MagicBands have been available in Walt Disney World for a few years now and they have recently announced the MagicBand 2 which will be available in the parks this year. So with all the new MagicBand hype, I thought it would be a great idea to review the MagicBand and some of the features that go along with it!
The Physical MagicBand
OK so I will be the first to hold my hands up and admit that I wasn’t a huge fan of the bands when they were first announced. I thought they looked bulky and would be uncomfortable to wear in the Florida heat and, to some extent, that is true. If you compare the old school MagicBands to some of the newer ones you can see that Disney have changed their design to make them thinner and more lightweight. Fortunately this makes them a lot easier to wear and now that you can purchase different designs as well I think they look pretty cool as part of my Disney outfit. My favourite is my Haunted Mansion band.
Key to The World and Park Pass
This one is actually one of my favourite things about the MagicBand and the MyDisneyExperience system. I have always taken a lanyard to Walt Disney World when I travel because I hate having to dig around in my bag to find my key card or ticket when moving around Walt Disney World. And then there are certain rides where I don’t feel comfortable wearing my lanyard, Rock N Roller Coaster for example, so I have to take it off and store it in my bag and then forget to put it back on. With the MagicBand it removes all that hassle and genuinely makes it easier to travel around Walt Disney World. Another bonus is that I tend to keep a spare MagicBand in my bag so that, if I leave my band at the resort, I still have my key and ticket because they are all linked to the same account.
Touch To Pay
This feature works in exactly the same way as it did with the Key to The World card before MagicBands were introduced so I won’t go into much detail but it’s a great way to navigate the park’s restaurants and stores without worrying about your wallet. As before it stops you having to dig around in your bag to find your purse. The only thing I don’t like about this feature is that it makes it way too easy to buy items that you may have otherwise put down if you knew you had to find your purse to pay for them!
So this is where most of my issues with the MagicBand system arise. Don’t get me wrong, there are some features of Fastpass + that I love. I like the fact that you can pick up three Fastpasses at once, I like the fact that you can choose your times and I like the fact that you no longer have to run around the parks to collect your Fastpasses. I think on the whole it’s a good system, but there are some elements of the old Fastpass system that I miss.
The first one is very cheesy but I miss having physical Fastpasses! I used to love collecting Fastpass cards and keeping the ones I didn’t manage to use. It’s also a shame that you can no longer give your Fastpasses to someone else, we had so many magical experiences in the parks where a family had decided not to ride and so donated their Fastpasses to us.
Secondly I don’t like how you have to choose your three Fastpasses for one particular park. I like park hopping and it’s made it a little harder to do that with the new Fastpass system. You now have to decide which park you want Fastpasses for and either go without or just wait and see what is left available when you get to the other park. Now I know you wouldn’t be able to book Fastpasses in advance on the old system either so maybe I shouldn’t be so judgey about that.
Finally, and my main issue with Fastpass + is that you can book the Fastpasses so early. Now don’t get me wrong, I love planning my Disney vacation and I generally do create an itinerary of what I want to do each day. But with the previous Fastpass system I was always able to change my plans and switch which park I wanted to visit. Since Fastpasses are available so early, and so many of the popular ones are booked up so quickly, it’s difficult to have flexibility in your Disney planning. If you get a Fastpass for a big ride you then feel obliged to visit that park on that particular day otherwise you risk missing the ride altogether. Either that or you don’t bother going to the parks and miss your Fastpasses which then go unused and someone else misses out on riding that attraction when they could have just taken your spot. I hate having to have so much structure to my vacation. I have noticed that this is only really an issue when the parks are busy and, having visited during quieter seasons, I’ve noticed that the Fastpass booking system hasn’t been too much of an issue as Fastpasses weren’t needed for a lot of rides.
Photopass and Memory Maker
The last thing I’m going to talk about here is linking your Photopass to your MagicBand and using the Memory Maker to download photos. I have to say I love this feature because once again there is no need to go rooting around for cards each time you want a photo. I remember how time consuming it was to collect all your Photopass cards at the end of your vacation and view all the photos on the website but with Memory Maker it is all made so much more simple, and often there are ticket options which include Memory Maker free of charge! Being able to link photos to multiple MagicBands is also really useful when you go out as a group so I’m definitely a big fan of this feature.
I think overall MagicBands are working in the parks, there are some slight issues with them, in particular with the Fastpass + system, but on the whole they are a fantastic gadget to have when visiting the Walt Disney World resort, particularly when teamed with the MyDisneyExperience app. If you are planning on visiting a Disney Resort you will be able to customise your MagicBand before you arrive, but even if you’re staying off property, having MagicBands can be really useful. They make getting into the parks and onto the rides hassle free and are a great souvenir for your trip. Although they aren’t cheap (retailing between $12.99 and $32.99) they are definitely a good investment if you’re planning on spending several days at the parks or planning on coming back in the future.
But what do you think of MagicBands? Let me know below what you like/dislike about them!