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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!
If you aren’t familiar with them, this post is a great place to start.
What’s a Disney Magic Band?
Magic Bands (officially MagicBands) 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 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 Disney Magic Band?
You can get a Magic Band one of two ways:
- Making a reservation at a Disney World Resort hotel (these are owned and operated by Disney)
- Buying one on the ShopDisney website, Disney Store, or other places (though I’d recommend getting them from Disney)
Read on to learn more about both of these options…
Are Magic Bands Free?
Yes and no! Magic Bands 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 at a Disney hotel, 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 Magic Bands 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 aren’t staying at a Disney hotel you can still use a Magic Band, though what you can do with it will be limited.
Can I Buy A Disney Magic Band?
Those staying at an off-site hotel or who want a special band can buy a MagicBand online at ShopDisney (aka the Disney Store). Basic bands are $12.99 and limited edition bands can cost upwards of $50.
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 FastPass+ reservations.
Anyone can buy a band and link it to your Disney account, even if you are staying off-property (you can read my post that compares staying on and off property here).
Are Magic Bands Reusable?
Yes, Magic Bands are reusable! Magic Bands run off of a small battery inside the band. Disney says the batteries are designed to last for 2 years. I have read of Magic Band 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 Magic Bands Waterproof?
Yes, Magic Bands are waterproof! You can wear them while you swim in the pool and on water attractions without damaging them in any way.
How Do MagicBands 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 Magic Bands?
When 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 (I recommend Destinations in Florida) 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.
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 our last trip.
How Does Charging Purchases to a MagicBand 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 Magic 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.
What Else Do I Need to Know About Magic Bands?
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.
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 Magic Band 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. You can remove the puck 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 Magic Band 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 keychain fobs. Or if you have an Apple Watch, check out how to turn your Apple watch into a MagicBand!
Disney apparently added this feature for guests who don’t like to wear things on their wrists. 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!
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 all of your questions about using Magic Bands at Walt Disney World! 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!