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MagicBands Bring Convenience, New Services to Walt Disney World

Visitors use the RFID wristbands to access the parks, rides, hotel rooms, and other attractions and services.
By Claire Swedberg
Jun 16, 2014

This spring in Orlando, Fla., Walt Disney World began providing a dual-frequency (13.56 MHz and 2.4 GHz) RFID wristband known as the MagicBand to all of its resort guests after they book a Walt Disney World hotel reservation. Guests not staying at a Disney hotel can purchase an RFID-enabled ticket at the gate, which provides access through entrances and other features also accessible via the MagicBand.

Guests can use Disney's FastPass+ system to reserve a time and place to watch a parade, and then use their MagicBands to access that area at the appointed time.
The MagicBand enables visitors to more easily access the services they reserve through the company's Web-based MyDisneyExperience system. Disney is also embedding 13.56 MHz high-frequency (HF) passive RFID inlays, compliant with the ISO 14443 standard, into all tickets that visitors purchase at the parks' ticket locations. All entrance points to the park, rides and other events, as well as Disney hotel rooms and point-of-sale locations, are equipped with HF RFID readers. The company is experimenting, in the meantime, with ways in which to use the active 2.4 GHZ RFID transceivers built into the wristbands. The active transceivers both send data and receive wake-up signals from readers, enabling them to go dormant and conserve battery life when not in the presence of a reader.

Walt Disney World's Dan Soto
The MagicBand technology allows users to enter hotel rooms, make purchases and access attractions with the touch of a wristband's HF inlay against one of those touch point readers. The solution is aimed at bringing the physical world to the virtual experience, as part of MyDisneyExperience.

Currently, to book a visit to Disney World's theme parks, individuals can go to the MyDisneyExperience website, create an account and begin making plans up to 60 days prior to their arrival. That, says Dan Soto, Walt Disney World's director of experience development, could include using FastPass+, a system that allows them to reserve visits to specific attractions—up to three reservations during a single day—and then use the MagicBand wristband's HF inlay as validation to gain entrance at each location at the appointed time. Additionally, the MagicBand's 2.4 GHz transceiver provides data related to queue movements, allowing management to measure wait times.

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