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Disney's 'MagicBands' will track the movements and behavior of theme park attendees

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Disney logo
Disney logo

Disney wants to make its theme parks more interactive, and it's hoping digital wristbands will do the trick. Over the next few months, Disney World will be introducing a new program called MyMagic+ that uses location data and spending trends to more closely monitor park patron behavior. As part of the system, park attendees will have the option to wear RFID-equipped wristbands known as "MagicBands," which function as a room key, credit card, and FastPass. These bands will allow Disney to know which attractions a customer visits, what they purchase, and when they purchased it.

The idea behind Disney's program, like most other targeted advertising campaigns, is to personalize the company's marketing efforts. It could also offer some obvious benefits by alerting users whenever ride lines are shortest, and allowing for a generally more intimate experience. When a user approaches a costumed Cinderella, for example, the MagicBand's sensor will automatically provide her with his name, allowing her to greet him on a first-name basis.

"If we can enhance the experience, more people will spend their leisure time with us."

Disney Parks and Resorts chairman Thomas O. Staggs says this approach should make the park-going experience more enjoyable for consumers, thereby fostering greater loyalty to the Disney brand. "If we can enhance the experience, more people will spend more of their leisure time with us," Staggs told the New York Times.

Yet there are some concerns over such large-scale data gathering — especially in an environment filled with young children. These concerns have been swelling in recent months, encouraging the FTC to impose tougher online protection rules for children.

Disney is well aware of these worries, and will allow parents to ultimately decide how much information their children reveal, but the company seems confident that its MyMagic+ program remains critical to its long-term success. "We want to take experiences that are more passive and make them as interactive as possible," said Bruce Vaughn, chief creative executive for Walt Disney Imagineering. "Moving from, ‘Cool, look at that talking bird,’ to ‘Wow, amazing, that bird is talking directly to me.'"