Weekend(?) Update – MagicBands, Giveaway, Cool Links!

We’re in the midst of a quick weekend trip to Disneyland to check out its Halloween season offerings for the first time (note: this was scheduled to post on Sunday night but didn’t for some reason…hence the “weekend” update on a Tuesday…the weekend trip is now over) and to say goodbye to the Court of Angels. We’re also planning on doing a lot of eating while we’re out here, and should have plenty more Disneyland Resort restaurant reviews up soon. We’ve been hearing from a lot of readers recently who are planning first trips to Disneyland Resort (we whole-heartedly endorse this), so let us know if there’s anything else you’d like to see us cover with regard to Disneyland in blog posts. This actually goes for any articles you’d like to see–we can’t promise we’ll cover each topic readers suggest to us, but we try to be responsive to what you all want to read.

We won’t do a full post on this since our experience was limited, but thought it would be worth mentioning that we recently had a chance to use the MagicBands during their test phase. We weren’t too keen on being guinea pigs since we’ve heard about a lot of hiccups in the testing; however, when we checked in, they gave us the bands anyway, so we figured we’d give them a try. We’ll let other people address the datamining and privacy issues (people who share a lot of personal info about themselves on a blog and regularly use Facebook & Google probably aren’t the best judges of those concerns…), and just touch on the substance of our experience.

The MagicBands didn’t work well. Our Annual Passes showed as tied to the MagicBands in the My Disney Experience app, but we didn’t have the option of reserving FastPass+, nor did the MagicBands work for us to enter the park. The room charge function of the bands did work, but it was so awkward to try to contort our wrists to use this function that we quickly gave up and just used our Key to the World cards (which we had to carry anyway for Extra Magic Hours); I stopped wearing the band after the first day. It’s likely that the front desk or guest relations could have assisted us with the problems, but it was only a two-night trip and we didn’t feel like wasting time with that. We’ll reserve final judgment until the system rolls out completely, but we weren’t impressed with the test experience.


Buena Vista Home Entertainment has provided us with a couple copies of Nashville: The Complete First Season (it’s a Disney/ABC Studios-produced show that airs on ABC) for giveaway! We don’t watch this show regularly (only when we are too lazy to change the channel after Modern Family) since we’re not exactly country music or soap opera fans, but it’s a very popular and well received show (“universally acclaimed” by critics per Metacritic) in those demographics.

Enter the giveaway by signing-up for our newsletter. If you are already signed up for the newsletter, you’re already entered to win. Simple as that. We will select two random winners to receive the DVD sets, and announce the winners in our October newsletter! Winners will have 48 hours to email us to claim their prize before we move on to the runners up. We reserve the right to disqualify from the contest anyone who signs up for the mailing list with multiple email addresses.

Tokyo Trip Report

Although updates haven’t been as regular as we’d like on the Tokyo Disney Resort trip report, it’s still in progress. Each of these trip report posts requires considerably more work and time than other posts on the blog, and we haven’t had a ton of free time as of late. We hope to get back on track later this week.

If you haven’t read it yet, click here to read our current installments of the Tokyo Disney Resort Trip Report!

Floridian Fall

The argument could be made that October is the best overall month to visit Walt Disney World. Kids are back in school, the weather is nice(r), crowds are light, and you have special events in both Epcot and the Magic Kingdom. We prefer early December, but October is probably a close second for us.

We know a lot of you are heading down to Walt Disney World this month to take advantage of the free Disney Dining Plan promotion or just to enjoy this nice time to visit. If you’ll be in Walt Disney World, we recommend that you read our articles on efficiently experiencing Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party (if you’re attending the party), the best snacks at Epcot’s Food & Wine Festival (if you plan on grazing the booths), and our restaurant reviews (if you…plan on eating meals of food).

