Walt Disney (DIS 0.33%) is ready to take its Florida resort guests by the wrists next week. The theme park operator is rolling out MagicBand+, an update to the radio-frequency identification (RFID) bracelets it introduced more than eight years ago that make it easier to enter gated attractions, hotel rooms, and expedited queues. The new band makes it seamless to retrieve on-ride snapshots. On-site resort guests can also use the wearable tech to settle many in-park transactions.
The original MagicBand is cool, but it could've been -- and should've been -- way cooler. Disney reportedly spent roughly $1 billion on the MyMagic+ platform. The House of Mouse is barely scratching the surface of the customization experience that it can provide with the tools it created. Will MagicBand+ finally help the planet's most-visited theme-park resort realize its full high-tech potential? We'll have to wait and see.
Tell them it's a prisoner transfer
MagicBand+ is a clear tech upgrade. It actually has a rechargeable battery inside that will need to be juiced up every couple of days while in active use. It buzzes and lights up as it interacts with touch points when guests enter the parks, queues, and resort hotel rooms. The band will illuminate in sync with select nighttime shows at the parks.
It will enhance other experiences. The new bands will interact with the 50 statues of characters scattered across the four Disney World parks in celebration of the resort's golden anniversary. Guests can also go on scavenger hunts. Hopefully this time it will be just the beginning of a "whole new world" of customized adventures.
Disney isn't trying to break budgets with the new wearables, which are available with several different bands. They start at just $35 apiece. The goal here is to get folks to come back more often after they buy into the Mouse cuffs. If they become enamored with the quests and interactive pixie dust, it's just a matter of refreshing experiences to keep customers coming back. A day at the park will certainly be easier with new things to do when lines are too long for the most popular rides.
The interactive features should also make folks stay at the parks longer. They'll get hungry. They'll get thirsty. They'll be more exposed to merchandise they can buy. They will be more receptive to paying up for Genie+, with new diversions to pass the time as they wait for the return times to expedited queues.
MagicBand+ is more than wrist candy. It's more than a series of haptic vibrations and color-changing lights. MagicBand+ is a tool of engagement. It's a social contract: Spend $35 and Disney World will get better. Strap on the new wearable, and a day at the park becomes a fresh and sticky adventure.
MagicBand+ is a bridge between the two factions. It increases the value of cynical regulars' trips through the turnstile, and once they're in, the game is over; they're encouraged to either spend additional money on premium offerings to get on more rides, or to queue up in the standby lines that encourage others to pay up for easier access. MagicBand+ is a better way for Disney to get the pulse of its park guests. Well played, House of Mouse.