Privacy at Disney World Waning? RFID and Tracking Updates

Written by Kevin Yee. Posted in Walt Disney World

Tagged: , , , , , ,

frontpagepic_KY

Published on December 03, 2013 at 3:00 am with 73 Comments

All of a sudden last week, based on some first-hand reports, there was reason to suspect that the Disney MagicBands do, after all, contain the capability to be read at a distance. The assumption until now was that Disney would only be able to track its visitors when they took the step of placing their MagicBands (MB) within millimeters of the readers to pay for purchases or join the FASTPASS+ line, and that customers were therefore in charge of deciding when Disney would know where they were. But if Disney can read MagicBands from a distance, they will be able to track users much more closely, and without their knowledge or minute-by-minute consent. Visitors may feel their privacy is at its lowest ebb when on a Disney World vacation.

fastpass+ 2013-11-23-2179

There are several online reports in the past week or so of people returning from a Disney World vacation and discovering that in their online MyDisneyExperience account (the front end of the MyMagic+ system), there are not only those PhotoPass pictures they took when they scanned their bands, but also photos of them while on the rides — Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, Expedition Everest, and so on. This was at first perplexing for them, since they never “swiped” their MBs at the rides. Given the belief that Disney needed to swipe a band to know you were there, it didn’t seem possible for Disney to connect the right pictures to the right people. And yet there they were.

The implication is that the bands CAN be read at a distance, without needing the customer to hold it less than an inch from the reader. That seems counter-intuitive. If the bands are capable of that all along, why bother having them need to touch the scanners directly for FASTPASS+ and for room charges? One answer: it seems more prudent to require actual contact (touching) to pay for things, to avoid fraud and accidental payments.

When the news broke a few years ago that Disney World was moving to a system involving RFID chips, there was a lot of speculation about privacy. Many of those who fretted the most about being tracked were pooh-poohed as the “tinfoil hat” types, sensing conspiracies when none were present. RFID-capable keycards and annual pass cards – sized and shaped just like credit cards – did not seem to present any opportunity for Disney to track users unless they actively swiped their cards. The RFID chip was just too passive; it couldn’t transmit. The debate about privacy then seemed to just die out many months ago, as if the matter were decided: Disney could only track you if you swiped.

Guess what? The MagicBands (which I reviewed positively last week) *do* have batteries in them. Disney has recently said the MBs should last 1-2 years and mentioned the battery as one reason for the shelf life. Johnathen Hopkins, one of the podcasters from WDWFanBoys, cut open his MB to find out what was inside, and the battery was easy to find.

IMG_2108

There are many different types of RFID setups and the “read range” varies due to several factors (how large are the antennas, what frequency they are using, how much power is in the reader, is there a battery with the RFID chip, etc). It looks like current hotel keycards and annual pass cards use a more passive RFID chip with no battery, but MagicBands include a battery and thus could be read from further distances.

Confusingly, the plot thickens still more. Let’s dig a little deeper, as Mama Odie might say. Disney’s 2012 letter to the FCC (and other related documents here) specifies that the device, though it contains a battery, uses *PASSIVE* RFID, not active, and that at first glance might seem to limit the distance at which it can be read. But the science isn’t as linear as that (where passive=short distance, active=long). There are innovations in chip design and reader-power architecture that can still read from far distances of even a couple hundred feet. Based on similar devices, it looks like the MagicBand might be readable from 10 meters away, despite being passive. We know Disney is using a battery-assisted 2.4Gz RFID tag, and there exists a similar one on the market that can be read from 30 feet away.

There is even a technical explanation for the fact that MagicBands seem to work in two ways: up close for purchases and FASTPASS+, but long distances for ride photos and to-be-unveiled interactivity on attractions. Namely, the MagicBand FCC specs point out that it has two antennae–presumably, HF (short range) RFID for the restaurant, stores, and FP+ scanners; and UHF (longer range) RFID for the MyMagic enhancements on the rides.

