Wired: Disney's billion dollar bet on MagicBands

Posted Tuesday, March 10, 2015 9:50 AM | Contributed by Jeff

From the Wired feature:

MagicBands, tech-studded wristbands available to every visitor to the Magic Kingdom, feature a long-range radio that can transmit more than 40 feet in every direction. The hostess, on her modified iPhone, received a signal when the family was just a few paces away. Tanner family inbound! The kitchen also queued up: Two French onion soups, two roast beef sandwiches! When they sat down, a radio receiver in the table picked up the signals from their MagicBands and triangulated their location using another receiver in the ceiling. The server—as in waitperson, not computer array—knew what they ordered before they even approached the restaurant and knew where they were sitting.

Read more from Wired.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015 11:20 PM
rollergator's avatar

Lord Gonchar said:

Add another data point - State College at 4pm.

Reminder to self: The Creamery.

+3Loading
Wednesday, March 11, 2015 11:21 PM

tell me more of this junk tugging.

+4Loading
Wednesday, March 11, 2015 11:31 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

I feel like I can't adequately express the completeness of the idea in my head.

Like most discussions around here, it seems to want to drift back to the minutae and it's not that kind of thing. It's a big picture concept. I don't know how the magic is going to work exactly, I just think the end result is obvious - whether you know it or not...regardless of if you're actively aware of it happening, what you do during your big Disney vacation will be more planned than not. Enough so that it might as well be 100%.

It's not about the petty details of being in line two at the ice cream stand at 3:47pm. It's closer to the wider windows of my hypothetical run from BTMR to Space Mountain. Or the traveling across PA example. It's a Choose Your Own Adventure book - there's only so many ways to go, it's not wide open, there's a modicum of control. You're being guided. It a real time strategy game where I send troops to attack and know I can ignore them for the next five minute to work on my castle because it will take them that long to march there. I don't have to scroll the screen along with them, I catch up just before they get there.

It doesn't have to be micromanaged to still be predetermined. The invisible hand of your Disney overlords will guide you to the perfect vacation.

I think I've said the same thing five different ways in my posts in this thread. Sometimes I can't keep up either. I might be the Matthew McConaughey of high concept theme park operations and experience spouting what seems like incoherent jibberish while driving my Lincoln around.


+0
Wednesday, March 11, 2015 11:59 PM
slithernoggin's avatar

I'm not sure that knowing where a single family or group is at any given time is one of the main goals of all this (although using the technology to enhance the experience of those single families and groups is a great thing).

Rather, mightn't the value be in having very specific data about how groups of people are using the parks? For example, it's one thing to know that on a day when x number of people are in DAK, y number of people will go to the closest fast food after Festival of the Lion King lets out and z number of people will go to the nearest gift shop, because they can follow the traffic patterns.

It's another thing to know that when FOTLK lets out, x number of families with children under 10 will be going directly to get food at a particular place where they will spend, typically, $10 per person, while y number of will go shopping, but only z number of those people will actually buy something.

He's right. I "get" the idea as I see it in my head, but it's hard to articulate.

Last edited by slithernoggin, Thursday, March 12, 2015 12:00 AM

Life is something that happens when you can't get to sleep.
--Fran Lebowitz

+1Loading
Thursday, March 12, 2015 12:29 AM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

Yes, but if you don't do something with that data then what's the point?

Between knowing what people tend to do (broken down as groups with insane amounts of detail) and telling them exactly when and what to do a handful of times throughout the day (FastPass, dinner reservations, character greets - anything that typically gets scheduled months out at the computer with the family gathered around excited about their upcoming vacation), you've esentially created an itinerary (or agenda as it's called in the article) for their entire visit.

They have choices, plenty of them between those reserved experiences, but thanks to the data collected from 40 million in-park visitors each year with magic bands (where you're at and when, what you buy and where and when, when you go to your hotel room, etc), the online stuff when planning with records of choices, and family demographic info - Disney knows that there aren't really many (any?) real choices being made during those times as people are predictable and limited/guided by the handful of scheduled activites on their list.

If we schedule you with A, B, C, D, E and F ahead of time, we know that you'll likely do G,H,I,J,K and L along the way. (And those variables don't have to be as specific as "get in line for Dumbo at precisely 5:12 and wait 20 minutes to ride" - It can be, but it doesn't have to be. It only has to be "spend 20 minutes riding in Fantasyland" accurate to work. )

Gather enough data and it really becomes an automated process. Compare the family's preferences, demographic info, and past history with the choices they've made for this visit against the collected data and spit back an itinerary (or agenda) that guarantees they'll do what they want, feel like they have time to explore while managing the park as efficiently as possible on the back end. The family never realizes how much work went into engineering their day, they don't feel the presence of pressure to do anything beyond hit their reservation times and they leave thinking they planned the perfect vacation.


