Disney continually pushes the boundaries of theme park technology but more often than not, the technological underpinnings behind the magic of their theme parks are hidden from guest sight or aren’t outwardly consumer facing implementations. And while free guest Wi-Fi internet access (now available at the Magic Kingdom and at all Walt Disney World theme parks by early 2013) might not in itself be seen as technological revolution at Disney Parks, it is the future enabled by this blanket access to the internet that truly will be the spark for some of Disney’s Next-Gen initiatives and other guest experiences.
The addition of free in-park Wi-Fi access comes just months after its availability at hotels across the Walt Disney World property and it will definitely be a welcome addition to the millions of guests who traverse the parks and hope to update their social networks and use their favorite data-hungry apps. But of course Disney has a few apps of their own that will be aided by the use of the new guest access Wi-Fi.
Disney Mobile Magic
The first of these apps, is the Disney Mobile Magic app, that currently allows guests to check wait times, make dining reservations and more all from their iOS or Android devices. The overall experience of using this app within the parks will be greatly improved with the new access to Wi-Fi. Not only should guests find higher data speeds but their internet coverage should be less spotty than it is currently at the parks using their preferred mobile carrier.
But Disney doesn’t intend to stop there. A new application known as My Disney Experience is expected to launch soon enabling even more features tied to the Next-Gen initiatives and namely the next generation FASTPASS system. This Next-Gen FASTPASS system that has already undergone an initial round of limited public tests, allowed park guests to reserve several virtual FASTPASS tickets tied to a physical RFID equipped card, thereby planning out most of their theme park day as well as saving valuable vacation time. The My Disney Experience app will likely tie into this reservation system and be used in future rounds of Next-Gen FASTPASS testing set to take place soon at the Magic Kingdom.
At first glance free Wi-Fi access seems like nothing more than a natural evolution of Disney Parks adjusting to the internet connected world of today but what is to follow may truly change the theme park experience in a monumental way. Technology has always been a driver of most of the magic of the Walt Disney Company and with the heavy investment in Next-Gen initiatives that will span the entire Walt Disney World Resort, Disney is once again placing bets that its new tech deployments will improve guest experiences, drive the bottom line and further its advantages over their competition’s offerings.