Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Holy MagicBands, Batman!!

First, I want to start off and thank the readers that I still have. I haven't been blogging very much and have lost a few followers but I still have you!!

Now, for a life update. As I droned on and on about for awhile, I spent some time recently at Walt Disney World. This trip included a test of the new MagicBands. My trip was SO much better with those little things. I don't think I want to go back without them ever again!

First, I have mentioned before that you can set them up, choose colors, and have them shipped to you before you even leave home. The first time you get to try them out is to get onto the Magical Express, so make sure you pack them on your carry on bags. Starting the Magic early, is always a nice bonus. Then, when you arrive at Check-in, they explain everything to you if you need instructions. If you don't need instructions, they make sure everything is activated and ask you if you remember your PIN. This is where I needed help. I told you before my vacation that I set up my PIN but forgot what it was. When the Cast Member asked me if I remember it, I told her that I did not. She offered to change it for me. You can choose anything that works for you. I chose "2013." I figuered it was easy for all of us to remember (Eve is only 10). 

After we made our way to our room, we saw that the room card scanners have been removed and replaced with the RFID Mickey readers. These will scan your MagicBand or your Key to the World card. I read on the internet somewhere that it is best to wear your band with Mickey facing away from you so that ears and face touch, not ears to face, if you understand. It's kind of like wearing your watch with the 6 on the top and the 12 on the bottom. We experimented with both ways and found that it does work best to wear Mickey facing out.  We never experienced any problems getting into our room with the bands or the cards. 

The MagicBands are also for your Disney Dining Plan, if you have it. Whenever you get your meal (quick-service, table-service, or snack) they scan your MagicBand, then you enter your PIN. This is why I made the PIN something that everyone would remember. Eve loves "paying" for her meals all by herself. The table service cast members have hand held scanners to scan your band for you. Most restaurants scanned my band when I sat down, to make sure I had dining credits I guess. This is the only time we had the least bit of trouble. I, stupidly) chose to allow charging with my MagicBands and credit card. I just told the waitress that we would be paying cash for the tip (the gift cards that I previously mentioned). One restaurant I left a $30 tip for our $150 meal, when I checked out I found out that I had a $17 charge on my credit card for that restaurant, which means that she got a $47 tip!! Next time I will not allow charging on my bands. I had never allowed charging on my Key to the World cards, so I was unaware that they attempt to go ahead and charge the tip. Oh well, you live and you learn.

They are also for park tickets. We found that the scanners to enter the parks were quite easy to access. They had them on both sides so whether you have your band on your right or left hand, it will not be awkward for you to scan. I thought it made entrance faster.

Photopass can also be used with the MagicBands. We don't often utilize the Photopass plus photographers but we had a few pics this time and all they did was take our pic and scan our band. It sure saved from having several cards floating around in my bag and/or having to fish one out if you decide to get your picture taken.

Finally, you can use the Bands for Fastpass +. We had these set up before we arrived and it made access to the rides easy. We did see that you had to scan twice to get onto the rides. We scanned the first time at the Fastpass entrance and then again right before you get onto the ride. Some rides were so busy (Safari) that only one person in our party needed to scan our Bands. I saw several computer terminals all over the parks and cast members with iPads walking around to help with Fastpass+. We did not need their help but I did see them everywhere. 

You can use your MagicBand for charging but I did not charge anything, so I cannot give my experience with that. 

My mom lost her band temporarily (in the cupholder of the rental car) and we accessed the app to see if we could deactivate it. Surprise, you can. It even let me reactivate it when we found it the next day. The only downside to this entire process is the speed of the MyDisneyExperience app. It is glacial!! I have heard that it is like that even on AT&T, and they are the official wireless service of Walt Disney World. 

I did see accessories for the MagicBands for sale at most of the stores around the World. We chose not to purchase them. I did consider the covers because they were super cute but I just couldn't justify the cost. 

WARNING: I have just read online that Disney has changed the Fastpass+ selections. I guess you can now only choose 1 headliner (Soarin', Test Track, etc.) for each park and then 2 other selections. This is different then from when we went. I was able to set up Fastpass+ at Epcot for 10am at Soarin', 11am at Test Track, and 8:30pm for Illuminations. I could see where this could be problematic at some of the parks where the "other selections" aren't somethings we would like (shows, characters, and parades).

We certainly loved these things. Even my mother loved them and she has little to no technology experience. The ease of use far outweighed the kinks that Disney is working out. I tried to list everything that I could remember about our experience but if you have any questions please let me know.

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  1. Thanks for posting this! All good to know information. I'll remember not to allow charges on our magic bands. I was told you still get a key to the world card as a backup with the magic bands. Is this true? I'm glad I booked our fastpasses for Epcot months ago! We weren't able to for Illuminations though? The new changes are really going to make some people upset.

    1. Yep, you still get a Key to the World card. My mom had to use hers when she lost her band!! It worked everywhere and for everything the band did. For Illuminations it was for a special seating area, unfortunately we didn't stay that late because Magical Express was picking us up at 2:55am the next morning :( Have fun!!