Your Guide to MagicBands

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Have you been wondering what those colorful bracelets are that people seem to be wearing in their Walt Disney World photos? Did you just book a trip and customize your own wristband, but still kind of unsure as to what powers will soon be bestowed upon you? In continuing with our series on MyMagic+, it is now time to learn all about one of the most innovative parts of MyMagic+, the MagicBand. mbs

What Exactly Makes Them “Magic”?


MagicBands are RFID enabled wristbands allowing you to:

  • Unlock your Walt Disney World Resort hotel room by tapping the MagicBand to the RFID sensors outside each hotel room.
  • Enter the theme park. Any tickets/annual passes linked to your My Disney Experience will be available on your MagicBand, all turnstiles are now RFID enabled.
  • Access your FastPass+ reservations and make additional ones in park. Just enter the FP+ queue, scan your band and you are on way (provided you return within your FP+ window).
  • Pay for on-site purchases. Link a credit card and create a pin number to share among your traveling party. If traveling with multiple families, you may put a different card on file and have a different pin number once you arrive at the resort to allow for more flexibility. You may also restrict who has charging privileges using My Disney Experience.
  • Access your dining plan credits if you are on any of the Disney Dining Plans.
  • Use it as your Disney’s Magical Express boarding ticket if you are using the service to/from Orlando International Airport. If you are, make sure you pack them in your carry-on!
  • Scan and access your PhotoPass/Memory Maker photos. Have Disney PhotoPass photographers take as many pictures of you and your family as you want. They will scan your band and the photos will be loaded into your My Disney Experience account where you can add fun borders, customize the photos and purchases products and prints.
    • If you purchased Memory Maker, you will be able to download all the photos. Memory Maker customers also receive their ride photos and select dining photos to their MagicBands. Some attractions, such as the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, will automatically appear in the account without having to scan the photo at the ride kiosks.

If you choose not to use MagicBands, all of these features will still be available to you using RFID enabled ticket provided everything is linked properly in My Disney Experience.

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How Do I Get A MagicBand?


 

If you have a reservation at a Walt Disney World Resort or are an annual passholder and have a My Disney Experience account, you will be able to customize a MagicBand to be sent to your home address free of charge.

Once you have successfully linked a valid Walt Disney World Resort reservation to your My Disney Experience account, you should see an option to customize your MagicBands. (Click screenshots to make them larger)

Head over to the MagicBands & Cards section of My Disney Experience, which can be found under “My Account”.

31-MDE-Tutorial-MBYou should now see any MagicBand orders available for you to customize. Note that if you are doing a split stay between two or more Walt Disney World Resorts, you will be able to customize sets of MagicBands for each reservation.

26-MDE-Tutorial-MBClick on the MagicBand order you wish to customize. This will take you to a new page showing you how many days you have left to customize. You can switch your customization choices as many times as your heart desires up until this date as this is when Disney will ship your bands to the address listed in your My Disney Experience account. 25-MDE-Tutorial-MB copyFind the individual MagicBand you want to customize and click “Update”. This will take you to the page to customize your MagicBand’s color and name.

24-MDE-Tutorial-MBChoose the color of the band. Color choices include red, yellow, green, blue, gray, orange and pink. My Disney Experience automatically defaults to the names listed on the reservation, feel free to change the name to something more fun such as a nickname or Disney character. My Disney Experience will still know which family member the MagicBand is assigned to regardless of what you put as the MagicBand name.

About 30 days from your check in date, Disney will ship your MagicBands to the address listed in your My Disney Experience account. Eagerly check your  mailbox in the next few days for your lovely MagicBand box. This is when you know your vacation is right around the corner!

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If you forget to customize your band, you will automatically receive gray MagicBands upon check in. Only those that are customized will be sent your address.

If you are not staying on property, but still want to use the MagicBands, you still can! Any of the regular solid color bands are available for purchase on The Disney Store’s website for $12.95 or throughout the Walt Disney World Resort. You must add the MagicBand to your My Disney Experience in order to use it and if purchased at the resort, Cast Members will help you through the process.

Can I Have Multiple MagicBands?


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Yes, you can have as many MagicBands as you want! If you visit frequently, you will be sent a new set with every Walt Disney World Resort hotel reservation. This is how I was able to get one in each color!

