Disney’s always looking for a way to get ahead in its parks, including providing the best customer service around. Its constant raising of prices might seem counter intuitive to that, but at least it keeps upgrading its services. The New York Times has a fascinating new report on the Disney Parks’ latest effort: MyMagic+.
MyMagic+ takes the physical form of a wristband park guests wear in place of tickets. Guests won’t have to trade in paper tickets anymore, instead waving their bands in front of the new FastPass monitors (even if they didn’t purchase a FastPass, those Mickey monitors are used). MyMagic+ also functions as room keys; it’s an all-in-one information carrier for Disney Park guests.
That’s where the bands get a little controversial. In our modern information-sharing age, where search engines log our searches and customize our ads, where Facebook monitors the things we “like” and sends us information accordingly, MyMagic+ does the same thing. It logs everything guests do at the park.
It uses that information to create a profile for each guest, so it can customize information, deals, and marketing messages to every individual. It’ll remember which rides you went on, at which restaurants you ate, which characters you sought out for meet-and-greets, and what you bought at the shops. If you’re wondering how a wristband could possibly know that you shook Mickey Mouse’s hand: they come equipped with radio, or RFID, chips that send information over the air. I’m still a little shaky on how that would know every little thing that you do, but then I’m always slow to understand some new technology.
The New York Times says that Disney’s aware of the privacy concerns introduced by MyMagic+, especially with kids. Beyond saying that it’s aware, however, there’s no proposed plan for how it’ll deal with privacy issues; perhaps some promise to not share information, or to not use it at all if requested, particularly for minors.
In an effort to protect guests, the bands will contain no personal identifiable information, though the fact that guests can make purchases with the bands tells me that they still might be loaded with credit information. Any purchases greater than $50, however, will also require guests to enter a pin, and if the band is lost park employees can deactivate it.
Disney’s completely dedicated to MyMagic+, convinced that the technology is needed to keep the parks relevant in our techno-society. It’s so confident, in fact, that bits of the technology will start rolling out this spring. Disney wants to allow guests to customize their experiences, and MyMagic+ will even allow them to preselect three FastPasses and VIP seating for events before they leave for vacation. The bands will interact with Smartphone app My Disney Experience to alert guests when it’s time for them to get on a ride, or to actually allow guests to interact with rides (on the new Little Mermaid ride at Fantasyland, for example, a robotic Scuttle talks to guests with the MyMagic+ wristbands).
Disney currently says that the MyMagic+ wristband is a choice for any park guests; it won’t be required for use. If it’s successful, however, I have no problem envisioning a Disney Park experience that requires the wristband.
What are your thoughts on MyMagic+? Is it a great new piece of tech to enhance a Disney experience, or a creepy invasion of privacy?
*(The above image by gwaar is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 License.)