Disney’s MyMagic+ Good or Evil?

Written by Kevin Yee. Posted in Disney Parks, Walt Disney World

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Published on March 05, 2013 at 4:04 am with 64 Comments

Online reception to Disney’s NextGen initiative, called MyMagic+, has been far short of what one could charitably call lukewarm. In fact, the more appropriate term is, probably, outright hatred. I’ve done my share of moaning about the wretched possibilities with this new system, particularly when it comes to the one-two punch of privacy concerns and shafting the annual passholders. But vitriol seldom tells the whole story, and on this topic, like so many others, I think there are two sides.

Disney has been quick to point out the main advantage to MyMagic+: it enables advanced planning for people who prefer that level of preparation, and removes a whole lot of uncertainty from the typical vacation formula. Think about it this way: imagine planning a trip to an amusement park that you do not often visit — Universal in Singapore, for example — would you be so completely opposed to advance reservation system that would guarantee you access to the top five rides in prearranged reservations? I would probably find that comforting. Admittedly, it’s only a small section of the population that can truly be called ultra planners, but it is also absolutely true that a vacation with the big question marks removed can mean more relaxation for a wide slice of the population. I’m not the biggest fan of all-inclusive vacation packages, because I think they usually save no money at best, and might make you spend more money at worst. But it’s also true that I absolutely enjoy myself on the Disney Cruise Line, which is an all inclusive vacation. I have noticed, and remarked upon, the relaxation factor that can kick in once you realize that all the bills are taken care of. It’s very likely that advanced ride reservations will have a similar effect on the overall vacation. It may calm and soothe those parts of the trip that were previously fraught with tension and anxiety. I’m not saying that the system will be perfect or nirvana for everyone, but I *am* saying that the opposite extreme reaction — thinking that absolutely everyone hates to plan minute details of the vacation or that a planned out vacation is not any fun — should not be taken as gospel either. This is one of those topics where both sides have validity because the spectrum of travelers is actually that wide.

At one point, Disney was not going to require a PIN code for purchases under $50 made with a MagicBand. Possibly in reaction to the online uproar, wiser heads prevailed at Team Disney Orlando and now a PIN code will be required for every purchase. With that fix in place, I don’t really have any complaints about using RFID for purchases. My 10-year-old assures me that he will absolutely hate it if he has to wear the band full-time while in the park. Disney has not explained the policy either way yet, but my plan is to stuff the bands into a pocket once inside the park. Otherwise, the resulting tan lines would be irritating indeed for us frequent visitors.

It’s apparently relatively easy for bad guys to scan and read RFID chips, even at a slight distance. Because a PIN is required for all purchases and the bad guy would only get an ID number, I wasn’t that worried at first. This ID number can be disabled server-side as soon as the guest notices it’s been compromised (and again, the thief can’t make purchases with it). But then I realized the number *can* be transferred onto a fake MagicBand and used for park admission. I shrugged at that one.  Only Disney would lose in such a transaction, not the guest. But then I realized a PIN is not required for entry into hotel rooms, either. That has me worried. Your stuff will be a LOT less safe in your Disney hotel than was true even last year. Couldn’t a bad guy watch you leave your room, scan your RFID from a distance, wait until you leave the area, and then enter your room?

Privacy is a hot topic with lots of questions. I’m not going to go so far as to say that I am completely convinced Disney will be responsible with its data, nor do I think it is inconceivable that the system can be hacked. I’m guessing it’s less likely that an outsider would breach the defenses and be able to crosswalk the data with identifying information about the visitors. But it may be more likely that data misuse could come from within Disney’s own ranks. Are they making it absolutely impossible for a cast member in the right department to track a guest for dishonorable purposes? We know that a small percentage of people will give into cyber stalking if given the opportunity — the regular Internet is proof enough of that. So what will happen when you marry big data and personally identifiable information in an environment where the stalking victim can be seen and observed?

So I am at least a little concerned about privacy. But I promised this article would look at the flip side of everything, and there is a flip side here as well. Namely, there could very well be advantages to the individual guests in the privacy compromised world. It’s not just Disney that benefits, there are some for us little guys too. Let’s assume that Disney knows how often we ride certain attractions in the future. Let’s say you typically ride Space Mountain three times on every visit to the Magic Kingdom. Disney may not have known that before, especially if you sometimes used standby instead of FASTPASS. But they will know it in the future. It’s true that Disney could use this information to take actions that are unfriendly to guests, like closing attractions early or manipulating staff levels so that people really only get on eight rides per day and not more.