The clues seem to be stacking up. Disney has a battery-operated RFID tag that matches those on the market which CAN be read from long distances, we’ve got first-hand reports by some travelers that on-ride photos are being added to their accounts, and we know of many spots in rides where videoscreens await their first power-up to offer customized greetings to tourists wearing MagicBands. It looks like long-distance RFID scanners are in the cards from these arguments alone.

fastpass+ 2013-09-08-9225

To make absolutely certain, we could turn to Disney’s own privacy policy on Magic Bands, which states (in part):

The MagicBands can also be read by long-range readers placed in select locations throughout the Resort used to deliver personalized experiences and photos, as well as provide information that helps us improve the overall experience in our parks. Guests can participate in MyMagic+ and visit the Resort without using the MagicBand by choosing a card, which cannot be detected by the long-range readers; however, certain features of MyMagic+ are dependent upon long-range readers, including automatic delivery of certain attraction photos and some personalized offerings are only available to guests using a MagicBand.

Well, there’s no doubt left now. I wonder if that explanation of long-range readers was there months ago, when this topic was more hotly debated online. I’m guessing it’s a more recent addition. In any event, we’ve got our answer: Disney is installing long-range readers, at least on the rides.

I’ve got no information about Disney’s intent with these readers. Maybe they are just there to enable convenient connections to your account, like the example of Space Mountain pictures appearing in your online account after your vacation even though you didn’t seek them out. Or maybe Disney wants to install more readers throughout the park. From a technology point of view, there is no reason Disney couldn’t build a sophisticated “war room” with a giant digital map of the Magic Kingdom, and show people by name moving through the park in real-time. Think of it as the Marauder’s Map from Harry Potter… except this would be real, not fiction.

Now, Disney might not want to engage in that much tracking, especially if coupled to individuals and their names. It would probably be bad for business if the public knew. But the salient point is that the technology exists to do that, and the MagicBands make it possible. So the customer is essentially trusting Disney NOT to do it.

What Disney probably wants is to harness the power of Big Data. If they track people by patterns and amalgamation (rather than bothering with what individuals are up to), they can spot ways to save money (shift workers to and fro) or to make money (open additional shops and restaurants). There’s nothing inherently evil in this, but the national conversation about privacy and Big Data is just beginning. One public school’s use of similar RFID chips faced legal challenges (specifically, against unreasonable search and seizure), but ultimately the school won out in court (and ironically discontinued the RFID program later anyway). Let’s also remember Disney is a private corporation, not the government.

fastpass 2013-11-03-1296

Disney *does* know who each RFID chip belongs to. What’s stored on the chip is just an account number that makes sense only to Disney. But Disney can decipher it and crosswalk that number to its own databases, and thus easily figure out who is doing what in the parks. If they wanted to, they could “drill down” to specific individuals, at least from a technology/data point of view (policy aside).

Some portion of the population won’t be bothered by this. Even if the parks installed enough sensors to know how long it took between your purchase of a burrito to your visit to the bathroom (and how long you stayed there), some folks won’t mind. Reading with the grain, such intrusions into privacy can give Disney valuable information to make the parks a better place. They’d know which bathrooms are the most visited, for instance–maybe this could cause them to take action and build relief facilities nearby? Besides, as they argue in similar discussions around the Web, privacy is already an illusion in today’s society. And they point out (correctly) that we are being tracked already to some extent. Those EZ Pass/Sunpass toll road devices use RFID, and their data is used (in aggregate) to give real-time traffic information.

But I suspect there will also be a portion of the population that will be less charitable if Disney does install sensors everywhere, and these customers discover that Disney knows who they are, where they are, how long they stayed there, and who they were with. One hesitates to invoke Big Brother, as the phrase is so hackneyed by now as to be emptied of almost all meaning, but RFID really and truly might be able to function as a way to track with that much granularity.

