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Disney’s RFID MagicBand

Manila, Philippines – Young or young at heart, Disneyland is considered to be one of the happiest places in the world by many people. It has been the home of Mickey Mouse, The Little Mermaid, The Lion King and a lot more, where people end up going home with a smile on the face, as a result of its unique offerings couple with its technologically advanced rides and theme park features.

Disney's RFID MagicBandThe fun and innovation doesn’t stop there.

The Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida is introducing a brand new strategy to attract customers by providing a more convenient way to transact, as well as a more personalized approach to each visitor.

Harnessing the power of the RFID technology, Disney World brings in a new wearable piece of tech called the MagicBand. It’s basically a rubber bracelet worn by visitors to be used as a hotel room pass to unlock doors, a ticket to theme park’s rides, and a credit card to buy food or souvenirs.

Disney’s MagicBand is just a part of a bigger system called MyMagic+, which utimately aims to make visitors’ theme park visit less daunting and more adaptable to the consumer behavior. Analysts estimate the overall strategy cost to be between $800 million and $1 billion. “If we can enhance the experience, more people will spend more of their leisure time with us,” said Thomas O. Staggs, chairman of Disney Parks and Resorts.

At present, people get exhausted and hassled by the fact that they have to pass through entrance turnstiles, redeem paper tickets, race to FastPass kiosks, bring cash for food or merchandise purchases, etc. Behind all these are wasted time of waiting and waiting and waiting.

In contrast, with the MagicBand and Disney’s new smartphone app called My Disney Experience, visitors will be able to pre-select three FastPasses for rides, reserve V.I.P seats for for parades and fireworks, and feed personal details to make character meet-and-greets more personalized.

Imagine you approaching Donald Duck in the park. Before, the Disney character would only say hello in a general way. Now, data fed into the MagicBand will be transmitted to the characters, which then allows them to personalize the greeting, saying “Hi, Art!” or without prompting, exclaim “Happy birthday!”

MagicBand will also allow the collection of guests’ behavior in minute detail. It can record info such as the number of hotdogs you’ve bought, what attractions you rode and when, duration of your dance with Snow White, etc. With such occurrences stored in the database, Disney can then refine its offerings and customize its marketing promotions.

As with any technology that collects personal details, Disney might be throwing itself into the usual debate of privacy protections. However, Disney believes that it is essential for them to weave new technology into its parks to improve the overall experience, which Mr. Staggs calls as “transformational.”

Although Disney visitors still has an option to stick to the traditional paper tickets, I believe that it will only be a matter of time until everybody joins the bandwagon in wearing the MagicBand. Exciting times for Disneyland. Question is, when will it be available in nearby Asian countries? (Glenn Richmond Ong)

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