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Keeping travel to Disney organized can be tricky. There are a lot of moving parts. A trip for my family means keeping track of Disney park tickets, hotel room keys, Lightning Lane reservations, dining reservations, and more.
But Disney has sprinkled some pixie dust on its visitors, in the form of the Disney MagicBand. It’s so much easier to keep everything organized when it’s all strapped to your wrist in a cute little band.
Have questions about how Disney MagicBands work? I’m an expert — I currently have 11 bands in my account! Let me share what I know. I’m sure you’ll agree that Disney MagicBands make travel organization easier, which makes Disney World even happier than before!
SheBuysTravel Tip: You can now book Disney vacations up to 500 days in advance! That means you can book now for visits throughout 2023. All it takes is a $200 down payment. The balance isn’t due until 30 days prior to travel. You can get details on this, as well as help booking, from our partners at Get Away Today. Not only does the company have the lowest prices, it offers a best price guarantee. If you ever find park tickets cheaper, Get Away Today won’t just match the price, the company will beat it.
What is a MagicBand and Why Do I Need One?
A MagicBand is a colorful wristband that really lives up to its name. It works magic during a
SheBuysTravel Tip: Disney MagicBands are only good at
Do I Need a MagicBand if I’m Not Staying at a Disney Hotel?
In fact, this connection may be the most important function of the MagicBand. The wristband replaces paper tickets and the old paper FastPasses (now Genie+ and Lightning Lane). Once connected, it acts as your ticket to the Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. It is convenient to have a MagicBand vs having to dig for a ticket/card, especially if you’re using Lightning Lanes where you’ll have to scan twice.
MagicBand vs. MagicBand+: What’s the Difference?
With the introduction of Disney’s MagicBand+ people are naturally curious about the difference. What comes with the higher price tag?
MagicBand+ bands are capable of interactions. You’ll have the option to participate in experiences and interact with in-park objects. The bands light up, use haptic vibrations and immerse you in the parks. Be a bounty hunter in Galaxy’s Edge or interact with a Disney 50th Anniversary statue. You can read more about MagicBand+ in this post.
Regular MagicBands are still a great option though.
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Are MagicBands Going Away?
There were some rumblings about MagicBands ending when Disney MagicMobile came out. Those mostly ended when MagicBand+ was introduced. Obviously Disney isn’t going to put out upgrades if it is discontinuing an item.
Disney has said that MagicBands will continue to be available for purchase and new designs will continue to be released. You may be asking, “How do I get in without a MagicBand?” Key to the World cards are available for all guests.
However, a new park entry option called MagicMobile has been introduced that will allow you to use your Apple phone or watch.
What is MagicMobile?
MagicMobile is a park entry option that lets you use your Apple or Android device for park entry. Here’s how it works.
- First, you’ll need to have the My Disney Experience app on your phone. If you’ve installed it in the past be sure to run the update.
- Open the My Disney Experience app and sign into your account. Hit the hamburger (stacked line) menu on the bottom right. In the right column you’ll see the Disney MagicMobile Pass as an option.
- Once you’re into the Disney MagicMobile section you’ll be able to link up your park reservations/tickets and create a MagicMobile pass.
- After creating your pass you’ll be able to save it to your device. Then you’ll just scan your device at the entrance to the parks.
- You can utilize MagicBands, MagicMobile passes and Key to the World cards interchangeably.
Are MagicBands Free?
Not anymore. MagicBands used to be free to resort guests but that ended in 2020. Functionalities of the bands (opening doors, paying for food, park entry) are now available in the My Disney Experience app.
You can still add a MagicBand to your room but you will have to pay for it. This does give you the opportunity to be more creative with your bands. If you choose to get one, get a fun one!
How Does a MagicBand Work?
You’ll have to set up a free My Disney Experience account. That’s where you can link your park tickets. No more fumbling for tickets at the park entrance. Now your tickets and attraction choices are recorded in the MDE app and saved to the radio frequency (RF) chip inside your MagicBands.
When you get to the theme parks, simply touch your MagicBand to Mickey’s head at the entrance (known as “touchpoints”), and enjoy your day at the park!
When You Aren’t at Disney
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- Virtual Rides, Imagineer Secrets and More
Do MagicBands Work with Disney PhotoPass and Memory Maker?
Everyone with a MagicBand receives one other major perk: Your MagicBand contains your PhotoPass and MemoryMaker information. PhotoPass is the complimentary photo service throughout the Disney resorts, theme parks, water parks, and Disney Springs.
Professional photographers capture your Disney memories – for free. After the photographer takes the photos of you and your family, he or she will scan your MagicBand to — magically — link those photos to your My Disney Experience account.
At the end of the trip, you can choose the photos you want to buy. But I recommend pre-purchasing a MemoryMaker, which provides unlimited digital access to all of the PhotoPass videos and photos linked to your MagicBand. You can download the ones you like once you’re back at home, or you can order prints from Disney at a discount.
Does a MagicBand Work as a Room Key?
No need to rummage through your purse while juggling a sleeping toddler and his Mickey Mouse plush. Simply touch your MagicBand to the reader on your hotel room door to open the door.