Earlier in 2013, Disney was in the headlines when a Congressman (Rep. Markey, D-Mass) asked in a letter if Disney’s new technology could be used to exploit children. Disney CEO Iger responded vigorously, but this was not the kind of national press the company usually seeks out. Will we see a repeat of that scrutiny now?

fastpass+ 2013-11-23-2130

Disney is often a leader not just in theme park rides, but in using technologies in general. I wonder if Disney is risking national exposure–and not in a good way–but being out in front with this level of power to track. Even if Disney elects not to *do* the tracking, it looks like the *potential* is there, and I suspect that alone might be enough to convince some people not to come at all. If that scenario happens, a big chunk of MyMagic+ will have collapsed in on itself. It’s supposed to be a money-maker (and I still think it can be!), not a money loser.

Your opinion on all this is welcome in the comments. Are you OK with being tracked on the rides even when you don’t swipe? Would it make you hesitate to visit Disney World if you knew your movements would be tracked, charted, and recorded for Big Data posterity?

WDW Clicks #6

This week we bring the telephoto lens to Seven Dwarfs Mine Coaster, explore the Norsk Kultur stave church gallery in Norway, tour the new bus loop at the Magic Kingdom entrance, see the Christmas tree in Be Our Guest, look at the new Joffrey’s coffee carts in DHS, see the altered AFI store and Sid Cahuenga’s, gawk at new Disney posters in Magic of Disney Animation, sample some new holiday food items at World Showcase, and glance quickly at Spice Road Table.

Direct link: http://youtu.be/ysX9WxZ31dc

Creepy Cherubs?

I’m a big fan of insider tributes and homages at the theme parks (seeing as I am the author of WDW Hidden History, this is no surprise!), so of course I have long been fascinated with the cherubs in the ceiling of Be Our Guest. These cherubs are representations of the children of the Imagineers who worked on this part of Fantasyland.

Front line Cast Members were told when the restaurant opened that there were also images of the Imagineers themselves mixed in. Looking at the final results, this makes sense. Some of the cherubs appear to have pretty mature features and hairstyles!

!cherub

Does the old-young combination look creepy to you? Have a look at all forty cherubs and let me know what you think!

About Kevin Yee

Kevin Yee is an author and blogger writing about travel, tourism, and theme parks in Central Florida.

Browse Archived Articles by

  • second blue teacup

    Honestly, if you want privacy and you have a cellphone, Facebook account (or know and associate with anyone with a Facebook account), have a club card for a supermarket, go to public venue AND say you are concerned about privacy, you’re either hopelessly naive or amazingly dim.

    I can see a lot of useful applications for Disney in streamlining and plussing their operations and offerings.

    Plus it would be awesome the first time they shut down an attraction once they discover that its only audience is stingy passholders that are taking advantage of it.

  • TDSTOM

    If you don’t want to be tracked, DON’T STRAP ON THE BANDS!! They’ve been pretty clear on this concept.

    Like they haven’t been tracking you for years as you swipe your credit cards through out the parks anyways!!

    LOL

    Thomas

    • KISSman

      That’s assuming that everyone uses credit cards when they buy things throughout the park (which they don’t). Secondly, at some point, you won’t have a choice when it comes to the bands. You have to use it to get in the park so you will have to have it on your person somewhere and just because you bury it in your pocket doesn’t mean that it’s going to ‘magically’ respect your privacy and stop tracking you.

  • AaroniusPolonius

    1. Surrender the idea that the Disney Parks were ever “public space” to begin with. They were not and are not. You buy a ticket, you book a hotel room, you enter a private realm where Disney sets the rules. If they want to track your every move, then they will. If you don’t like it, don’t choose to attend a Disney Park. It’s really as simple as that. Nobody is ‘force feeding’ you My Magic Bands or Avatar Land or whatever. You don’t have to spend money to enter and enjoy/bemoan a Disney Park, after all. So, if being tracked to this level of minute sophistication is beyond your realm of acceptance, don’t go. Done.

    2. As some have mentioned, it’s plainly obvious that this level of tracking was part of the initiative from the get-go. This is a massive, long-term investment in the study, the manipulation, and the exploitation of consumer behavior, on par with Wal-Mart’s database and delivery system (which, via the study of consumer behavior, now just delivers tons of Pop-Tarts to areas under hurricane watch, for example.) Disney is spending a ton of money to make tons of money at their theme parks.

