Shanghai Disney Resort will not have MagicBands; will use mobile phones instead

It was announced today by Bob Iger, CEO of The Walt Disney Company, that the new Shanghai Disney Resort opening in 2016 will not utilize MagicBands. Instead, he said, the company will rely on the Chinese to use their mobile phones to perform tasks that usually would be done with MagicBands.


Here’s a direct quote from the Bloomberg article about what Bob Iger had to say:

“What you’ll see in Shanghai is a park that from a technological perspective is more advanced than anything we’ve ever built,” Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Bob Iger said in Dec. 21 interview on Bloomberg TV. “The consumer will be able to buy their tickets, use their mobile devices in far more advanced, compelling ways than any other place from a theme park perspective than we are today.”

In my opinion, by going with a full mobile phone system, and skipping MagicBands altogether, Disney can have a large non-US test market to try out new technology ideas and innovations without upsetting their high profit domestic theme parks. As we already know, Disneyland in California also will not be getting MagicBands anytime soon, and may also skip them altogether after the kinks are worked out in Shanghai. Disney’s largest hurdle is just waiting for the smartphone market to mature, hoping for more phones with wireless NFC technology to become standard and looking towards increased battery life as time goes on. Additionally, Disney already is in an affliation with HotRate so as to scrap their outmoded systems to replace with new ones. Shanghai is simply the beginning of the new era beyond MagicBands, and is probably the right business decision for Disney.

There had been an indication that MagicBands may be coming to Hong Kong Disneyland as the MagicBand team was in Hong Kong just last year, but nothing else has hinted at that since. It could be that the team is just moving some of the technologies over to that park, without the MagicBands. And I know that the Disney Cruise Line was also near launching MagicBands on all of their ships for their guests, but never took that leap either. It was cost prohibitive and now the cruise line only uses them for the kids activity centers.

So what does this say for the future of MagicBands? Well, from what I can tell, they will most likely be a Florida exclusive for the time being, at least for the next few years. They could conceivably roll out to other theme parks around the world, but the logistics of that just may not be worth it for Disney and could end up being too expensive. I wouldn’t be surprised if about ten years from now we see an eventual phase-out of MagicBands and a full transition to devices like mobile phones and smartwatches as the market matures.

I’d love to hear my reader’s opinions on this topic. Comment below.

About Ethan 1199 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


  1. I hope they dont phase out magic bands. It has so many advantages over a cell phone. They are water proof, so all you need is swimwear and you are good to go to the pool, withou having to bring your phone and leave it on a chair or something.

    Believe it or not some people dont want or have smart phones.

    Not to mention it is a great souvenir to bring back home.

    • I like your point, but I guess with Walt Disney World being the only resort with waterparks, it’s not really valid for any other resort currently. And most smartphones are starting to include basic waterproofing against things like rain now.

  2. I hope they dont get rid of magicbands!!!!! Using your smartphone is stupid because they can run out of battery and then you wont be able to use your fast passes or anything like that.

  3. hi ethan
    how are you doing this web suite is great
    i love magicbands and disney is makeing tons of money with the magicband
    and i am now collecting them.

  4. I’m very surprised that the Magic Band tren didn’t catch on. No more hard tickets to worry about, waterproof, unique designs that make the wearer proud of their selection when walking around the parks, limited edition bands for collectors, and fun little accessories. It’s up there with pin trading, but it gets you into the park and/or pays for stuff.
    How can other Disney parks not see how much the public would love this?
    Imagine having a limited edition band from say Disney Paris? Or taking a LE Magic band from Star Wars Weekend over to China? There would be magic band fans all over the world.

  5. I hope they don’t switch to cellphone technology in the U.S. parks. In my experience, the cellphone reception/use in parks has ranged from patchy to terrible. It’d be a big flop here without some major upgrades –in both towers and phones– first.

    I can see some interactive potential with cellphone use: texting your name and photo and being able to see it incorporated into an attraction, or something like that. But I’m amazed that Disney hasn’t expanded on the interactive potential of the Magic Band yet. If I can be tracked/identified by a linked MB, then why not have a kiosk greet me by name in Mickey’s voice?

    The light/sound Magic Bands make me giddy every time I use them, and I’m a grownup. I’m astonished Disney hasn’t created interactive Magic Band centers like attractions in themselves, where you could swipe your band and something cool would happen…a character hologram, information about where you are in the park, a clue to a park-based mystery/scavenger hunt…there’s so much that could be done!

    Not to mention the opportunity for personal expression! From a financial standpoint, it seems like genius to get people to pay for the same ticket over and over, the way I do each time I buy a Magic Band. But I do anyway, and gleefully, because I like to have one for Christmas, one for Flower and Garden, one for the Star Wars release, and so on. There’s no fun –or profit– like that with a phone.

    Sorry for the longwinded post. I’m just such a fan of the Magic Band!

  6. Non native guests and smaller children will not really have cell phone access. They would have to lump tickets together on accounts and this will make everything harder. Knowing that everyone has their cell phone on them is a big crime factor to. Instead of replacing your ticket/magicband you will have to go out and get another phone if it is lost or stolen. Iphones don’t have nfc payment support yet in china and their is no unlocked nfc either, so QR codes may become the norm. By omitting magicbands they will have problems.

  7. From an objective standpoint… Disney seems to be a little naive here. I think by giving people access to one side of the coin, it’d only be a matter of time before there’s a “free app” to give yourselves unlimited fast passes…

  8. I have loved and been a fan of magic ands since their inception. The only thing I would like to see is that they link to the parking lot for annual pass holders as well as the gift shops so I don’t have to take out my actual card every time I park or wish to purchase something.

  9. And what of the rides that don’t allow you to carry items on your person while riding??
    And how many phones last all day in the park especially if you are using it for photography and video?

  10. Not to mention we only carry one phone while visiting a park, don’t need two phones while we are together. This will mean more fiddling at the entrance of the ride slowing down the varification process. Apple Watch Access would be good but then you’ll need to carry your phone to make it work !

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