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  • John Dostaler

What is a ‘Magic Band’ – and do I need one?

Updated: May 15, 2021

“The past can hurt, but you can either run from it, or learn from it.”

– Rafiki (The Lion King)

Let's get down to the topic of the week:

“What is a ‘Magic Band’ - and do I need one?”

If you’re new to a Walt Disney World vacation you may not know what a “Magic Band” is or how it works.

The “magic band” was introduced in 2013 (boy doesn’t that feel like forever ago?) and they were updated in 2016. It looks and feels like a watch and there’s a magical chip inside. They are very convenient and didn’t require you to carry around a ticket (which looks like a gift card and can be easily lost).

The BEST thing about a magic band was you would glide them across a Mickey-looking touchpoint machine when using a FastPass+ and you could link it to your payment at a quick service restaurant.

Up until last year they were free when you stayed at a Walt Disney World Resort. Now, I’m not sure if it was the pandemic or rising costs - but Disney no longer offers “free” magic bands when you stay onsite. Instead, you get a “Key To The World” card (looks like a gift card) that holds the same information.

They still SELL Magic Bands, but they aren’t complimentary anymore.

So: Do You Still Need A Magic Band?

The short answer is: No.

The most frequent use of my magic band was when I would use it to enter the FastPass+ line at an attraction or if I were getting my picture at a PhotoPass photographer (you’d use the band to link your photo). Because there are no FastPass+ selections, you’re pretty much using the card to enter the park and for PhotoPass.

Disney has upgraded the “My Disney Experience” App so you can order food (and pay) so that reduces the need for a Magic Band at a quick service restaurant. Also: a recent upgrade to the app means you can use a QR code for the PhotoPass Photographer OR your Key To The World card.

Sure, the Magic Bands are cute and come in neat designs. If you are staying onsite at a Walt Disney Resort you can purchase one at a discount prior to arrival.

With the exception of entering the park, most guests won’t need to use the Magic Band a ton to justify the cost. They’re handy to have but not a “must have” item!

Next week I’ll be talking about the dreaded “meltdown” with kids: and some great tips on how to deal with it!


If you’re ready to visit the Most Magical Place On Earth then CLICK HERE for a no-obligation quote!

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