+0
Thursday, March 12, 2015 1:09 AM
slithernoggin's avatar

Absolutely, having all that data and not using it would be a waste. I'd be curious to know just how many departments will be accessing all the data and to what ends -- as I suspect there are applications so far unimagined here.

I'm reminded of an article I read about Target a year or two ago, about how that company mines data on its customers. The 'hook' of the article was that Target could, based on buying patterns and other criteria, know which female customers had recently learned they were pregnant and target (no pun intended) advertising right to them.


Life is something that happens when you can't get to sleep.
--Fran Lebowitz

+0
Thursday, March 12, 2015 10:21 AM
Jeff's avatar

Still don't see what you're arguing, or how it aligns with what's actually going on. Last year you said we were headed toward 100% planned vacations, now you're saying we're not but we are, you just don't know it.

FP+ and the display of (inflated) wait times has an impact on crowd behavior. Absolutely. The only thing that has really changed is the fact that FP+ will suggest stuff to you at specific times, or entirely different attractions if what you want isn't available. So they're getting you to commit to about 90 minutes of experience out of 12 hours. I don't know how this equates to our "Disney overlords guiding us to a perfect vacation." My guess is that they do three passes per day because 1) that's operationally a sweet spot and 2) it's about how many things are "must do" in the minds of the Smith Family.

This tech definitely improves the overall experience, sure. Chasing down paper Fastpasses was crude, and not entirely convenient. But Disney was still pretty good at perfect vacations in those days, in part because they have so many high capacity attractions and their service is top notch. That has been true for decades.

Disney knows that there aren't really many (any?) real choices being made during those times as people are predictable and limited/guided by the handful of scheduled activites on their list.

This is so vague and poorly defined that I don't know what to do with it. Like I said, the more generalized data is something they already had. So who are these zombie tourists not making any decisions, and what does it have to do with the technology?


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Silly Nonsense

+0
Thursday, March 12, 2015 1:04 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

Jeff said:

So who are these zombie tourists not making any decisions, and what does it have to do with the technology?

The zombie tourists are anyone booking a 'Disney Vacation' in the sense of traveling a distance to the park and staying for a period of time where they're given choices to make ahead of time that affect what they'll do while there.

The technology enables Disney to:

1. Collect data more precisely and efficiently and apply it in a way that is more detailed and personalized
2. Make the park experience more seamless for the guest in a multitude of ways - the wristbands are very much a 'key to the kingdom'
3. Control the experience in a way that makes people happier not by giving them more options but by stripping away as many as you can. The redesigned Disney World experience constrains choices by dispersing them, beginning long before the trip is under way.

(I left that last part italicized because it's a direct quote from the article)

Last edited by Lord Gonchar, Thursday, March 12, 2015 1:05 PM
+0
Thursday, March 12, 2015 7:51 PM

slithernoggin said:

I'm reminded of an article I read about Target a year or two ago, about how that company mines data on its customers. The 'hook' of the article was that Target could, based on buying patterns and other criteria, know which female customers had recently learned they were pregnant and target (no pun intended) advertising right to them.

There is also a chapter about Target and it's data mining in The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. It's a fascinating read about how habits are formed and how corporations, radio stations, etc. try to create habits in consumers. Disney is certainly no exception.

+0
Thursday, March 12, 2015 8:47 PM
Jeff's avatar

Lord Gonchar said:
The zombie tourists are anyone booking a 'Disney Vacation' in the sense of traveling a distance to the park and staying for a period of time where they're given choices to make ahead of time that affect what they'll do while there.

So, not the people waiting for two hours to see Anna and Elsa? Not the people with the "Look like a beauty, drink like a beast" T-shirts at Epcot?

I think you're still grossly overstating the impact that three FP's a day has on influencing their day.


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Silly Nonsense

+0
Friday, March 13, 2015 12:04 AM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

I don't think it will always necessarily be three ride FP's per day.

And I also wouldn't limit it to just FP's. I count things like food reservations as dictators of behavior as well.

Imagine alloting so many 'slots' per day that you're free to fill with guaranteed experiences for your vacation. It could be anything - rides, meals, character greets, other things that I haven't thought of or don't exist yet - and you tie it all to the technology.

4 rides, two meals and an 'extra' are seven reserved times you'll need to hit in a 12 hour day (at best). Let's just use round numbers of 15 minutes per ride, an hour per meal and 30 minutes for the 'extra'.

That's 3 1/2 hours there. Figure a flat 15 minutes of conscious movement to get to each of those reservations (whether all at once or along the way with other things) and you're at 5 1/2 hours of your day. Almost half your day is accounted for with just a handful of decisions. You have to figure personal time like breaks and bathroom. Most people are going to browse shops. There's simply not a lot of time left unaccounted for...and what little is, is dictated by the open space left between the choices you made ahead of time at home to ensure you got the Disney experience you wanted.

You simply schedule those choices in a logical progression that invisibly encourages behaviors.

