Just in time for our Disney Diva MagicBand covers giveaway!
By: Tangled Diva
This past February was our adults-only Disney trip and our first time to use the MagicBands. We had heard so much about them, and, to be honest, most of it was not good, so we were a little nervous and even dreading it a little. We were glad that our first time was without our son, so we could see how they worked without worrying about him losing his or not knowing how to use it. But, just a short time into our trip, all our concerns were alleviated. We fell in love with the MagicBands. We went to Disney again in May–this time with our son–and he had the same reaction to these magical bands of fun. He loved them. This is going to sound strange, but for our son, our trip was so much more fun because of the bands. He pretended they gave him magic powers when tapped with another band. So, when he announced “Mickey to Mickey,” we had to touch our bands together to share the magic.
MagicBands are only given to you if you are staying on Disney property or if you are an annual passholder. For others, you will receive a card or you can purchase them at Disney parks or Downtown Disney. As you likely know by now, your band is linked to everything. It is your room key, park ticket, fast pass, photo pass card, meal plan ticket, credit card and even your magical express ticket. I put my band on prior to boarding the plane and do not take it off until I get home. The bands are waterproof so you don’t have to worry about the at the water parks or when you bathe or shower. Also, you get to pick what color your MagicBand is, and they personalize it by imprinting your name on the inside of the band. Also, they are coming out with more and more ways to decorate your MagicBands. Etsy is filled with MagicBand covers that you can purchase for under $10.00. It is basically a sticker that goes on your band. You can also buy tons of MagicBand accessories at the parks. They have charms that you can stick on them (they are similar to the ones that they have for Crocs), vinyl covers for your band, or even slides that slide over your band. These accessories range from $7 – $16.
Room Key – No more keeping up with that pesky card!!! I love this. Your MagicBand has a traditional Mickey on the top of it. Where Mickey is located is flat. You simply tap the Mickey on your band to the Mickey on the panel by your room door handle, and voila, you’re in! The trickiest part to using the bands, is that your band has to be flat when you touch it to the Mickey on the door. But, luckily, the pad on the door is flat too, so this one is relatively easy.
Park Ticket – Entering the park is the same as it was with the cards, except you use your band replaces of your card. You still have to scan your finger along with your band on park entry. The first time you enter it “records” your fingerprint, and the following times it verifies that the band matches the fingerprint on record. So, if you use a different finger, it won’t work. Because your band is on your hand, be sure to wear your band on the same wrist every day, so that you can be sure to scan the same finger each time you enter. Children don’t have to scan their finger, although you won’t convince my son of that, so he lets it “scan” his anyway. The entry is a little trickier than the room key, because you are scanning your band on a surface that is not flat (it is domed), so be sure to hold your band nice and flat on it.
Fast Pass – For your fast passes, you can select them 60 days prior to your arrival date by using the My Disney Experience app or going online and logging in. You may select three fast passes, and they must be in the same park. For this reason, a lot of people are not opting to get hopper passes anymore. Selecting your fast passes is quick and easy to do, and I highly recommend doing it on the first day you can, so that you can ensure that you get the passes for the rides/events you want. A lot of the shows, parades and character meet’n’greets also have fast pass options now. The hardest fast pass to get right now is one to meet Anna and Elsa. The standby lines for this reached over three hours when we were there. If meeting Anna and Elsa is a must for your kiddo, you are going to want a fast pass. And, honestly, they are hard to get. You may want to consider setting your alarm for midnight so that you can select it the exact moment it becomes available. Of course, if long lines never bother you anyway, then just let it go and take your chances.
They now let you add fast passes one at a time after you have used your three. But, here is my dilemma with that. We get to the parks when they open so that we can ride everything multiple times before the lines get long. We save our fast passes for the afternoon when it is typically more crowded. But, if we save them for the afternoon, our time to get additional ones is later in the day, and, typically, the slots for rides that you need a fast pass for are gone. The other thing that I don’t like about this is that you can’t select your additional fast pass on the App, you HAVE to go to a kiosk to do it.
Also, they have a tiered fast pass system for Epcot and Hollywood Studios, and don’t allow you to get fast passes for all the major rides. For example, in Epcot, you can’t get a fast pass for both Soarin’ and Test Track, you have to pick one. This is one of the things that I really don’t like about the system. But, they have received numerous complaints about this, so, hopefully, this will change soon!
The fast pass lines were where we saw the most problems with the MagicBands, and it was mainly with children. Like with the park entry, the places (there are two spots per line) that you scan your MagicBand are domed, so it can be difficult to get your MagicBand flat. Also, there are places to scan on both sides of the line. So, let’s say your band is on your left hand, and the place you scan your band is on your right. You have to reach across your body, turn your hand so that your palm is facing your body, and hold your band flat. This can be tricky for little ones. Because of this, I highly recommend letting them wear them prior to your trip and practice holding it flat against a surface.
Photo Pass Card / Memory Maker Package – Whenever you go to a Disney photographer, they will scan your MagicBand, which will link your pictures to your account. Starting mid-summer, if you purchased a Memory Maker Package, your ride pictures will automatically link too without you having to scan anything. This is done because the band has a long-range radio frequency identification reader (NOTE: The band does not have GPS tracking, which many were afraid of when this feature was released. So, Disney Big Brother is not watching every move you make).
Meal Ticket and Credit Card – Your meal plan and credit card (optional) information are also linked to your band. For security reasons, you have to choose a 4 digit pin number in order to use it as your meal ticket or a credit card. And, they don’t link it to all the bands, just the adult ones. This is probably my favorite thing about the bands. I love that I don’t have to dig in my backpack to find my card each time I want a snack. I simply scan my band, enter my pin, and I’m done.
Magical Express – One member of your party will scan their band and all parties will be able to board the Magical Express.
- If you are like us, and visit Disney quite often, save your bands. You can use the same bands every time, but we NEVER do that. In fact, my goal is to have enough bands to make garland for a Christmas tree one day. But, if you are worried about a kiddo losing a band, pack one of their old bands, and you can simply reactivate it, and they can use that one.
RUMORS OF MORE MAGIC TO COME
- Ability to pre-order meals at certain restaurants, enter through the fast pass line, and have your food almost immediately. They are already testing this at Be Our Guest now. We received an invitation to try it out, but waited too long to book it. If you get one of these trial invites and want to use it, do it quickly, because the spots go fast.
- Ability to make character interactions even more fun and personal by allowing the characters to know the visitors names before they arrive.
- You will be able to create a character using your MagicBand that will appear at the end of It’s a Small World with a special greeting for a birthday or celebration.
I am sure that there is so much more to come, and I look forward to seeing what all Disney has in store for the MagicBands. But, from someone who was not at all excited about them and even dreading being forced to use them, I LOVE THEM!