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Disney Magic Band 101: Everything You Need To Know

yellow magic band

Magic Bands might be my favorite thing about a Disney World vacation. They make everything SO MUCH EASIER and they are just a lot of fun!

If you are wondering what a Disney Magic Band is or want to learn about the new Magic Band Plus, you’ve come to the right place.

What Is Disney Magic Band?

disney magic bands

Magic Bands (aka MagicBands or Disney Bands) are adjustable, waterproof wristbands that have a small radio frequency (RF) chip inside.

RF is a common technology found in everything from video game controllers to keyless car entry.

When you are at Disney World, you can use your Magic Band to:

  • Unlock your resort hotel room
  • Enter theme parks (as long as you’ve purchased a ticket, of course)
  • Access your Lightning Lane reservations
  • Charge purchases and dining back to your resort hotel
  • Add Disney PhotoPass pictures to your account

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

What is Disney MagicBand+?

people using magicband+ at walt disney world

In July 2022 Disney released a new generation of Magic Bands – Disney MagicBand+.

In addition to all of the same basic features of the original bands, these bands feature interactive color-changing lights and haptic vibrations when you are in the theme parks!

For example, they:

  • Use gesture recognition to allow you to interact with golden sculptures found in all four parks
  • Light up in time with fireworks and other nighttime entertainment 
  • Can be used in a virtual bounty hunting game in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge in Hollywood Studios

Another major difference from the original MagicBand is that the Magic Band Plus has a rechargeable battery. 

When you purchase a MagicBand+ from shopDisney you’ll get a charger with a short USB cord. 

The charge should last 1-3 days depending on use, but it’s recommended that you charge the band each night.

The bands should charge completely in about 90 minutes. 

However if your MagicBand+ runs out of battery, fear not! It will still function as a regular Magic Band. 

It just won’t light up or interact in the parks. 

Are Disney World Magic Bands Free?

box of colorful magic bands

Magic Bands were provided to every guest staying at a Walt Disney World resort hotel at no additional charge through the end of 2020.

Starting in 2021, guests can purchase a Magic Band if they want to use one during their stay. 

So unfortunately, Magic Bands are no longer free.

If you aren’t staying at a Disney hotel you can still buy and use a Magic Band, though what you can do with it will be limited (more on this below).

How Much Do Disney Magic Bands Cost?

magic bands disney examples of custom bands from shopDisney

Here’s an explanation of how much Disney Magic Bands cost.

The basic Disney Magic Band cost is $19.99 from shopDisney. (Selection has been limited lately so these bands may not be available currently.)

Magic Bands that feature Disney characters or icons generally cost $24.99 and up. Limited edition bands can cost upwards of $50. 

 

You can buy the new Magic Band Plus on the shopDisney site starting at $34.99. 

Click here to check out the MagicBand+ that are currently available.

You can buy bands at other locations such as Amazon, but for ease of use and to make sure they will work for you, I suggest buying them from Disney directly. 

After you purchase a Magic Band you can link it to your My Disney Experience account.

You can then use your MagicBand to enter the theme parks and check in for Lightning Lane reservations. (Get the lowdown on using Genie + and the Lightning Lanes at Disney World in this post)

If you are staying off of Disney World property you can buy a MagicBand online at ShopDisney (aka the Disney Store).

If you aren’t staying at a Disney-owned hotel you can still use a MagicBand as your park admission, to check in for Lightning Lanes, and for Photo Pass. You will NOT be able to charge purchases on your band, however. 

Can I Purchase a Discount Band?

If you have a reservation at a Walt Disney World Resort hotel, you may be able to pre-order Magic Bands for your trip at a discount!

In My Disney Experience, select “My Magic Bands and Cards”. 

You will be able to purchase solid-colored regular MagicBands starting at only $10 each (the regular price is $19.99).

But you have to order through the My Disney Experience app or site to get these discount Magic Bands. 

You can also order specialty bands AND Magic Band Plus at a discounted price.

How do I set up my MagicBand+?

Here’s how to set up your Magic Band Plus according to Disney: 

1) Turn the band on by pressing the power button on the back once.

