I was recently in Walt Disney World for the first time in over a decade and as much as things have remained refreshingly the same (I’m looking at you Haunted Mansion), there has been something of a technological revolution at the House of the Mouse.
Disney rolled out Magic Bands a couple years ago. It’s a simple enough idea. Each guest wears a waterproof wristband that contains a chip. The chip is linked to an account and allows you to do nearly anything at the parks: it’s your ticket, your room key, your credit card (Disney’s not stupid, folks). None of this is particularly revolutionary. What is revolutionary is the degree to which Disney has seamlessly integrated the Magic Band into nearly every point of the experience. Here are three lessons I took away from my Magic Band experience.
Transform the Mundane into the Sublime
Think back to the time prior to Magic Bands. A family would purchase tickets through the Disney website with all the requisite purchasing data. A month prior to your trip your tickets would arrive in the mail. End of story.
This process has completely changed. Upon confirmation of booking your trip, the purchaser is prompted to create a My Disney Experience account. Users enter information about all the members of their party. And here’s where it gets interesting. Family members are encouraged to choose the color of their Magic Band and their avatar in the My Disney Experience system (my avatar is R2-D2, of course). Immediately, all the members of the family feel a sense of ownership about the vacation.
Then, a few weeks prior to the trip, the Magic Bands arrive in a beautiful box with Mrs. Incredible stretched across it. Upon opening the box, you’re presented with the bands, arranged so that each family member’s name is listed perfectly under their own band. Brilliant.
My kids were over-the-top excited to get the Magic Bands (ok, who am I kidding, so was I) and they wanted to wear them immediately. Disney has take a mundane action (purchasing tickets) and made the process something to get excited about. In doing so, they’ve already primed you for the rest of the experience.
Design the Interaction Points
Disney has incorporated Magic Band touchpoints (glowing Mickey logos) across its properties. They are literally everywhere. You scan them at the front desk of the hotel, to get into your room, enter the parks, register for photos, purchase food and merchandise, get on your FastPass rides… I mean everywhere. And that’s kind of the point. By making the Magic Bands useful in a lot of different places, Disney has simplified and smoothed out a lot of interactions across their parks.
The Service is the Key
An internet connected object is only as good as the service it’s tied to. Fortunately, Disney has that covered as well. The My Disney Experience service ties all the physical points together. The website is tied closely with a killer app, so any reservations or arrangements you make through website are displayed on your app. Notifications (how long until your next FastPass, when is your next lunch reservation) are pushed to your phone. Additionally, wait times are available at a touch in real time. So while you’re standing in line for Pirates of the Caribbean, it’s simple to see where you’d like to go next. It’s a pretty impressive operation.
All in all, the tech innovations in the service of customer experience taking place at the Disney Parks are a demonstration of thinking slightly ahead of the curve. Their design and engineering teams did a great job vetting possible technologies and made wise choices about which tech enhancements would best streamline their visitors’ experiences. The seamless incorporation of that tech lends the impression that Disney is looking ahead and has a vision for the future.
I’m sure Walt would approve.
Justin Jurek, Director of UX & Development