It’s been a little bit, but I figure with Walt Disney World launching a new product that is and add on to your vacation, I would pop in and talk about some pros and cons on what we are seeing with the new MagicBand +.
What is MagicBand?
Let’s start with some history, just to help with anyone that is unfamiliar with the original MagicBand and the intent behind the product.
Back in 2013, MagicBands were announced as the replacement to the Key to the World card you would receive upon check in at the Walt Disney World Resort of your choice. The free MagicBands would be shipped to your house before you left, so that you would have everything you needed before you got to the resort.
Inside the parks, the MagicBands were suppose to bring a lot of new functionality to rides and Character interactions. We saw some of this come into rides like It’s A Small World, Expedition Everest, and Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster where names from your party would show up on posters in the queue and on the goodbyes at the end. With character interactions we were teased with an upgraded experience by letting the characters know the names of the guest they were about to meet so they could add a little more magic. Sadly that never happened.
PhotoPass did get included into the MagicBand by letting PhotoPass Photographers scan your MagicBand at the end of your photo session. The on ride photos also would automatically assign your photo to you as you passed by the appropriate sensors.
The simple bands got an upgrade in 2016 that had a removable puck, so you could place your puck on a keychain, and with 3rd Party purchases, on your smart watch band. The MagicBands stayed free to guest until August 16, 2021. Walt Disney World upgraded the My Disney Experience app to allow for your tickets to be put in your digital wallet, and the app to open your hotel room. You could get a Key to the World if you chose to, or purchase a MagicBand at a discounted rate before your arrival.
What’s new with MagicBand+ ?
On top of everything the previous MagicBands offered, the new ones bring along some cool, and not so cool features. The biggest feature is the rechargeable battery. Previous MagicBands had a built in battery that once dead, would render the MagicBand unusable. While the battery would last a few years, it did make it inconvenient if you had declined the new band thinking your old one would work.
Another new feature is that the faceplate lights up and has a haptic system. These features interact with different elements around the park. From new games, the night time shows, and the 50 statues to celebrate the 50th anniversary, each has a unique way of interaction. The interactions between the statue and to play the game requires you to use the PlayDisney app on your smart phone, which is connected to your MagicBand+ via Bluetooth.
While inside your My Disney Experience app, you can make changes to movement sensitivity, haptic feels, and the color your faceplate displays. You’ll also see the battery percentage here.
What Are the Pros of MagicBand+ ?
With Walt Disney World taking away the Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom, it left a hole for something to run around and find without waiting in long lines. The two games that have been introduced with MagicBand+, Bounty Hunting in Batuu, and the Fab 50 Statue Hunt around the 4 theme parks, gives families just that. The MagicBands will help you by lighting your way, or giving haptic feedback depending on the game you are playing.
The customization of the bands are a great way to really make it your own. Yes, it’s just changing the color you want to display, but it still helps to show your personality. Added that Disney released over 30 designs for you to pick from, you will have the perfect MagicBand that represents you.
Having a rechargeable battery is a great addition for those that go to the park every year. As long as you keep track of the charging cable, you will be able to use the same MagicBand as long as you would like.
The Cons of MagicBand+…
Setup for MagicBand+ can be lengthy if you buy them at the resort. With the bands being in storage for some time, the batteries are not fully charged. This wouldn’t be a problem, but you need above 60% of battery to use most of the features and to update the firmware. The Firmware also needs to be updated before you can actually use the bands in the park. If you bought the band in the park, you have just taken up plenty of time to setup and charge your brand new band, instead of getting to your first attraction.
While the battery is rechargeable, the battery life itself isn’t what you would expect. Those that have been using the MagicBands in the past few days have been talking about how the battery only last about half the day. With the lights, haptic feedback, and Bluetooth always on and scanning, it drains the battery. So now you are carrying around a battery pack for your MagicBand to charge and another one for your phone.
So when planning your next trip to Walt Disney World, think about will the battery be an issue or will the new features make your trip that much more memorable!