A common misconception I have seen is that if you have multiple MagicBands, that means you can make more FastPasses than others or that you can only use the ones sent to you for that specific reservation. Both of these points are incorrect. The MagicBands work in a way where whatever is in your My Disney Experience account is linked to all your active MagicBands. Since My Disney Experience only allows you to make 3 FastPasses per day, those FastPasses will be loaded into each active MagicBand in the account. Just because you were sent a MagicBand for last year’s vacation, doesn’t mean you still can’t use it because the MagicBand is pulling from your active reservations in My Disney Experience. Think of it as My Disney Experience is the brains behind MyMagic+ and the MagicBands are what allow you to access what is in the “brains” at the time of use. Therefore, those with multiple bands may use them interchangeably, so feel free to match them to your outfits!

A Whole New World of Disney Fun


 

While it is fun to collect all the different colors, some will be happy to note that Disney often releases limited & special edition MagicBands themed to the season, attractions and characters. More and more styles are coming out every month it seems because these special MagicBands have been quite popular. Some popular styles have included Star Wars, Frozen and the Haunted Mansion. These special bands are usually only available for purchase at the Walt Disney World Resort.

Visit the awesome site http://www.magicbandcollectors.com/ to see all the special and limited styles past and present!

Some people choose to have some fun and spruce up their solid color MagicBands by purchasing MagicBandits, MagicSliders and CoverBands. These are all accessories that can be used to further customize your MagicBands to make it uniquely yours. Many are available for purchase online or at the resort.

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Other people even take it a step further and partake in some arts and crafts to customize their MagicBands. Just do a quick Pinterest search on “Customizing MagicBands” and see all the amazing and creative ideas out there!

Here are some fun links to get you thinking!

Use Disney Tattoos: http://www.chipandco.com/diy-customization-disney-magic-bands-193723/

Use Sharpies and Paint Markers: http://www.ileadapixiedustlife.blogspot.com/2014/01/diy-your-magic-bands.html?m=1

(AMAZING!!) Do Actual Works of Art:  http://toritoons.com/finding-nemo-custom-disney-magic-band/

Not really the creative type? No worries, there are websites like http://www.magicyourband.com/ that will send you skins to overlay your MagicBand. Be sure to check out their site for hundreds of styles!

As you can see these MagicBands are so convenient since everything is right on your wrist, no more fumbling around for room keys, paper FastPass tickets or PhotoPass cards. Clearly the MagicBands are taking on a life of their own and I am pretty sure they are here to stay. Disney just recently announced that they have distributed their 10 millionth MagicBand!  It will be fun to see how they continue to evolve over time. There are even rumors that soon Disney Cruise Line will be added to the MagicBand fun!

Stay tuned for our final installment on MyMagic+ which will cover everything you need to know about FastPass+!

 

 

What Exactly is MyMagic+?

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If you are planning a Walt Disney World getaway, then you need to familiarize yourself with MyMagic+. Disney has definitely changed the way people plan for their vacations as they have unleashed a bunch of tools to help people completely customize and pre-plan portions of their vacations.  These planning tools are bundled together and collectively known as MyMagic+. If you have never used the MyMagic+ components, it can be a bit overwhelming. No worries, though, The Magical Escape is here to help you navigate and get you on your way to planning your Walt Disney World Vacation!

MyMagic+ includes the following components:

  • My Disney Experience Website & App – This is the main “hub” of your MyMagic+ tools. It is where you will link your hotel and dining reservations as well as your park tickets. By linking reservations and tickets, they will show up in your itinerary and give you access to the features of MyMagic+. You will also use My Disney Experience to customize your MagicBands, make your FastPass+ reservations, check wait times (app only), link family/friends traveling with you, and add must do’s to your wishlist. After your vacation, you will use it to view and download/purchase your PhotoPass/Memory Maker photos.
    • A note about linking reservations and park tickets: If you already have My Disney Experience and booked a package/hotel or purchased park tickets online through www.disneyworld.com, your reservations will most likely automatically show up in your account. If you booked/purchased any of these over the phone, through a travel agency or purchased tickets elsewhere, you will most likely need to manually add these to your account. There are screenshots below to help you!
  • MagicBands – These nifty little RFID wristbands act as your park ticket, access your FP+ reservations, dining plan credits, and unlock your Disney hotel room. Also, they can act as your PhotoPass card and can even pay for on-site purchases. You may also use the RFID ticket card for all these features if you do not wish to use the MagicBand.
  • FastPass+ – You can skip the long lines for the best attractions using FP+. The system allows you to make 3 per day in advance of your check in date. If you are staying on-site with valid admission, you can make your reservations 60 days in advance. Those with valid admission, but staying offsite can make reservations 30 days in advance. If you plan to buy tickets the day you arrive, you will be able to visit the FP+ kiosks in the parks to make your reservations, but note that availability will be more limited.