Extra MagicBand Perks for Disney World Hotels
If you’re staying at a Disney World hotel — “on property” in Disney parlance — there are some extra special perks. Use your MagicBand as your room key, making purchases, and manage your Disney Dining Plan.
Can I Use a MagicBand to Buy Things?
If you want to charge a purchase at one of the parks to your room, you can do it using your MagicBand. Simply link a credit card to the band, and your purchases will be added to your hotel bill.
And don’t worry about other members of your party charging to your card. You can specify “adults only” charging privileges, or create a PIN to share only with those allowed to use your card.
Does a MagicBand Work with the Disney Dining Plan?
Disney Dining Plans are currently unavailable, but in the past, the Disney Dining Plan was only available to visitors who buy it as part of a Disney vacation package — and stay at a Disney hotel. Then, you use your MagicBand to keep track of Disney Dining Plan credits, too. Simply scan your band to use the credits.
At the table service restaurants, the server will bring a machine to your table. At quick service and snack spots, touch your MagicBand to the touchpoint and your Dining Plan credits will be used to pay for your purchase.
How Do I Get a MagicBand?
At this point, you may have a hard time imagining your Disney vacation without a MagicBand. The convenience of all that power right on your wrist is irresistible. So how do you get a MagicBand?
Even if you are not staying at a Disney resort, you can – and should – purchase a MagicBand. They’re available at a variety of price points, based on the customization you choose. MagicBands can be linked to your park tickets (purchased separately) through the My Disney Experience app.
MagicBands also can be purchased online, from the ShopDisney app, at the theme parks, from select stores in the resort hotels, or at Disney Springs.
Need help planning your Disney trip? Get all your questions answered from our Disney Planning & Fun Facebook Group!
SheBuysTravel Tip: Buy your MagicBands before leaving home, so you can do link it to your My Disney Experience account before you leave for your trip. That way, you won’t be using valuable vacation time to set everything up, and you’ll be ready to go once you reach the parks. Plus it’s really exciting to have the wristbands before you leave your driveway!
Can I Customize My MagicBands?
Yes! You can definitely customize your MagicBand, there’s a whole new world of variety to choose from. Choose to purchase a premium MagicBand, featuring special colors like turquoise or millennial pink or favorite characters, from the Frozen sisters to the Star Wars favorites, and of course Mickey Mouse. You can even find special edition MagicBands on Amazon, and skins and decals for your MagicBand on Etsy and other sites. Annual passholders can also choose from special designs only available to APs.
The second generation of MagicBand – known as MagicBand 2 – are a little larger than the first version. These come with removable center Mickey icons, so you can mix and match the colors to really personalize your bands. MagicBandits – little images, shapes and jewels – are also available to allow for further customization.
Check out these MagicBand holders that easily fits on your Apple Watch or other watch bands:
Does One Size Fit All?
I don’t ever believe “one size fits all,” and I had serious doubts that a wristband that fits the tiniest toddler would feel comfortable on me. But Disney magic comes through again!
Yes, all Disney MagicBands come in one standard size, but it is made in two layers – a tearaway outer shell layer surrounding a smaller inner layer. Just peel away the outer shell to create a band for smaller wrists.
On the band itself, you’ll see “peel here for a smaller band.” (Just be sure you want to do this, as the layer cannot be reattached.) Both layers have several holes to allow for different sizes of band to further customize the fit.
What Happens if I Lose My Disney MagicBand?
MagicBands can be deactivated right on the My Disney Experience app or by visiting Disneyworld.com and going to “Manage My MagicBands.” Simply click on the band you want to deactivate or report lost.
If you lose a band while on your Disney vacation, you should go to Guest Relations to speak to a cast member. Or if you’re a hotel guest, the concierge at the front desk at your
How Long Is a MagicBand Good?
MagicBands and MagicBandPlus remain active even after your Florida Disney vacation is over. That’s good news. It means you can reuse any of your old MagicBands. So bring several, especially if you have a variety!
Whether you have one or many, Disney MagicBands make organizing your vacation so much easier. Everything you need is in one place, right on your wrist. That way, you can grasp the magic of your Disney vacation with both hands!
Mary Dixon Lebeau was forced into East Coast travel. A Jersey girl herself, Mary married a guy from New England who has a penchant for Florida, so she has become acquainted with - and loves - all the wonderful sites from Caribou, Maine to Key West, Florida.
Mary is also adept at creating vacations that are "one size fits all." The mother of five (ranging from "Expedition Everest" to "Dumbo"), she has become skilled at planning for all ages, collecting kiddie swap passes and making sure everyone is happy (sometimes all at the same time).
A former newspaper columnist, Mary is now a freelance writer whose work has appeared in a variety of publications, including Parents, Parenting, Pregnancy, Conceive and Family Circle (are you sensing a theme?). She was also the former travel editor at REAL Magazine (RIP). Her essays have appeared in such publications as the Christian Science Monitor, God Allows U Turns, and four different editions of Chicken Soup for the Soul.