Discounted MagicBand designs are available for pre-arrival Walt Disney World hotel guests and Annual Passholders. This buying guide covers the upgrade purchase process, inventory shortages, international issues & errors, Magic Band+ styles, and new options. (Updated October 13, 2023.)
To upgrade your Magic Band, use the My Disney Experience app or DisneyWorld.com, which allows you to choose from a variety of colors and designs inspired by characters, resorts, attractions, nighttime spectaculars, and more. The styles rotate with regularity, and there are dozens of MagicBand choices at discounted prices.
Walt Disney World typically offers dozens of MagicBand upgrade options, with new looks added as others sell out. As discussed below, the “new looks added” part of that has not been happening as much lately. Pricing varies, with options starting at $9.99 and costing as much as $34.99. We update this regularly with screenshots of the new MagicBands, plus info, and troubleshooting tips for what has proven to be a frustrating process.
Let’s start with all of the updates, as much has changed since this program launched. Last year, Walt Disney World eliminated the complimentary solid-color MagicBands that were sent to guests pre-arrival. Disney also stopped offering free MagicBands to Annual Passholders.
This means that all MagicBands now cost money–you don’t get free ones with resort reservations or for being an Annual Passholder. Upgrading to these designs, buying MagicBands in the parks, or via shopDisney.com is your only option.
As always, MagicBands are not required at Walt Disney World. For room entry, park admission, Lightning Lanes, and charging privileges to the hotel room, Walt Disney World offers plastic Key To The World cards. This can be provided at the hotel front desk, and is how things worked prior to the debut of MagicBands several years ago. Alternatively, guests can receive standard ticket media and use that for park entry or using Lightning Lanes.
MagicMobile and Key to the World cards are two of four ways to access these features. The other options are the MagicBand+ and the regular ole MagicBand 2.0, as we’ll discuss below. MagicBand+ is the newer of the two, having debuted last year.
Our brutally honest MagicBand+ Review: Good, Bad & Ugly should help you determine whether it’s for you. If you’re really excited about the MagicBand+ and have already ordered one for each member of your family, you might not want to read that. Sometimes ignorance is bliss.
For those wondering how MagicBand+ and MagicMobile compare to the original MagicBand, above is a handy chart. We’d recommend consulting that, trying out MagicMobile, and reading the above resources to determine whether upgrading to the MagicBand+ is worth it for you.
The latest update as of Fall 2023 is that international guests can no longer order MagicBand or MagicBand+ via the pre-arrival system. This is different from the previous policy, which was simply that orders could not be shipped internationally. Now, guests cannot even purchase pre-arrival MagicBands for pickup at the resort upon arrival unless they have a United States mailing address.
There were previously workarounds to this, such as using a VPN. It’s our understanding that you still might be able to circumvent the system. Now officially, we’re not recommending that you do that. But we did just tell you what the requirement is for qualifying for a pre-arrival MagicBand purchase, so do with that information what you will and act accordingly. (If you need further assistance, read the comments and/or ask others for advice there.)
As for the why of this, it’s probably not because Walt Disney World hates international guests. Although it might seem that way on this one particular issue, Walt Disney World actually loves guests from outside the United States. They’re more of a captive audience, have higher per guest spending metrics, and typically do longer stays. This is why we routinely refer to British guests as Walt Disney World’s “whales” (non-derogatory).
While Walt Disney World has not offered an official explanation (and probably never will), our best guess is that it’s a matter of intellectual property law. As mentioned in our Guide to DisneyBand+ on Disney Cruise Line, the name change was made there for that reason. We’ve since heard more about the issue, and it sounds like it’s more significant than previously reported–that Disney cannot use the MagicBand name at all in certain international markets.
That’s probably an unsatisfying explanation, but it’s likely the reason why. This would also mean that, despite claims from some Cast Members, this problem will not be resolved anytime soon. That is, unless it’s viewed internally as enough of an issue that the company opts to change the name of MagicBands to DisneyBands. (And honestly, it could make sense to do that along with a soft relaunch of the product as DisneyBands.)
Disney Legal is very conservative when it comes legal liability, and they’ve probably advised Walt Disney World not to market or sell MagicBands internationally in any capacity to avoid litigation exposure. Again, all of this is unconfirmed but we’ve heard enough to believe that this explanation is highly credible. The upshot is that Disney doesn’t care if you jump through a few extra hoops and manage to make a pre-arrival order even while residing in Canada or the United Kingdom or wherever.
