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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

First, when an individual makes reservations online, he or she is invited to customize a MagicBand for each member of that person's party. A differently colored wristband can be selected for each individual user, whose name can be engraved on the inside of the band to help guests differentiate their own wristbands from the others. The bands are shipped in a specially designed box to the buyer's home, and are already associated to each member of the party and ready to use.

Upon arrival at the hotel, the guest can utilize his or her wristband's HF inlay to gain entrance to the reserved hotel room. In addition, the visitor can touch the band against touch points at the park's entrance in order to gain admittance, access specific FastPass+ attractions, purchase goods at any of the stores, cafes or restaurants onsite, and have those payments charged to his or her hotel bill. Those who buy tickets at the park entrance and choose not to purchase MagicBands (which cost $12.95 apiece) can enter the park by tapping their tickets' RFID inlays against one of the gate readers.

When a person books a visit to Walt Disney World via the MyDisneyExperience website, MagicBands are shipped in a specially designed box to that person's home.
To accommodate the new system, Disney removed all of its entry turnstiles and installed a total of 283 touch points with built-in RFID readers, as well as biometric finger scanners for redundancy purposes. The company also installed RFID touch points at the door to each of its 28,000 resort rooms.

The MagicBand's 2.4 GHz transceivers also transmit a unique ID number. Initially, Soto says, the active RFID technology's long-range functionality is being used for only one feature. Disney's Memory Maker program enables individuals to be automatically associated with pictures on a ride. As they pass a camera, a custom-built reader captures the ID number transmitted by the MagicBand's transceiver, and the Disney World software links his or her picture with that ID. Once the picture is taken and paired with that guest, it can be stored on the user's MyDisneyExperience account. The visitor can then log into the MyDisneyExperience site, and—if that person has purchased the Memory Maker product—view and purchase the photographs online.

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