Everything you need to know about Disney Magic Bands plus my best tips and tricks!
MagicBands might be my favorite thing about a Disney World vacation. They make everything SO MUCH EASIER and are just a lot of fun!
If you are wondering what a Magic Band is or want to learn about the new Magic Band Plus, you’ve come to the right place.
What are Disney Magic Bands and do I need one?
Magic 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.
They are also sometimes referred to as Disney Bands, bracelets for Disney, or Disney wristbands.
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.
While you don’t need a Magic Band at Disney World, it can help make your vacation MUCH easier.
Read on to learn everything you need to know to decide if it’s worth it to buy one for your trip!
What is a Disney Magic Band Plus?
In July 2022 Disney released a new generation of Magic Bands – Disney Magic Band Plus.
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 Plus 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 Plus 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 Magic Bands Free?
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 Magic Bands Cost?
The new Magic Band Plus on the shopDisney site starts at $34.99.
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 shopDisney directly.
If you have an upcoming Disney World resort reservation, you may be able to get discounted bands! Read on to find out how. 🙂
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)
Where To Buy Magic Bands
As I mentioned, you can buy Magic Bands online from shopDisney before your trip whether you are staying at a Disney hotel or not.
Another option is to buy Magic bands in a gift shop at Disney World once you arrive. You may get a better selection than what is available online!
There is even a Disney gift shop at Orlando International Airport that carries MagicBands.
I recommend buying them there so you can set them up before you hit Walt Disney World property!
Do I Need a Magic Band If I’m Staying Off Property?
If you aren’t staying at a Disney-owned resort you can still use a Magic Band, though what you can do with it is limited.
If you’re staying “off property” you can use a Magic Band as your park admission, to check in for Lightning Lanes, access the Disney World Virtual Queue, and for Photo Pass.
You will NOT be able to charge purchases on your band, however.
How do you get discount Disney Magic Bands?
If you have a reservation at a 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”.
Depending on availability, you may 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 Magic Band Plus and specialty bands at a discounted price.
Are Disney Magic Bands worth it?
If you are staying at a Disney World Resort hotel and will be able to use your Magic Band several times, then the answer to the question “Are Disney Magic Bands worth it?” is definitely YES!
You will love the convenience of being able to open your hotel room and charge purchases back to your room with your Magic Band.
They also make redeeming Lightning Lane reservations SO MUCH easier, since you just tap your wrist to the turnstile.
Since Magic Bands last for years, if you can break the cost up over several trips (and get them at a discount through Disney) then they are a no-brainer.
However, if you aren’t staying at a Disney World resort and are only visiting once, I don’t think it makes sense to invest in a Magic Band.
Read on to learn how to use your phone instead of a Magic Band and save your money for some other fun experience on your vacation.
Can I Use My Phone instead of a MagicBand?
Yes, in most cases you can use your phone instead of a MagicBand in the Disney World theme parks!
If you have an iPhone, Apple Watch, or Google Pay enabled Android phone, you can use your phone for theme park entry and to redeem Lightning Lane reservations.
First, make sure your park tickets are linked to your My Disney Experience account.
Then, click the hamburger menu in the bottom right corner of the app, and select Disney MagicMobile.
From there you can set up a Magic Mobile pass for yourself and those linked in your Family and Friends.
Once you set up your pass, you will be able to just hold your phone up to the turnstile (no need to unlock your phone) and scan it as you would a magic band for park entry.
If you need to access Friends’ and Family members’ passes, just double-click the side or home button (on iPhones) to swipe through the other passes.
Magic Mobile is a great alternative to a Magic Band if you are staying off-property or only visiting once and don’t want to spend the extra money on a Disney wristband.
How do I set up my MagicBand Plus?
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 (aka Magic Bands 2.0) 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?
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 Magic Band +
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.
How Long Do Magic Bands Last?
A question I get asked a lot in the comments is “How long do Magic Bands last?”
I”ve been able to reuse my Magic Bands for up to four years.
In fact, I’ve never had a battery give out, but I haven’t tried to use it for beyond four years.
The official line from Disney is to expect the battery to last for two years.
But in the real world, people report using them for WAY longer than that!
So even if you have a Magic Band from up to five years ago, I suggest bringing it along to test if it still works at Disney World. The worst case is you’ll have to buy a new band, but you may still have battery life left.
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 five years.
Since a Disney Magic Band is just a link to your My Disney Experience account, it can be used for many trips 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?
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 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.
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.
Or if you are into DIY, you can get some tattoos and nail gems for a few dollars and decorate away!
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 2.0, 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.
How Do I Get My MagicBands?
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 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 Disney Bands?
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?
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 Magic Band Summary
Magic Bands are also sometimes referred to as:
- Disney bands
- Disney wristbands
- Magic Bands Disney
- Disney arm bands
- Bracelets for Disney
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.
Any questions about Disneys Magic Bands? Please leave a comment below or join the discussion over in my FREE private Facebook group for my Disney site, The Budget Mouse!
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