Disney MagicBands 101 (Plus a Peek at the NEW MagicBand 2.0s!)

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Magic Bands might be my favorite new thing Disney has introduced in the past few years. They make everything SO MUCH EASIER on vacation and they are just a lot of fun!

So if you aren’t familiar with them (or want to learn about the new version Disney just released) this post is a great place to start.

What is a MagicBand?

MagicBands are adjustable, waterproof wristbands that have a small radio frequency (RF) chip inside. RF is common technology found in everything from video game controllers to keyless car entry.

When you are at Disney World you can use a MagicBand to:

  • Unlock your resort hotel room
  • Enter theme parks (as long as you’ve purchased a ticket, of course)
  • Access your FastPass+ reservations
  • Charge purchases and dining back to your resort hotel
  • Use Disney’s Magical Express for transfers to/from the airport
  • Add Disney PhotoPass pictures to your account

You tap the Mickey on your MagicBand to a receiver on your room door, at the turnstiles, at checkout registers, etc. to use your band.

How Do I Get a MagicBand?

MagicBands are provided to every guest staying at a Walt Disney World resort hotel at no additional charge. Even if you only have a one-night reservation, MagicBands for every member of your travel party are included for free. They are also provided to Annual Passholders.

If you are staying at a Disney resort, your MagicBands will be mailed to your home 3-4 weeks before your check-in date. If you don’t live in the US, your MagicBands will be waiting for you at your hotel when you arrive.

If you are staying at an off-site hotel or want a special band, you can purchase a MagicBand online at the Disney Store. You can link it to your My Disney Experience account and use it to enter the theme parks and check-in for FastPass+ reservations even if you are staying off-property (you can read my post that compares staying on and off property here).

How Do They Work with My Disney Experience?

My Disney Experience is both a mobile app and website that allows you to access your vacation plans and share plans with others. After you create a My Disney Experience account, you’ll be able to see your resort reservations, dining plans, FastPass+ reservations, and park tickets. I find My Disney Experience pretty easy to use and access, particularly with the mobile app.

MagicBands are essentially a link to your My Disney Experience account. That is why they allow you to use the FastPass+ reservations and park tickets that are in your account. If you have multiple MagicBands (because you are splitting your stay between two resorts, for example) they can be used interchangeably because they both link to your same My Disney Experience account.

How Can I Customize Our MagicBands?

If you make a resort reservation directly with Disney, your reservation will automatically appear in your My Disney Experience account. If you book with a third party (such as using Orbitz to take advantage of the great discounts) or travel agent you will be able to add your reservation to your account with the confirmation number you receive at booking.

Then you will be able to customize MagicBands for each member of your party on the My Disney Experience website. Just navigate to “MagicBands and Cards” and select a color and name to appear on each band.

After you get your MagicBands you can add your own special touches. Check out this post on how I customized all of our MagicBands – for a girls’ trip, obviously – for only $2!

How Does Charging Purchases to a MagicBand Work?

Visit the front desk at your resort to manage charging privileges

When you check-in for your stay, either online or in-person at your resort, you will be able to put a credit card on file to cover purchases charged back to your room. Since your MagicBand acts as your room key and a link to your resort reservation, you can use it to charge purchases back to your room account.

The fact that you can use your MagicBand to buy things makes some folks worried. First of all, you set up a four-digit PIN number when you check-in online or at your resort. You then have to enter the PIN when you make a purchase with the band. This keeps them safe in the event you lose your band.

You credit card on file will not be charged for all purchases made during your stay until midnight the night before you check out. If you want to pay any of your room charges with a gift card, you must do so before then.

I’m not going to lie – it is VERY hard to keep your spending in check at Disney World in general. MagicBands make that even harder! As long as you are prepared for that and have some kind of budget in place, I think the ease of paying for food and more with your MagicBands makes vacation simpler and more enjoying.

What Else Do I Need to Know About MagicBands?

If you are arriving in Orlando by air and taking Disney’s Magical Express to your resort hotel, be sure to pack your MagicBand in your carry-on luggage. Every member of your party will scan their bands in order to get on the bus. If you forget and pack your bands in your checked bags, just provide the cast members with your resort confirmation number and you’ll be fine.

Showing Ariel her Ariel MagicBand, of course

It is easy to link PhotoPass pictures taken in the parks (such as at character Meet & Greets) to your My Disney Experience account with your MagicBand. The photographer just scans your band after taking your picture and it shows up in your account a short while later.

Ride photos will also “magically” appear in your account soon after riding. This picture of my daughter screaming in terror on the TOTALLY MILD Frozen Ever After ride makes me laugh so hard I cry.

What is MagicBand 2.0?

Disney recently revamped the design of the MagicBand for the first time since they rolled out in 2014. The major change was a small removable “puck” in the center of the band. It can be removed by unscrewing two tiny screws in the back of the band – you’ll need a special mini screwdriver to do this.

I took advantage of the new feature to mix up our MagicBand colors for our next trip. I think they look really fun… what do you think?

The puck can be placed in special “MagicKeepers” such as lanyard clips or key chain fobs. This feature was apparently added for guests who don’t like to wear things on their wrists and I like the flexibility it adds to the device. Right now there are only a few MagicKeepers available online at the Disney Store, though I expect more are likely available in the parks.

Other than the removable puck, nothing has changed with MagicBand 2.0. They work exactly the same as the old MagicBands, and they actually weigh slightly less!

Summary

Since I travel with a little one in tow, I usually don’t have an extra hand for digging around in a purse or pocket for my room key or credit card. I LOVE having everything I need on my wrist.

Often when I leave my hotel room the only thing I have to remember is my MagicBand. If I am just heading to the food court or to the pool for the afternoon, I don’t take anything else with me. If I’m heading to the parks and taking a bag anyway, I will bring my ID and a back up credit card, just in case I get carded or something’s not working with my band (though this hasn’t ever happened to me).

I hope this post answered all of your questions about using MagicBands at Walt Disney World! Did I miss something? Please leave a comment below!


2 Responses to Disney MagicBands 101 (Plus a Peek at the NEW MagicBand 2.0s!)

  1. Catherine Granger says:

    Can you add gift cards to the magic band

    • Leah says:

      Not exactly, Catherine. If you are staying at a Disney resort and charge purchases back to your room using your MagicBand (which is one of the most convenient things about them, in my opinion), you can use a gift card to pay the charges at your resort’s front desk. Just take your gift cards up to the front desk before midnight the night before you check out and they will apply them to your room charges.

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