But it’s not hard to imagine ways that Disney could use the information for good as well. Now that they know you are a Space Mountain junkie, might it be possible that they will use CRM software to invite you and visitors similar to you to purchase a ticket for a special Space Mountain event? Before you dismiss that it is something you would never pay for, remember the target audience here. If you’re a frequent visitor, you might not pay for it, but the very infrequent visitor might. I go to Disneyland Paris only every few years. But when I go, I ride the Phantom Manor an awful lot, probably more than most visitors. If Disney knew that, they could send me an invitation to an upcharge party involving the Phantom Manor. And I’d probably pay it.

Think about merchandising opportunities. If your favorite ride is Splash Mountain, there has always been merchandise available for you to purchase. That’s less true if your favorite ride is the PeopleMover. Disney is likely to be able to suss out new nuggets of information from all this data, such as who exactly is riding each attraction. Disney presently knows that 1800 people may ride PeopleMover from 3 PM to 4 PM, but they have no idea who those people are. I suspect they will discover some patterns that will be useful in identifying new product lines. Many of the locals that I know, for example, love the PeopleMover. I’m guessing Disney will discover that repeat visitors really enjoy the ride. If they compare that data set with the data set of people who spend on merchandise — something else they will know due to the MagicBands — they can create a Venn diagram of people who like the PeopleMover and typically by theme park merchandise. Then they can send e-mails or physical mail to just that sub-population. I’m sure that sounds like Big Brother to some of you, but it’s not necessarily negative. It’s possible that this will create a win-win situation. You get to buy merchandise that you’ve always wanted and Disney has never yet created, and Disney gets to make the sale.

Will the Seven Dwarfs coaster inspire such loyalty?

It’s important to keep in mind that we may be dealing with a paradigm shift here, perhaps big enough to call it an epoch. Just as there was an Age of Computers, followed by an Age of the Internet, Western society may be moving toward an Age of Big Data. Futurists and prognosticators are already claiming that many of the jobs in the coming decades will involve analyzing big data and evolving appropriate marketing strategies. In other words, Disney may be merely leading the pack, though certainly there are other companies already doing with Disney is proposing on a smaller scale. What I find most intriguing about the possibility of an Age of Big Data is that these epochs tends to evolve organically without much rhyme or reason, lurching from side to side and latching upon new concepts so quickly that no one could have predicted the direction eventually followed. Computers were just a toy at first, until they weren’t. The Internet was of limited value initially for most users, but that of course didn’t last. No one can predict at the start of one of these eras just what will prove useful and what we will find indispensable in the future. It may be a great big beautiful tomorrow after all.

What do you think folks? Will Disney use all of this data for good? Evil? Or some purpose in between?


More information and updates

Kevin Yee is the author of numerous independent Disney books, including the popular Walt Disney World Earbook series and Walt Disney World Hidden History. Readers are invited to connect with him online and face to face at the following locations:

About Kevin Yee

Kevin Yee is an author and blogger writing about travel, tourism, and theme parks in Central Florida. He is a founding member of MiceAge and has written numerous books about Disney parks (see http://bit.ly/kevinyee).

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  • red014

    Just to note, they still use your index finger biometrics for park admittance when using RFID (at least they did in December). A stolen band RFID tag is not going to grant someone access to your park ticket unless their fingerprint measurements match up with the same “biometric number” as yours. Hotel room is another story, but this is not exclusive to the bands, RFID cards are also at risk.

    • ericg

      They will have to continue to use a second measure like biometrics for park entry otherwise the admission ticket will become transferable. If they do away with this then it would be very easy to share tickets or even admit more than one person to a park with a single ticket.

      The idea of an open turnstile is largely nonsense. The advantage of an RFID ticket is that you won’t need to actually present it. It can be scanned in your pocket or on your wrist, but you’ll still have to take the second step to prove that it is in fact your ticket.

  • Skimbob

    My understanding and correct me if I am wrong annual passholders will have their very own band that will not have to be turned in at the end of their visit. Supposedly they will have the availability to be personalized with some preselected artwork. I like the idea of having your own.