In any case, here’s a current look at MagicBand 2.0 and MagicBand+ inventory for the pre-arrival program as of October 13, 2023:
There are currently 69 pre-arrival options. This is far more than last year at the same time, but about average for 2023.
Numbers really improved with the launch of MagicBand+ last summer, and continued growing into the holiday season. Since then, we’ve seen inventory range from around 60 to 80 MagicBand+ and regular MagicBand styles.
Of the 69 styles, 55 are MagicBand+ and the rest are regular ole MagicBands (officially known as MagicBand 2.0). Honestly, there’s not much worth discussing when it comes to the regular MagicBand. The only noteworthy options are the ones based on “A Guide to the Magic Kingdom” that feature retro artwork from original 1970s park maps. We previously covered those in this post.
With that said, the good news is that the number of regular MagicBands has actually increased. Last time we shared an update, there were only a handful of MagicBand 2.0 designs. Now, there are 14. Our big fear was that Disney would end production of the MagicBand 2 in favor of the MagicBand Plus, which would be a mistake given how much of a misfire the ‘plus’ version is. That still might be happening–these could be inventory that was newly discovered, stuck in supply chain purgatory, etc.
Personally, I would love to see more regular MagicBand styles released. From my perspective, MagicBand+ is largely a flop–I’d rather pay less and stick with tried and true MagicBand 2. Here’s hoping that lower-than-anticipated sales of the MagicBand+ causes Disney to rethink its approach.
When it comes to MagicBand Plus, there are a handful of new designs. Some recent highlights include attraction specific MagicBand+ designs for roller coasters, plus a new Oswald the Lucky Rabbit for the Disney100 celebration, plus Disney Parks 2023 designs.
Other recent additions here include characters like Winnie the Pooh and Stitch, Baby Groot, Mickey & Friends, Star Wars characters, and more. There are also a number of new princess styles for Tiana, Moana, Little Mermaid, and more.
For me, the highlights of the recently-released designs are Fantasmic and TRON Lightcycle Run.
There’s also the Disney100 MagicBand+ in honor of the 100 Years of Wonder celebration, which is now underway at EPCOT.
The MagicBand+ already interacts with the Wondrous Journeys fireworks and World of Color – One at Disneyland, and should similarly integrate with the new nighttime spectacular at EPCOT for Disney100 once that debuts. (This should be true of all MagicBand+ styles, not just the Disney100 ones.)
If you don’t like any of these designs–or there isn’t something for everyone in your party–there’s no harm in waiting until you arrive at Walt Disney World to purchase your MagicBand. The only downside is that you won’t be able to immediately use your MagicBand to open your hotel room door, enter the parks, etc–but the actual process of buying a MagicBand and linking it to your My Disney Experience account is simple and easy.
Speaking of which, you could walk into a Walt Disney World gift shop right now and find shelves and shelves of MagicBands. There is ample availability in the parks & resorts…but these are not the same product lines and the logistics of delivering to the parks is different than the fulfillment center for these MagicBand upgrade options. (A more resourceful company might figure out a way to reallocate supply, but Disney is no Amazon!)
Those opting for a pre-arrival purchase should know that the system works the same as before, and as described in the remainder of this article. The only difference is that the MagicBands upgrades now start at $10 each, as opposed to free.
Whether you should pay to purchase a MagicBand pre-arrival is a personal decision, but there’s one big upside in that it makes the vacation experience seamless and streamlined. You can bypass your hotel’s front desk, don’t have to hassle with separate payments, keys, etc. So there’s definitely an element of convenience for on-site guests.
Note that you have until 10 days before your arrival at Walt Disney World to customize and order your MagicBand if you want to have the MagicBand shipped to your home. If you order in under 10 days, you’re eliminating two of the biggest advantages in buying MagicBands.
Due to postal service delays, we recommend placing your order at least 14 days in advance to play it safe. Anecdotally, we’re also hearing of more guests having their orders delayed or cancelled completely, so even ordering far in advance doesn’t guarantee that your MagicBands will arrive on time–or at all.
With that said, here are our troubleshooting tips and the step-by-step process for ordering. (Just keep in mind that this was written when supply chain disruptions were not a thing–so you’re going to see a lot more inventory n the screenshots below that is NOT currently available!)
