My personal thoughts on MagicBands in 2017 and beyond

Before I begin, please note that I am looking for feedback and opinions in the comments about this article. I’d love to hear your thoughts. Many Disney employees and Cast Members read my blog often, and I’m sure they’d love to hear your feedback as well.

Every year or so I try to write an opinion piece about what my current thoughts are on the state of MagicBands. This past year, 2016, was a big one with MagicBands which brought us the most Limited Edition and graphic bands ever being put on the shelfs within a year, as well as the major introduction of MagicBand 2. Old ideas evolved, like MagicKeepers, but fun ones faded away, like the yearly Annual Passholder MagicSliders (which are now the same design year after year). So where are MagicBands headed? What new ideas can be injected into them? Below are some thoughts.

2017

Turn On the Sounds! – Most MagicBand entry points at Walt Disney World have the sounds turned off when you touch a band to the touch point. The circle lights up with colors, but no sounds are made because they’ve been turned off. I am assuming that the reason for this is because the constant “bling bling!” sound annoys Cast Members after hours of hearing it. But that is not customer/guest friendly and not an excuse to have the sounds off. People pay $35+ to buy Limited Edition MagicBands and to get the special effects that come along with it, and it’s not fair that they only see the colors without the sounds. This is a common complaint that I hear often here on my site, on Twitter, and on Facebook, and it’s #1 on the list of things Disney needs to fix when it comes to MagicBands. Turn on the sounds!

MagicBand 2 On Demand – This one is a no-brainer and I’m sure is on the way shortly. The On Demand system needs to be upgraded for MagicBand 2. Watch for this before the end of the year in my opinion. Hopefully some new designs come along with it the upgrade.

Fix My Disney Experience – A couple of issues here. First is a simple one: Update the graphics across the entire site and all of the mobile apps to show MagicBand 2 images. Second, and more importantly, when a guest has tons of MagicBands linked (like 100+) the site doesn’t load any bands and they can’t be managed. These issues needs to be fixed soon.

On Demand Limited Releases – In the summer of 2016 Disney tested doing monthly designs as Limited Releases at the On Demand stations for Star Wars. Although this was a fun idea, there are a few problems I have with it. One is that collecting them all can be very expensive. Maybe stick to one new design a month. Secondly, the quality of On Demand isn’t quite up to par with the on-shelf graphic bands. For a Limited band, I expect the best. And lastly, the back of the band doesn’t say Limited Release on it anywhere, leaving the collectability a little less than desired. I wouldn’t be sad if Disney ditches this idea and just sticks to Limited items being on-shelf only.

Food & Wine Festival Needs a Band – This one actually baffles me a bit. Nearly every major event at Disney World got a Limited Edition MagicBand for 2016 except Food & Wine, which is the longest running festival. In fact, a major reason many people I know personally bought the special Premium Package in 2015 was for the included Food & Wine MagicBand. I hope Disney fixes this for 2017. If they are worried about not selling very many, keep the Edition size below 2000.

Make an Annual Passholder Band – Disney Vacation Club members got their own special MagicBands last year that do special effects at touchpoints, and so should AP holders. This would be a win for Disney in that AP holders would feel special and be more willing to wear the bands more often (especially locals, who are the least likely to wear them beside off-site guests). Why not give them away for free when AP holders get to chose a free MagicBand on the My Disney Experience website?

Keep Limited Edition Sizes Low – Late in 2016 Disney made a smart choice by keeping LE sizes between 2000-3000 per design. I hope Disney continues to keep sizes low, and maybe even lower, to keep their profits and demand high, while also driving collectability now and into the future. Making sure the collectability doesn’t get overstaurated is important. Disney was smart by making the May the 4th and Revenge of the 5th bands last year at 750 each and I hope they do that again this year. I’d even love to see some bands down in the < 500 range if possible.

More Unique Graphics – Bands with graphics for in-park characters, rides, and events are great, but I hope Disney expands their universe a bit like they have with phone cases. Make retro designs with Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, Dick Tracy, and Disney Afternoon. What about TV designs for Black-ish, Fresh Off The Boat, Freeform shows, and more? Expand, expand, expand. A MagicBand is like jewelry, and people like to customize and feel unique. And where is Indiana Jones?