    My only concern is that if too many people have their rides all planned the casual rider who wants to go on a ride whenever could potentially be locked out or have a horrible wait time. To me the whole idea of a Disney vacation is to have total freedom and not be tied to a schedule like I would on a tourist trip.

    • chesirecat

      I think that the MagicBands allow guests to pre-book Fast Passes . . . hence no need to run and get that FastPass for RSR (should this come to DLR), not necessarily that more Fast Passes will be available. Disney knows that at some point the Stand By line goes so slow that guests get angry, so I think what might happen is that guests who reserve late are given the consolation of option of “booking” Tea Cups, and with some guests this might be OK as the big deal is the act of reserving something.

  • horizonsfan

    My concerns aren’t about privacy. I understand that every time I do anything on the Internet and even when I use my credit cards, there is a risk of something bad happening.

    My issues are completely different. I have serious concerns about the way Disney is trying to manipulate the guest experience at such a high degree. They’re focusing so much on “experiences” and not on the excitement of the attractions. You mention the example of Phantom Manor at Disneyland Paris. If I’m going there, I want to ride it a bunch of times and not have to reserve my spots. While I realize that you can still do a standby line, the changes being made to Fastpass set it up as just a one-time visit. It diminishes visitor choice by prohibiting frequent visits to the same attraction using that service. Also, if it is my first visit or there’s a new attraction, I don’t know at that point how much I’ll like it. Planning way ahead removes the spontaneous part of the trip. For example, if I go to Disneyland for the first time and realize I love Indiana Jones, I can repeatedly get Fastpasses and ride it a bunch of times. I’m making that choice and not having to lock in a restrictive system.

    Disney is going to get hit badly on this from multiple fronts. There are some people concerned about privacy, while others are upset about the Fastpass changes. Annual passholders aren’t going to like any restrictions on how many they can use in a year. No matter what the number, Disney is going to shoot too low on some visitors. This also hinders day visitors who are making quick visits and want to see as much as possible. In the past, they could arrive early, grab Fastpasses, stay late, and see a lot of things. Finally, it hurts guests who aren’t educated and arrive with no idea about this service. In the past, they could learn about Fastpass and work their way through it. They’re already seeing problems here when day visitors can’t eat at a lot of the restaurants. This just increases the issues that already exist with guest satisfaction.

    Finally, I’m also concerned that Disney is ignoring the biggest issue with their parks. They are focusing on NextGen and other tricks that don’t increase the guest experience and aren’t creating many new attractions. They’re resting on their laurels and focusing on the wrong thing. Meanwhile, Universal is actually spending the money and building new rides that incorporate new technologies. At some point, this is really going to hurt Disney even more than it has, and their focus on the wrong things will just keep that trend going. They’re also doing this while frequently raising prices. So it’s a worse experience and for more money. That is not good.

  • JiminyCricketFan

    I think of myself as a planner. I love setting up my WDW vacations and anticipating the hotels and restaurants. However, scheduling ride and attractions seem much less attractive to me. Instead of enhancing the experience, I am now questioning if I want to go back to WDW with this system in place. It just sucks the fun out of the day.

    • chesirecat

      As others have said, you don’t have to use the system, and even if you do, you don’t have to use it for everything, maybe just use it to reserve Splash on a certain day, then you could easily make reservations for an MK eatery the same day.

      They’ll obviously still have FastPasses available in the park (though some attractions may run out early in the day, or all be reserved online).

      ex-WDI mentioned lines being pain #1, and it was true from the surveys, the solution that gets at the heart of the matter is to build more attractions and/or looking at lower park capacity. But people have a different tolerance for lines, look at all of the folks who show-up on Christmas Day/New Year’s . . . personally I always go during the off-season (or what is the off season now), and enjoy short wait times.

  • ex-wdi

    This is not a sea change, it’s just a sea change at Disney. Data mining way beyond Disney’s goes on at casinos regularly and has been for awhile.

    The reason they’ve implemented this entire thing (besides making money) is simple. When I was at WDI there was a pronounced pattern in countless numbers of guest surveys, and was repeatable every time. The #1 guest complaint every time? Lines. No matter whether they were in a crappy queue like the old Dumbo, or something awesome like Everest, guests hate waiting. That’s why we did Fastpass, but too many guests didn’t use it effectively. So by creating a way around lines, guests will be happier, spend more, give better data, make the park flow more predictable from a business standpoint, and have increased convenience. Win-win-win.

