The New York Times ran a story yesterday that has caused all kinds of uproar among Disney fans in general, and DISDads in particular. The article provided the most detail yet of the MyMagic+ RFID wristbands that are the core of the long-developing NextGen project at Walt Disney World. Ultimately, the project will make fundamental changes in the way guests interact with Walt Disney World. But, as fundamental as those physical changes will be, the uproar and stress over the change is being blown way out of proportion in some corners of the Disney fan community. Here are 5 reasons why this is nothing to worry about:
1) The most common complaint I hear is that 180-day advance attraction and show reservations will “kill the spontaneity” of a Disney vacation. But there’s no reason to believe that’s true. Just like dining reservations, attraction reservations are not set in stone. You’ll be able to make changes – including while you’re in the theme parks. The 180-day advance reservations just give you some anchors to plan around, and even those anchors can be relocated later.
2) Another complaint I hear is from people concerned about the “Big Brother” feeling of using RFID transmissions to share unique guest data in the parks – so Ariel can greet a child by name with a birthday greeting, for instance. I just don’t see the big deal. The browser data collected as you surf the Internet probably reveals almost as much information about you. And Disney has repeatedly stated – there’s no data stored in the RFID bracelet or card itself. The data is on Disney’s servers. RFID is the key. If you lose a ticket or bracelet, its “key” can be instantly revoked. There’s no more risk involved here than in the use of a Key to the World Card or even a Credit Card.
3) Related to number 1, I hear a concern that people who aren’t staying on-property won’t have access to Fastpasses after this shift kicks in. Relax. Tom Staggs followed up on the initial announcement and addressed this issue. Day-of Fastpasses are not going away. The only change is the way you access them. You’ll use a smartphone or an in-park kiosk that is activated by your RFID-equipped ticket or a MyMagic+ wristband to access them. And, in some ways, they’ll be better – because they’ll be changeable. You’ll be able to swap them out for a different attraction or a different time if the spontaneity of the day alters your plans. Staggs explained that newly-purchased tickets will be RFID-equipped, and guests will have the option of purchasing a wristband. If you’re using an older paper ticket, you can exchange for an RFID-enabled ticket or a purchase a wristband.
4) I heard AP holders concerned that they’d be excluded from Fastpasses. Nope. Staggs stated that AP holders will get a “free” MyMagic+ wristband with their AP.
5) DVC folks were afraid that they wouldn’t be treated as “resort guests” for this program. Nope, again, DVCers will have access to MyMagic+. In fact, the resort that is slated to get the first test run is BoardWalk Inn, making BoardWalk Vilas the likely first DVC test site for MyMagic+. The BoardWalk Inn test should start some time in February, according to Jim Hill. I’d guess it would hit the DVC side about a month later – probably by Spring Break.
So there it is folks. Five quick reasons not to be freaked out about MyMagic+. Ultimately, I think this is going to end up being a boon for those of us who are planners. And we’ll learn to appreciate the opportunity to have a Fastpass+ reservation for Toy Story Midway Mania in place, and not have to worry about the mad dash from the gates at Hollywood Studios!