Festivals and Events – I’d love to see some LE bands for events that are exclusive to buy-in packages. For example, what about a nice Candlelight Processional band only for people who buy the dinner package? Or what about a Force Friday band only for people who buy $250 worth of merchandise at the next Force Friday event this coming winter for the new Star Wars movie? Or maybe a special band only for people who go on the behind-the-scenes Safari tours in Animal Kingdom? These are just ideas, but there are many options here to promote buy-ins to events and special offerings.

 

Beyond 2017

Marvel – This is a big one. Disney needs to find a way to get Marvel characters on MagicBands. I know they have some contract issues with Universal Studios Orlando about this, but with Spider-Man MagicBandits recently appearing, I’d love to see some MagicBands here soon.

Up-sell Special Effects – Similar to On Demand, it might be a good idea to sell the ability for users to add special effects to their bands (via the icon or puck) with a one-time purchase at On Demand stations. These effects could be different than the LE ones, and maybe users could choose where the effects are made, what colors they make, and what sounds they make, all with different price points. There might need to be some infrastructure put in place for this, but it could be a Build-A-Bear style money maker.

More Colors – We need a white and a black band. Maybe even a brown and a teal as well. Keep the excitement going with one new color every year. With the Dooney & Bourke bands being on a white base, maybe we have some hope here?

Promo Bands in a Box – Promotional bands, like the D23 Amazing Adventures band last year, deserve to be in a special box. This includes Disney Parks Blog giveaways, Disney College Program Alumni bands, and more. It adds a special keepsake value to the bands and gives them an aura of collectability. Giving them away like junk candy does a disservice to the product in my opinion. D23 did a great thing this year by including a box.

MagicBandits Like Pins – MagicBandits in their current form are junk. They are plastic, easily fall out, and most people seem to ignore them. What Disney should do is make them metal like pins, but with a better clip-in mechanism. Then they could sell them like pins, with Limited Editions, intracite designs, and more collectability. Figure out a way to evolve this. Let the MagicBand replace the pin lanyard.

Collectability – It may be a pipe dream but I’d love to see MagicBand holders, cases, and other accessories from Disney revolve around collectability, similar to what they do with pins.

Watch / Screen – MagicBand 3, or beyond, needs to include a watch or screen somehow. Maybe the tech isn’t there yet, but this is a major must-do once it is. Integration with Apple Watch is also requested, but Apple needs to open up NFC first if Disney wants a crack at it.

 

So that’s it for my outlook this year and beyond. Watch are your thoughts? What do you want to see with MagicBands and accessories? Leave a comment below.

About Ethan 1136 Articles
Creator of MagicBand Collectors (which is owned by EA Partners, LLC), it is my goal to catalog and archive the entire history of the Disney MagicBand. I don't work for Disney nor am I associated with them in any way, besides being a mega-fan and living 5 minutes from Walt Disney World. You can contact me at eapartnersllc@icloud.com.

37 Comments

  1. Yes to everything you said! I would only add one thing: TURN ON THE MAGICBAND EFFECTS. Customers didnt purchase a LE band at $35 for the effects to not work. I understand that it may slow down traffic in certain areas and would probably drive the CM’s crazy, but still.

  2. I’d love to know why they don’t offer a plain white band…along with all the other colors. I like to keep it neutral, but gray is a little too boring. White would be the color I’d choose!

  3. I very much echo the sounds comment. The first time I heard Mickey say “May the force be with you!”, I was hooked on LE bands! I would love to see any of the LE’s featuring Figment maybe have him giggling or something in the future.
    I was so disappointed with no F&W 2016 band. My husband and I were saving for a Premium Package that never came to be.
    Finally, Epcot 35th Anniversary: I am curious what, if any, MB’s will be released for this. I am planning on being there Oct 1st and hope they offer some interesting LE bands.
    Fantastic insights and thanks for being my source for all things MB!

