Electronic bracelets at center of vacation management system at Disney Parks

Posted Monday, January 7, 2013 10:33 AM | Contributed by VitaminsAndGravy

Disney in the coming months plans to begin introducing a vacation management system called MyMagic+ that will drastically change the way Disney World visitors — some 30 million people a year — do just about everything. The initiative is part of a broader effort, estimated by analysts to cost between $800 million and $1 billion, to make visiting Disney parks less daunting and more amenable to modern consumer behavior. Disney is betting that happier guests will spend more money.

Read more from The New York Times.

Monday, January 7, 2013 1:00 PM

I'm not sure how I feel about this. I DO know that I HATE the next gen supermarket programs that have to participate in to get the lowest prices.

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Monday, January 7, 2013 8:30 PM

It's creepy, in a way, but if it makes the vacation even better, it might be worth it. If they sell the info to third parties, count me out. If the keep it to figure out how to improve the park experience, it sounds awesome.

A lot of new technologies can be used for good or evil. Disney is a corporation, so I don't know if I would trust them to use the info that they collect only for good.

The implementation sounds very interesting though. It's kind of a worry-free vacation. You don't even need to keep anything in your pockets.

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Monday, January 7, 2013 8:49 PM

I don't have any problem with behavioral analytics that I voluntarily participate in, especially if it leads to a better experience. With all of the people who bitch and moan about it, I don't understand why people don't want Google tailoring ads to you based on what you look at on the Internet. Who cares? Ads for theme parks make a hell of a lot more sense than ads for tampons.

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Monday, January 7, 2013 8:49 PM

I always find Big Brother comments funny. Did anyone actually read 1984? You can opt not to go to Disney World. You can't easily opt not to live in Eurasia, Eastasia, or Oceana.

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Monday, January 7, 2013 11:05 PM

Here's the official blog post, by the way.

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Monday, January 7, 2013 11:23 PM

Jeff said:

Here's the official blog post, by the way.

"...imagine booking guaranteed ride times for your favorite shows and attractions even before setting foot in the park. With MyMagic+, guests will be able to do that and more, enabling them to spend more time together and creating an experience that’s better for everyone.

We know that some people like to plan every aspect of their Disney vacation in advance while others like to plan very little, letting their day unfold spontaneously. No matter where guests fall in that spectrum, My Disney Experience gives them the flexibility to plan as much or as little as they’d like to create the exact Disney experience they want. They can book dining and other experiences and reserve times for their favorite attractions, shows and more through an enhanced FastPass system, FastPass+. Once they arrive, they can use their smart phones to spontaneously change their plans in the moment, exploring our parks at their own pace and getting the most out of their visit."

I'm not even going to beat around the bush...

Told you it was coming. I wish I could find the first time I said it and everyone got up in arms about how preplanning your day would never work. Or how smartphones would become devices for queue management and/or planning and no one could quite wrap their head around it. Probably what? Like 6 or 7 years ago when we really got into the VQ and FOL theory and what the future of park queueing would be.

Basically if you've been reading the discussions here for any amount of time, this is all so obvious that you're wondering what took so long to get here. This literally puts Disney in another league. Now we just wait as the watered-down versions of these ideas trickle into the big regional parks.

Last edited by Lord Gonchar, Monday, January 7, 2013 11:23 PM
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Tuesday, January 8, 2013 1:48 AM

You sure like to toot your own horn a lot, Gonch. :) But you are right. I remember that you said it was coming, and I believed you, but didn't like it. I guess I have been conditioned to not mind it so much now, because this doesn't totally creep me out. Just a little. I think that you predicted the conditioning too.

What creeps me out a lot is the next step. What's the end point that we are being moved to? This technology is being introduced at an amusement park chain, but where can it go from there? Get used to A, they introduce B. Get used to B, they introduce C. Get used to C, they introduce D... What is going to happen when we get to Z? I have a feeling that the people who are implementing this tech know exactly what Z is, and that is their ultimate goal.

And I am not talking about amusement parks here. Amusement parks will be the pipeline to introduce it into our everyday lives.

Last edited by LostKause, Tuesday, January 8, 2013 1:50 AM
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Tuesday, January 8, 2013 8:39 AM

For me, an on-property guest who takes the Magical Express and carries nothing but my room key around, this is essentially something I'm already a part of. I use my room key for my room, admission, food, souvenirs, and Fastpasses. They already have all of this data on me. The only thing truly new here is that I won't physically have to be at a Fastpass machine to get one.

Do I care? Not at all. In fact, I hope they're able to correlate the information with my forthcoming cruise, and then send me offers of awesome proportions to help me save on my next visit.

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Tuesday, January 8, 2013 9:37 AM

you're wondering what took so long to get here

Reportedly, the whole next gen initiative cost $1B. That's what took so long. It's genius though---rather than the current FP scheme which rewards strategic early risers disproportionately, it levels the playing field for anyone willing to do even the smallest amount of planning. More happy guests is great news for Disney.

Edited to add: the original Animal Kingdom park reportedly cost about the same amount. In other words, Disney thinks of this as equivalent to their fortunes as almost another gate.

Last edited by Brian Noble, Tuesday, January 8, 2013 9:40 AM
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Tuesday, January 8, 2013 10:46 AM

Will it really be more satisfied guests? Or, will it just be different satisfied guests.

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Tuesday, January 8, 2013 12:30 PM

As far as Fastpassing goes, I think it will take a level of satisfaction away from those who know how to use or abuse the system, and give to those who do not. I am okay with that.

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Tuesday, January 8, 2013 12:41 PM

This entirely opens to the door of the idea of "unfair reservations" that we talked about at some point along the way. And no one can really get outrighly pissed because everyone is using the system, it's just that we don't know how much it's being used by any one guest. With everyone having different access & using it in different ways behind the scenes, but still looking like we all use it the same way on the surface...Disney did it. They got there.

