Disassembling MagicBands and big data at Walt Disney World

Posted Friday, August 1, 2014 5:38 PM | Contributed by Jeff

From the feature:

But MagicBand isn’t like any old data gathering practice, because Disney isn’t like any old company. And not just because Disney is a giant conglomerate that has good reason to collect as much information about you as possible. Rather, because Disney’s theme parks don’t have the same relationship to reality that Google and Costco and the NSA do. They are hybrids of fantasy and reality.

Read more from Medium.

Sunday, August 3, 2014 12:42 AM

I am waiting to hear over winter if Disney will send out marketing pitches based on exactly what you rode ,bought,and where you ate.

If they tie the on ride photo cameras ,security cameras they could even send you a brochure of pictures of you having fun at Disney.

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Sunday, August 3, 2014 3:18 AM

Big Brother is watching you. And so is The Mouse. It just came 30 years later than George Orwell predicted.

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Sunday, August 3, 2014 9:58 AM

That was the point of the piece though... nobody cares. This isn't the NSA tagging you as a commie sympathizer, it's a company trying to tailor the product to you.

They probably wonder why we ride that awful Imagination ride so often at Epcot.

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Sunday, August 3, 2014 4:28 PM

They know how much we love the music, Jeff!

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Monday, August 4, 2014 10:16 AM

If I had the time and patience to do the "Gonchback" thingy, I'd link to about 8 or 10 different occasions over the years where I've said that Disney is perhaps the best company on the planet regarding the usage of data.

*Now, I might amend it to say "the NSA collects more data than anybody, but Disney still gets the most out of the data they collect."

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Wednesday, August 6, 2014 12:22 AM

Finally we get some discussion about NextGen that isn't centered on FastPass+. This whole idea is far bigger than that.

So are the Magic Bands reusable? If you return to the resort for another vacation, do they (Disney, not the bands!) retain your data profile so they can get to know you even better?And I guess the next challenge is in figuring out how to interpret negative actions...the things you *don't* do, and figuring out why you make those particular decisions.

You realize, of course, that this turns the Walt Disney World resort into a gigantic real-life game of Roller Coaster Tycoon. Just be glad they haven't (yet) figured out how to implement the giant tweezers to pick up a misbehaving customer and drop him into the Seven Seas Lagoon.

--Dave Althoff, Jr.

Last edited by RideMan, Thursday, August 7, 2014 12:06 AM
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Wednesday, August 6, 2014 8:44 AM

The bands don't retain anything. They're just RFID tags with a number. The trick is to pair that number with your profile, which is pretty much a given if you intend to use their app or the web for FastPass. I worked with a guy who did a lot of testing early in the program, and he showed me his profile online with something like six bands and four passes associated with his profile. My family has a band and two cards associated with each of us.

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Wednesday, August 6, 2014 8:45 AM

"Imagination 1 isn't thrilling enough for me."

I wondered the same thing about reusing the bands. I kept ours and put them back in the nice box they sent us. Truth is, I'd gotten so used to having it on that once we got home I felt weird without it.

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Wednesday, August 6, 2014 10:49 AM

Yes, you can reuse your previous magic bands. The key to making it work is to only link your bands, tickets and hotel reservations to one MDE account. At this point, I have 5 bands on my account. 4 bands are from previous on site hotel stays and the other band is from my AP.

The part I found interesting is once you check into your hotel any of my 5 bands were able to access my current hotel room at the resort.

The only part of magic bands I hope they address is you must either have a valid ticket media or a magic band to purchase a new one. I wanted to buy my wife the Olaf band, but I needed to link her ticket and account on the spot to the band. Thus you cannot really gift a band to someone for later use at this time.

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Wednesday, August 6, 2014 12:13 PM

I think you can on the web if you can manage their account. It looks like I can add one for my mom if I wanted to.

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Wednesday, August 6, 2014 1:24 PM

Jeff you are correct, you can add a magic band if you manage their account as a gift. I should have specified, I was attempting to purchase a limited time magic band. The Frozen magic bands and the Star Wars magic bands are only available at Hollywood Studios. Star Wars, Yoda and Darth Vader bands along with the Chillin Olaf band were limited edition. The other Frozen bands are called limited time bands.

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Wednesday, August 6, 2014 2:07 PM

What do you mean limited time? As far as I know that means the window to buy them is narrow, not their use.

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Wednesday, August 6, 2014 3:34 PM

This is how Disney is differing between the two types of bands. Limited Edition will be limited to "X" number of bands. Limited time bands is there is no max on the number of bands produced or sold. Disney is just limiting the availability to purchase those bands.

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Wednesday, August 6, 2014 10:42 PM

Right, but you can still use them until the end of time. It has no bearing on how it can be used with the system.

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Thursday, August 7, 2014 12:10 AM

I realize I stated poorly; the article even points out that the bands don't retain anything and don't even use GPS or anything like it; previous post edited for clarity.

And it looks like I got my answer. Subject to the caveat that the battery in the band will eventually die...

--Dave Althoff, Jr.

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Tuesday, August 19, 2014 10:04 AM

Magic Bans as of today maybe purchased without ticket media being present. In addition, the new types of bands are available in solid colors. Special band such as the limited edition bands such as the Frozen Bands and Star Wars may only be purchased with ticket media.

I will say at every point during the roll out of MM+, Disney is listening to guest concerns. I wonder if the new SB+ cards will continue. Those have been a mixed bag. The SB+ cards for Anna and Elsa have been working great along with the Be Our Guest during lunch hours. SB+ at Soarin was not so well received.

SB+ is Cedar Point's old Ticket to Ride method. In order to obtain access to the standby lines, you must have a ticket with a 30 minute window of time on it. Thus a guest can no longer simply wait in the Standby line for access to the attraction. Once all SB+ have been given out, their is no option to experience the attraction.

Last edited by Meanstreak69, Tuesday, August 19, 2014 2:12 PM
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Tuesday, August 19, 2014 2:45 PM

Disney wasn't "listening to concerns." That's an inflated sense of self-importance seeded by pin-traders and ubergeeks. Most of what they've done was planned from the start as part of a staged rollout of the entire system.

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