    • I have noticed that too. Usually the touch points that are mostly unused on the far left/right sides of entries will have the sounds turned on. Also, some at the Epcot France/UK entrance are turned on as well.

  4. Add a demo FP post somewhere around each park (like they had at D23 this year, for those of us that want to show off the lights & sounds or have kids who love seeing them over & over.

    Turn on the lights & sounds for all parks. Some bands only play lights & sounds at a specific park, turn that on for all of them.

    Add a LE band for shareholders. Shareholders used to get a discount on park tickets, but no more. Give folks a reason to own Disney stock over any other one.

  5. I like your points. I’m pretty much done with Disney after several bad experiences and poor customer service. Yes I said customer not guest because I don’t feel like a guest at Disney. For me LE sounds are important at entrance and for FP.

    Thanks to Ethan I heard about LE MagicBands makes sounds and effects from his Facebook page and link here. Before seeing a post by Ethan I had no idea the key card were no longer in use. I thank Ethan for being patient and informative with me because I have a lot of questions. I also get glitches that others don’t.

    From now on I’m only buying a LE if it is cool or Star Wars. I was bummed with the Star Wars On Demand decision because it was good idea with poor execution. The coolest MB was the X-Wings with Helmet on the red band. I don’t live in FL and was unable to get that MB.

  6. I would like to see the sliders as you said. The annual pass slider needs to be different every year like it was before. When we received our annual pass magicbands this year they didn’t come with any sliders at all, there was a little note in the box saying that they will mail them out sometime in the spring when their available. I am also a DVC member and I was super bummed when we found out that we wouldn’t be getting any DVC sliders either.

    I do agree with the sound, but if they want to make it less annoying for cast members I’m sure that there is a way for them to only turn the sound on for the LE magicbands. So that the regular ding of all the normal magicbands doesn’t happen but the LE sounds will still happen, I think that would be a win win for all involved.

    What you said about the mymagic+ is HUGE for me. I hate that I can deactivate bands and cards on the site but it is impossible to delete them off of the list. My list is very quickly getting insane and I would love to just delete the oldest ones off that I am never going to use again, but like I said, there is no option for that. And when you have your kids on your account as well with all of their magicbands it just compounds the problem 10 fold. Please Disney, let us delete magicbands completely…

    Other than that I pretty much agree with everything you said!

    Michael

  7. I’m praying fir a Peter pans flight 45th anniversary
    The on demand Peter Pan SUCKS. The printing is off on every one that gets printed

  8. You tend to be right on with your yearly thoughts and predictions so I’ll have my fingers crossed 🙂

    I definitely agree with everything especially the size total. Like you said, around 500 seems about right for most LE bands and maybe higher only for the Food & Wine (if they bring it back like the Flower & Garden festival), Christmas and Halloween events.

    I still haven’t seen any visual effects for my 45th Magic Kingdom and Moana MagicBands. They should at least have the visual effects turned on all the time as it can be too loud at times to hear the sound effects. It’s fun seeing the reaction from other people when the band shines differently than the normal green ring.

    I would also say to add a specific one for Animal Kingdom other than the D23 Amazing Adventures since that was not available at the park. However, there could possibly be one celebrating the opening of Pandora – The World of Avatar.

    Thank you again Ethan for being the #1 source when it comes to MagicBands. We all appreciate what you have done and here’s to another great year!!

    -Jason

  9. I’m someone who likes wearing the band but I can’t wear the new bands because of the screws on the back. I would like to see them keep the old style around with many some limited edition bands for people who want to wear a magicband but can’t wear the new ones (nickel allergies are common so I’m not sure why Disney didn’t think of this complication with the 2.0 bands) and for people who like the thinner style since the 2.0 bands are really wide where the puck/icon is. I think providing some of the old style bands in a limited edition would keep collectors’ interest and also provide a solution to the allergy issue.

  10. What about the wow factor or whatever is called. It seems it gets shorter and shorter. They went from saying a whole sentence to a 2 second sound effect. I love that they’re limited but come on. Ex valentine magicband doesn’t even finish the song. And haunted mansion on 2 bells ring…disappointed.

