WHEN SHOULD I GO?
Ideally, you want to go when the weather is moderate and the crowds are low. Unfortunately, between vacation schedules and school-age kids, your options might be limited. There are special annual events at Walt Disney World that can add to your vacation experience (though crowds may be increased as well). Take a look at the Events Calendar, and don’t forget that busier times of the year will have extended Park Operating Hours. Special times of the year are in January/early February (beautiful weather and low crowds), Mid-March – May (Epcot’s Flower and Garden Festival), May/June (Star Wars Weekends) October and November (Epcot Food and Wine Festival), and Mid-November – New Year’s (Holidays Around the World). In addition, there are two special ticket parties at the Magic Kingdom – Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party (various dates September – October) and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party (November – December).
Where to stay is a major decision. Walt Disney World has 305 resort hotels to fit all budgets, and they offer special perks to their guests (extra hours in the parks and complimentary Disney Transportation). Staying offsite is likely to cost less, but then you’ll probably want a rental car.
Disney offers a wide range of ticket options for you to choose from — one-day/one-park admissions ticket to a Premium Annual Pass that will get you into all the theme parks, water parks, and Pleasure Island. The ticket structure “rewards” longer stays with greatly reduced prices for 7+ day tickets. Read through theTicket FAQ and decide which is best for you.
If you think you may return to Disney in a year, consider an Annual Passport. By purchasing the annual pass, you can return to Disney World next year (a few weeks earlier than this year) and not have to pay for admission tickets again. Take a look at our analysis of when it makes more sense to buy an Annual Pass over other types of tickets. Sometimes discounted hotel rates are also offered to Annual Passholders and Florida Residents.
You can travel to Walt Disney World as a family, as a couple, as seniors, with friends and even alone! When traveling as a family there are a number of considerations depending on the age(s) of your child(ren). I recommend Orlando Stroller Rentals for your stroller needs in the Orlando area.
WHAT IS MyMagic+?
Walt Disney Parks and Resorts introduced the concept of “MyMagic+” in January 2013, saying that the program “is using technology to make it easier than ever before for guests to make the most of their Walt Disney World visit.”
From Disney’s initial statement on the program:
MyMagic+ has the ability to connect nearly all aspects of the guest experience and make it better, at no additional charge.
1. A new website and mobile app called My Disney Experience, which provides a one-stop shop for all things Walt Disney World throughout every phase of a guest’s vacation. It will enable guests to:
• Get more information on all Walt Disney World Resort has to offer, from resort hotels and attractions to dining and merchandise.
• Design the overall experience they want, planning as much or as little as they wish.
• Make dining and other reservations and FastPass+ selections.
• Connect with family and friends to coordinate plans and share photos.
2. Disney FastPass+ service. Guests will be able to select FastPass+ attractions and entertainment experiences through My Disney Experience before they leave home and make changes on the go.
• For the first time, guests will be able to reserve firework and parade viewing areas, shows, Disney Character Greetings and more, in addition to their favorite attractions.
• For guests who don’t know where to start, Disney will recommend FastPicks — “a set of three FastPass+ selections that serve as a starting point” — and give guests the option to customize their selections.
• Disney FastPass+ service is included with Theme Park admission.
3. MagicBand. Worn on the wrist, the colorful MagicBand is an all‐in-one device that effortlessly connects all the vacation choices guests make online with My Disney Experience. Guests can use their MagicBand to enter their Disney Resort hotel room, buy food and merchandise, and enter Walt Disney World theme parks and water parks. Plus, the MagicBand provides FastPass+ access to all the experiences selected and serves as the connection to Disney’s PhotoPass.
HOW DO I USE MyMagic+?
To take advantage of the MyMagic+ program, you will first need to have a “My Disney Experience” (MDE) account. MDE is an application that you can access on the Walt Disney World website or via a mobile app that you can download to your smartphone or another mobile device. See Walt Disney World’s official site for how to create an MDE account.
Once you have created your MDE account you can then create a Family & Friends list, so that you can share vacation plans with those you are traveling with. You can also then link your admission tickets to the account, which will allow you to make FastPass+ selections and plan your vacation.
Using MDE, you can also make online hotel and dining reservations that will be linked to your account.
When you are in the parks, the My Disney Experience mobile app helps you keep track of all of your plans, including your dining reservations and FastPass+ selections. Plus, it gives you easy access to information, such as show times, attraction wait times, character greeting locations and GPS-enabled maps that let you see what is happening near you at that moment.
