***NOTE: This post concerns the current version of MagicBands. It will be updated soon with MagicBand v2.0 information.
Gone are the days where you have to keep up with a literal paper ticket to visit a Walt Disney World park. A few years ago, Disney introduced the now-ubiquitous RFID-enabled colorful wristbands to be guests’ keys to just about anything and everywhere Disney.
If you are planning your first trip Disney World since MagicBands were rolled out — or if you are staying off property and wondering if you should buy one — then read on for a MagicBand primer.
What They Do
For all guests, MagicBands store your theme park ticket and FastPass+ reservations, allowing you to simply tap your wristband on a designated RFID reader to gain entrance to parks or check in to FastPass+ ride reservation. The bands comfortably fit most wrist sizes, or they can be looped on a belt loop or backpack strap if you prefer. No matter how you wear them, these waterproof wristbands are indisputably more convenient than hoping a paper park ticket won’t fall out of your pocket throughout the day.
For guests staying on property, MagicBands are also capable of storing payment information, obviating the need to carry around cash or credit cards that could easily get lost or stolen. If you are staying on property and choose to link a payment card to your MagicBand, a Cast Member will assist you in setting a PIN that you will need to enter every time you make a purchase.
Finally, for on-property guests who have purchased a Disney Dining Plan, your MagicBand will be used to redeem credits.
What They Cost
For on-property guests and Annual Passholders, plain MagicBands are complimentary for all guests in your party. You can either choose your color and have them personalized with names ahead of time, and they will be shipped to your home. Or, if you prefer, you can wait until check-in and receive them at the front desk. Colors currently available are grey, purple, red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and pink. Note, if you do not proactively select a color, grey is the default.
For off-property guests, plain MagicBands cost $12.99 each, available in the same colors.
For all guests, fancy MagicBands featuring Disney characters and scenes are available for $22.99 each. For example, you can get a MagicBand with Figment, or Han Solo, or Dumbo … the options are pretty much endless.
If you are already planning to stay on-property (or if you are an Annual Passholder, in which case you are likely not even reading this primer on MagicBands), then taking advantage of the complimentary MagicBands to which are you entitled is a no-brainer. Whether or not you choose to link a payment card is of course up to you, but I strongly encourage it, because deactivating and replacing a lost or stolen MagicBand is waaaaaaaay easier than deactivating and replacing a lost or stolen credit card.
If you are planning an off-property trip, then in my opinion the choice isn’t so obvious. Sure, it is convenient to be able to swipe a Disneyfied bracelet at every FastPass+ ride instead of fishing around in your pocket for a paper ticket that you hope won’t get soaked on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. But remember, as an off-property guest, you CANNOT STORE A CREDIT CARD ON YOUR MAGICBAND. This means that you are paying an extra $12.99 and still need to carry around your wallet.
This is just my opinion, but if you already have to carry around a wallet then you might as well stick a ticket in there too. Unless, of course, you just really like the look of these high fashion bracelets and want it as a souvenir.