  11. I think Disney has done a great job with Magic Bands from a functional perspective (use as your ticket, for photo passes, pay for things if staying at a resort). However, I really feel like they have missed a huge opportunity to expand Magic Bands beyond this. Other than the niche group of us who collect them, I don’t feel there is much buzz around bands. I don’t have the statistics (I’m sure Disney does), but I wonder how many bands the average person will buy in a year? My guess if your not a collector and you live outside of FL it is well below 1 per year, especially considering if your coming on vacation to a resort you get one for free. Floridians would are different, as many of us are annual pass holders and have more value/desire to buy bands and link them to our accounts, as we would use them more. With that being said Disney has all the incentive to market to this population of people. They should try and grow the hype on bands, like Ethan said put out merchandise that incentivizes people to want to collect like display cases. Create some hype and buzz around it. Disney has spent a billion dollars on this technology! With that type of investment they should be trying to squeeze every ounce of profit out of it. So if any Disney Executives are reading this here’s my pitch! Create an event at Epcot around magic bands. Bring in Ethan as a vendor and others to showcase rare bands, just like the art show going on now have tents with bands forsale, have areas where one-of-a-kind bands can be made by artists. Maybe set something up where collectors can come together to buy and trade. My point is there is an undercurrent with Magic Bands that is not being tapped.

  12. One other thought… allow bands to be reset to a ready to be linked status. It would be great if in your My Disney Account you could reset your band so it could be used by someone else!

  13. Yes, please have the lights and sounds on everywhere!! I get such joy out of my LE bands, and spend a lot of time coordinating them with my outfit for each day at the parks. Having them not light up properly is always a downer.

    I am fine with LEs of ~2000, but since I don’t live in FL, any super low numbers are subject to exploitation by eBay resellers, and that’s not cool.

    The ability to reset a band for use by someone else would also be really awesome, but not sure how much of a logistical nightmare that would be…

  14. Some really great ideas here!

    Visiting WDW last week I came to the realization that I would really like the Annual Passholder discount to be tied to Magic Bands. I don’t think we should have to ask every store/restaurant if there is an AP discount. Theoretically the cash register could know who I am when I’m standing within a few feet of it. Or worse case, I just scan the band. I shouldn’t have to show my AP card and my drivers license. The discount should just happen. 🙂

    Also, and I’m not sure if this is true or not, but I wanted to continue a Sorcerers Of The Magic Kingdom game and was told that I had to have THE actual Magic Band the game was started on. They said it was tied to that physical band and not my DME account. Is that true?

    • I agree with your points. Since they already know where we are. We went to the rivers of light on standby and later my wife got an email saying..”we noticed you attended rivera of light…feedback”

      And for SOTMK you don’t need the original. They probably would start you in a new game. But ours carried over with our new AP magicbands.

  15. I’m late to this thread, but my love of MagicBands is strong, so I’m posting anyway:

    1). Lights and sounds are the BEST THING about MagicBands, beyond the basic ticket and photo options. Lights and sounds should work at all entrances and all FP touchpoints. Heartily agree that the sound needs to be UP!

    And while some sounds may get annoying to cast members after awhile, I’ve seen several cast members delight over hearing the sounds from a rare band. It creates joy, not just for the guest using it, but for everyone that witnesses it. Isn’t that what Disney magic is all about?

    Plus, isn’t that the cast members’ job? Not everyone at Target likes the ding of the cash register or the beep of the new chip cards, but it goes with the job. If it makes guests happy, is it so much to ask?

    If the execs are concerned that swanky effects will slow the line down while people stop to watch (which I’ve never seen happen, but hypothetically could), then use Elliot’s idea above and create a special station where people can just go play with the MagicBands. That will keep the lines moving and we still get to share the joy. If they had something like that, I’d stop at it a few times a day just for jollies.

