If you missed the news, Thomas Staggs has made Disney’s most clear statement to date on exactly what NextGen will bring to the parks. The guest will encounter it via the MyMagic+ program. There’s a fairly good write up on the program by Brooks Barnes in the New York Times.
There was also this bit officially released by Disney:
With MyMagic+ Walt Disney Parks and Resorts is taking another step forward to evolve “how” guests experience Disney Parks and is using technology to make it easier than ever before for guests to make the most of their Walt Disney World visit. Many of these efforts fall under the umbrella of MyMagic+, which has the ability to connect nearly all aspects of the guest experience and make it better for everyone, at no additional charge.
A new website and mobile app called My Disney Experience provides a one-stop shop for all things Walt Disney World throughout every phase of a guest’s vacation. It will enable guests to:
- Get more information on all Walt Disney World Resort has to offer, from resort hotels and attractions to dining and merchandise.
- Design the overall experience they want, planning as much or as little as they wish.
- Make dining and other reservations and FastPass+ selections.
- Connect with family and friends to coordinate plans and share photos.
- Disney FastPass+ service. Guests will be able to select FastPass+ attractions and entertainment experiences through My Disney Experience before they leave home and make changes on the go.
- For the first time, guests will be able to reserve firework and parade viewing areas, shows, Disney Character Greetings and more, in addition to their favorite attractions.
- For guests who don’t know where to start, Disney will recommend FastPicks – a set of three FastPass+ selections that serve as a starting point – and give guests the option to customize their selections.
- Disney FastPass+ service is included with Theme Park admission.
- MagicBand. Worn on the wrist, the colorful MagicBand is an all-‐in-‐one device that effortlessly connects all the vacation choices guests make online with My Disney Experience.
- Guests can use their MagicBand to enter their Disney Resort hotel room, buy food and merchandise, and enter Walt Disney World theme parks and water parks. Plus, the MagicBand provides FastPass+ access to all the experiences selected and serves as the connection to Disney’s PhotoPass .
The MagicBand is initially available to select Walt Disney World Resort hotel guests and guests who purchase other specific products. Other guests will be able to use their standard ticket to access the benefits of MyMagic+, such as making FastPass+ selections on My Disney Experience.
Like any offering, MyMagic+ will evolve over time based on guest and Cast feedback. Additional features are in development and will be introduced in the future.
There are still a lot of questions left, including when non-resort guests will be able to start using MyMagic+ (MM+). But I’m left wondering whether one should upgrade or if prudence is the better part of valor here. I’m speculating a bit here, since we don’t yet know all the details of the plan. However we have the broad strokes.
What I’ve decided is that I’m going to wait a bit and see how MM+ works operationally. If a large percentage of day-of FPs are being snagged by MM+ users then you really have no choice but to be assimilated. What I’m hoping for, is that the additional venues added to MM+ means that fewer people will be in the old FP network at any time meaning that standby lines will move faster and FP of any sort becomes less vital. If that’s the case, I’ll stick with day-of option as long as I can.
A small exception to the rule: if there’s a really great show or parade option added to MM+ that you can’t get via the day-of network, then you might be forced to assimilate in order to take advantage of that.
What’s probably going to happen is that the top 2 or 3 attractions for each park will essentially be ‘pre-booked’ by MM+. That means you’ll have to arrive at rope drop for any chance of day-of FP if you want to ride those, but the lower-tier FP attractions will benefit with faster standby and more availability for day-of FP. This is because the 3rd and 4th MM+ reservations will be for shows and parades for the most part.
There remain a lot of unanswered questions. For instance, what about mixed groups. What happens when half your group (visiting family for instance) opts for MM+ and half decides to stay on the old FP network. Does that mean we can no longer ride attractions together without having to wait in standby for everything? Will there be a way to synchronize our FP?
How will the system work for Annual Passholders? I’ve heard that they will be limited to just 20+ Fastpass+ a quarter. That may work okay for an AP who only visits two or three days a quarter, but not for someone who comes for 2-3 weeks at a time and owns an AP because it’s cheaper than a 10 day park hopper. Why would Disney want to punish either group when day guests are getting 3-4 or more FP+ each day.
One thing that Disney will get from MM+ is a lot of data. They’ll be able to sift and sort all manner of ways. There will never be a question about the average value of once every three year visitor versus an annual passholder. They’ll know not only what you bought, but what stores you visited and didn’t buy from. They’ll be able to personalize a reward system for you based on your exact spending habits. How much of your privacy will be you be giving up for an enhanced theme park experience?
Finally, what is the time frame for rolling all this out? How long will the transition phase where both the day-of Fastpass and new MyMagic+ system are working last?
Do you have questions about MyMagic+ and FastPass+? Ask them here and we’ll work on getting you an answer.