More on RFID Turnstile Testing at Epcot

Walking in from the Amaze parking lot today at Epcot I noticed immediately that something was amiss. For starters, the tram was facing the wrong way and unloading at the often lesser used security check point to the left side of the monorail.

As we came around the tram, we noticed there were a lot of Castmembers milling about interacting with guests. They were asking us to have our passes out. Each pass had a small circular Mickey Mouse headshot sticker applied to it. You could see the silver of RFID tech right on the back of it. Needless to say this geek was very excited.

Prior to the security check another Castmember took our passes and swiped the magnetic strip and then scanned the RFID sticker. This is to bind the sticker to your account in Disney’s ticketing system. Then it was on through bag check. Once through, more Castmembers directed us over to the turnstiles on the left.

However, instead of turnstiles – which were completely gone – we were presented with silver poles topped by orbs bearing Mickey Mouse head outlines. Off to the right side was a finger scanner. Castmembers were directing guests to wave their tickets in front of the orb and then scan their fingers on the scanner. And then you’re presented with a light show of swirly awesomeness.

From there it was through the gate and into the park. The saddest part is that I really just wanted to sit with my pass and scan it again, and again, and again.

* hand modeling by Dana








Todd Perlmutter

Todd is a Central Florida local who just so happens to be a mega geeky Disney, tech, and gaming nerd. Lives or dies by his iPhone - it spending a significant amount of time in his hand while he's at Walt Disney World. In addition to being blogger here at he is also a developer working on the Touring Plans Engine, the Chief Technical Officer for The Disney Driven Life, and co-host of the Disney Film Project Podcast. Loves his wife (@cherylp3) and pup (@DisneyDoggie). You can reach Todd via Twitter (@tperlmutter) or Facebook (tperlmutter).

35 thoughts on “More on RFID Turnstile Testing at Epcot

  • November 13, 2011 at 3:58 pm

    Does this work with the KTTW card?

    • November 13, 2011 at 10:26 pm

      I don’t see why they wouldn’t. There’s no reason they can’t place a sticker on one of the cards.

      • November 15, 2011 at 11:54 am

        They specifically ran a rope-wall down the middle of the entry plaza to avoid getting guests with KTTW. You had to come from the parking lot on foot or get dropped off by the tram. Resort Bus and Monorail Guests were sent to the regular turnstiles.

        • November 15, 2011 at 12:15 pm

          I did see that table too.

          I still think they could sticker KTTW if they wanted.

          Plastic cards with RFID already exist. Amex started issuing them to customers starting back last year. I know I can scan mine to pay at some counters.

          So imagine that in the future KTTW might get a makeover.

  • November 13, 2011 at 4:03 pm

    OMG! I may have to go to Epcot right now just to do this!!

  • November 13, 2011 at 4:33 pm

    Tech awesomeness!!!

  • November 13, 2011 at 5:03 pm

    I wonder how well this works with crowd control. I am sure Disney has thought all about this, but I am super curious about people trying to sneak in.

    • November 13, 2011 at 10:27 pm

      Honestly, we were discussing this on the car ride home tonight. The area is fairly opened and I’m not sure what prevents anyone from faking it – Castmembers were watching, but it was also a little chaotic.

      • November 15, 2011 at 11:57 am

        To take some photos I wandered in/out (asked first) and the CM’s were very worried about this. The ability to actually track people is something they’re concerned about.

        • November 15, 2011 at 12:20 pm

          I can’t imagine them still not having mechanical turnstiles, even if they’re just for show. That wide open space between the scanners for people to just walk through into the park concerned even me.

          • November 15, 2011 at 12:34 pm

            To the far far end they have a single unit to test a single-file-line. That could easily add a spinny bar.

  • November 13, 2011 at 6:17 pm

    I hope they have this in May when we go. It would be cool to have it at all the parks. And I hope it works with your KTTW cards! Thanks for the heads up!

  • November 14, 2011 at 6:47 am

    Now they will be able to truly track traffic flow. Interesting….

      • November 14, 2011 at 9:54 am

        Right now…..

        • November 14, 2011 at 12:46 pm

          So… you’re right. They could switch to ultra receivers, but then your tickets would scan at 50 feet or more. There’s less benefit there then you might think. Camera’s doing facial recognition would be far more valuable long term. After if mom is holding all 4 passes in a family and she’s alone, where are the others.

          • November 15, 2011 at 12:23 pm

            Current guest surveys used to extrapolate guest touring patterns aren’t much more accurate than “mom has all the tickets” as one party member is surveyed and ‘speaks for the whole.’

            If anything, broad proximity sensors would catch more individuals who peel off from the group than the current surveys do.

            For example, people will often report their family and that everyone rode this, that, and something else – when is reality everyone rode ‘this’ but at ‘that’ Suzy went to the bathroom and stopped in the store, and over at ‘something else’ Derek decided he’d rather hug a costume character and did that instead.

