Last week I took part in a MyMagic+ test at Walt Disney World. When I let Touring Plans blog readers know that I was headed down for testing, you all came up with some great questions about using the new electronic systems at the parks and resorts. After having spent four days with my MagicBand and after having spoken to many cast members about the program, I’m here to give you some answers and a full report about my experience.
MagicBand presentation box.
Before I get going, let me first say that every MyMagic+ cast member I encountered was incredibly enthusiastic about the testing. They bent over backwards to solicit real, honest feedback about the guest experience. There are kinks in the system, but they are trying very hard to work them out.
MyMagic+ starts with with the My Disney Experience center on the Walt Disney World website. You can find this prominently displayed at the top right of the welcome page at DisneyWorld.com. You must have (or create) an online account with Disney to access any of the MyMagic features. At my home computer, I linked my resort confirmation number and several existing dining reservation numbers to my account. I selected colors and names for MagicBands for myself and my husband, Jeff. We also chose FastPass+ attractions and ride times for our park days.
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I’m heading out on a quick trip to Walt Disney World soon and, lucky me, I was randomly chosen to be a MyMagic+ tester during this visit. This is the second time I’ve been randomly selected to test aspects of Disney’s foray into full guest electronic interaction with the parks. I’ll let you know how my in-park experience goes after I’m back, but in the meantime, there are several aspects of the test set-up which bear mentioning in advance.
Here’s the invitation:
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Between the debt crisis, cabinet confirmation, and gun control, you might the the U.S. Congress has its hands too full at the moment to pay much attention to the Mouse. But Disney’s new MyMagic+ program, which was officially announced earlier this month and will soon roll out across Walt Disney World’s theme parks and resorts, has raised questions about security and privacy inside and outside Washington.
On January 24, Representative Edward J. Markey from Massachusetts, who has earned a long-standing reputation for challenging entertainment companies, issued a 3-page detailed letter requesting answers about how Disney’s new RFID chip-based guest management system will be implemented.
Markey’s missive read, in part:
Collecting information about how guests use Disney amusement parks could improve the company’s ability to target advertisements at its guests, including children… Although kids should have the chance to meet Mickey Mouse, this memorable meeting should not be manipulated through surreptitious use of a child’s personal information.
The response from Disney CEO Bob Iger, released on January 28, was less than diplomatic:
We are offended by the ludicrous and utterly ill-informed assertion in your letter dated January 24, 2013, that we would in any way haphazardly or recklessly introduce a program that manipulates children, or wantonly puts their safety at risk. It is truly unfortunate and extremely disappointing that you chose to publicly attack us before taking the time to review our policies and/or contact us for information, which would have obviated the need for your letter. Had you or your staff made the slightest effort, you would have found most of the answers to your questions already existed and were publicly available online at http://corporate.disney.go.com/corporate/pp.html and https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/faq/my-disney-experience/privacy-policy.
You can read Iger’s full response here.
Congressional concern is unlikely to significantly slow the billion-dollar MyMagic+ project, which is expected to expand across WDW in 2013, and invade Disneyland Resort the following year.
Are you concerned about your personal privacy in the light of Disney’s new designs? Do you feel it is appropriate for government representatives to ask questions like these? Leave us your take in the comments below.