Recently the Walt Disney Company formally introduced the fruits of its purported Billion dollar Next Generation project that aimed to simplify and improve the overall guest experience from the very moment they decide to embark on a Disney vacation and long into the time they are fully immersed within the Walt Disney World Resort. With the announcement comes MyMagic+ the new name for the range of tools that will aid guests on their Walt Disney World journey from start to finish. Implementing new technologies to enhance their products is a central focus of the Walt Disney Company and although many of the technologies used in MyMagic+ aren’t exactly groundbreaking their implementation on this wide a scope in front of so many consumers makes for the opportunity for something special. But the underlying tech alone doesn’t tell the whole story of MyMagic+ and indeed its success or failure will come down to the end-user experience of it and how difficult or simple they find the process to be. And of course there are the Cast Members at Walt Disney World who will have to tackle the innumerable challenges in explaining the new tools and managing the various attractions and hotels across the property with their evermore complex systems that aim for a look and feel of simplicity. It is certainly an exciting opportunity for visitors of Walt Disney World to have these new enhancements come into play but it is a monumental task for the team behind NextGen to make it all come together seamlessly and we are just witnessing the first steps of that journey.
The Tech Behind MyMagic+
My Disney Experience & FastPass+
The first part of the MyMagic+ tools guests will likely encounter and use are the combination of the My Disney Experience mobile apps on iOS and Android and the new accompanying website. There those looking forward to a Disney vacation will find the ability to make dining reservations, book other experiences like firework show viewings and reserve their spot in line at their favorite attractions with an enhanced FastPass system named FastPass+. This will greatly enhance the ability to plan your vacation and optimize your precious vacation time though you will still be able to adapt your itinerary whenever you’d like using the mobile app or an in-park kiosk. To make the MyMagic+ experience feel as seamless as possible, Disney has introduced a device they are calling the MagicBand.
The MagicBand is effectively your new KeyToTheWorld card (room key) with enhanced abilities that tie-in many aspects of your Walt Disney World vacation. From dining and FastPass+ reservations to acting as your room key, PhotoPass ticket and even your park entrance ticket, the MagicBand will be at the center of it all. All of this on a small wrist worn band, think NikeFuel band, that contains a bit of simple technological magic to make it all work. Of course we are talking RFID.
Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID)
RFID tags and scanners have been in use for years by many industries that find themselves needing to quickly identify and track items. They are common place at large warehouses for tracking shipments of groceries and merchandise all the way to larger industrial products. RFID is becoming a more common part of everyday consumer life as smartphones and other technologies enable people to interact with the tags in new and unique ways to accomplish simple tasks including paying at toll roads without having to search your car for loose change. You can read more about RFID here but for Disney fans what is most important is what RFID will enable at Disney Parks. Imagine your favorite character addressing your child by their name and wishing them a happy birthday. It is special moments like this that Disney hopes to create through the use of the MagicBand and MyMagic+ as a whole and they hope to add even more special features in the months ahead.
With change often times comes hardship and while guests will likely grow to love the enhancements brought forth by FastPass+ and other features within MyMagic+, implementation and execution of the project will eventually fall into the hands of Walt Disney World Cast Members. And the overall pulse we have received from Cast Members seems to be of trepidation over the looming challenges that certainly lie ahead. Whether it be Cast Members having to explain the new FastPass+ system, knowing full well the challenge it has been for the Walt Disney Company to teach its customers how to use its current, much simpler FastPass system or the queue management headaches or other unintended consequences that surely will arise, it is Walt Disney World’s cast who will bear the brunt of the effort. And without a doubt, it will take their hard work to make it all a seemingly smooth success.
In the end, it will most likely be just that, a success in the eyes of consumers who stand to benefit almost as much as the Walt Disney Company from the this new tech implementation. Of course this is just the start of the MyMagic+ journey and one that no doubt has several chapters of which we will cover in detail as the project not only progresses forward in its deployment but also as it no doubt evolves in the future. MyMagic+ is no doubt still a risky investment for the Walt Disney Company and its slow roll-out is just the first hint to that fact. There remain concerns over privacy though Disney has quickly tried to allay those concerns and the confusion of having the FastPass+ system running alongside the existing FastPass system will surely be interesting to watch. Still it is an exciting development at Walt Disney World and we know that fans of Disney Parks will be excited to test it out for themselves as it begins to roll out later this year.