    They’re soon going to have a mass of data, collected in real-time, delineating both macro and micro trends at their theme parks. For example, they’re not just going to know that the area between the Rock-n-Roller Coaster and Tower of Terror gets crowded by 11am, but the demographics and the psychographics of the crowd that forms there…in minute detail, and then they’re going to set up carts, shops, entertainment, etc that caters specifically to the segments making up that crowd, making more money.

    To put this another way, if Disney discovers that traffic patterns at the Magic Kingdom favors vegetarians in Frontierland at lunchtime, and meat lovers in Tomorrowland, wanna bet that the mutant junkie giant turkey legs will be supplanted with vegan offerings? Or move to Tomorrowland? (Obviously, a gross oversimplification.)

    3. As a marketer by trade, Disney is going to make a fortune on this investment. Why? Because the more accurate, detailed and minute the marketing data is, the more effective the marketing initiatives will be. To put this another way, sending out a broad missive or message might get heads to turn, but targeting people with specific messages for products, services, food or whatever that their market segment is specifically inclined to purchase, is the way to make the cash register ring.

    From personal experience, even if a brand sends out a broad message “We’re magic for everyone,” what they really mean is “we’re magic for those who have the money to purchase our magic in large amounts,” and the better way to reach those customers is via micro-targeting their market segment. That Disney will be able to (a) not only do this in real-time but (b) produce studies on holistic and segmented consumer behavior at their parks is extraordinary, and will make them BUNDLES of money if they do it right. Heck, even if they do it wrong!

    4. This is kind of why the prior “Iger divests money from rumored projects to My Magic+” article read like so many shades of fecal matter. Going into this investment, Disney had to know that it was going to be monstrously expensive, but was going to have a multi-generational payoff. Yes, I believe that the investment is a lot “cart before horse,” in that Disney Parks, and especially those in Florida, need ride and attraction infrastructual investment BEFORE MyMagic+ rolls out. But in no way does the potential of the My Magic+ investment lead one to think that “all projects are pulled.” Once this puppy is up and running, Disney will have the ability to do things with their customers that they didn’t have before…and for decades to come, as well. In many ways, My Magic+ is the 5th Gate at WDW: a long term investment that will pay off dividends long after the initial cost is paid back.

    5. I’d give good money to be a fly on the wall once the extensive tracking data from My Magic+ starts coming in. Like any marketing study, there are always surprises (see: Walmart discovering that Florida’s favorite hurricane food is Pop Tarts.) Disney is sure to discover some amazing details about the market segments that visit WDW. “Lower-middle-class Anglo-Americans from Ohio are more likely to buy Mickey Mouse ice creams after a thunderstorm than all other groups” and such. I’d LOVE to see how they decode a visit from bears and queens on Gay Day, for example.

    6. This ability to track visitors at the macro and the micro level will most certainly play into Anaheim’s long term goals of altering the visitation dynamics of that resort from Annual Passholders to Long Term Exclusive Disney Vacationers. To think that they won’t use that level of dynamic knowledge to discourage or encourage visits, purchases, exclusives and/or whatever is naive, wishful thinking. If anything, it gives Disney a massive, bludgeon of a tool with which to enact this long-term goal in a quicker, more expedient manner.

    That’s it!

    • AaroniusPolonius

      Here’s an example of how I think that My Magic+ will pay off massively for Disney.

      Let’s say an extended family comes to visit Epcot for a day:
      Married Couple (Segment: Married Couple)
      Their Five Year Old Child (Segment: Youthful Dependent)
      Two Grandparents (Segment: Elderly Secondary Caregivers)
      Single Uncle (Segment: Unattached Family Member)

      Now, let’s say, from the data they’ve collected via My Magic+, they’ve determined that by around 3pm, 68% of 5-year old youthful dependents and their married couple parents leave the park for a nap or a rest.

      In addition, they note that at least 50% of unattached family members vacationing with the family stay in the park, with psychometrics pointing towards a desire for either independent exploration or “just being over kid time.”

