Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Disney NextGen: "MyMagic+" and "Magic Band" Rant

As the new developments in the Disney NextGen plan continues to rollout, there seems to be plenty of positives that the new technology boasts and seems to be able to accomplish. There is also concerns, as well as some things that may either anger or discourage guests. Looking at the concept as a whole we may be able to easily spot each of these thoughts.

The NextGen, or FastPass+ program will allow guests to plan their vacation long in advance. In the past we have had the idea of ADR's where guests can reserve dining reservations up to 180 days out. This has been met with mixed reviews initially because of the lack of reservations available for last minute trips and such. This has been remedied with the addition of the credit card charge for missed ADR's that rolled out in the summertime.

The program has also patented the "Magic Band" system that allows guests to wear their tickets on their wrists. These bands will apparently be fully customizable, and carry room keys, ticket info, Dining Plan, Photopass, Fastpass and credit card info. (which used to be linked to your room key) These bands will allow swift movement throughout the resort without the need for carrying tickets on cards.

The "My Magic +" program will allow guests to reserve quick service locations for certain times, which will also be part of the Magic Band system. Kiosks located within shops will allow for quicker access for guests to shop without the lines. All together it appears that this is Disney's NextGen plan.

Now first the thought on the good.The Magic Band system seems to be a good idea. Now it is true that people will worry that the bands could become lost, but considering that people can wear bracelets from Mickey's Very Merry Christmas party for over a month after the event, it is not looking like it will be a major issue. The ease of using these as room keys is invaluable. Remember what it is like picking up gifts sent to your hotel and then carrying them up to the room. Fiddling around to find your room key can be a pain. This may end that situation. It also could allow guests to choose not to carry a wallet or pocketbook into the parks, as it will also be the credit card and dining plan card. This makes the idea safer.

The concern does hinder on the strength and durability of the magic band, as well as the thought of the issues going along with letting guests shop and pay without a cast member present. Will it work like the supermarket self-checkouts? one cast member watching four RFID stations? Anyone ever really pay attention to people using self checkouts? they generally get away with everything. It may not last long, especially if Disney begins to lose money in shops because of a higher percentage of theft. (even though it is Disney World, do not think people do not try and succeed in stealing)

Now comes the rant, the anger, the part that turns the stomachs of many Disney fanboys and enthusiasts. The Fastpass+: what makes Disney believe that people want to (emphasize on want to) plan every nuance of their vacation 5 months before they go. This takes a spontaneity, it eliminates the ability for guests to roam where they want. It is bad enough being basically forced to plan ADR's before a trip and decide which park to go to each day or at least know that there must be travel to a specific park for an ADR, but now to plan what rides to attend on a specific day at a distinct time? That just seems to be overboard. Consider this: the Fastpass for Toy Story Mania is generally gone within the first 2 hours of Hollywood Studios opening. Could we imagine what will happen when a percentage of those Fastpasses are designated for the "+" program? They will disappear by 10am. This will anger many guests and cause issues.

Though the program seems to have its positives and certainly its concerns, many enthusiasts are stuck on the extreme planning stage. For many it seems the NextGen program is taking away the fun and excitement of a Disney World trip, and forcing guests to plan ever step of their trip, which some will welcome but many will look at disdainfully.

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