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Disney to Roll Out RFID-Enabled “MagicBand” to Guests

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BURBANK, Calif., January 8, 2013 — While many people are agonizing over how closely kids are tracked online, tracking of the little ones in the offline world is taking a Mickey Mouse-sized leap forward. The New York Times reports that Disney Parks will introduce ID bracelets this spring that will make tickets, hotel keys, cash and credit cards unnecessary for its visitors.

Disney asked for FCC approval for the digital transmitters in the fall. Disney calls them “MagicBands” and is rolling them out as part of a vacation management system called “MyMagic+.” Once loaded with visitors’ personal information and credit card numbers, the bands can be used to buy things, to access hotel rooms and to get on wait line lists. Convenient! Disney will also be able to use the bands to track everything people do in the parks and personalize entertainment for them.

According to the NYTimes, the new bands may cost Disney up to $1 billion to roll out for its 30 million annual visitors:

It’s a small world after all…when the things we wear broadcast who we are and what we like. Companies are increasingly trying to come up with innovative ways to track us as closely offline as they already do online, whether it’s by doing it with surveillance cameras, giving us tracking devices to wear or by tapping into the tracking device we all already carry around.

Disney is excited about “taking the Disney guest experience to the next level,” but not all visitors will be forced to believe in magic. The system will be opt-in, reports NYT:

“Guests will not be forced to use the MagicBand system, and people who do try it will decide how much information to share. An online options menu, for instance, will offer various controls: Do you want park employees to know your name? Do you want Disney to send you special offers when you get home? What about during your stay?”

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