2) Tap the band to your phone. 

3) You’ll be directed to download or open the My Disney Experience app on your phone. 

4) Follow the directions in the app to link your band to your Disney account, assign it to someone, and pair it with your device. 

That said, this process didn’t work for me.

I bought a band from shopDisney and needed to link it to my daughter’s account. My phone didn’t do anything when I tapped it to my phone but I was able to link it to her account here

You’ll then be able to see if your band is charged and if you need to update the software (you usually will). 

Do Magic Bands work at Disneyland? 

I am happy to report that Disneyland parkgoers FINALLY can use Magic Bands in the west coast park starting October 26th, 2022. 

However, only the new MagicBand+ will work at Disneyland. Original Magic Bands won’t work. 

So you can use the same Magic Band Plus at both Disneyland and Walt Disney World!

How Do MagicBands Work with My Disney Experience?

magic band disney screenshot from my disney experience of plans

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, Lightning Lane 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 your Lightning Lane 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.

Magic Band vs Disney Magic Band Plus

chart comparing magic band vs magic band plus

You might be wondering what makes Magic Band Plus different from the original Magic Bands and if they are worth the additional cost. 

First, the lowest-cost Magic Band is $19.99 and the lowest-cost Magic Band Plus is $34.99. So for a family of four who all want Magic Band+, you are looking at an additional $60. 

Both versions of Magic Band allow you to redeem Lightning Lane passes, use the bands as your ticket to enter the parks, make charges back to your room, and so on. 

The main difference between the types of bands is how interactive they are. The new Magic Band Plus lights up and vibrates during firework shows, at the 50th-anniversary statues, and when you are in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. 

If you don’t really care about these interactive features, then you are fine sticking with the original Magic Band. 

Magic Bands Disney: How Do I Get My Bands?

If you are staying at a Disney resort, your Magic Bands will be mailed to your home soon after you order them. In my experience, it takes about a week or two to receive them.

If you don’t live in the US, your MagicBands will be waiting for you at your hotel when you arrive.

They will arrive in an unmarked box from the USPS. So if you are trying to keep your trip a secret, don’t worry – the box will not give it away!

You’ll get a shipping notification in My Disney Experience along with a tracking number so you can make sure your package arrives safely. 

How Does Charging Purchases Work?

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 band 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.

Your 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 Magic Bands makes vacation simpler and more enjoying.

Are Magic Bands Reusable?

You might be wondering can you reuse magic bands… well I am happy to report that I reuse mine all of the time!

Yes, Magic Bands are reusable. They run off of a small battery inside the band. Disney says the batteries are designed to last for 2 years. I have read of batteries lasting for up to four years.

Since a Disney Magic Band is just a link to your My Disney Experience account, they can be used for trip after trip until the battery no longer works.

Are Disney Magic Bands Waterproof?

Many people have asked me “Are Disney Magic Bands waterproof?”

I am happy to report that yes, your Disney Bands are waterproof! You can wear them while you swim in the pool and on water attractions without damaging them in any way.

How Can I Customize Our Bands?

choose your magic bands disney in my disney experienceWhen 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 a travel agent (I recommend Siera with Destinations in Florida) you will be able to add your reservation to your account with the confirmation number you receive at booking.

When you order your Magic Band through My Disney Experience you can customize the band with your name. 

pink magic band disney with vinyl decal

Another very affordable way to get a custom look is to order a Magic Band decal on Etsy!

The vinyl decal is easy to apply to your band and they are only a few dollars each. We received lots of compliments on ours.

DIY custom disney magic bands

Or if you are into DIY, you can get some tattoos and nail gems for a few dollars and decorate away!

Get more detailed instructions on this Magic Band DIY approach here.

Also, you don’t have to be limited to just wearing a band on your wrist! Thanks to the removable puck in the Magic Band 2, you have lots of options. 

My favorite option is this MagicBand puck holder that slides onto your watch wristband!

You can use it with an Apple watch (or any watch) and it can help you keep track of your Lightning Lane return times while not having to have two bands on your wrist.

Are There Child Sized Magic Bands? 

