Let’s talk Disney MagicBands! If you’ve spent any amount of time researching your Disney World vacation, you have probably noticed people wearing colorful wristbands in their trip photos. These are MagicBands and they can make navigating your Disney World vacation a whole lot easier!
First of all, what is a Disney MagicBand and what does it do?
MagicBands are flexible, waterproof RFID wristbands used at Walt Disney World for your park ticket, FastPass+, and PhotoPass. If you’re staying on-site at a Disney World hotel, they are also your room key and can be linked to your credit card for dining and merchandise purchases.
MagicBands are NOT required to visit Disney World. They serve as a convenience over using your park ticket, credit card, or PhotoPass card multiple times each day.
The original MagicBand (right) compared to the new MagicBand 2 currently in production.
You may see references to MagicBand 2 or 2.0 in other articles. The first MagicBands were released in 2013 with an upgrade (including a removable RFID puck) coming just a few years later. Since only MagicBand 2 is still in production and they have been around for years, there’s no reason to talk about the original MagicBands and all references to MagicBands in this post refer to MagicBand 2.
What Does A MagicBand Do?
All Disney MagicBands can be linked to your My Disney Experience account and used for the following:
- Park ticket
- Redeem FastPass+ reservations
- Assign PhotoPass photos to your account
This functionality is available only to those staying on-site at a Disney World resort hotel:
- Resort hotel room “key”
- Charge credit card purchases to your room account
- If driving, open the gate to your resort
Additionally, some rides use the RFID technology in MagicBands to customize your ride experience. It’s A Small World, for example, may wish you “goodbye” by name on screens at the end of the ride!
To use a MagicBand, tap the Mickey icon on the band to the Mickey on the touch point sensor – “Mickey to Mickey.” These touch points are all over Disney World – at park entrances, attraction entry points, merchandise sales locations, hotel room doors, and more.
Do I need a MagicBand?
The short answer is, “No.” You do not NEED a MagicBand.
Without a MagicBand, you will simply use your RFID-enabled ticket card for all of the functions a MagicBand will otherwise do.
You do not need MagicBands in order to make and redeem FastPass+ reservations. You can use your ticket for FastPass+.
One exception to this “MagicBands do everything that park tickets do” rule is PhotoPass-enabled rides. On many rides, your photo will be taken and then those photos are displayed for selection on screens in the attraction exit area. You tap your MagicBand or park ticket to the touch point that corresponds to the screen showing your photo and … VOILA! your on-ride photos appear in your Disney account.
However, certain rides including Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and Slinky Dog Dash solely use RFID detection to assign on-ride photos to your account and do not have a manual photo selection area at the ride exit. If you do not have a MagicBand, you will not receive photos from these rides. So, if you have Memory Maker and want all of your on-ride photos, definitely consider getting a MagicBand.
Are MagicBands free?
If you are staying at an on-site Disney World resort hotel, each person on the reservation will receive a complimentary, plain color MagicBand – red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, pink, or gray.
Annual Passholders also receive free MagicBands.
Certain premium MagicBands with character designs are offered to hotel guests and passholders at a discounted price.
How do you get a MagicBand?
If you have a hotel reservation, you can select a MagicBand from the MyDisneyExperience website. Log on and complete your order at least 30 days before your trip. Complimentary MagicBands will be delivered 3-4 weeks before your trip in an unmarked box (no fancy Disney branding to reveal what’s inside!). If your order includes any of the discounted premium MagicBands, your order will ship right away.
If you are staying off-site or want to buy a premium, non-discounted MagicBand, order online at Shop Disney if you’re at least one month away from your trip. Or, purchase them at Disney World after you arrive. MagicBands are available for sale at Disney Springs, at Disney hotel gift shops, and in the parks (seriously, they’re everywhere at Disney World!). Cast members there will attach them to your Disney account.
MagicBand costs range from $14.99 for plain color bands to over $30 for limited edition character designs.
Are Disney MagicBands worth it?
If you’re a passholder or staying on-site at a Disney hotel, this question is a non-issue since you’ll receive free MagicBands and should definitely use them.
However, if you’re staying off-site and would have to purchase a MagicBand, you have a decision to make! Let’s take a look at the MagicBand’s three functions and see if purchasing one would be beneficial over using your ticket card.
Park Ticket – There’s really no advantage to having a MagicBand here. You’ll only enter a park once a day, maybe twice if you’re park hopping. Digging out your ticket that infrequently to enter the parks probably isn’t an inconvenience.