News & Stuff

It has been a quiet couple of months in terms of news, with most of the rumors that were strong before the D23 Expo seeming to go cold. Hopefully things will pick back up once the new fiscal year starts on October 1, 2013. Here are some interesting recent posts and pieces of news, though…

Deadline.com reports that it’s unlikely Disney will attempt to prevent the release of Escape from Tomorrow. The armchair attorneys out there who argued about the film’s IP violations against Disney did so for naught. Consent, implicit in this case, carries the day…

Micechat first leaked the details of the new “Disabled Assistance Program.”  Since, the story has been repackaged by several media outlets, often in irresponsible fashions with salacious headlines implying that Disney is turning its back on disabled guests. (Our take is that the system is an equitable solution that will weed out many abusers while still serving the truly disabled in a fair manner.)

TouringPlans shares a look inside the Disneyland Market House Starbucks location.

A Reuters release provides information about the American Adventure lounge for Chase Disney Visa Cardholders.

DisneyFoodBlog reports that Disneyland Resort will accept online dining reservations beginning October 3, 2013. We’ve never had issues with walk-up availability at Disneyland Resort restaurants, but this is great news for planners.

DisneyPhotographyBlog shared more details about Photo Magic 2013, an upcoming fan event at Walt Disney World. It looks like the team over there is putting on a fun event, and we really wish we could attend! Hope everyone who is going has a blast!

That’s it for this update! To follow our adventures, find us on TwitterPinterestFacebook, and Flickr!

Your Thoughts…

Have any comments about this update? Thoughts on the MagicBands? Any article suggestions? Share in the comments!

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36 Responses to “Weekend(?) Update – MagicBands, Giveaway, Cool Links!”

  1. Aly says:

    Good to know (at least for now) that if you get MagicBands you’re still able to use a Key to the World card. I’m nervous we’ll be given MagicBands (we’re staying at the Boardwalk in early November) and be forced into FastPass+. I’m really interested to read a full review from you guys once you’re able to fully test the system. From preliminary reports it seems like “when it works, it works, well and when it doesn’t, it crashes and burns”.

    • Tom Bricker says:

      I’m not sure whether we’ll ever do a full review of the MagicBands. This is the topic du jour with Disney bloggers these days, and I can understand that it’s popular with readers, but we try not to cover a topic unless we feel we can bring something new to the table. Maybe once the initial hype dies down we will.

      • Aly says:

        True, but I really enjoy your honest reporting style. I think many people (like me!) read your blog because we don’t go to Disney nearly as often as you guys. Maybe once the Magic Bands have been out long enough to work out the bugs we’ll see more opinions from you guys worked into the reports? I’d be very interested to see how it works into your visits which, like mine are (were?), are pretty much down to a science (as in, you know how to work the FastPass system, you know to make ADRs, navigate the parks efficiently, etc). I guess I’m just afraid that the Magic Bands are going to throw a lot of kinks into a system I know really well. We’ll see!

  2. Laura B says:

    Sucks that you had issues with your MagicBands. My group of 5 had them at WDW two weeks ago, and they worked fantastically. No joke, it was probably the most flawless trip to WDW I’ve ever had (if you don’t count spending the first day in urgent care with a severe upper respiratory infection). We used them for everything – food, room key, park entrance, FP+ – and didn’t have a single issue. But I, too, have heard that when they work, they’re great…and when they don’t, it’s a disaster.

  3. LK says:

    We received an email a few weeks ago inviting us to try the MagicBands during our trip to WDW this past weekend. They were personalized and at our door about 36 hours after we completed the online registration, so we had possession of them well in advance of our arrival. We used them for four days and our initial reaction is that we loved them for the fast pass feature (including making changes to our fast pass times easily on our cell phones). My band never worked for our hotel room access, but my husband’s did, and like you, I did not think this warranted a wait at guest services, so I never bothered to get the issue corrected. Overall, we were glad to have them for the fast pass feature, but beyond that, we didn’t really feel they offered much advantage over carrying our room key and our Premier Passports.

