Big Data

Disney World’s New Smart Wristbands Track Visitors’ Every Move

No magic required.
Dataworld. (Wikimedia Commons)

Dataworld. (Wikimedia Commons)

Previously, Disney resort guests were given credit card-sized access cards that allowed them entry to both their rooms and the parks and even enabled them to charge anything to their Disney accounts.

The rubbery MagicBands that replaced the access cards do all of the above and much more. They actually give Disney the ability to collect big data regarding their guests and their experiences, according to BMW’s Reform.

The wristbands’ long-range radio transceivers “deliver personalized experiences…as well as provide information that helps us improve the overall experience in our parks,” reads the My Disney Experience FAQ.

Disney claims they’re not using the MagicBands to store personal information, and although the description of the exact type of data they’re gathering is vague and tailored to consumers, their purpose is quite clear — big data.

While the access cards are still available and wearing a MagicBand isn’t required, it’s obvious that they’re strongly encouraged. Even weeks before you arrive in the happiest place on earth, Disney is already making your Mickey Mouse logoed band feel essential.

Via mail in a Disney box, a personalized MagicBand in the friendly color of your choice arrives in foam cut perfectly to protect it and, more importantly, make it look important. They are “treated like princess tiaras,” according to BMW’s Reform.

Additionally, a number of perks are only available to guests with the wristbands. Non-resort visitors who enter without bands can purchase them at shops throughout the parks at an inexpensive $12.95, which is probably no more than the cost of a hotdog and souvenir soda.

It’s no surprise that Disney is trying to get a data device in the hands of every guest; it’d be harder to find a company who isn’t collecting data, after all. However, it is important to be aware of the personal data you allow others to access.

Basically, just know when your wrist accessory is more than just a means for you to access the hotel pool or buy another funnel cake.

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