each of the four theme parks.

Speaking of which ... Wait 'til you hear the acronym that MyMagic+ managers have come up with for those new Guest Relations reps who'll be assigned to work at those theme park entrances. They'll be standing there, iPad and iPhone in hand, ready to help Resort Guests with any & all Disney Experience-related questions they may have. We're talking one Guest Relations rep assigned to every two tap-and-go gates.

"So what's this acronym?," you ask. GRAPEs. As is: Guest Relations At Park Entrance.

The Animation Magic show at the Animator's Palate restaurant aboard the Disney Fantasy
demonstrates how the innovative use of new technologies can clearly enhance the
overall Guest experience. Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

Anyway ... So just to recap here: Though the start of official onsite testing of MagicBands has now been quietly pushed back to late February / early March, it's still full speed ahead for the My Disney Experience program. Which Company officials eventually hope will bring that hassle-free, pampered feel of a Disney Cruise to the Walt Disney World Resort vacation experience.

That said, Disney knows that a lot of people will be paying very close attention to what happens during the initial roll-out / in-park tests of those MagicBands. Which is why -- rather than allowing Guests who are staying at Disney's Boardwalk to have first crack at this particular component of  the My Disney Experience program -- the thinking now is that they may need to get away from the Epcot Resorts area. That a far more remote resort might be a better test site for the initial roll-out of MagicBands. Which is why the in-house scuttlebutt now is that Guests staying at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge may wind up being the guinea pigs for this yet-to-be-field-tested-in-a-large-way element of MyMagic+. That it'll be people who've booked packages at AKL who'll be the first to be issued MagicBands.

But make no mistake, folks. In spite on any privacy concerns that Ed Markey's letter to Bob Iger last week may have raised, the My Disney Experience program is still going forward. The Walt Disney Company has put too much time & money into the development of MyMagic+. Though that said, Mouse House managers recognize that -- given how long it took to educate WDW visitors about the particulars of FASTPASS when that ride reservation system was first introduced back in 1999 -- there'll be a pretty steep education curve with the public when it comes to this much-more-involved use of technology. Especially since some of the more innovative features of the My Disney Experience program (EX: The ability to order quick service meals in advance from anywhere inside of a WDW theme park using your smart phone) aren't expected to come online for a few months yet.

Photo by Nancy Stadler

But the in-house belief is -- once MyMagic+ is up & running -- this program will be a real game changer for Walt Disney Parks & Resorts. Especially for those folks who are making their first very trips to the Walt Disney World & Disneyland Resorts and will welcome the opportunity to customize and personalize their vacation experience, scheduling specific ride times and  character meet-n-greet experiences months before they actually arrive on property.

Anywho ... That's the latest on the My Disney Experience program. I'll continue to keep my ear to the ground in regards to what's going on with the ongoing test phase of MyMagic+  (More importantly,  zeroing in on which Guests at what Resort will actually be the first to be issued MagicBands). And when I learn more, I'll post another My Disney Experience story here, okay?

Your thoughts?

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  • Jim, if it's delayed until Feb/March, how long do you think it'll be before MyMagic+ is operational throughout the whole resort?

  • All made for the guests who do not have one ounce of originality in their entire body and who probably need a manual on how to make a baby.

    Meanwhile at Universal real rides are being constructed...

    but a doll in small world said my name!!!!

  • Great, they pushed it back into my vacation weeks.  We are staying off property, but it will be interesting to see the magic bands in action.  If you use fastpass plus to see Belle in New Fantasyland, you miss the first room of Maurice's cottage which contains quite a bit of backstory. Are the current resort guests that are using the tap and go gates getting the combination room key / park pass rfid cards?

  • I'm excited to see this roll out.  If I can manage, I'd love to go back around November of this year.  I'd love to have it up and running at CSR.

  • Butter, there's more to a Disney park than just rides. So many people forget that!

    People also need to drop the stupid "real rides" nonsense!

  • Still a little worried about security.   Is the identification number stored in the RFID chip encrypted?   Disney downplays the security risk by stating that the only thing stored in the MagicBand is an identification number, not anything relevant to you.   But you might still have a credit card associated with your profile.  I'm worried that people could remotely read that number from the chip and then program their own copy.   They'd then have access to my credit card during their stay at WDW.   I admit, I think the risk is slight, but it still exists.  I'd be happier if I knew Disney was encrypting that information.

  • "Which is why the in-house scuttlebutt now is that Guests staying at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge may wind up being the guinea pigs for this yet-to-be-field-tested-in-a-large-way element of MyMagic+. That it'll be people who've booked packages at AKL who'll be the first to be issued MagicBands."

    Excellent.   I've got reservations at the AKL late April/early May.   It should be interesting.

  • So Anonymous..

    Let me ask you this...what does this add to your visit to WDW?

    Make it more like a cruise ship?

    You probably are one of the dweebs who wants a robot to say your name...right?

  • Good, hopefully next they'll push it back out of existence.

  • Shut up, Butter! >:(

  • I wish it MyMagic+ would be up and running now.  Having a 5 person group going in May including 2 elderly members my life would be so much better w/o having to run for fast passes etc.  Had I known the test was running I would have planned to be at AKL for this alone, or even pushed off our trip until next year.  PS - my entire group would love to have a trash can say each of their names:-)

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