    • Tom Bricker says:

      Once people get over the initial excitement of “something new,” it’ll be interesting to see what the guest reaction is. Disney has spent a ton of money on this, and while some aspects of it are needed IT infrastructure improvements, a big chunk of it has gone into the bands and supporting in-park tech. The idea is that Disney will be able to staff more efficiently (read: cut CM hours) by better understanding guest flow, and will somehow be able to increase per guest spending thanks to convenience. The latter doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me, but I certainly hope it’s true, otherwise Disney has dumped a ton of money into a system that won’t really improve the guest experience and won’t really increase revenue.

      If it does increase revenue, here’s hoping that some of that is reinvested into the parks.

  4. Becky says:

    We just got back from WDW ourselves, and used the Magic Bands. Once we got everything set up (had some initial issues connecting tix to bands) they worked great. We never had a problem using them to get into the room, and FastPass + worked as well. (Plus, we could still get regular FastPasses with our Annual Pass Cards, so that worked well, too!)

    Didn’t use the Magic Bands for charging anything, so don’t know how that worked. But were able to just flash the bands rather than the Key to the World cards for EMH.

    I guess they’re just working out all the bugs!

    • Tom Bricker says:

      Funny that the MagicBand worked for EMH for you. I wonder if it would’ve worked for us, too. We were told by the front desk to carry the KTTW card for that!

  5. Kevin says:

    Online reservations for Disneyland restaurants: nice! I have a strange aversion to talking to people on the phone if I can avoid it. :)

  6. Jolene says:

    I renewed my disneyland pass after a 18 month lapse. Now that you guys go to disneyland more I sometimes wonder if I would ever run into you ( I actually was there last Sunday) ? Are you guys recognized often?

  7. Tammy says:

    I worry that if there are a lot of people testing the magic bands but not reporting their issues then Disney has no way of knowing about them. They can’t fix issues they don’t know about. The full roll out could be really messy!

    • Tom Bricker says:

      While that’s true, it’s no guest’s job to beta test products for Disney. A Walt Disney World vacation is already incredibly expensive, and I would never expect guests to use their valuable vacation time to voluntarily test a system with issues. If Disney knows that there are going to be bugs along the way, there should be an incentive for testing.

      • Tammy says:

        I totally agree. They don’t even seem to be doing any sort of post use survey to get feedback. It’s the most unusual “forced” beta test ever. I just foresee a mess at the end. Here’s hoping for the best!

      • Dina says:

        Don’t be to sure of that. I had a long conversation with who I “thought” was another resort guest. Come to find out he worked for the resort and was in plain clothes (saw him working the desk the next day.).

        I thought it was funny why he was asking me all these questions about how my bands were working, what I have done with them, problems, and much more.

        So it seemed they had a secret worker out and about at AOA. All this while on a bench drinking my morning coffee.

    • Aly says:

      I was just offered to test the MagicBands, and at the end of the email it had this statement: “Based on your participation in this test, you will be asked for feedback on your planning and vacation experiences from Walt Disney World Research.”

      I haven’t done it yet (or even decided if I will), so I don’t know how they follow up with people, but it does sound like they plan to survey testers.

      • Cindy says:

        I noticed that message on our info also. It is the small print but I am a small print reader! Disney often sends surveys. I do them because I believe they use the info to improve the experience. Usually I don’t fill out surveys as I think my time is worth compensation. Disney is my one exception.

  8. Amanda says:

    Did you get a chance to try Ghost Galaxy? I was very pleasantly surprised, and would love to hear your thoughts!

  9. Tammy says:

    Did you notice if the food kiosks for the food and wine festival were set up with the touch points for charging with the magic bands?

  10. Jo says:

    This blog post is exactly why I come back time and time again. You are so straight forward with everything. No candy coating it, you say what you think and I really appreciate that. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading your reviews for restaurants and your tutorial about taking pictures in low light (especially the part about taking a million *exaggeration* photos to get a few good ones). I just wanted to let you know I appreciate all the work you put into the blog and can’t wait to see what you cover next.

    • Tom Bricker says:

      Thanks for the kind words.