            If anything, either way is better than the current “percentage of park total rode…” stats that Disney uses now for the bulk of their number crunching and planning.

          • November 15, 2011 at 12:30 pm

            They’d actually have a number of legal hurdles to get through to put extended RFID scanners into the park. This is because their own “tickets” (in quotes because I realize that paper tickets could go away here) would not be the only RFID devices in the parks.

            You have cell phones, credit cards, etc.

            This is precisely why skimmers – which are really just long range RFID antenna – are illegal in many areas. It’s why the mandatory RFID in a national ID as proposed by the President never happened, etc.

            Facial recognition on cameras is far more accurate anyway, and cheaper, and the cameras are already all over the parks.

          • November 15, 2011 at 12:38 pm

            Wouldn’t it be the same problem though if i held up my wallet to the entry scanner? It could be programmed to disregard information that doesn’t fit the proper format.

            I’d see Disney tracking “me” via facial recognition as more intrusive than them tracking the ticket they own moving through the park.

          • November 15, 2011 at 12:42 pm

            Also, i suspect you’re overestimating the number of cameras in the parks. There’s not any anywhere near Spaceship Earth or the Universe of Energy. There are some broad park-area cams that security and ops watches, but at individual locations there are often none. People just assume Disney can see you on the ride (on SSE, they in fact, cannot) and so people tend to behave themselves.

          • November 15, 2011 at 12:50 pm

            Again. It’s a matter of legality.

            Facial recognition in group outdoor environments for any purpose at a private location (which technically WDW is) while not well liked has no real legal hurdles in the US at this time.

            RFID does, because you’re not just taking a picture. You’re scanning, and RFID is always responding to the requests for information. There’s no way to pick or choose or rule out signals in the technology.

            So in order to be able to throw out data, Disney would by caveat be seeing all the data. And once that data is sitting on a server somewhere and hopping across a network it’s all free game. And “deletion” and “exclusion” become super-relative terms. It’s impossible to simply say “ignore” the data due to the Catch-22 nature of that in a digital environment.

            I think you’re underestimating the number of cameras. After all you’re only counting the ones you can see.

          • November 15, 2011 at 12:55 pm

            Todd, you forget I worked there and know exactly where the cameras are.

          • November 15, 2011 at 1:17 pm

            I know. But all companies have a need to know internal security structure. You’d probably be surprised by what you don’t know regarding security, IT, data dissemination, etc.

  • November 14, 2011 at 11:29 am

    These things are SO awesome! I hope they work out but who know.

  • November 14, 2011 at 12:53 pm

    We will be there in a couple of weeks! 🙂

    • November 14, 2011 at 1:05 pm

      Cool, I checked last night on the way out. They simply covered the scanners for the night and fenced them in. So testing was not a one day affair.

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  • November 14, 2011 at 3:16 pm

    Todd, did you find that it really sped things up? Do you think that if someday we’re willing to do the RFID implant, we can do away with the finger scan? BTW, I tested the finger scanner on my last trip by using my left hand. It didn’t work. I hand to present the correct hand. I still think the old bar-coded AP with a photo worked pretty well.

    • November 14, 2011 at 3:26 pm

      When they last had photos, facial recognition wasn’t there. Today facial is actually almost as good as a fingerprint (incidentally they’re not really doing fingerprints… more fingertips).

      It was a little chaotic, and very little direction was given.

      Pretty sure that I could have faked it and walked through – they were not watching me closely enough.

  • November 15, 2011 at 11:37 am

    I wonder how many cast members will no longer be required when this is up and running in production?? Maybe another way to get rid of the face to face contact with the visitors. I like speeding things up for entry into the parks but still enjoy face to face contact with CM’s and CM not losing their jobs…

    • November 15, 2011 at 12:21 pm

      I don’t think they’d cut down too much. You’d still need to have people to field questions. This is really to just get rid of the card insertion scanners which are a terrible system as they are prone to excessive wear, tear, and breakdown.

  • November 18, 2011 at 2:33 pm

    FYI – I was there this day and we drove and parked with a KTTW card. We were given the RFID sticker and it all worked with no trouble.

    Also, we noticed a lot of CMs standing around with tablets and such, and I got the impression that they were looking at data that the posts were reporting (not just taking surveys as I first thought). So that might be a way to keep track of what all what going on and prevent unauthorized entry, etc. Just a thought.

    I thought it was cool, but it didn’t speed us up much because of still needing the finger scan…then again, if this made the tickets more reliable, I’d be all for it. It was also great for easy stroller entry.

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  • March 14, 2012 at 11:39 pm

    More on RFID Turnstile Testing at Epcot. I wonder how many cast members will no longer be required when this is up and running in production?? Great job.

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