      Now, without My Magic+, Disney is losing at least three members of this party for at least a few hours. They may pick up some more income from them elsewhere by accident, but they don’t know. My Magic+ gives them the chance to make an active play for their income.

      At 2:45, the parents get a text from the system.
      “Going back to the hotel to take a nap?
      You’ll need your rest, because we have a whole lot of fun in store for you tonight!
      Book a family dinner at
      [INSERT SELECTION OF UNDERPERFORMING/UNDERBOOKED WDW RESTAURANTS HERE]
      Or leave the little one with your parents and have a romantic night for yourself around the world. While the tyke and the grandparents enjoy [INSERT HOTEL-SPECIFIC ACTIVITIES HERE] why not relax and unwind at [INSERT ROMANTIC DINNER SPOT HERE.] Your Magic+ vacation for the night is a mere click away!”

      At the same time, the Uncle gets a text from the system.
      “Need a break from family fun?
      Why not join us at [INSERT UNDERPERFORMING BAR/RESTAURANT/PUB/WONDERS OF LIFE PAVILION HERE] for a special Happy Hour just for singles! Live music, select nibbles and great conversation with new friends await! From 3-6 at [LOCATION]”

      And the grandparents get a text.
      “Why not give the parents a night off and bond with your grandchild? Take the little one off their hands and go explore [INSERT COST ACTIVITY/DINNER/ETC HERE.]

      You get the idea.

      Instead of broadly throwing at a variety of activities with the hopes that some guests will partake, Disney will be able to throw out specific, targeted activities that generate profit to specifically targeted guests at specifically targeted times based on research data mined from the prior behaviors and actions of millions of guests. It’s flipping genius.

      • AaroniusPolonius

        What’s more, they can juice up underperforming areas of the parks with these microtargeted initiatives. Let’s say that ‘singles happy hour’ is held somewhere in “The Land,” right when the crowds are winnowing out of Future World and into World Showcase for the evening, upping the till over there.

        Or that the ‘married couple romantic dinner’ pushes up head count and profit at ‘Askerhaus’ or ‘Restaurant Marrakesh.’

        Or that ‘bonding time with grannie’ involves a private cabana rental for a movie over the resort pool.

        Disney is using data to microtarget and generate more income based on what they perceive to be user desire. Which is to say that they are going to be able to use past consumer behavior based on segmentation to make an even more precise educated guess on what to offer those specific consumers, at certain times of the day, to certain income brackets…to certain profit.

        Because even if something like only 10% takes Disney up on their microtargeted offers (and I’d suspect that the number will be much, MUCH higher, considering that WDW is a controlled environment where people specifically go to spend money on leisure, like 35-40%) they’ll make a fortune in additional income off of each guest that takes them up on the offer.

        Which is why they’re building the system in the first place.

        In the above example, just via the right suggestions, the right offerings at the right time of the day and to the right segmented groups, Disney sold some drinks, a romantic dinner and a premium, poolside cabana. Not too shabby.

    • gKaR

      well said :)

  • Herc

    Question about the magic bands.
    Previously our entire party of four could get fastpasses for a certain attraction. Two people would not want to ride it so the other two were able to get on twice. Can magic bands be switched? It is still the same amount of people going through.

    As for the Dwarf Mine Train ride, what are the other buildings going to be. I know one is the Dwarfs cottage.

    And you showed the tree in Be Our Guest Castle. The angel on top is Angelique from Beauty and the Beast Enchanted Christmas played by Bernadette Peters.

    Great photos. Thanks.

