MagicBand+ is coming to Disneyland and Disney California Adventure in Fall 2022. This guide covers everything you need to know: base pricing, launch timeframe, how the MagicBand Plus will work at the parks, and our thoughts about MB+ after having used it extensively in Florida.
For those who are unfamiliar with it, MagicBand+ (MB+) is the interactive upgrade to the iconic MagicBand, offering all of the features of the first two generations of that the wearable. At Disneyland, the MagicBand+ will connect to park tickets or Magic Key Annual Passes to enter parks or Lightning Lanes. Additionally, you can connect your PhotoPass memories and more. However, it will not unlock your hotel room or have resort charging privileges.
When it’s activated, the MagicBand+ has color-changing lights, haptic vibrations, and gesture recognition. For more basic background encompassing everything you need to know about the interactive bands–plus answers to questions you might have–see our FAQ for MagicBand Plus!(That focuses on Florida, but the device is the same on both coasts.)
According to Disney, the MagicBand+ also adds immersive elements and surprises to park experiences at Disneyland Resort when it launches in Fall 2022. In sync with special moments during select nighttime spectaculars, your band will complement the magic in the skies by pulsing with colorful, dancing lights and vibrations.
MagicBand+ will come to life during World of Color in Disney California Adventure, Fantasmic! at Disneyland, and other select nighttime shows in Disneyland. (This presumably means fireworks, with no name given since the shows rotate seasonally.)
You’ll also be able to explore Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge in Disneyland with the Star Wars: Batuu Bounty Hunters interactive quest. Vibrations and lights from your MagicBand+ will help guide you to find virtual bounties across Black Spire Outpost.
When you find your bounty, you can use the augmented reality thermal viewer in the Play Disney Parks app to reveal who’s hiding in the shadows. Once your mission is successfully completed, local guild master Raga Bua will reward you with galactic credits.
According to Disneyland, the launch of MagicBand+ in Fall 2022 is just the beginning–there are more MB+ features and experiences still to come. Disney does note that some product offerings will vary between Walt Disney World and Disneyland Resort. Our assumption is that this means no room charging at Disneyland and obviously no 50th Anniversary statue minigame at Disneyland, since those don’t exist in the California parks.
Here’s a glimpse of the MagicBand+ in action at Disneyland Resort:
Disney additionally notes that MagicBand and MagicBand 2 will not be supported at Disneyland Resort at this time. This means that the “dumb” bands that are not rechargeable won’t be sold in California, and old ones from Walt Disney World won’t work at Disneyland.
My guess is that MagicBand+ is coming to Disneyland in large part to help recoup development costs of both the device itself, and the Batuu Bounty Hunters minigame. It’s likely Disneyland Resort will start by selling the more expensive device first, and introduce the ‘dumb’ option if there’s guest demand (or complaints about poor battery life of the MagicBand Plus).
The good news is that the poor battery life doesn’t really matter if all you want are the ‘dumb’ device features. When dead, the MagicBand+ functions in exactly the same ways as a legacy MagicBand. It has all of the same features, functionality, strengths and weaknesses. This means you can enter the park or Lightning Lanes and link PhotoPass images without battery power.
As with Walt Disney World, the launch of MagicBand+ has been postponed by several months at Disneyland Resort. We have not heard anything credible about the cause of California’s the delay in launching the MagicBand Plus. We had heard credible reports–and readers sent us photos–of MagicBand+ inventory at Disneyland several months ago.
Between that and seeing construction for Batuu Bounty Hunters, our strong suspicion is that work on the minigame is the hold up. Work has been underway on Batuu Bounty Hunters for several weeks now, and should be finished by October if the pace at DHS is any indication. (In theory, it should be as fast or faster given that it’s already been built once now.)
It’s highly likely that the MagicBand+ will launch as soon as that minigame is ready. Disney likely does not want to debut the MagicBand+ until Batuu Bounty Hunters is ready to roll.
And they’re right to wait. As covered in our comprehensive and brutally honest MagicBand+ Review: Good, Bad & Ugly, the Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge minigame is essentially the selling point of the MagicBand+ right now. Almost everything else about the “Plus” underwhelms or is inconvenient.
