IoT Made My Disney Experience Better

My last IoT blog was focused on how the Internet of Things isn’t really about connected devices but rather about how to create new experiences using the connected endpoints. A short while ago, my wife and I took her niece and nephew to Disney World and the connected experience that Disney offers is fantastic, so I thought I would share it with you.

Disney_epcotPrior to heading to Disney World, the company sends you a “MagicBand”. This is a wrist band that’s personalized to your own color choice and has your name imprinted on it. Also, before you head out on vacation, Disney sends instructions on how to visit the vacation website to book a hotel, make restaurant reservations, choose FastPass selections and set up the Memory Maker on line photo portal. Once that’s done, everything can be accessed from the wristband.

My wife and I flew down to Orlando (like I don’t go there enough for events) and went to check into Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge.  When I got there, there was no credit card to pull out, just show an ID and swipe your wrist band on the sensor sitting on the counter. It was that easy. We then went and grabbed some lunch and again, the food was paid for with a swipe of the MagicBand.   We then met her brother and sister-in law later, collected the niece and nephew and got ready for four awesome park hopping days.

Most days started off with a character breakfast at one of the other Disney Hotels. As we got to the hotel, the parking attendant would scan the MagicBand, greet us by name, tell us the time of our reservation and direct us where to park. Again, no need to shell out cash for parking, no ID to present or even remember a reservation number. It’s all on the MagicBand.

ZK_DisneyAt the park, the value of the band is even greater. Going through the admission gate is just a swipe of the wrist and a fingerprint scan. Once you’re in the park, its a completely cashless and credit card-less experience. Want some water at one of the kiosks? Swipe the magic band! Walking through a huge crowd with your three-year-old nephew on your shoulders when he sees a cool Buzz Lightyear spinner? No problem. Don’t put him down, don’t get your wallet out. Instead hand him the toy and let the MagicBand do the rest. Walking by Cinderella’s Castle and want a picture from one of the official Disney photographers? No problem, pose for the picture, they snap it and its automatically uploaded to the Memory Maker photo portal. If you’re riding down Splash Mountain and you love that picture of you screaming with your arms in the air, but don’t want to take the picture with you? No problem, it’s uploaded automatically as well. Also, instead of having to go to a ride and grab one of the FastPass tickets (which are easy to lose), all the FastPass reservations are held on the MagicBand. When you get to the ride, go to the special lane, scan your wrist and ride away!

The band works great in conjunction with the Disney mobile application. The app lets you make reservations, check wait times, book additional FastPass reservations, look up information on rides and other things you may need to do before you go or once you’re at the park.

By connecting all the systems at Disney, the MagicBand is able to take the place of a reservation system, parking pass, credit card, identification, camera, cash and FastPass tickets creating a great experience.

I thought the only thing Disney could have added to the MagicBand is some kind of Fitbit type of application where it can show you how many steps you took, where you went and maybe recommend things you could have done but perhaps weren’t aware of. Overall though, I thought the MagicBand and mobile application were a great example of an IoT experience.

About the author
Zeus Kerravala
Zeus Kerravala
Zeus Kerravala is the founder and principal analyst with ZK Research. He provides a mix of tactical advice to help his clients in the current business climate and with long term strategic advice. Kerravala provides research and advice to the following constituents: End user IT and network managers, vendors of IT hardware, software and services and the financial community looking to invest in the companies that he covers.