Cashless, turnstile-free Disney World could be reality by spring

By as early as spring visitors to Disney World in the US city of Orlando, Florida could be entering the park, paying for food and even opening their hotel room doors with a flick of the wrist thanks to new RFID-equipped wristbands. 

The system, called MyMagic+, uses Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) bracelets in order to streamline visitors' experiences at Disney World.

The bracelets, to be known as MagicBands, can be linked to guests' credit cards, allowing them to buy food within the park without using cash, link guests with their hotel rooms (with the bracelets functioning as key cards) and contain a wealth of personalized information which can be read by sensors within the park allowing for customized greetings.

Additionally the bracelets will remove the need for paper tickets, currently needed to enter the park, and streamline the queuing process. With the MyMagic+ system guests will be able to order up to three FastPass tickets to rides via the My Disney Experience website and mobile app before visiting the park, thereby removing the need to queue for FastPass tickets, which allow users to skip the lineup for rides at specific times.

Users of the bracelets, which will not be compulsory, can also use their smartphone and My Disney Experience app to change their plans once they are within the park.

In a January 7 blog post on Disneyparks, Tom Staggs, Chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, described the system as "another step forward in the ongoing evolution of our guest experience, giving us even more ways to help friends and family create the unforgettable Disney memories that they want most."

While the Disneyparks blog does not mention a launch date for MyMagic+, aspects of which have already been tested in Florida, the New York Times reports that the system could be in place by spring. 

Though Disney is one of the largest entertainment venues of its kind on earth, it is not the first to use RFID-enabled bracelets to enhance the visitor experience. Similar RFID bracelets were also implemented at Israeli theme park Coca-Cola Village, where, according to a Gawker report, they linked with visitors' Facebook accounts allowing them to "like" attractions in real time, and in 2007 Malaysian theme park Sunway Lagoon issued RFID bracelets to enable visitors to make cashless payments.

Rumors of the implementation of RFID technology at Disney World first began to surface on blogs such as mouseplanet back in 2008. 

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