On Wednesday, the new wave of MagicBands caused a lot of excitement from guests at the Walt Disney World theme park. It was the first day of operation for MagicBand+, the resort’s updated wearable technology that provides increased interactivity at attractions.
One most visible addition is MagicBand+’s ability to activate special effects on the Fab 50 character statues installed in the parks for Disney World’s 50th anniversary last year. By waving the new bands around the character, the music starts or the voice of the character is heard.
At the Magic Kingdom, Stitch said “aloha” as tropical serenades accompanied the Orange Bird figure. At Disney’s Hollywood Studios, droid noises came from “Star Wars” characters BB-8 and R2-D2 and piano melodies surrounded “Soul” lead character Joe.
MagicBand+ can also be used for a new game at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Hollywood Studios and creates effects during Epcot’s nightly spectacular ‘Harmonious’ and ‘Disney Enchantment’, seen nightly at Magic Kingdom.
“I think overall, for the first day with so many people trying, I think it’s going well,” said Winter Haven travel agency owner Nicole Fairess. “I got most of them. It’s just a little difficult sometimes. »
MagicBand+ bracelets light up when a Fab 50 figure approaches. Wearers must then wave their arms — a move called the “magical pixie dust spread” in Disney parlance — near the statues to trigger effects. There was some trial and error among day one attempts.
The activity is a bonus for park visitors, Fairess said after getting the Mad Hatter figurine to react at the Magic Kingdom.
“We have loyal customers who are always on the lookout for something new. And Disney is doing very well right now with [Epcot rides] Guardians of the Galaxy, Ratatouille, then Tron will open [at Magic Kingdom],” she said. “And now this MagicBand+ and the new fireworks… It’s just always something new.”
The statue’s effects are brief, possibly a snippet of dialogue or music, basically a five-second opening.
“There is a lot of diversity in the audio of all the statues. Some of them have character voice sound; some of them only have music tracks,” said Gina McCarter, director of product management for Disney World’s digital experience team. “But there are several answers you might get from each of the sculptures.”
The new bands work over Bluetooth with the My Disney Experience and Play Disney apps, and there are other planned uses, McCarter said, including special effects with “Fantasmic,” the show slated to return to Hollywood Studios in the current of the year.
“We’re just getting started,” she said. “MagicBand+ has a lot of capabilities so it can integrate in all kinds of new and exciting ways. We’re really looking forward to being able to expand that as we move forward.”
Like their less flashy predecessors, which are still sold at Disney World, MagicBand+ comes in a whole host of colors and designs. They also have the abilities of previous bands such as park entry, Lightning Lane redemption, PhotoPass access, and use as a hotel room key.
MagicBands have been available at Disney World since 2013. MagicBand+ will be added to Disneyland Resort in California later this year.
The Florida debut caused a rush at some outlets on Wednesday with 30-45 minute waits to purchase the new product, which starts at $35. They are available at all four Disney theme parks, Disney Resort hotels and Disney Springs locations. Some buyers said they got sold out tapes. MagicBand+, unlike the original version, is rechargeable and comes with a power cord.
Devin Saults, a Disney World annual passholder who lives in Lakeland, said she’s owned about 40 of the “old” bands, but was happy with her MagicBand+ experience and her favorite interaction, the one with Stitch.
“I think it’s great. I mean, I was up at seven this morning ready to drive and pick it up,” she said. “I’m all for parks. grow up and do different things.”
Park visitors gathered in front of statues and shared tips, strategies and theories on where to stand for the best results.
“It works by waving high,” said Todd Hunter, an Orlando annual pass holder. “You have to get used to it… take your time, then it activates. … It’s a nice little treasure hunt.
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The effects also competed with the daily noise of the park from loudspeakers, parades and passers-by.
“It’s a little hard to hear,” Saults said. “That might be the only thing Disney should be working on is turning up the volume.”
At Hollywood Studios, a game called Batuu Bounty Hunters debuted with MagicBand+. Participants receive instructions to find characters virtually hidden in the land. The band guides players with “warm up, warm up” style cues. Once the target is located, players collect credits. It dovetails with previous activities built into Galaxy’s Edge and the Play Disney app.
“I’ve unlocked all the other achievements in the app. It’s just something else I need to complete now,” said Cade Gaskill, an Orlando pass holder.
This isn’t Disney’s first spin with interactive products. The parks previously featured a Pal Mickey doll as well as “Glow With the Show” mouse earbuds. Visitors also played games like Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom and A Pirate’s Adventures: Treasures of the Seven Seas.
“I think there are certainly lessons to be learned from everything we’ve done in this space,” McCarter said. “But it’s absolutely kind of the next generation and evolution of MagicBands…and something that’s really going to allow us to expand our storytelling with guests.”
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