FastPass+ Redemption – This is where having a MagicBand will be more convenient. If you plan on utilizing Disney World’s free FastPass+ system (and I highly recommend you do to save LOTS of time standing in line!), then having a MagicBand on your wrist is a quick and easy way to redeem your reservations. It will be much more convenient than digging out your ticket throughout each day. You should be using at least three FastPass+ redemptions per day. At parks like Magic Kingdom, it’s rather easy to get 6, 7, or more so consider the convenience of having your FastPass+ redemption device right on your wrist compared to pulling your ticket out of a bag that often.
PhotoPass – Plan on meeting lots of characters? PhotoPass photographers use handheld readers to read your MagicBand or ticket and assign the photos they take to your account. If you plan on stopping to meet characters throughout the day or just get photos at the castle or anywhere PhotoPass photographers work around the parks, having a MagicBand at the ready is a significant convenience.
I already briefly touched on using MagicBands to claim your on-ride photos. Having a MagicBand here can be very helpful. When you disembark a ride, you don’t always have ample time to reach the photo selection area and tap the touch point to add your photo to your account. Having the MagicBand ready to go on your wrist is much more convenient than fumbling around for your ticket. And, as I previously mentioned, MagicBands are the ONLY way to retrieve CERTAIN on-ride photos.
My boys retrieving their custom car performance results after riding Test Track.
A few rides will have additional functionality accessible by tapping a MagicBand or ticket card, so having a MagicBand already on your wrist is a huge convenience. For example, when riding Test Track at Epcot, there are numerous touch points through the attraction to add to the experience. I use my MagicBand no less than FIVE times during this one attraction – FastPass+ entry, tap at kiosk to design a vehicle, tap at ride entry to assign the custom vehicle I designed to my ride vehicle, tap at ride exit to select my on-ride photo, and tap the touch point in the score room to see my custom vehicle’s total score and how it compares to all other vehicles. This is one attraction where having a MagicBand is a MAJOR convenience!
MagicBands give you peace of mind knowing that your tickets are packed away, safe and sound, while you use your MagicBand for the … magic! There’s no risk of losing your ticket since you aren’t constantly taking it in and out of your bag all day long.
When making your MagicBand purchase decision, note that not everyone in your group needs one. If your reason for purchasing MagicBands is for the PhotoPass benefits, only the person with the Memory Maker account needs the MagicBand for the RFID detection.
More Helpful Info About Disney MagicBands
MagicBands are adjustable for any wrist size with multiple sizing holes. The entire outer gray border is also easily removable to make the entire band smaller for child wrists.
MagicBands can get wet, even submerged. You can wear them in pools and at the water parks. My husband actually puts his on in the car ride down to Florida and doesn’t take it off until we get back home a week later!
The RFID puck is removable with a tiny screwdriver. If you don’t want to wear your MagicBand on your wrist, you can remove the puck and purchase another accessory like a keychain or carabiner for your backpack or lanyard.
You can reuse MagicBands. Officially they last 2 years. If you still have MagicBands from your last trip, you can use them again next time.
You can have multiple MagicBands. MagicBands do not actually store any data. They merely connect to your Disney account so you can have multiple MagicBands, each connecting to your account. We enjoy split stays at Disney hotels during our trips and since hotel guests receive MagicBands for each hotel reservation, we’ve grown quite a collection and have MagicBands to match any outfit now!
If you are staying at an on-site Disney World hotel and want to link your credit card to your MagicBand, simply add your credit card during the online check-in sequence before your trip. I’ve found credit card linking to be a tad finicky, so I always additionally ask the cast member at front desk check-in to confirm the credit card link as well.
When using your credit card-linked MagicBand to pay for dining or merchandise purchases, you must additionally enter your PIN code into the touch point device for added security. You can specify your PIN in your My Disney Experience account. Don’t worry about another guest having a spending spree if you lost your MagicBand!
Park entrances use a biometric finger scanner in addition to tapping your MagicBand. Again, this adds security and ensures that only YOU can use the park ticket attached to your MagicBand if it gets lost.
Speaking of loss, notify the resort front desk or the park’s guest relations office (depending on where you lost it) if you lose your MagicBand. Each MagicBand can be immediately deactivated in your account, ensuring that no one else can use your MagicBand it gets misplaced.
Do you have any more questions about MagicBands? Ask below!