MagicBand+ is now available at Disneyland and Disney California Adventure. This guide covers everything you need to know: pricing, how it works in the parks, how to get a FREE MagicBand Plus, and our thoughts about the wearable after having used it extensively. (Updated September 1, 2023.)
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+ connects 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.)
September 1, 2023 Update: While supplies last, Magic Key Annual Passholders are eligible to receive a FREE Magic Key-themed MagicBand+ with any purchase at select Disneyland Resort gift shops. Here’s where you can get the free MagicBand+ at Disneyland Resort:
Emporium (Main Street USA)
Westward Ho Trading Company (Frontierland)
Disney California Adventure
Elias & Co. (Buena Vista Street)
Trolley Treats (Buena Vista Street)
Radiator Springs Curios (Cars Land)
Seaside Souvenirs (Paradise Pier)
Disney’s Pin Traders
World of Disney
Hotels of Disneyland Resort
Acorns Gifts & Goods (Grand Californian)
Disney’s Fantasia Shop (Disneyland Hotel)
Hotel Gift Shop (Pixar Place Hotel)
Again, this is a free MagicBand+ with any purchase, not just with a purchase over a certain amount. So you could buy a bag of candy, magnet, or whatever the cheapest item is at any of these locations and get a free MagicBand Plus.
This “deal” might sound too good to be true, but it’s really not. MagicBand+ has been a massive flop at Disneyland Resort. We rarely see anyone wearing the devices, but the shelves in shops are still full of the wearables. Probably safe to say that there’s a lot more unsold inventory in storage rooms, and this is only the first of many deals to clear out that stockpile.
Between its limited uses at Disneyland and the reality that most guests are locals, it’s not a huge surprise that MagicBand+ hasn’t really caught on in the California parks. We expected it wouldn’t be a huge hit, but even we are surprised by just how quickly it was forgotten and how few fans wear them out west.
MagicBand+ really is like the Glow with the Show 2.0. Pretty amazing that Disney learned exactly zero lessons with that flop–but more on that in the commentary…
In other somewhat recent updates, guests are now able to use their MagicBand+ to interact with select Disney100 medallions around Disneyland Resort, as well as the platinum Mickey Mouse statue in Downtown Disney. To activate these effects, make a circular gesture in front of the medallion with the arm that’s wearing your MagicBand Plus.
Additionally, the MagicBand+ interacts with new nighttime spectaculars as part of the Disney 100 Years of Wonder anniversary celebration: “World of Color – One” at Disney California Adventure and “Wondrous Journeys” at Disneyland.
Beyond those new-for-2023 additions, the MagicBand+ adds immersive elements and surprises to park experiences at Disneyland Resort. You’re also 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, there are more MagicBand+ features and experiences still to come. Disney does note that some product offerings will vary between Walt Disney World and Disneyland Resort. This means no room charging at Disneyland and obviously no 50th Anniversary statue mini-game at Disneyland, since those don’t exist in the California parks.
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 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 varies for the MagicBand+ at Disneyland Resort. For the most part, this 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.
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 at some point.
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.
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 at Disneyland? 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!