How to Get the Most out of Your Magicband

Let’s rewind a minute. Many of you may be saying, “What the heck is a Magicband?” If you’re planning your first trip to Walt Disney World, or it’s been more than 6 years since your last visit, you might be confused. Disney introduced Magicbands for their resort guests in 2013. They’re simply plastic adjustable bands that you wear on your wrist that help you keep all the things you need for an awesome vacation together in one place. In this post we’ll give you the lowdown on all the cool things you can do with your MagicBand.

Magic bands were first announced in 2013 as part of the MyMagic+ program at Walt Disney World that would tie all the elements of the guests’ vacations together. Here’s the technical information from my friend Wikipedia:

Sealed inside of the middle of the inner band is the circuitry, consisting of high frequency and ultra-high frequency antennas and a coin cell battery, all embedded on PCB board. Directly outside of the circuitry is an outline of Mickey Mouse’s head on the front, while the back includes the Band ID, the FCC ID number, and other information.

The bands use RFID technology to provide a seamless experience for guests visiting the resort. Here are the many ways you can get the most out of your MagicBands.

  1. Use it as your room key. By checking into your hotel online in the My Disney Experience area of the Disney site, you will have the ability to go right to your room without the hassle of checking in at the front desk (the lines can be crazy!) Once you get the text message that your room is ready, you’re good to go! To open your door, just hold your band up to the door, matching the Mickey on your band to the Mickey outline on the small panel above the door knob and wait for the steady green flash. Voila, you’re in!
  2. Use it as your park ticket. Who wants to worry about lost park tickets at the most magical place on earth? The good news is they are attached to your MagicBand. When approaching the turnstiles at any of the four theme parks, simply match Mickey to Mickey…but not so fast! You’ll also have to put a finger or thumb onto the flat pad next to the Mickey. It’s super important that you remember which finger you used because that will forever be known as “the finger to get you into Disney.” When the light turns green, you’re good to enter. However if the light turns blue don’t freak out! It might simply mean you need to get a photo taken for ID purposes. A cast member will approach with an iPad and get you all squared away.
  3. Use it for Photopass. If you’ve purchased Photopass for your vacation, you’ll want to make sure the photographer scans your band right before or after they snap that perfect family photo. That’s all you need to do to ensure you get all those memories uploaded to your My Disney Experience. Some rides still require you to tap the band below your ride photo as well, so be sure to look for the screens after getting off rides such as Tower of Terror or Expedition Everest.
  4. Use it to redeem your Fastpasses. Hopefully you made all your Fastpasses 60 days before your trip (if you’re staying on Disney property) and snagged some top rides like Flight of Passage, Slinky Dog Dash, and Space Mountain. Unlike Disneyland, which uses the paper Fastpass distribution system, all your Fastpasses are loaded right onto your MagicBand. Simply tap your band at the Fastpass entrance and look for the green light before continuing on. If you see blue, it might mean that you have the wrong ride or the wrong time. The cast member at the kiosk will help you figure it out.
  5. Use it to with your Disney Dining Plan. If you’ve purchased one of the prepaid dining plans that Disney offers, there’s no vouchers or coupons you have to worry about keeping track of. All of your credits are tracked with your MagicBand. Everytime you want to use a snack credit, scan your band and enter your special pin (they can help you set this up at your hotel of pick it online before arrival) and let the cast member know you want to use a credit, That’s it! It’s the same with meals, although the dining plan never includes tip, so be sure to add that to the bill or use cash.
  6. Use it to buy stuff! One of the great things about a Disney vacation is how carefree it feels. Who knows when you’ll see the perfect must-have souvenir? Don’t worry about carrying around a wallet full of cash and credit cards. Just make sure you have a credit card on file and allow charging privileges. This can be done online before you arrive or at your hotel. Just tap your band at the POS at any gift shop! You’ll need your pin again, for safety reasons, and if you want to use your gift cards but still want to be able to use the MagicBand, just be sure to visit the front desk of your hotel before check out. They should be able to apply gift cards to your outstanding balance.

To get your MagicBands, make sure to order one for each person in your party through My Disney Experience at least one month before you leave. When you order your bands, you’ll be able to choose from a variety of fun colors, or for an upcharge, you can pick from several designs-themed with characters, movies, and attractions. There are many crafty moms who prefer to go the DIY route to customize their bands with decals, glitter and markers, and Etsy has a growing section of personalized decals to adorn your plain bands.

So now you’re prepared to go forth, MagicBand in hand (on wrist?) and conquer Disney!

Cover photo credit: Gary Swartz via flickr

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