  • Tigertail777

    When you say you trust “Disney” with this technology, what you are really saying is you trust every single cast member and every person that has access to the system. You are trusting that there is not a single dishonest or angrily disgruntled employee in the entire lot of changing shifts that will attempt to use this system to their personal advantage. Which, I hardly need point out the larger the system the more chances of something fraudulent or dishonest happening (who would ever think that their personal credit information might ever be in danger of being hacked into through the actual credit card company? Nobody until it actually happened.) It is foolish to say you trust a faceless corporation as if it were a single entity, a corporation is composed of a chain of people and you can only hope and pray you don’t get “the weakest link”. Cynical, perhaps but truthful as is the saying “absolute power corrupts absolutely”. One of the things that has made me so cynical of supposedly airtight systems: I used to work at a bank, if you really think that your money is as secure as you think it is… brother you better think again, there are a ridiculous amount of “no-brainer” security measures that should be done that aren’t because it costs extra money they don’t want to spend. That is a national BANK chain folks, and yet you put so much trust in a corporation that is just as convoluted. “Here take my extra information about my family Disney and I trust that not a single person in your company will abuse it in any way shape or form.” The more trust you give anyone without it being earned, the more you open yourself wide for it to be abused.

  • lovechows

    Thank you for this article, Kevin. We’ve been concerned about My Magic since we first heard about it, especially after already being part of the Epsilon security breach–which included our Disney credit card account. We do not want to have our privacy invaded and our vacations tracked by Disney or any other corporation. Since WDW has implemented this at the Florida parks, we have changed our plans and cancelled our plans to go there. If they implement this in California, we will be buying RFID wallets for them (or cancel our annual passes if this doesn’t work).

  • Kevin Yee

    “But Mr Dent, the plans have been available in the local planning office for the last nine months.”

    “Oh yes, well as soon as I heard I went straight round to see them, yesterday afternoon. You hadn’t exactly gone out of your way to call attention to them, had you? I mean, like actually telling anybody or anything.”

    “But the plans were on display …”

    “On display? I eventually had to go down to the cellar to find them.”

    “That’s the display department.”

    “With a flashlight.”

    “Ah, well the lights had probably gone.”

    “So had the stairs.”

    “But look, you found the notice didn’t you?”

    “Yes,” said Arthur, “yes I did. It was on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying ‘Beware of the Leopard’.”

    —————-

    (^^Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy reference)

    YOU may have known MyMagic+ would have long-range scanners, but there are lots of people who don’t. Are the first-time visitors really supposed to read through the terms of service on MyMagic+ as they plan their vacation? Because this is the only place Disney is really talking about it.

    I still think there are going to be people surprised by this, and that it will make national news eventually.

    • AaroniusPolonius

      Kevin, I agree that the general, non-theme park fans might be surprised at the level of tracking sophistication that MyMagic+ will employ at Disney Parks. However, this is MiceAge, a site for what assumes are theme park and Disney enthusiasts, so one would expect that this audience would be (a) well aware of the cost of My Magic+, (b) that with a cost that high (a billion plus and counting), the tracking system would extend beyond making happy robots address you by name whilst in line and (c) readers of MiceAge would have looked in the basement with a flashlight for the fine print.

      I don’t dispute the newsworthiness of the piece, and if our mass media weren’t a happy oligarchy owned by like four companies, Disney included, I’d think there would be a larger story (instead of a ‘fringe’ story, due to ABC-Disney working to bury the lead, so to speak. Remember, Disney has successfully buried the Reedy Creek Improvement District reality in the general public’s mind for more than 40 years now; how many common tourists know and understand the municipal dynamics and benefits at work at WDW, that the resort is, in effect, a self-governing ‘Vatican City’ in the state of Florida? I suspect not too many, and those that do know, don’t care.)

      I do think My Magic+ extends beyond the ‘Big Brother’ already in place in the real world of tracked credit card transactions, Facebook accounts and so on and so forth, specifically due to the nature of the environment where it will be employed. Unlike in the real world, where tracking consumer behavior is the result of a collection of many open sources, Disney will have a closed-source environment, a petri dish of their very own to data mine at the Disney Parks, which will give them more accurate reads on the data, and enable them to really manipulate behavior and consumption in that closed-source environment.

      Remember, unlike a credit card transaction of a half hour on Facebook, a visit to a theme park is typically a full day affair. Once the system is in place, Disney will be able to monitor pretty much the entire day of their consumer base, segment that base into cohorts, and use those cohorts to attempt consumption manipulation over a long period of time. So, there is a level of knowledge and consumer behavior that Disney will be able to mine that is much more minute, specific and accurate than the typical multi-source data profiles we all have out there.