If I have you in Fantasyland at 10am and Tomorrowland at 11:30, but you have later times for BTMR (say 2:30pm) or the Haunted Mansion (4:00pm) - you're not going to to skip across the park in that hour+ window. You're just not. You'll mull about in those two areas where your current reservations are. No one in their right mind is going to rush across the park to an area they're scheduled to be in later, hoping to find a line short enough to allow them to rush back across the park to make their next reservation.

At that point it doesn't matter exactly what you do. We've kept you confined to a fraction of the park. We've dictated your behavior. We not only controlled the situation with the reservation time, but also with the amount of 'free' time inbetween.

I suppose we could make deeper guesses based on your chosen preferences, your demographics and what people tend to do in that area when given an hour or so. But that's all hypothetical - I have no idea what really goes on. The technology sure seems like it's there to track that sort of crap.

You keep that sort of pattern up throughout the day and suddenly you're directing Joe Sixpack and his family right around the park like little puppets.

5 1/2 hours as detailed above and small windows of like an hour between those 7 keypoints is a grand total of 10 1/2 hours of your day.

I don't think I'm overstating the potential of invisible suggestion through scheduling. I think you might be underestimating the predictability of people and the power of the reservation and the guaranteed experience.


+1Loading
Friday, March 13, 2015 12:51 AM
slithernoggin's avatar

Heck, we get people at the box office almost daily ready to deliver their entire experience over to us: "Where should we go to eat?" "What should we do while we're waiting for the show to start?" "Can we go get a drink?"

Add in the willingness of people to be told what to do -- and to be led by the "choice" of limited opportunities, the power of the reservation and the guaranteed experience...

Last edited by slithernoggin, Friday, March 13, 2015 1:05 AM

Life is something that happens when you can't get to sleep.
--Fran Lebowitz

+0
Friday, March 13, 2015 10:43 AM
Jeff's avatar

For context, the three FP count isn't random, it's what they know people will commit to. From what I hear, it's a combination of usage stats from the paper days as well as the test pool in early 2013. I would be very surprised if they went beyond four.

And still, the real commitment is at most a half-hour per attraction, and meals (which are vastly different at Epcot vs. MK) are an hour each. You're still looking at four hours of committed time out of 12 or more.

The notion that you need to plan any more than that to enjoy yourself strikes me as a disconnect from reality. It's like people who think Cedar Point is nothing but long lines because of their last visit in 1992. There is so much capacity that, in practical terms, you rarely wait that long for anything.


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Silly Nonsense

+0
Friday, March 13, 2015 12:49 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

You probably don't have to plan any more than that.

But if I sell it to you as being able to guarantee you'll do specific things during your stay then it relieves the pressure people feel to "do it all" during their time at WDW.

(There are missions in a vacation,” Staggs says. In other words, Disney knows that parents arrive to its parks thinking: We have to have tea with Cinderella, and where the hell is that Buzz Lightyear thing, anyway? In that way, the park isn’t a playground so much as a videogame, with bosses to be conquered at every level. - from the article)

I'm not really saying anything that isn't in those three paragraphs I quoted way back at the beginning of the thread. All of this is spelled out there. All I'm doing is suggesting the degree in which is happens will be expanded over time until it reaches a point of essentially pre-planned vacations (for all intents and purposes). And I don't think it takes many more commitment points than people are already making from home.

We'll see, I guess.


+0
Friday, March 13, 2015 1:03 PM

Maybe there would be more of a demand (from the perspective of visitors and the parks) for a more scheduled/planned day on peak crowd days.

+0
Friday, March 13, 2015 2:41 PM
Jeff's avatar

Lord Gonchar said:

I'm not really saying anything that isn't in those three paragraphs I quoted way back at the beginning of the thread.

Well, except this...

All I'm doing is suggesting the degree in which is happens will be expanded over time until it reaches a point of essentially pre-planned vacations (for all intents and purposes).

I'm suggesting that you're wrong, because that's your mission, not Disney's. :)


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Silly Nonsense

+0
Friday, March 13, 2015 3:54 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

Fair enough.

Based on the spoken benefits of the system, the evolution of the park experience from E-ticket, to POP, to FastPass, to NextGen, and a little "I dig this stuff" interest - I think it goes there.

They're already doing it (taking away your in-park decisions to make your vacation "better") to some degree...and Disney never stops at 'better' - they usually push things to 'best'. We're just arguing the shades of grey.


+0
Friday, March 13, 2015 4:44 PM
Jeff's avatar

So you're saying they're going to tie you up if you're into that?


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Silly Nonsense

+3Loading
Friday, March 13, 2015 5:46 PM
Tekwardo's avatar

I'd be in to tying Gonch up.


Website | Flickr | Instagram | YouTube | Twitter | Facebook

Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened.

+0
Friday, March 13, 2015 5:53 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

It's Disney, so the pubic hair would definitely be CGI.


+0

You must be logged in to post

POP Forums - ©2021, POP World Media, LLC
Loading...