      I hope you enjoy my upcoming blog post titled, “Why Stitch’s Great Escape is So Magical and Amazing and Special and Dreamlike and Did I Mention Magical?” ;)

  11. TC says:

    Sorry the magic bands didn’t work well for you. We are leaving for WDW in 3 weeks and are very much looking forward to trying them out. Just the FP+ alone, has me all giddy. hahaha We STILL have not experienced Soarin since its been at Epcot. The first time we went, I was 12 weeks pregnant and couldn’t ride (surprise!!!) and the last time 3 years ago, it was so busy we could never get a FP and the regular wait times were insane!!! This time we are GARUNTEED to get on.. AND.. I just got a FP for BOG, which I’m crazy excited about!! Whoo-hoo!!! Hopefully.. this works as well as I hope!! hahaha

  12. Betsy says:

    Are you a lefty? I am, and I can already see myself having to contort my right wrist all sorts of crazy ways since the kiosks are probably designed for folks wearing them on their left wrists. Or are you and Sarah just dexterously challenged righties :)

    • Tom Bricker says:

      It has been scientifically proven that left-handed people are superior in every way (that matters) to righties. I won’t say whether I’m left-handed…I’ll just leave it at that. ;)

      I think it was actually the odd angle and the fact that our bracelets had to be PERFECTLY aligned with the Mickey heads in order to get them to work. I’ve heard that other people haven’t had to be quite so precise, which would definitely make it a lot easier.

  13. Don Livingston says:

    We are staying at Swan and Dolphin right now so don’t have access to the magic bands. I have seen guests doing some interesting wrist contortions to make their bands work. I’ve heard the magic band doesn’t recognize the annual pass discount for merchandise? Is that true? BTW food and wine is stellar this year. The staff at the booths have great energy and are very friendly. The little kimchi dog at the South Korean booth is bomb!

    • Tom Bricker says:

      I have no clue whether it recognizes the AP discounts. It didn’t recognize our APs at all, and we only used it to buy food.

      I’ve heard some great things about F&WF this year. Disappointed that we won’t be going!

  14. Tammy says:

    You are pretty amazing for responding to all these comments. Thanks for the great blog and for keeping it so personal. That’s what brings us back.

  15. PN78 says:

    we may have been lucky but we used our MagicBands during our Disney World trip in September with not a single problem. It made life incredibly easy- room key, credit card, dining plan credits, photopass and fastpass all in one and we didn’t have to carry anything in our pockets. The FastPass+ was so easy and saved us a ton of time. We moved around our passes via the smartphone app throughout the day so we could jump on rides close to wherever we were in the park. also loved the expanded fastpass options- rides and viewing spots that would have required long waits were available almost immediately. We stayed at the Contemporary and had the “free” dining plan and booked everything through Disney travel so that may be why everything worked seamlessly for us. It was so much different from our trip a year ago though- we spent much more time enjoying the parks and much less time scrambling to get in lines and grab fastpasses. I hope they get the kinks worked out so everyone can enjoy the benefits as much as we did. The MagicBand alone was worth staying on-property for us.

  16. Hank says:

    We are in WDW this week using the Magic Bands. We have had no problem. We have great fun planing our fast passes. We linked our annual passes and dinning reservation prior to departure. we ask just about everyone we meet in line how the MBs are working for them, we have not hear a compliant yet.

  17. Dawn says:

    Just returned from Disneyworld 2 weeks ago, and were part of the Magic Band testing. Did not have any issues with them, except that mine did not work too well when trying to open the hotel room door. Minor inconvenience, as the other bracelets worked fine. Loved being able to schedule fastpasses for our favorite rides before we left home, and make changes while we were there on my Smartphone. We were also able to get paper fastpasses with our room key, so that was a bonus. Hoping they will increase the limit of 3 per day with the bands, as that is not enough, in my opinion. Did not link a credit card to mine, so not sure how that is working out. Best part of all was several cast members addressed us by name after we scanned our bracelets in the Fastpass lane. Didn’t have any children with me on this trip, but I bet they would find that very magical! One more note. The gift shops sell Disney themed adornments that will snap on the bracelets. Will be very appealing to the kids, but they are not cheap. Whoever came up with that marketing idea was a genius. Another way to get the guests to spend more money!

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