If you’re on the fence about MagicBand Plus, that review should help you determine whether it’s for you. Conversely, if you’re incredibly excited about the MagicBand+ coming to California and plan on ordering multiple for everyone in your family, you might not want to read that. Sometimes ignorance really is bliss. 😉
Pricing is unknown for the MagicBand+ at Disneyland Resort, but there’s no reason to believe it’ll differ from Florida. That means solid core colors of MagicBand+ will be priced at $34.99 and the premium or limited release designs will cost $44.99 plus tax. Of course, this is just at launch.
Costs could increase even further for limited edition or designer fashion styles. We wouldn’t be surprised to see a MagicBand+ that costs $75 by the end of the year. Perhaps there will be one with a Coach wristband that costs $600. Heck, maybe for the company’s 100th Anniversary, they’ll release a hideous bejeweled MagicBand+ that costs $1,000. It wouldn’t be the first time…
Another important detail is that unlike the current generation of MagicBand 2.0 products, the MagicBand+ must be charged for use. It comes with a charger and USB cord, which attaches to the underside of the Mickey head.
In our experience, the MagicBand+ has incredibly poor battery life. Nightly charging is necessary for full days in the park, and a few hours playing Batuu Bounty Hunters can drain the device completely. (If not playing that minigame, the battery can last over a day–but not a full trip. It also doesn’t help that bands do not come fully charged.)
This is the first update on the MagicBand+ wearable technology at Disneyland Resort in a long time. Last year, the company announced that the MagicBand+ and “Hey, Disney!” voice assistant would also be coming to Disneyland Resort in 2022.
This will mark the first time MagicBand+ will be available at Disneyland Resort to enhance the guest experience with hands-free convenience. The “Hey, Disney!” voice assistant will work alongside Alexa on Amazon Echo devices and also will begin rolling out to guest rooms across the Hotels of the Disneyland Resort. (No update today on this–and nothing on it at all this year. It seems increasingly likely that “Hey, Disney!” won’t debut until 2023, if ever.)
In terms of commentary, the first thing that might jump to mind with MagicBand+ for a lot of Disneyland fans is Glow with the Show. You might recall those color-changing and “magical” Mickey Ear Hats that interacted with World of Color and Fantasmic!
Glow with the Show was a huge push for a few years (~2012 to ~2014) at Disneyland, with the ears being given prime real estate in just about every major gift shop at Disneyland Resort, despite sluggish (at best) sales.
In the end, Glow with the Show was a colossal flop. Even with those prominent in-store displays, multiple giveaways to “seed” some truly cool PR photos, very few guests purchased Glow with the Show ears.
The problem was that they were bulky, cumbersome, and–critically–the person spending the money on Glow with the Show ears could not benefit from how they interacted with shows and changed colors, since you cannot see the top of your own head.
MagicBand+ solves for that problem, as you can see your own wrist.
However, it introduces a number of new issues, including the aforementioned poor battery life. Its “interactivity” (I hesitate to even call it that) with the nighttime spectaculars is also much worse than the technology released a decade ago.
The other thing this reminds us of is the interactive statues that Tokyo Disney Resort has done for pretty much every anniversary in the last decade. With those, you’ve purchased a wand or lanyard, and those unlock a light and musical feature on the statue itself.
MagicBand+ definitely isn’t as good as those on an interactivity level, either. However, it does have a lot of (mostly unrealized) potential with minigames, haptic feedback, and more. It’ll just be a matter of unlocking that in the future and, hopefully, releasing a second generation of devices with better battery life.
I know there are ardent MagicBand fans out there and it’s likely that many Disneyland fans will be excited by the prospect of something new and collectible. Nevertheless, I cannot be alone in the sentiment of wanting more from the MagicBand Plus. When the device was released back in 2013, wearable technology wasn’t really a thing. In the years since, all sorts of smart watches and other devices have been released, raising the technical bar every single year.
By contrast, MagicBands have only seen one major redesign, and have felt–at least from a tech perspective–a bit archaic. I realize that for many people, that’s the appeal of MagicBands–having technology that doesn’t require looking at a screen but still makes life more convenient. Sadly, all of that remains true with the MagicBand Plus–but probably not in the ways many people expected when this product was first announced.
What do you think of the MagicBand Plus? Will you be purchasing these new interactive wearables when they go on sale at Walt Disney World in Summer 2022? Will you hold off on purchasing current gen MagicBands now that an overhaul/upgrade is on the horizon, or do you not really care about the interactivity? Do you agree or disagree with our assessment? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback–even when you disagree with us–is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!