    This doesn’t include the only part missing from the calculation, however, which is whether people actually want to plan things out to this degree. This remains to be seen, but my instinct says no. Those of us who know the parks well and love the idea of wandering and hopping rides are about to become dinosaurs, and that sucks.

    • chesirecat

      Fast Pass lengthens the Stand-By, and redistributes guests to non-peak hours, and placates the guest who has to ride Indy, but won’t wait 45 minutes. Everybody is assuming that the MagicBands means longer stand by lines, but Disney has to keep the stand by line going so I don’t think you’ll see drastically increased wait times.

      What may well happen is that Fast Pass runs out earlier. I occasionally use Fast Pass, (for big long wait time rides like Indy and RSR), but otherwise I like to randomly experience attractions. Now all I have to do is gone online and reserve Indy for Day 1 of the vacation, RSR for Day 2 (if it comes to DLR), done, finished. Then I just have to remember to be in Disneyland one Day 1 (and make lunch/dinner reservations there for that day which I would have done anyway). I kinda prefer not having to race to get FastPasses for RSR first thing in the a.m., so you’re kinda freed up as you don’t have to physically go to DL to get the Indy FastPass.

      And no waiting in a FastPass line . . . sounds like a great idea to me.

      I get the spontaneity thing, but with very popular rides like Indy and FastPass, the horse has already left the barn as you sort of do have to schedule your day.

  • 1WaltFan

    The biggest affect of this program to you online community critics has already been implemented on both coasts. They are enforcing the fastpass return times! It used to be we would collect them during the day, then use them when everyone was in the park and it was buys and thus clogging the stan-by line. Now this can’t happen. This may turn out to be a positive for everyone involved.

    The whole uproar about these bands is unfounded. The only thing different about this program vs what is happening right now at WDW is I get to plan on having a 3 fastpass for a ride or a reserved spot for a show. The entrance, charging, room access is already in place with my rfid enabled key to the world card. Now they are going to give me an option to put the card on my wrist and give me 3 fastpases for the day. Giving me 3 fastpasses or shows for the day doesn’t sound to me like planning my day down to the minute, it just eliminates the need to go and get the paper fastpass or spend an hour or more from my day waiting for a show. This may keep people out of the park because they know thay don’t have to be there as early.

    How about this for a major benefit. All those MM+ holders are planning their trip or back in their room the night before figuring out which park they are going to go to. Since they can’t get a fastpass for their favorite ride in what will be a busy park that day they decide to go to a different park where they can get faspasses and show reservations in a slower park. Disney has just sent them to a slower park that day for a better experience for everyone. This could even happen the same day by Disney sending you to a slower part of the park if you want to change your fastpasses that day.

    This very likely could be a very positive for all involved. Glass half full people!

  • BrianFuchs

    As someone who does travel long distances to resorts for a once in a blue moon visit, I DO want to be able to ensure I can ride every single top attraction, but I do so by purchasing some sort of VIP option (Q-bot, Express Pass, etc).

    I wish Disney would join the rest of the theme park industry and offer that, rather than this abomination. I don’t think many of us would want the government to put RFID trackers in our vehicles; why are we OK with Mickey Mouse tracking our every move and purchase in the parks?

    Working for a company that deals with cyber security (that also has Disney for a client), the concern that someone can snoop your ID number is real. Kevin’s concern that your room is not secure without a PIN is also very real.

    I really don’t need Disney to track my 10 year-olds, nor do I want anyone else to be able to track them by hacking the device. Personally, I want to visit a park and not feel as if I am being watched by Big Brother.

    I find this system to be quite creepy….

    • chesirecat

      You’re talking about the early generation small RFID tags, the MagicBand is different and at any rate, current RFID is more secure than the magnetic card for hotel room security. It is already being used in luxury hotels.

      Obviously, Disney has taken security into account and as such, with any hotel security system, be it keys or magnetic swipe card, there is always a push for companies/hotels to stay ahead of the curve. With the old key and lock you had lock pickers, with the magnetic swipe cards you had more sophisticated means of counterfeiting, and on and on. Equally obvious, Disney will not be revealing the countermeasures/anti-cloning technology to the general public. You might even be able to “sniff” a number . . . but it might be a decoy and I’m sure they have half a dozen other measures to prevent cloning.

