New MagicBand Upgrades at Disney World & Free Option Removed

Premium MagicBand upgrades are available for pre-arrival Walt Disney World resort hotel guests and Annual Passholders. This post walks you through the process via the app and website with screenshots and shows you all the ~50 styles, including the newly-released solid color trends and Castle Cake designs! (Updated February 8, 2021.)

The new upgrade process is now available in My Disney Experience, and gives guests the option to pay for an upgraded MagicBand design. The styles rotate with some regularity, and there are typically more than 40 choices featuring favorite Disney characters and designs at discounted price points.

Walt Disney World started with a total of 43 paid options, but new options have been added to the inventory since then, while others have sold out. Most of these cost $5-$10, while others are $15-20. We’ve now updated this post a few times with screenshots of the new MagicBands, plus info, and troubleshooting tips for what has proven to be a frustrating process…

As previously announced, Walt Disney World has eliminated the complimentary solid-color MagicBands that were sent to guests pre-arrival. Here’s the new note that has appeared on the MagicBand customization page:

“Starting in 2021, we plan to unveil an innovative new offering as part of the My Disney Experience app that will bring features of a MagicBand to your smart devices…With the new My Disney Experience offering, MagicBands will no longer be provided on a complimentary basis with new reservations for Disney Resort hotel Guests with arrivals beginning January 1, 2021 and beyond.”

For resort hotel room entry, park admission, and charging privileges to the hotel room with a valid credit card, Walt Disney World has reverted to the old system of using a Key To The World card. 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 the My Disney Experience app for unlocking their hotel room door. For those who already have MagicBands, you can still use ones from past visits.

As of February 2021, we have a trio of positive new developments.

First, Walt Disney World has debuted new Key to the World room keys featuring character art of Minnie & Mickey Mouse, Daisy & Donald Duck, Pluto, and Goofy. The colorful designs feature the same art style as Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway, which is itself drawn from the new Mickey Mouse cartoons.

Second, Walt Disney World is embracing its “color trends” with 9 new solid options that have debuted in the last week.

Those include Blue Iris, Olive Green, Soft Yellow, Dark Purple, Blush Pink, Mint Green, Light Navy, Raspberry, and Black–which has been the #1 color request. All of these are $5 pre-arrival, compared to $15 in the parks. (Ignore the Pink one above–that’s not new.)

Finally, one of Walt Disney World’s most infamous icons has been rolled out today in MagicBand form. As the 50th Anniversary approaches, Magic Kingdom is about to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of Cinderella Castle as a giant pink birthday cake. The Castle Cake was incredibly divisive, and derided among many fans as the Pepto Bismol Castle.

I was 10 years old when I first saw the Castle Cake, and I absolutely loved it. Even today, I remain nostalgic for the Castle Cake as a short-lived overlay for Walt Disney World’s 25th Anniversary. Probably not enough to drop $20 on the MagicBand, but I think it’s a fun nostalgia offering for Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary. (On a related note: the Castle Cake is 25 years old? Time flies!)

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 solid color MagicBands are now $5 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 don’t have to wait in line for your reservation to be manually retrieved at Disney’s Magical Express, you can bypass your hotel’s front desk, and don’t have to hassle with separate payments, keys, etc. So there’s definitely an element of convenience for on-site guests.

As such, we still recommend that on-site guests purchase pre-arrival MagicBands. It’s simply minimal expense for the potential headaches it saves. The same recommendation does not apply to off-site guests or Annual Passholders.

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.)

To our knowledge, the last update with new designs occurred during the holiday season, which added a few new pre-arrival exclusive Magic Bands. We haven’t spotted any new 2021 designs yet, but those should be coming soon.

In terms of MagicBand availability, there were 50 options the last time we checked on February 8, 2021. This number fluctuates regularly, but that’s a new record to our knowledge. In early January, there were only 37-38 options. (The new color trends really upped the total.) In any case, what you see below may not be available when you go to place your order.

It’s also worth noting that in the last few months, the MagicBand upgrade process has been working really smoothly. (Perhaps due to less strain on the system?) We haven’t purchased anything, but every step through the checkout process before that has gone off without a hitch.

With that said, here are our troubleshooting tips in case you don’t have the same success…

TROUBLESHOOTING

It’s hard to believe, but the MagicBand upgrade option went live over one full year 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!

One of the upsides is that a range of new MagicBand choices are also being added on a regular basis. Newer options include a chic voyageur Mickey Mouse design for Disney’s Riviera Resort, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, Toy Story Land, Figment, Spaceship Earth, Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort, and various movies.

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!

Planning a Walt Disney World trip? Learn about hotels on our Walt Disney World Hotels Reviews page. For where to eat, read our Walt Disney World Restaurant Reviews. To save money on tickets or determine which type to buy, read our Tips for Saving Money on Walt Disney World Tickets post. Our What to Pack for Disney Trips post takes a unique look at clever items to take. For what to do and when to do it, our Walt Disney World Ride Guides will help. For comprehensive advice, the best place to start is our Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide for everything you need to know!

YOUR THOUGHTS

What do you think of the new MagicBand upgrade options? Will you be paying the $10 to $20 premium for one of these 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!


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