It’s never been a requirement for Guests going on a Disney vacation to be in possession of a MagicBand. But it does undeniably make things a whole lot easier if you have one. In the near-decade that these Disney-fashioned “bracelets” of sorts first came on the scene, they have become increasingly popular for their convenience as an all-in-one source of magic—serving as everything from Resort room key to your Disney Park entry source and even a linked payment option.
Well now there’s a new sheriff in town, and it takes the form of Disney’s MagicBand+. So how does this newest edition stack up against the traditional MagicBands you’ve come to know and love? What exactly are all the specific highlighted differences? Here’s an in-depth look evaluating the new MagicBand+ in comparison and contrast to conventional MagicBands.
Are you more of a traditionalist who doesn’t like change or having to learn a whole new rule book? Well, here’s some great news about the new MagicBand+; it can be used to perform all the same basic functions as the original. You can still use it to unlock your Resort room, enter the Parks, link credit cards for cash-free purchasing, PhotoPass photo scanning, etc. So don’t feel like you’re starting from scratch in unfamiliar territory if you end up getting a MagicBand+. It’s an upgrade, not a start-over.
As far as physical appearances go, the new MagicBand+ is styled differently from the regular MagicBand. For one thing, MagicBand+ appears to be a bit bigger, with a longer band and a thicker, rounder Mickey Mouse-shaped center puck. There’s also a silvery outline in contrast to the darker shading the contemporary conventional model is known for.
Because conventional MagicBands have been around much longer, there are currently many more designs to pick and choose from. MagicBand+ designs are presently far more limited, at only around 20 or so current options in existence, all ranging from the usual solid colors to movie, Park, and character themes. It is expected that over time many others will be added into the mix.
Use and Reuse
It’s always been a given that you could reuse a previous MagicBand for a future Disney vacation. The only problem was that once the battery eventually ran out, the MagicBands would become obsolete. And the uncertainty of when this would happen pretty much made you feel obligated to purchase a new MagicBand regardless. Well, this isn’t the issue with the new MagicBand+, as they are rechargeable and all come with a USB charging chord included.
Lighting and Motion Effects
Did you know that the new MagicBand+ has the ability to light up and interact with the Disney environment around you in so many different ways? It’s true, and depending on whichever experience you are currently embracing at Disney Parks will directly trigger the lighting or vibration effects to be displayed along the way. The experiences you can expect to feel the effects for include certain sensations when utilizing a Lightning Lane selection, unique patterned light-up coordination in conjunction with nighttime spectaculars like Disney Enchantment at Magic Kingdom Park or Harmonious over at EPCOT, and even interacting with inanimate objects in ways you never imagined.
And it’s not all about redundantly scanning your MagicBand+ each and every time, either. Even certain gestures and motions you make will signal interactive magical moments via colorful lightning and haptic responses as well.
On one other side note, as mentioned previously, there are about 20 or so different MagicBand+ designs currently in existence. And depending on the theming for specific ones, there are certain displayed lighting and motion effects that happen in coordination with a given design pattern.
In continuing on with all the different interactions you can expect to embrace, the Walt Disney Company has already unveiled two new MagicBand+ exclusive “games” of sorts. One is the Fab 50 Quest, and the other is the Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge quest Batuu Bounty Hunters.
Fab 50 enables you to go on a maximized, magical scavenger hunt of sorts around Disney World’s different theme parks. Locate different statues and figures that will offer up surprise interactions and reactions to you when detecting your MagicBand+.
Batuu Bounty Hunters is a more strategic adventure that calls on locating hidden cargo, all while bracing yourself for unique interactions and building up credits to eventually unlock the mysteries of Batuu.
‘Hey Disney’/Alexa Compatibility
You may or may not have already heard the exciting news that Disney is gearing up with Amazon Alexa to bring about new technological features at select Resorts and even at home in the way of a Disney-centered digital voice assistant feature. It’s being unveiled as “Hey Disney” and will be supported by Echo devices. Guests staying at select Resorts (and eventually Disney fans at home adding Alexa Skills) will be able to ask all those useful questions they need direct answers to (including weather, shuttle service times, requesting more towels from Mousekeeping, etc.) with over 25 different popular character voice response options.
So how does this relate to the new MagicBand+? Well, just take a look at the packaging, and you will see that these new devices are, in fact, compatible with Alexa technology. The future intent, as Disney confirms, is that the new MagicBand+ will be paired with supported Echo devices and will work via “Hey Disney” commands.
And now to discuss that ever-present elephant in the room—pricing. Because the new MagicBand+ does plenty more than the standard MagicBand, it goes without saying that the purchase price is obviously more. But how much more? According to shopDisney, as well as various shop locations to purchase conventional MagicBands from around Walt Disney World Resort, the starting price currently hovers at around $19.99. Of course, this increases when you consider specific design patterns, theming, and even whether or not it is part of a special collection. In contrast, the new MagicBand+ currently starts at around $34.99—a $5 increase from the starting price announced when they first came on the scene. Still, when you consider all the new interactive features and contemplate whether or not they are worth the extra price based on what exactly you plan on using your MagicBand for, it is you who must ultimately decide whether or not the added expense is a deal or a deal breaker.
Whether you decide to keep with the conventional route or get in on all the new opportunities that a MagicBand+ can unlock for you, having a MagicBand of any kind is definitely the way to go when doing a Disney vacation. Not only are they convenient, but they enable you to always keep the magic on hand, or rather on your wrist, throughout the entire experience.