      So it is not as simple as getting an RFID reader and “snooping” the number as there are a variety of ways to rotate, camouflage, and confuse the number, in addition to encryption and a smart computer monitoring everything.

      Disney already “tracks our every move” with security cameras galore, and no doubt the data will be anonymized, unless somebody has an emergency and needs to locate a child who is wearing a MagicBand. You do realize that security is the ones who has access to this, not everybody in the hotel?

      Kevin writes good articles with a critical eye, but this whole “Magic Band is evil” is just nonsense propagated by some disgruntled APers who criticize everything Disney does.

      Obviously, as RFID bracelets linked to credit cards increase consumer spending about 20%, there is no way that Disney won’t deploy this technology and make sure that the proper safeguards are in place.

    • chesirecat

      I think that Disney could also easily put into the programing that the “track” or geographically locate function isn’t used unless there is an emergency. The personalized ride experiences might only be triggered if you’re a couple feet away from a special effect. Chances are that if your kid is targeted by a pedophile in WDW, the bad actor isn’t also a computer hacker who went to M.I.T. and working on breaking an encryption protocol AND hacking security’s master computer. If somebody that motivated is out to do harm to your kids (a really scary scenario) MagicBands are the least of your problem because they probably already know where you live!

      Disney already knows how many people are staying a hotel room, their names, their credit card numbers . . . if somebody had mal-intent, the info is already there.

      I guess for the uber-paranoid the alternative is to stay off property by using a pseudonym at a motel, paying cash everywhere, and using a disguise.

      I think APers are afraid that Disney will use MagicBand to, in effect, put back in a sort of ticketing system for the rides whereby you can only ride Space Mountain once a day. Not going to happen as most guests won’t use this tech, and I’m sure twenty years later there will still be guests that don’t use the band. Disney doesn’t want to punish band users, but rather enable them so they can buy more junk.

  • DobbysCloset

    If Walt wanted to microchip me, I wouldn’t mind. I don’t want to micro-manage my day at Disneyland but, at the same time, I love planning my vacation. I would love to plan a Magic Halloween Experience from my home in Oregon!

  • Armadillo4

    There is a significant number of tourists who do like to plan their trips in great detail. And definitely moreso at WDW than what I’m familiar with at DLR. I’ve been spending more and more time on another message board where these type of planners can be found in multitude. Not only do they write trip reports, they write pre-trip reports. Yes, they publicly share details of their vacation planning with others in hopes of getting validation and/or suggestions for optimizing their touring plans. And many of these trip reports become multi-page threads with dozens of dozens of replies*. It is this type of visitor that will find MyMagic+ to be helpful.

    To be fair, there are a lot of these advance planners who are unsure of MyMagic+ right now as many details are still not confirmed. And there are concerns that it will throw off their planning. But the point is, there are many of this type of park guest that will take advantage of the MyMagic+ program to help plan their trips.

    *Some of these pre-trip reports get a bit crazy. There is a huge thread right now that was started in April 2012 for a WDW trip in Dec. 2013! It’s currently up to 104 pages with 1500+ posts. This is an outlier, but reflective of the type of guest that Disney hopes will happily use MyMagic+.

  • jediblueman

    I have a hard time understanding most of the negative concerns about MyMagic+

    Concern 1 – privacy and security:
    -The magic band only has a meaningless number that means nothing unless you have access to Disney’s computer systems. Sure someone could hack that or there could be a dishonest employee, but that is no different than it is today. Those concerned about someone taking the data off the band to randomly access a room door are forgetting that there are 30,000 rooms and that technology is smart enough to have features to prevent such things (for example, disabling a key if it is found to be attempting to open a bunch of random doors). With old keys, you still had the risk of if you lost a key someone could open your door but nobody worried about that. RFID door locks have been in hotels for a while now, but just because Disney wants to put them on a wristband, it’s all of a sudden a big deal?
    Sure Disney is also tracking purchases and actions in the parks and remembering my personal info, but they are already doing that to some degree with existing room keys (which track park entry, room entry, purchases, and whatever info such as birthdays that you give them). This is just one step further, and not any more unsafe than previously. And the PIN…an added layer of security for purchasing that’s never been there before. If anything this is a more secure system, not less.

