MyMagic+ a billion dollar bet for guests at Walt Disney World

Posted Tuesday, March 11, 2014 9:19 AM | Contributed by Jeff

MyMagic+ includes RFID wristbands and a host of IT systems are intended to enhance guest experience, and lead park decision making with data. Fans mostly love the system, while others are critical of it.

Read more from Bloomberg Business Week.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014 12:12 PM

I said this here about a dozen years collection happens everywhere, but data utilization is where Disney excels. The roll-out has been bumpy (to say the least) - but I have faith they'll figure out the main issues and get them resolved pretty quickly.

In Disney terms, that means probably another year or two - but you don't turn an aircraft carrier on a dime.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014 1:00 PM

I think the rollout sucks if you're not a resort guest.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014 1:03 PM

I think that's the idea.

Well, not for it to suck for anyone other than resort guests, but for it to be better for resort guests. Slide the scale downward for the rollout issues and what the bottom end of that scale (the day visitors) get sucks.

As things move forward, the bottom end of the scale will leave the sucky range, but you gott to believe that it's always going to be better for resort guests.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014 2:00 PM

Given what I know about spending habits of locals and tourists here, no I don't think that at all.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014 2:43 PM

I would think that just by virtue of paying for a room, that resort guests are dropping way more.

But I'm not sure that's the sole motivator. If you want to fill a gazillion hotel rooms, you make it advantageous to stay in those rooms.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014 4:10 PM

The motivator, as I understand it, has more to do with limiting scope to avoid overtaxing the system.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014 4:35 PM

Whatever the motivation, I have no reason to believe Disney doesn't know who to cater to.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014 10:38 PM

But that's my point, it's not a matter of catering to anyone. They've rolled it out in stages starting with the group that's easiest to track (resort guests). Random groups of single-day ticket and passholders have been selected to test already, and they've issued them MagicBands. One of my coworkers is already in that group, happily booking Fastpass ahead of time from home.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014 11:00 PM

The people I felt sorry for were the saps who spent a good part of their valuable morning standing in line at a kiosk trying to get their fastpasses for the day. I felt so fortunate to be a resort guests and have my band.
What I did notice at every park was construction of more FP+ locations, so maybe that crush will ease up somewhat- guests will have to be notified not to jump in the first line they see but head farther back in the park.

The system, for what they're trying to save, may be attendant heavy. I can't remember, did the old FP ticket machines have an employee present to assist with problems or questions? I don't think so, so for every kiosk there's several employees trying to help guests make heads or tails out of their day.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014 6:47 AM

The old Fastpass machines had one attendant present at all times to help. Still probably far less Cast Members needed than the current Fastpass+ locations with 5 or more Cast Members per spot. With the amount of kiosks being installed, I have a feeling that self-service is planned for most locations once the testing period is finally over.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014 9:14 AM

The thing is, some parks have plenty of locations, but people tend to gravitate to the first people they see. Magic Kingdom had two people with iPads and they were mobbed, but go to Tomorrowland and there are at least a dozen, rarely with a wait.

But yes, they have a ton of people there to help because the user interface sucks, and the touch screens don't register your button presses half of the time or more. They're really terrible. Also, Diana found that if you can't get the ride you want, often you can go back later and change your reservation as they open more slots for a particular attraction. Sometimes you can make the change right away.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014 9:30 AM

^^And that's probably true. However, more than once we had the experience where another guest in a park asked us what our bands were for. We had to tell them about the FP+ system and that it was available for them too, only with paper tickets. When you walk in the park(s) there are signs with a big FP+ and an arrow on them to direct the day guests to the locations, but I'm not sure how much actual promotion or instruction was going on. I guess anyone could use the app on their smart phone, but I guess it would be good for wait times only, as you can't fast pass on it unless you have a band.
So my impression is that Disney, as they move along with the project, will have customer re-education to deal with.

Last edited by RCMAC, Wednesday, March 12, 2014 9:31 AM
Wednesday, March 12, 2014 10:12 AM

Jeff you should try to link your Annual Pass through your MDE account. Annual Pass Holders are suppose to be rolled out sometime mid March to all account holders. We have friends who tried this a few days back and now they can make FP+ reservations through MDE, without having a room stay reservation.

I agree with head to the back of the parks to make your FP+ selections as those kiosks seem to be fairly empty compared to those in the front of the park.

It also appears Disney is holding back FP+ reservation times for the day of guests. Typically it is fairly simple to get the FP+ with the exception of TSMM. We have learned if you cannot get a FP+ time prior to the date, try again at the opening of the park. 99% of the time we have had success with logging on to my MDE account and then TSMM is an option again.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014 11:37 AM

Our passes have been linked to our accounts since July.

My in-laws went to Epcot yesterday (after I've been insisting no one buys single-day tickets), and they were able to swap reservations to Soarin' eventually, and only because my wife was persistent at the kiosks. If nothing else, it reveals that they release some inventory periodically throughout the day.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014 1:27 PM

"Oh noes! Virtual Queuing is going to kill the industry!"


"Oh noes! Changing how we virtually queue is going to kill Disney!"

I'm just picking...and I know you're not saying that...and I do value your opinion as more than silly complaining...

...but, it still sounds to me (admittedly, as someone not there everyday like you) like little more than the initial pains of changing the entire reservation infrastructure of the four most visited theme parks on the planet.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014 2:39 PM

Sure it's initial pains, and I'm not suggesting they won't figure it out. Admittedly, I'm way too close to the subject, and it's hard to talk about without getting too inside baseball. I'm only countering your suggestion that it favors resort guests is deliberate for business or revenue reasons.

The more interesting question is whether or not there's a premium offering in hiding. That depends on who you ask, but it's plausible.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014 3:44 PM

If they don't use this system to further tier the guests, I'll be surprised.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014 4:09 PM

That's a tricky balance, because staying on-property at even a value resort is a win with certain perks. Drop those and you could end up with lots of empty rooms at Pop Century.

That said, they already do some tiered things that tend not to piss people off. There's the dining plan levels, including the wine package, for example. There are a ton of add-on experiences like Jungle Trek and backstage tours, too. Those are generally awesome with little to no impact on the core offering.

I think that's where they can get it right. Paying for access is a cheap and dirty way to boost your bottom line, but WDW is already a premium experience... diluting it could negatively impact business in the broader sense.


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