When the Disney Parks and Resorts committed over a billion dollars to a project simply referred to as “NextGen,” there was little information released regarding what exactly was going to happen. As time has passed, minor details have been revealed, but the question of “when” was never answered. In a recent Disney Parks Blog post by Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Chairman Tom Staggs, Disney finally sheds some light on that question…sort of.
Image courtesy of Disney Parks Blog
Officially, Staggs says the new technology, named MyMagic+, will be implemented “over the next several months.” However, it’s probably safe to assume the program will be in a test-and-adjust period at first, so “the next few months” could mean March or September. Some sources say the program will first be tested with guests staying at the Boardwalk Inn Resort, due to its relatively small size. Regardless, this blog announcement marks the first official announcement that included a target time-frame, official name for the technology, as well as confirmed details of its functions.
At its simplest, MyMagic+ (and its sibling app titled “My Disney Experience”) will attempt to allow guests to better customize their vacations while at Walt Disney World. The smartphone app will allow visitors to make plans both before and during their stays, whether it be for dining reservations or FastPasses (the latter can be done through the FastPass+ technology). FastPass+ has been in testing for months, and while the different tests seemed to have been tweaking its functionality, the premise remains the same: guests using FastPass+ will be able to book their FastPass return times (which may now have longer windows) before they arrive. While the specific workings of FastPass+ have not been revealed, a lot of information can be gleaned from the program’s official terms and conditions.
For those concerned this new system of advanced FastPass reservations will harm the spontaneity of their visits, Staggs suggests guests can use the My Disney Experience app to “change their plans in the moment, exploring our parks at their own pace and getting the most out of their visit.” However, it’s not fully known what will happen to the existing FastPass system. Why is this an issue? The above cited terms and conditions clarify that FastPass+ reservations are only allowed for one park per day, a limitation not involved in the current system. In addition, the document states that “Magic Your Way ticketholders may make FastPass+ selections beginning 60 days prior to day of use. The selection window may vary for other admission tickets or passholders.” It is unclear what those variations may be or how this window will affect guests that wait stay off property and wait to purchase their tickets until the day of their first visit. Some rumors are making their way onto the Internet that suggest Annual Passholders be allowed a certain number of FastPass+ experiences every quarter. Another piece of information found in the above mentioned terms and conditions is the statement, “once you convert the tickets or pass, you will no longer be able to participate in the regular FASTPASS system in the parks.” At first glance, this would suggest that the existing FastPass system will not be disappearing right away, but one has to wonder how long it will be before the parks are fully converted to the new FastPass+ system. In a discussion on this very topic, As DISBoards member DOOM1001 states, “it seems even Disney doesn’t even know for sure how it’s going to work or if it’s going to work, there’s all kinds of situations that just aren’t answered.” While this is a distinct possibility, it’s also plausible that there’s not enough information in the terms and conditions and official statements so as to not completely “show their hand.”
Image courtesy of the Disney Parks Blog
As for the bracelets of which pictures have been floating around the Internet for months, they will officially be called MagicBands. These wristbands will contain RFID technology and will “serve as a guest’s room key, theme park ticket, access to FastPass+ selections, PhotoPass card and optional payment account all rolled into one.” While many discussions are taking place on the DISboards echoing people’s concerns about MagicBands, there are rumors that Disney will offer alternative options to the MagicBand, such as keychains and lanyards. But, regardless of the form this device takes, Disney’s goal is to combine all of your media into one easy-to-use device. Obviously, any portable device that allows someone to pay for an item raises some issues about security since credit card information needs to be stored, in some fashion and location, for the technology to be effective. In addition, it is not yet known how much information will be collected as a guest travels throughout a theme park. It seems reasonable to assume that RFID technology would allow tracking of what attractions someone visits, where someone eats, and even how long one stays in a particular merchandise location.
To join the discussion on the DISBoards about MyMagic+, FastPass+, MagicBands, and My Disney Experience, click below:
Category: Disney World