    Concern 2 – I don’t want to have to plan everything. I’m forced to plan now!
    - Nobody is saying you have to. By expanding fastpass to even more attractions, and setting a limit on how many you can get per day, the fastpass demand is spread across more attractions. If 20+ rides or whatever it will be have fastpass available instead of 5-10 rides, but you can only get 3-5 a day, or whatever they decide, the demand gets spread more. Many first time guests will waste their fastpasses for example on “pirates of the caribbean” and “haunted mansion” having no understanding of the ride’s efficiency, and maybe miss out on more important fastpasses like Peter Pan or Space Mountain, allowing more availability for everyone else. Also it won’t force people to go to the park early in the morning for fastpasses. Those people (such as California annual passholders when it eventually moves there) who go to the park on a random evening, might enjoy the possibility of having a Space Mountain fastpass for 7pm in advance and not have to go the park in the morning. It’s still not planning the whole day, just one attraction.
    -Has anyone tried the app yet? One of it’s best features is the “Here and Now” button giving you wait times, show times, and other things that just happen to be going on immediately around you. This helps spontaneous people find something to do that is available right now as planners would not need such a tool. It’s all about choice. Great for the planners AND the spontaneous (and still possible to not use it at all).

    Concern 3 – Good or Evil?
    - There seems to be a lack of understanding that Disney is a business. They want to make more money. It’s not a secret and it’s not an evil proposition. They want you to spend more time and money in the parks and this program is designed with that as the end result. Disney’s Magical Express is about that (go straight from the airport and don’t stop anywhere else and don’t get yourself a car. But…what a great free service it is. win-win). Magic Your Way tickets are about that (encourage one more day at Disney as it is so much cheaper than a day at Universal or Sea World. It will influence some, but you can still do whatever you want, but win-win situation as if you do stay longer at Disney it is cheaper) . Dining plan is about that (prepay meals for entire stay all on property, don’t go elsewhere). This is just the next logical step in all of that, and like all the others it is a mixture of marketing/business tactics and attempts to provide a better service. It’s not evil. It’s business and service, and the two are not always mutually exclusive. Maybe all of this will prove useful to enough people, making their visit easier, and therefore make them happier and want to spend more money. It’s a win, win. Provide a better experience and you’ll make more money. For those who aren’t into it….don’t use the app…don’t wear a wristband (you’ll miss out on some interactive attraction stuff but otherwise have no issues), and don’t plan fastpasses in advance. Can you honestly say just because the tickets and room keys operate on a touch basis and your fastpasses are chosen on a computer screen, it will really make your park experience that drastically different? I don’t think so.

    Concern 4 – Disney is spending too much focus on stuff like this and not enough on actually making new attractions or improving existing ones.
    – This one I agree with. I’m not against myMagic+, but I would much rather see, at WDW in particular, a focus on improving existing attractions and expanding more rides where needed. Universal Orlando got a giant attendance and spending boost by making an incredible attraction and immersive land. California Adventure did the same. I’m a big believer that the most important thing is the attractions, and I hope as this myMagic+ project completes, attention is refocused in that direction. But we have to remember those of us on this message board only represent the Disney geek population. The rest of the world who does this as a vacation for basic amusement is more concerned about a hassle free seamless experience and special moments than the exact mix of attractions and all of their details like we are.

    • chesirecat

      Great points, but I would add that while Disney is spending around a billion for this technology, if it boosts spending on food and merchandise by 20%, it will eventually pay for itself, and draw in more guests into the parks, so more money for rides down the line.

      I would agree that most APers at DLR would like to be able to schedule FastPasses if they decide to visit, rather than waking up early in the a.m. on Saturday to get FastPasses for RSR.

      A small, yet vocal, number of very disgruntled APers have put out the word that this new system is inherently evil, and that aliens that can hack computers will of course use it to abduct their kids (or something like that). Most sane people like convenience.

  • JCSkipr79

    omg, who cares if the guests whine about lines? To a Disney a guest a line is 20min or more. You NEVER hear this complaint about other Disney parks or other parks in general. WDW is just placating entitlement guests


    “Are they making it absolutely impossible for a cast member in the right department to track a guest for dishonorable purposes?”

