Earlier this week Chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, Tom Staggs, offered fans a glimpse into the future. The details of the $1 billion NextGen program have been much speculated over the past few years, but it's about to begin a major roll out to the public and "push the boundaries of the [Walt Disney World] guest experience."
Disney is "focused on 'how' visitors plan, access and enjoy their experiences" while in the Disney Parks and Resorts says Staggs. As guests we're already experiencing the foundations of the program in Parks with value added moments that come in the form of interactive queues, turnstile-less gates, and added capacity programs. Photo Pass has been enhanced; with plused options offering unlimited photo opportunities from "additional attractions and dining destinations." Resort rooms have been upgraded with RFID based keyless entry, and touch to pay stations have been popping up in greater numbers. Online we've been introduced to the new My Disney Experience Website and Mobile App, which Staggs explains, "gives guests planning their trip the latest information on all Walt Disney World Resort has to offer."
The best however, is yet to come for over the "next several months" MyMagic+ is going to tie it all together, creating a "more immersive, more seamless and more personal experience for each and every guest" that visits Walt Disney World. Mr. Staggs tells us that
Linking the entire MyMagic+ experience together is an innovative piece of technology we developed called the MagicBand. Worn on the wrist, it will serve as a guest's room key, theme park ticket, access to FastPass+ selections, PhotoPass card and optional payment account all rolled into one. We've began testing certain aspects of MyMagic+ in Florida last month and the early reactions we've gotten have been fantastic.
Here's what Disney tells us that MyMagic+ is bringing our way:
For those worried about sharing too much personal information with Disney, Brooks Barnes of the New York Times offers this after interviewing Staggs "Guests will not be forced to use the MagicBand system, and people who do try it will decide how much information to share. An online options menu, for instance, will offer various controls: Do you want park employees to know your name? Do you want Disney to send you special offer when you get home? What about during your stay?"
Barnes also questions, "What happens if your MagicBand is lost or stolen?" and reassures us with the knowledge that "Park employees will be trained to deactivate them or guests can use the My Disney Experience app, a Disney spokeswoman said. As a safety precaution, Disney will also require guests to enter a PIN when using the wristbands to make purchases of $50 or more. 'The bands themselves will contain no personal identifiable information,' Mr. Staggs said."
For the time being MagicBand will be available only to select WDW Resort hotel guests and guests purchasing specific products. But the future is coming fast and it's only a matter of time before My Magic+ is fully integrated for all Disney visitors. Until that time, other guests will be able to use their standard ticket media to access the benefits of MyMagic+, such as making FastPass+ selections on My Disney Experience.
Tom Staggs finishes his glimpse of the future on Disney Parks Blog by telling us "We'll be testing, adjusting and adding features to MyMagic+ and My Disney Experience over time and will continue to make improvements based on our guests' feedback." That's good to hear, because with an estimated 121.4 million admissions a year there's bound to be a few snags.
Are you looking forward to the My Magic+ linking together all the NextGen projects? How do you feel about the RFID data mining? Leave a comment and let us know if you think that will be a truly magical addition to your vacation experience.