LostKause said:

You sure like to toot your own horn a lot, Gonch. :)

Because I believe in accountibility. It's too easy to spout nonsense on an internet forum and forget about it. It dissipates and is forgotten. Anyone can say anything in the now, it's once time passes that you find out who is full of crap and who knows their stuff.

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Tuesday, January 8, 2013 1:49 PM

The biggest and hardest promise for Staggs to keep from his blog post is that the entire range of guests, the megaplanner to the go-with-the-flow person, will be more content. I'll be interested to see how they deliver on that. I'm a person who is in the middle, likely more flow than planner.

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Tuesday, January 8, 2013 2:42 PM

That was my biggest concern about implementation as well. It seems that this heavily favors the ultra-planner at the expense of those who would rather go with the flow.

Particularly,

  • I don't wanna have to check my phone all the damn time.
  • I don't want to be next to Space Mountain when I realize that 3 months ago I reserved Big Thunder for the same time, (although if they really are being strict with FastPass times now this may not be much of a change.)
  • I see a cranky toddler needing to eat throwing a wrench in the whole game plan.
  • So now instead of the Toy Story Mania fastpasses being gone 1 hour after opening, they'll be gone 3 months before you arrive?
  • What if my phone goes dead. How will I access my account, or more importantly, internet porn?

Also, you look like a dork wearing that wristband.

Last edited by kpjb, Tuesday, January 8, 2013 2:42 PM
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Tuesday, January 8, 2013 3:20 PM

kpjb said:

I don't wanna have to check my phone all the damn time.

No worse than receiving any text, I imagine. But point taken.

I don't want to be next to Space Mountain when I realize that 3 months ago I reserved Big Thunder for the same time, (although if they really are being strict with FastPass times now this may not be much of a change.)

You really don't think there's some kind of reminder/notification for such things? Heck, some kind of cool itinerary presented at hotel Check-in would be neat. But it shouldn't work any differently than it does now - in that it's no harder than honoring a reservation you previously made.

Point is, you're not going to reserve rides now and never be reminded before you physically enter the park.

I see a cranky toddler needing to eat throwing a wrench in the whole game plan.

I've read so many articles that I'm not sure which mentioned it, but you can change plans on the fly via the app on your phone.

Which to me, shows how manazing this whole system is. It's essentially a real time ride reservation/crowd management system.

So now instead of the Toy Story Mania fastpasses being gone 1 hour after opening, they'll be gone 3 months before you arrive?

Heh. Probably.

What if my phone goes dead. How will I access my account, or more importantly, internet porn?

Always travel with a phone charger and the lastest issue of Hustler.

Also, you look like a dork wearing that wristband.

You look like a dork wearing that wristband.

---

Perhaps it's my familiarity with my wife and hotel forecasting and such, but it seems that if the entire system is running real time numbers, keeping track of how many ride reservations to set aside for the various types of users should come pretty easily.

The smallest of parks are already quite adept at predicting crowd numbers and patterns. Imagine what Disney already knows already about their guests behaviors and then imagine how much more this system tells them. I have no doubt that they'll handle all types of visitors and their various approaches to visiting the parks.

And even if they don't, isn't complaining about the park experience changing exactly what we've spent the last decade beating up on Travis for ? ;)

I, for one, welcome our Disney overlords.

Last edited by Lord Gonchar, Tuesday, January 8, 2013 3:23 PM
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Tuesday, January 8, 2013 4:21 PM

I think the technology is fine and I would probably enjoy using it but I don't think they should be allowed to implement it until they can get the riverboat to rock back and forth in the finale of Splash Mountain. In other words, I think the parks could use quite a bit of TLC before they go spending millions or even billions on this kind of stuff.

But, it is already too late.

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Tuesday, January 8, 2013 9:07 PM

I'm sure it'll integrate well, but it just seems so... cumbersome.

I acknowledge, though, that part of the problem here is me. This isn't tailored towards me, and is probably would just add hassle to MY trip instead of save it. For the way we do Disney, it's totally unnecessary.

I've been to Disney only twice in the last decade. When I go, I do it when it's crazy slow. We don't park hop, so there's plenty of time to take in all the attractions in a single park in a day. Last time we were there, the only Fastpasses we needed were for Toy Story. The rest were souvenirs for the kiddo to play with. Literally every other attraction was a walk-on, even Star Tours which I expected to be busy because it was in its final week.

So yeah, I'm not the target demographic, and I have no idea what it's like there when it's busy. Probably why much of it seems superfluous to me.

That being said, I'm going to a wedding in Tampa next January, so I'm sure I'll try it out. Not putting that dorko bracelet on, though. At least not where you can see it... I'll be the guy rubbing his crotch on the validator.

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Tuesday, January 8, 2013 9:35 PM

kpjb said:

  • So now instead of the Toy Story Mania fastpasses being gone 1 hour after opening, they'll be gone 3 months before you arrive?

That wouldn't be any different than it is now.... ;-) Seriously, I love that ride as much as any ride I've ridden (save the magical Voyage rides so frequently referenced). But it always involves long waits, or a DASH from park entrance to the FP distribution *at* park opening.

P.S. I can vouch for Gonch having seen the future on this one...but I'm one of those that says concept is less than half the battle (implementation is THE key).

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Tuesday, January 8, 2013 9:43 PM

I'll be interested to see how they deliver on that.

The megaplanners will be limited to 3 FP+ per day. That's quite a bit less than most of them pull now but probably enough to satisfy.

Last edited by Brian Noble, Tuesday, January 8, 2013 9:44 PM
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