You may have noticed that Magic Bands come in one size only. There are no separate adult or child bands. 

This is because you can turn any MagicBand into a child-sized band by removing the extra piece of flexible plastic that surrounds the band.

It’s grey on original Magic Bands and the same color as the rest of the band on Magic Band Plus. 

This will effectively shorten the band so it will fit better on a child’s wrist. 

What Else Do I Need to Know About Magic Bands?

little girl meeting the little mermaid

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.

Frozen Ever After Ride Photo

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.

Get all of my Magicband tips and tricks in this post.

What is Magic Band 2?

magic bands disney with mixed up colors in MagicBand 2.0

A few years ago Disney 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. You can remove the puck by unscrewing two tiny screws in the back of the band – you’ll need a mini screwdriver to do this.

I took advantage of this new feature to mix up our wristband colors for one of our trips. I think they look really fun!

If you have an Apple Watch, check out how to turn your Apple watch into a MagicBand!

Disney has released some new slap bracelets that feature a slider into which you can insert your puck. I love this idea! So much easier to take on and off. 

Check out all of the Magic Bands and accessories on shopDisney here. 

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

Disney Magic Band Summary

Magic Bands are also sometimes referred to as:

  • Disney bands
  • Disney wristbands
  • Magic Bands Disney
  • Disney arm bands
  • Disney Fast Pass bands

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 we leave our hotel room the only thing I have to remember is our Magic Bands. 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 backup 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 the popular “What is Disney Magic Band?” question. 

Did I miss something? Please leave a comment below or join the discussion over in my FREE private Facebook group for my Disney site, The Budget Mouse!

Everything you need to know about MagicBands at Walt Disney World! A peek at the new Magic Band 2.0 and more... #disneyworld #disneyplanning

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Ray

Wednesday 16th of November 2022

Hi Leah! Are the Magicband room charging rules mentioned in your article still the same? Will the room charges reconcile the night before checkout? I have seen some chatter that they reconcile charges by placing holds on your debit/credit card daily as purchases are made.

Leah

Wednesday 30th of November 2022

Hi Ray - you are correct, they have changed how they charge your card. We've been three times recently and can't make sense of when they charge and why lol. But they are no longer waiting to charge everything the night before checkout so I will update the post!

Cami

Friday 28th of October 2022

The cheapest MB I can find are 34. I see none for 19.99?

Matthew

Thursday 27th of October 2022

Hello, does the magic band+ need to be connected to a pass/ticket to work? I have a 2 year old whom I bought a magic band for but my guess is it will not work with the lights and haptic vibrations if it's not linked to a pass/ticket. Likewise, I can't link her band and my band under one pass/ticket can I? It's only one pass/ticket per band correct? So I'll have to sacrifice mine so that my daughter can use hers and see all the lights/haptic vibrations etc. for shows and such.

Please let me know!

Thanks!

Matthew

Monday 31st of October 2022

@Leah, Hi! Thanks for the reply! Sorry I just saw this. What do you mean by My Disney Experience account? Is that different than the Magic Key Pass holder account I have linked to my Magic Band? So sure enough we went to DCA over the weekend and her band is not linked to any pass and it seemed like it was working when WOC came on. All 3 of our magic bands started lighting up. So I guess as long as you are in proximity of the paradge/event/show and it has a charge, you will be able to experience the lights and haptic vibrations on the magic band. :) Thanks so much for all your help!

Leah

Friday 28th of October 2022

Hi Matthew! So the MagicBand is connected to a My Disney Experience account, not a theme park ticket. You will (or already have) set up and manage an account for your 2-year-old. So she will be able to use her own Magicband and everything will work. I took my daughter many times before she turned three and she always had her own band. No charging privileges of course lol.

Ray

Thursday 20th of October 2022

Hi,

Are these offered/will they work at Disney and California Adv? I don’t see any info on CA parks, thank you.

Leah

Friday 21st of October 2022

Yes! Updating the post now!

SEP

Wednesday 12th of October 2022

How does this work if you stay offsite?

I wanted my younger kids to have a way to purchase things easily.

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