Don’t worry, I will go into MUCH more detail for each of the MyMagic+ components!

SO you just booked a trip! What next?!

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If you haven’t signed up for My Disney Experience on www.disneyworld.com, do that now. You will not have access to any of the MyMagic+ features without it! It is completely free to sign up. If you have already have a log-in, sign in!

(Click any of the screenshots to make them larger)

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You will notice that My Disney Experience is broken down into three sections:

  • Plan & Manage
  • My Account
  • Photography

Plan and Manage 

My Account

Photography

Hopefully you now know a little more about MyMagic+ and My Disney Experience. Stay tuned in the coming days for more information regarding FastPass+ and MagicBands!

#Factoid Friday

 DSC_2798Did you know that there are no employees working at Disney Parks? None. Rather, those who work for the company are affectionately known as Cast Members. It doesn’t matter if one is part of the janitorial staff or the VP of Park Operations, he/she will always be referred to as a Cast Member. All aspects of the Disney Parks are part of the “show” and Cast Members are who put on/run that show.DSC_2423

In fact, if a Cast Member is working or can be seen by the “audience” (aka: guests), they are said to be “on-stage.” Once the Cast Member is no longer visible to the “audience,” then they are considered to be “off-stage” or “backstage”.

Cast Members can really make a Walt Disney World trip memorable, and we have had so many wonderful, magical experiences thanks to amazing and dedicated Cast Members.

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Polynesian Villas & Bungalows

IMG_1446Current Disney Vacation Club (DVC) members can now purchase points at the newest DVC resort located within the Polynesian Village Resort. Sales for current members opened up on Monday, January 12. Sales for the general public will open on February 9.

Unique to the newest member of the DVC family will be the highly anticipated 2 bedroom Bora Bora Bungalows. The Bungalows sit on Seven Seas Lagoon, offer Magic Kingdom park views and individual plunge pools. They will sleep 8 guests and include the same amenities as some of the other DVC 2 bedroom accommodations including a full kitchen, two bathrooms & washer/dryer.

While there will be only 20 bungalows available, Disney is in the process of converting some existing Polynesian Longhouses into connecting studios. The resort will not have the one-bedroom option that is common among the other DVC resorts. In total, there will 360 studios which will feature split bathrooms with showers in each. Each studio will be able to accommodate 5 guests and are said to be the largest studios in the Disney Vacation Club Resort collection.

For a tour though one of the model studios for the Polynesian Villas & Bungalows, check out this video from Inside the Magic.

There was speculation that the Bungalows would be quite exclusive and this is evident when taking into consideration that there are only 20 available and also when looking at the DVC point charts. One week in a Bungalow will run members between 841 – 1,439 points depending on the time of the year. Per night, that comes to 115-227 points. To compare, a member can stay in a two bedroom villa at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge for 185-575 points per week.

Point-wise, the studios at the Polynesian Villas & Bungalows are much more in range with the other monorail DVC resorts (Bay Lake Tower at the Contemporary Resort and The Villas at the Grand Floridian Resort & Spa) and range from 118-269 points per week depending on travel dates and view. See the 2015 Polynesian Villas & Bungalows Point Charts for more information.

We have always dreamed of staying at the Polynesian, in fact it is the only monorail resort we have never stayed at, so I am excited that as a DVC member, we will now have the opportunity to stay there on our points.  I don’t know that we will ever be able to have enough points to stay in one of the coveted Bungalows, but I know just staying at the Polynesian will be good enough for us!

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Farewell to the Hat at Disney’s Hollywood Studios


DSC_1831 Whether you love it or hate it, the Disney’s Hollywood Studios hat, which has been the park’s icon since September 28, 2001, is on its way out today. The news of the hat being removed has been around for quite a while now and Disney had been hinting at its removal by making the Earful Tower the park icon on new park merchandise.Today, they make it official as construction walls are now surrounding the giant blue hat.

Personally, I didn’t mind the hat as the park icon and never felt it was too out of place. I did visit the park twice when I was younger when there was no giant hat and the Chinese Theater was front and center. I have to say, though, most of my MGM/Disney’s Hollywood Studios memories come from having that hat as the park icon and I will definitely miss it as a backdrop for so many of our Disney pictures!

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On our recent trip in early December, we knew the hat was on its way out in early 2015, so I made sure to give it a proper goodbye:

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Although the hat will soon be a piece of Disney history, I am excited as to what new things the Studios has in store. Star Wars? Pixar Expansion? Carsland? Something else? Only time will tell, but I sense big things are coming and the removal of the hat is all in preparation for whatever the future holds.