It’s hard to believe, but the MagicBand upgrade option went live a few years ago. Part of the reason that it’s hard to believe is because MagicBand inventory remains hit or miss. The system is also frustratingly glitchy, with problems requiring private or antiquated browsers, plus errors throughout the process–even after submitting payment.
We assumed the kinks would’ve been ironed out by now, but sadly, that is not the case. (How naive of us given the constant issues with My Disney Experience years after its launch.) Unfortunately, beyond this troubleshooting advice below coupled with persistence, there’s no good resolution. If reader reports are any indication, contacting Disney is unlikely to yield favorable results. (We’d love to hear your experiences in the comments!)
We cannot stress enough that this system is still having a tremendous amount of problems. If you’re having trouble completing the selection process, or getting this to work, we’d recommend using the desktop site instead of the My Disney Experience app or mobile site.
Additionally, if the desktop version of DisneyWorld.com won’t work for you, try private browsing, incognito mode, or a different browser entirely. Usually, we first try private browsing on Chrome, and that resolves the issue. However, a couple of times we’ve received a message that we do not have access to a certain page, or that our payment couldn’t be processed–both of those issues can be resolved by time-traveling back to Y2K and using Internet Explorer. (Don’t worry, you won’t have to use AOL or dial-up, too.)
We’ve found that this process gets hung up on several different pages, including on the selection and checkout process. Having a ‘clean’ browser will often resolve these issues. It’s not foolproof, but if you’re finding that things become unavailable right after you select them, that’s one explanation as to why.
If you’re having issues with inventory…there’s no great solution to that. We’d recommend watching the site, checking each morning at around 8 am for the day’s restocks, and ordering your MagicBands when you see a ‘good enough’ selection of MagicBands that appeal to you. Additionally, people are reporting issues with their orders actually shipping, but this seems to be a sporadic problem.
If your Walt Disney World vacation is not in the near future, we’d recommend being patient and waiting for a design you actually want. Now that Disney has a more accurate understanding of demand, they are (hopefully) more likely to increase the inventory to an adequate level to satisfy the incredible demand.
While we aren’t huge into Magic Bands, this will undoubtedly have collectors and character fans excited, as it means acquiring a new design for what amounts to $15 off. If you liked unique designs and already have a drawer full of the ‘standard’ colors from past Walt Disney World trips, jumping at the up-charge certainly makes sense.
Personally, I’ll probably just stick to the single, solid blue MagicBand that I’ve been using for the past several years…which itself replaced a different blue one that had to be “retired” because it was too dirty.
Not that you care about that. Anyway, here’s how the process works…
After clicking the “My MagicBands and Cards” link below the My Disney Experience drop-down on DisneyWorld.com or the “Choose MagicBands” button on your resort reservation, you’ll see the above screen.
As you can see, there’s a message on the screen indicating that the new upgrade options can be shipped to guests’ homes (U.S. addresses only) if ordered 11 or more days ahead of arrival. They can be personalized if done so at least 6 or more days ahead of arrival.
Once you click the “Choose My MagicBands” button, the above screen appears…once.
I started this on my phone and continued via desktop (where I didn’t see it again), which is why it’s the only mobile screenshot here.
This is what appears next, and once you hit “Select” the screen scrolls down on the same page, revealing all of this:
Through the magic of Photoshop, I combined every single page into a single view, so you could see each character and attraction-themed MagicBand.
Above is closer look at a single page, along with what you see when you hover over the MagicBand you want to select.
No Country Bear Jamboree, but ya can’t win ’em all. Hopefully, over time new designs will be added as part of special promotions, seasonal events, and that sort of thing. (I presume the ‘best’ designs that Walt Disney World believes will sell to collectors and enthusiasts will remain exclusive to stores, where they can be sold at full price.)
If I were going to order anything, it’d be this Spaceship Earth design. It goes nicely with my collection of ~372 grey Magic Bands.
Once selected, you arrive at this complete purchase screen where you can change your name. From there, you’ll enter payment info, a shipping address, and finish the checkout. Assuming the system works!
In addition to these MagicBands, we’ve seen a variety of other options coming in and out of stock. On a “good” day, there are around 30 options in stock. These include it’s a small world, Disney Vacation Club, Haunted Mansion, and a variety of other movie and attraction designs. If you don’t see options you like and you have plenty of time before your Walt Disney World trip, keep checking back!
What do you think of the new MagicBand upgrade options? Will you be paying the premium for one of these colors or themed designs? Any specific design catch your eye? Do you cynically think this is just a lame cash-grab? 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!