    No more than someone with your information at your bank could do the same thing.


  • olegc

    This is one thought I had. Kevin poses the idea that if you really like Space or Splash, which they will know by data analysis, then you could be offered more incentives around those attractions. Well – what about discovering others things? The idea presented is kind of what Facebook has been doing with your interactions. Sometimes I WANT to see what is happening with folks I have not connected with in 6 months – but the model doesn’t work that way. It uses big data to determine who I have the most interactions with and then presents either ads or sites based on that. Let ME decide. Let ME delete or diminish information I don’t find relevant. Then I know whats been out there – instead of not even knowing in the first place and possibly missing out on something that I might have enjoyed (a show, and offer, a meet and greet).

    • chesirecat

      I don’t think that ride choice on a vacation is data mining gold. The majority of families do one, or more of the mountains. So Little Timmy splits off from his family to ride Splash twice, what would Disney offer him? A Song of the South DVD? Immediately email him with Splash t-shirt offers?

      The big deal with MagicBand is that it will possibly help interested folks have specialized experience, but 95% of it is the increased spending on food and merch, which will make Disney hundreds of millions of dollars, as well as “catering” to the OCD crowd who loves to plan everything out. I seriously doubt that Disney would send creepy emails to guests via their MagicBand account, certainly you have to check a box to receive promotional material . . . advertising isn’t the goal as I’ll bet that most MagicBand users are pretty up to date when it comes to offerings in the Disney universe.

      Somebody who rides Splash five times in a day probably already knows that Space Mountain exists!

      I’m a Haunted Mansion fan, I love HMH and the regular ride, so if I select “send me promotional material based on my interests” it would be cool to get HM specific news alerts, which wouldn’t be alot.

  • Kevin Yee

    I am really intrigued by this line of thought. Big data “misleads”, for want of a better word, because it can only approximate the thought process of a human by reducing the data stream to a single conclusion. The reality of carbon based life forms is more complex. I, too, find Facebook irritating for trying to ‘guess’ what I like. Will Big Data do something similar for Disney?

  • chesirecat

    MagicBands aren’t a social media site like Facebook. A big pain related to a WDW vacation is the act of physically taking out a wallet and handing over a credit card, or shelling out the cash for the $5 soda. Disney knows that this is a psychological barrier to having fun, and spending more, this is why this tech has been shown to increase spending 20% or so.

    The idea that Disney will (or even care to) follow guests around in the park and try to sell them stuff is silly. I’m sure you can check the box to receive promotional emails from Disney marketing, but kinda doubt that they will send you the Pirates related info as you rode that ride last at MK.

    Every guest has a pretty homogenized experience, riding similar rides and having a similar experience, you simply don’t “reveal” that much about yourself in the parks. And Disney fans generally like the whole slew of attractions, even if you ride Space Mountain twice, you might well be interested in buying a PeopleMover t-shirt. There’s the fallacy in the critics thinking: that attraction choice on a given day is somehow data mining gold, there are only so many rides in MK, and most guests hit all the lands on a multi-day trip. Just because little Jenny rides Splash doesn’t meant that she has forsaken Disney princesses.

    I don’t think Disney will kill the golden goose by sending out creepy emails.

    Amazon pops-up books I might like on Kindle, big deal, sometimes I even purchase them as I have narrow interests. I see Disney using the MagicBand for personalized experiences that are requested by guests, not the delusional “castmembers are going to be following me around the park” talk. A father/mother might request that Cinderella gives a special greeting to their daughter on their birthday, OR if it is a guests birthday, they may ask for an experience whereby CMs say happy birthday, or something special happens on a ride . . . if unknown to the guest it could be a special surprise. Imagine riding Alice on your birthday and at the explosion/un-birthday scene your name is on the cake! You would chuckle and wrack it up to the MagicBand Birthday experience.

    Anyway, the disgruntled WDW APers are trying to use the “data mining” angle against Disney, which doesn’t make sense as Disney has always data mined guests by using turnstiles and noting the size of families checked into hotels, etc . . . Data mining is anonymized data to see general trends, personalized experiences is what folks visiting Club 33 get when the manager knows your name and visits your table, etc. . .