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Disney plans to offer RFID bracelets for an 'enhanced' visit

By Leigh Goessl     Jan 9, 2013 in Travel
Orlando - Walt Disney World is unrolling a new initiative this spring when it begins handing out MagicBands, an RFID enabled bracelet for guests to wear during their visit to the park.
The Magic Kingdom is now offering a new brand of magic, in the form of tracking bracelets enabled by RFID chips. According to the New York Times, Orlando's Walt Disney World will soon be distributing out MagicBands, a part of the MyMagic+ program, which will store the personal information of guests in order to "enhance" their visit.
How it works
The company has historically tracked customer data, not unlike any other business, but this brings it to a new level.
Guests will wear the MagicBands, which will also interact with smartphones. The bracelets will be loaded with the personal data of guests, which includes preferences, purchases, credit card information and essentially will track every move guests make, down to which characters are met. It is said to be so precise that characters can even greet visitors by name or wish the individual a happy birthday when they are approached.
Guests will be able to use a new Website and app called "My Disney Experience" to preselect options such as FastPasses, VIP seating for special events and character meet and greets, said NYT.
What Disney will use it for
Disney says it will use the program to create a better member experience. In addition to augmenting the visitor experience in terms of lines and other park amenities, the MagicBands will also serve as a room key, ticket, FastPass and more, according to NYT. It appears convenience is one of the perceived benefits.
“If we can enhance the experience, more people will spend more of their leisure time with us,” said Thomas O. Staggs, chairman of Disney Parks and Resorts.
Privacy and security issues
As with any technology, privacy and security are essential issues and the new Disney initiative is no exception. RFID chips have been controversial in many other settings. Recently, a Texas student made headlines when she refused to carry a school-issued RFID identification card.
Lost privacy is given in many areas of society, but some people do say they do feel "creeped out" by the idea of being intimately tracked as they walk around.
Disney says that if a bracelet is lost or stolen, employees will be trained to deactivate them or guests can log onto the website and deactivate them that way. For purchases of over $50 or more, PINs will be required.
At this time the use of MyMagic+ is said to be optional and even if used, parents can elect to opt their children out or customize what information they want shared.
The company said it has been already testing the initiative and have gotten "fantastic" results.
The cost of the project is estimated to be about $800 million to $1 billion, so it is not a small project by any means, and it is likely Disney expects high return for that investment.
What do you think, creepy or convenient? Do you think this initiative will add to the magic?
More about Disney, Rfid, Radiofrequency identification tags, mymagic, magicbands
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