The Disney company is constantly changing, tweaking and shifting to find the best and most efficient ways to
separate you from your wallet create satisfying and memorable guest experiences at their theme parks. The newest sliced bread is the wrist adorning Magic Band. This Fitbit-looking gizmo does everything! It unlocks your hotel door, it’s the entrance ticket to the parks (with a matching finger print scanner), you can charge turkey legs and Mickey ice cream bars to your heart’s content with just a simple flick of the wrist! It holds dining reservations, ride reservations, it tracks your location and can even map out the nearest restroom for you. You can, of course, buy a prettier version than the standard issued Magic Band at all gift shops, or purchase decorative charms to up the Disneyfication.
I did hear some grumbling and push back from fellow Mouseketeers regarding this Big Brother-esque access key. I really have no problem with this type of technology. If anyone were to spy on me, they would surely quickly desist due to sheer boredom. Magic Bands are not required, you can get the old charge card type keys and park passes if you prefer.
With these Magic Bands you can plan out each day with military precision, making reservations for rides, meals and bathroom breaks months in advance. It’s so convenient for
The Disney Corporation visitors! There is the optional Memory Maker package ($169) where Disney photographers simply scan your band and will document multiple happy, smiling family moments of you and loved ones enjoying the Happiest Place on Earth. Luckily they do not do candid shots of you leaning over the stroller and yelling at your candy and Coke fueled melting down toddler, or the times when you try to physically force your screaming seven-year old onto a rollercoaster because YOU want to ride it. (Yes, I really did see this!)
I am more of an experience person, not a documented fun person, so we kept that $169. Well, in reality, it was probably just reallocated to another one of Mickey’s pockets. I did buy one souvenir picture of husband Karl pretending to be asleep on the Tower of Terror elevator drop while everyone around him was freaking out… It just never gets old. As we were purchasing this with our Magic Band, I said to Karl “How great that you can just press this band and everything you want is yours for free!” The kindly Disney photo pusher was aghast, and quickly informed me that my band was linked to my credit card. WHAT?
These cute little doodads are even waterproof! I know because while we were sitting in one of our resort’s hot (warm) tubs being accosted by a deceptively winsome yet loquacious four year old (Are you grandparents? You aren’t? You look like you are! You don’t have any grandkids? Why not?) I surreptitiously looked down at my closing fists and noticed I was still wearing my magically not water-logged band.
Yes, I know Disney now knows where I am, what I spend, where I am going, etc. I Still don’t really care. As I said, we are really not that interesting. But here comes the first wrinkle that actually bothered me.
We like to eat at some of the resorts’ better restaurants. In Disney it is easy to get from resort to theme park, theme park to theme park, and park to resort, but weirdly difficult to get from resort to resort. We often enjoy the Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride of getting to dinner, which may include a boat, walking, a monorail, a bus and an occasional magic carpet. It usually takes about 1 1/2 hours and three blisters. So often, going home, our feet decide we really should take a cab. This is where it gets very strange. The taxi pulls up to the elderhostel/security booth at our resort. Grandpa Wilbur shines his official Disney flashlight (available in the gift shop for $24.99) into our eyes and asks if we are resort guests. Yes. So he asks for our Disney Magic Band, and scans it. Hmmm. What if we weren’t resort guests? The taxi driver says Gramps would then ask for a passenger i.d., look at it and hand it back. It’s amazing they are able to hire so many guards who have photographic memories. It hits me as quite strange that the public is allowed to enter any Disney resort by bus, boat, float or flip flop with no checks whatsoever, but a taxi arrival must go through Check Point Charlie.
The next bothersome thing was when we returned home. The next day we received an e-mail from Disney with a plethora of pictures for sale, featuring us having the time of our lives on Disney World rides. Well, it was fun to see Karl consistently pretending to be asleep, or his fall-back pose, looking the wrong way and very confused. I admire Disney’s final wallet grab strategy, and I am sure it works well. It just slightly creeps me out that I now have definitive picture proof that I am truly being spied on by a mouse. (Cue Twilight Zone Tower of Terror music.)