Buyers not warned Disney’s MagicBands won’t work after battery dies, no way to replace it


I’m a little surprised this issue hasn’t arisen before now. Recently, a Disney collector friend of mine was complaining how they just discovered the Limited Release Haunted Mansion MagicBand wouldn’t let her replace its battery. Each MagicBand has two RFID chips in it a passive chip (good for near field communication like when you put your magic band against the Mickey Head Icon to enter the park or a Fastpass+ queue) and an active chip (one with a signal that can be picked up at a distance). The passive RFID chip is all you need to get in the park and use Fastpass+, but if you want to take advantage of some of the MyMagic+ features (like having special photos of you on a ride magically appear in your account or having your food magically appear at your table, even though you didn’t know where you’d be seated when you placed your order), then you need the active chip.

The battery that runs the active RFID chip has a life of about 2-3 years and my friend was upset the rare MagicBand they had purchased would no longer work its magic once its battery died. With no way to replace the battery, that pretty much ends its usefulness. As a life-long Haunted Mansion fan they were very disappointed in the very short life of the MagicBand before it gave up the ghost.

There are all sorts of good reasons for Disney to make a Magicband that is nearly impervious to the hazards of a theme park. Wear in the pool, run it over with a stroller, leave in your hot car and your MagicBand will still work. But to then turn around and sell a themed or limited edition MagicBand that will be effectively useless in two years or less (depending on how long the device has been sitting on a shelf before being sold), that’s something else entirely.

If you buy it at the park, there’s nothing on the packaging indicating that it will be non-functional after 2-3 years. Nor is there any warning in the long legalese disclosure if you purchase a MagicBand online at The Disney Store.

There isn’t even anything on the help section that mentions the length of time your MagicBand will function, only some vague terminology about it must be in working order.

The good news, is that as an Annual Passholder you get a new generic MagicBand every time you renew. In fact, when we were handed our new MagicBands, the cast member recommended we discard the old one as it may not function as intended when the battery dies. As a Disney resort guest, you can have a new generic MagicBand for each time you stay on property (you can also just tell them you’ll help save the planet and keep your old one, if that’s what you want).

There are reports online that users who were part of the early test group of MagicBands almost 2 years ago report their active RFID batteries are still functioning and that the special MyMagic+ features still work. That’s great. However the batteries will eventually die, even if Disney doesn’t know exactly when.

I think Disney should be much more upfront that those collectable bands, that cost $20, $25 or more, will only be partially functional after their battery wears out. Even something as simple as “Warning: technology in this device may expire or cease to function due to incompatibilities with future servie upgrades” (have the lawyers fight it out) on the package would help. If a guest read that, said guest might instead decide to buy a MagicSlider or MagicBandit to decorate their free MagicBand. Those, at least, can be transferred when the old MagicBand stops functioning as designed.

What is your feeling about the limited release MagicBands? When you buy a MagicBand do you expect it to work on all your future visits?

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12 thoughts on “Buyers not warned Disney’s MagicBands won’t work after battery dies, no way to replace it

  1. Kubs59

    Most watch batteries only last a year, … buyer beware, on this and any other WDW memorabilia. Save the memory – take photos.

  2. Cher41

    I personally didn’t think they would last forever anyway. It’s like anything else, batteries die.

  3. Thomas Berry

    This really wouldn’t turn me off one way or the other; I’d probably want to keep a limited edition Magic Band (like the ones from Star Wars Weekends) more as a collectible and memento of that specific trip; after all, Disney will surely have ANOTHER limited edition band the next time I go.

  4. Barbara Johnson

    Really bad business on Disney if they sell the bands in their stores that the batteries die. Shame on you Disney. I understand if brought on EBay but at Disney. You sell them then they should work for two or three yrs or put a sell by date on them. MHO

  5. Tony

    Not defending them (exactly), but considering that in this day and age people seem to have no problem with the fact that their $600+ smartphone will be obsolete in two years, I am not particularly surprised that Disney decided to roll out a $20 wrist band (most of which are given away for free) with a 2-3 year lifetime on a very small subset of it’s functionality.

  6. Mike

    I don’t have an issue with the battery only last 2 or 3 year’s. I do think the packaging should give the consumer that info though if for no other reason than for to head any possible upset guest.

  7. Steve

    I would think in this day people would know that any peice of technology has a limited (useful) lifespan.
    I’ve bought tshirts from Disney that don’t last much more than a few years of regular wearing. Should they also come with a disclaimer?

  8. Barbara

    Stop belly-aching…batteries die, people!!!! I have had kid toys (electronic) that have inner batteries that can’t be replaced, too. Thankfully, the kids no longer really used the toys…but if you allow your photos to stay on something like this, you get what you deserve…same way if you don’t back-up photos on your computer…and your computer crashes, what did you think would happen to your photos?

  9. R. Reeves

    So, just get the free generic ones & leave the limited edition ones alone.

    Seems a small warning, “may not work after 2017” would go a long way to customer satisfaction.

  10. Disney Mike

    Seriously, does Disney also have to warn people that coffee mugs break if you drop them, that Disney pens will eventually run out of ink, and that bumper stickers won’t peel off and re-stick if you want to buy a new car?

    Perhaps people will actually learn something from this, and they’ll start using their brains instead of wanting others to do their thinking for them.

    1. John Frost Post author

      Completely different situation. Limited edition magicbands aren’t breaking, they just stop working. It’s like buying a smartphone only to be told you need to buy a new one in two years because the battery will no longer recharge and it can’t be replaced.

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