      It’s also probably foolish and naive to think that the data that Disney mines from a resort visit ends at the end of your vacation. Of course Disney-as-corporation is going to use the data mined from your vacation to a Disney Park to sell you merchandise, entertainment and other stuff based on the data from your Disney Park visit. For example, say your visitation pattern marks you into a market segment defined as “married with children who favor live entertainment over rides.” Do you not think that Disney is going to market their touring and/or Broadway live shows to you and your family, based on your market segment, based on your behavior in the Disney Parks? Of COURSE they will, just as they’d target “young adults with no children who favor multiple rides on premium roller coasters” to watch ESPN or the latest, blow-em-up episode of SHEILD. Of COURSE they will.

      But… it’s also foolish to think that the average, everyday visitor won’t look upon My Magic+ as a vacation benefit, as Disney looking to personalize and perfect their vacation, especially after the company has a large sampling of data to work with. With Disney offering up experiences seemingly to “you” but really to the market segment you most align to, a lot of people will find an idealized vacation experience, where even more than before, Disney knew just what they wanted when they wanted, where they wanted (and one suspects, at the price that “you” but really the market segment you most align to was willing to pay.)

      The answer for those “Ron Swansons” out there, rightly concerned about privacy and the like, would be to not use the My Magic+ system, which is why Disney seems to be working overtime to make the system as appealing as possible to as many people as possible, from the ‘band glam’ accessories to the personal texts and greetings and so on. It’s going to be a hard sell once the “just the vacation I wanted” reports start coming in (to say nothing of the monolith that is Disney PR: just try and get a reporter to skew objective after being put up in the Grand Floridian and boozed to oblivion,) but I’m sure some people will not gravitate to My Magic+, much like there are people who don’t use FastPass, or credit cards or have a Facebook profile. Remember, it’s a choice to engage with all of those things, and one can choose not to.

      Or…one can simple choose not to go to a Disney Park. Do I think that My Magic+ will cause a mass exodus from the Disney Empire? Heck no, and I suspect, in some room full of charts and graphs and numbers, there’s a case already made that the system will both increase visitation and guest spending exponentially.

      As I said before, it really is the 5th Gate of WDW, both in terms of cost and in terms of profit generation.

      (Full disclosure: I work in the advertising and marketing industry and have for the past 15+ years, so I’m both in the know and in the love of data mining, collection and micro-targeted marketing strategies. I’d also tell you which way it hangs to get a deal on new underwear, so perhaps I’m biased.)

  • Gurgie

    My biggest issue with the bands is the same issue that I have with the update on the last bit in the WDW HM and the last scene in the new mansion ride in Japan, I forget the name of it. It takes out the wonder of it, the “how’d they DO that?!” Roz making personalized comments to the crowd is amazing to little ones because they don’t know there’s a man behind the curtain. But with technology already personalized at home, by wearing a band to WDW, it makes it easy to figure out that it’s the band that is making the characters talk to you.
    A little less on topic, but it’s the same thing with the digital effects used in HM and the last scene in the new ride in Japan, I forget the name of it: it takes away the wonder when all you’re doing is watching a wall with pictures.

  • TimeTraveler2442

    Good idea to track each individual 24 hours a day. And this Disney system can be used to test how it could work planet wide. Should be coupled with massive video and audio surveillance so that there is a continuous record of your whole life, both at home and in public. …….. Not ! …. lol Seriously though, Disney is risking alienating their clientele. Which ever wing-nut thought this up should be reassigned to the Churros cart of some other less dangerous position with Disney, etc.

    • AaroniusPolonius

      There already is a continuous record of your own life. Now, since the data is from multiple-sources, or multiple ways in which you engage with trackable elements, it takes time to pull all of that information together into that continuous record, but that record already exists, awaiting (today) a detective to pull it together or (tomorrow) a suite of software to pull it together.