    2). Similarly, a hearty YES to having an a la carte menu of lights and sounds at the On Demand stations that you can add to your band for a surcharge. Not only is it FUN, it personalizes the park experience (yippee!), and it could be a huge money spinner for Disney. I’ve said this from the opening of the first On Demand station, and I’m amazed Disney hasn’t capitalized on it.

    True confessions: I paid $100 for my Yoda MagicBand online. That’s a lot of money for me, as it is for most of us. And you know what? The first time Yoda talked at a turnstile, it was worth it for me. That thrill was/is as big as riding on the Seven Dwarves coaster, and people will pay to have it. IF it works consistently.

    May not be possible for all movies, with copyright and whatnot, but could become standard contract for forthcoming films.

    3). Best sounds are songs and character voices. Brief sound effects are not as fun.

    4). The removable disc holds a lot of promise, since I often have other stuff on my wrists (watch, Pokémon Go Plus, etc.). Would love to see those have some graphics of their own.

    5). Finally, I really enjoy using my bands seasonally and in an event-centered way: Flower and Garden and Easter bands for spring, Halloween bands in the fall, holiday bands for holiday time. That structure ensures people want multiple bands, and coordinating lights/sounds for each event or season adds to the fun. Disney, please keep up this practice and extend it. We need some lights and sounds for summer!

    Thanks for this forum, Ethan! Keep up the good work!

    3).

  16. Making the band removable from the chip was the missing piece in collectibility for me. I already have bands I love like my DVC 25 that basically becomes a dresser ornament when the battery dies. MB 2.0 solves that. It’s why I bought the MK 45th Haunted Mansion LE. I’ll wear that band till it falls apart or the 50th anniversary edition comes along. Also they need to start selling themed box sets with one chip and 3-4 different band options. Like a set with one duck tales chip and Huey, Duey, Louie, bands to swap back and forth. How about a deluxe box set with 1-2 chips and 7 bands each featuring a diffferent dwarve. Themes similar to what they do with hidden Mickey pin sets etc.

  17. If other people could hear what the bands say at the turnstiles and see the different colors that they make maybe they would be more likely to buy one rather then just use the one they were given. I would buy a Star Wars one and I just watched the movies for the first time at Christmas. Maybe have a band with the cauldron and which and it could say something that she says to Snow White in her voice. But if u can’t hear it or understand it why would I want to spend the extra money on it. Once I bought one I’d probably want a key ring for home.

    What about a small button on the bottom to press to make the sound whenever you wanted. Like when I get home. Otherwise it’s kinda useless

  18. So many great comments!

    My number one request – more MyMagic+ integration with rides and other magical experiences! It is such a cool thing, and no one else has it. Its a great way to pull guests into the bubble – add more!

    AppleWatch integration would be great.

    Made With Magic type options that could light up or other behaviors in reaction to things happening around the guest.

  19. Based on my recent experience with WDW customer service, I feel Disney should have some type of customer service specifically for issues with LE MagicBands.

  20. Great post. I agree that the AP need a special band and definitely need a special slider. I was also think how cool it would be for them to include some tech like the Fit Bit? Like something that can count steps and heart rate? It is so annoying to wear both of them during a day at the park but I easily do 20k steps in the park so I hate missing out on logging them.

    I was also thinking there should be some more base color options (like black and white) to make them a little more practical in style…

  21. This isn’t something mentioned, and I may be in the minority, but I hate the magic band 2 design. I have a very small wrist, and the face part of the new design is just a tad bigger than my wrist. It is awkward to wear and looks stupid. My daughter’s is the same way. I’m lucky that I have a band in the old style. I wanted to customize a new band for myself but won’t be wasting my money on something that I won’t wear. Disney needs to offer the choice of style 1 or 2 at least for people who are going to pay $30+ for customized one.

  22. Magicbands 2 are junk. They fall off easilly. I visit disney world often. I have an annual pass. I have dozens of magicbands back to the pilot program. I have a grey haunted mansion band. None of these ever came off. Ever. My band 2.0 this year came off OFTEN. I hear others complain about the same thing. No way would I buy any 2.0 band until this is fixed.

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