Any mobile phone owner will be well aware of how your device is slowly taking the place of many of the gadgets in your life. It’s already your torch, your GPS, and increasingly, your method of payment in certain shops. If you want to see this concept taken to the extreme, take a trip to Walt Disney World to check out what they’re doing with their app.
On a recent trip to the Floridian branch of the Disney Parks empire, we found that the Disney MyMagic+ system had been implemented across all of the Walt Disney World attractions when we were handed our tickets. ‘Download our app, there’s free wifi, it’ll link up with your passes and you’ll find it helpful’ said the lady at the counter. Waiting in line to take the ferry to the Magic Kingdom, we downloaded it and quickly discovered how much we could do with it.
The app, My Disney Experience, has replaced the traditional paper park map when you’re visiting their theme parks. An interactive map on the app shows you where you are in relation to everything else, and lets you look up nearby attractions and plan where you want to go next. Taking things one step further, you can look up all current ride times (a feature we found to be more accurate than the ride times listed at every attraction entry point), and see where all the character meet and greets will be. You could even book your three allotted Fastpasses with it, meaning that you could skip the line for some of the most popular rides in the parks.
Your ticket, which takes the form of a plastic card, is your ticket in, your Fastpass for any rides you choose to use it for, and your photopass. Present your card at any character greet or end of ride photo booth, and your photo is instantly sent to your myDisney account, bypassing the lines to buy your picture, or awkwardly asking ‘Cast Members’ to take photos on your phone. This is great when your photos turn out more like this:
Than this (honestly, any photos taken by Universal Parks staff seemed to come out blurry):
Taking the technology one step further, annual passholders and Disney hotel guests can use the MagicBand. This is a version of the card that you wear around your wrist, and allows for more freedom around the parks. It will unlock your hotel room door, and allows you to charge food and gifts to your room, helpful if you don’t want to carry cash. You can even buy limited edition or fun versions on park, for an extra fee of course.
This system has created a much more seamless experience for park guests, but is an absolute goldmine of information for Disney themselves. Guests sign up for their service and hand over reams of information about their likes and dislikes. At any point, it can be pinpointed exactly where guests are in the park, and which attractions are the most popular. The system has only been in place since 2013, but thanks to the required use of the entry cards, Disney will no doubt have a huge mine of information already at their fingertips. The only question now is how will they improve the parks based on this info, and will they spread the MyMagic+ system to their other parks across the globe?
(And finally, a quick tip: Get the app, and book your Fastpasses before you go to the park. We were wondering why all the Fastpasses to meet Anna and Elsa from Frozen were gone before the Magic Kingdom was even open, and that’s how we discovered you could book them from the app itself!).