If you are staying at a Walt Disney World Resort Hotel, you will also be able to use MagicBands, plastic wristbands that can store all of your personal vacation data and can be used to access your hotel room, as well as to pay for your purchases.
What is a MagicBand?
Worn on the wrist, or carried in a special holder, the colorful MagicBand is an all-in-one device that connects all the vacation choices you make online with My Disney Experience.
You can use a MagicBand to enter a Disney Resort hotel room, buy food and merchandise, and enter Walt Disney World theme parks and water parks. Plus, the MagicBand provides FastPass+ access to all the experiences selected and serves as the connection to Disney’s PhotoPass.
The original MagicBand was worn on your wrist. The next generation of the MagicBand — MagicBand 2 (pictured above) — was introduced in late 2016. MagicBand 2 features a new design, making it even more customizable and versatile while maintaining the same convenience of the original MagicBand. The MagicBand has evolved from a band to a versatile accessory: the “gem” (centerpiece) of the band can be removed (with a tiny screwdriver) and put in an assortment of accessories so that it can be worn or carried in other ways than on the wrist.
What Does a MagicBand Look Like?
MagicBands are flexible plastic wristbands, resembling a watch or bracelet. The basic MagicBands come in a variety of colors: pink, blue, red, green, orange, gray, purple and yellow. You can choose which color you prefer when you are initially ordering them in your My Disney Experience (MDE) account.
Graphic MagicBands and customized/personalized MagicBands are also available. Read more about these MagicBands below.
How does it work?
MagicBands use Radio Frequency (RF) technology and can be read by short and long-range readers located at the Walt Disney World Resort.
Your MagicBand is linked to your My Disney Experience account, which holds all the information relating to your vacation: your hotel and dining reservations, Fastpass+ experiences, PhotoPass photos. Your MagicBand can also act as your Disney resort room key. Also, if you wish, you can associate a debit or credit card to your MagicBand so that you can use it to pay for your purchases.
To use the MagicBand to enter a theme park or water park, or to take advantage of your FastPass+, touch the Mickey head on the band to the Mickey symbol you’ll find at the turnstile touch-points. When entering the park, you will also be required to place a finger on a scanner. When the light on the Mickey’s head turns green, you can enter the park.
Similarly, when you wish to make a purchase using the MagicBand, you touch the Mickey to the device at the cash register, and then you enter your own Personal Identification Number (PIN).
To use your MagicBand to enter your Disney resort hotel room, touch the Mickey head on the band to the RFID reader located near your room door’s handle.
TIP: If you have less flexible wrists, try fastening the band so that the Mickey head is on the inside of your wrist. This technique causes much less contortion than having to flip your wrist over for kiosks and another point of sale areas. Of course, with the new MagicBand 2, you can use the band’s “gem” in a special carrier that won’t require you to wear the band on your wrist.
Who can use a MagicBand?
Any Walt Disney World guest can use a MagicBand, however, MagicBands are only available by purchase to “day guests” (that is, those who are not pass holders, or are not staying at a Walt Disney World resort hotel).
How do I get a MagicBand?
If you are staying at a Walt Disney World Resort Hotel, you can customize and order your MagicBands online at least 10 days before your arrival at Walt Disney World Resort:
- Create or sign into your Disney account.
- If you have not already done so, link your reservation number to your Disney account.
- Customize your MagicBands HERE.
NOTE: MagicBand orders cannot be shipped to all countries.
If you don’t have time to order your MagicBands before your vacation, you may be able to obtain them once you arrive at your hotel, but you may not have your choice of color.
If you are a Passholder, you can also order a MagicBand, even if you are not staying at a Disney resort hotel. For instructions on ordering, see Kristin Ford’s “how-to” blog HERE.
If you are not a Passholder and are not staying at a Disney resort hotel, Disney considers you to be a “day guest.” MagicBands are not automatically shipped to you when you purchase your tickets, however you may purchase MagicBands at merchandise locations once your arrive at Walt Disney World.
You can also buy a retail MagicBand on Demand at various locations. These locations allow guests to customize their MagicBands, similar to the D-Tech on Demand boutique at the Marketplace Co-Op in Disney Springs. There are eight different colors available, including purple, as well as about 40 different graphics to apply to help customize your band. In addition to the artwork, the retail MagicBands can be personalized with a name printed on the outside. Once designed, the retail MagicBand is printed on the spot. The printers use UV ink that dries immediately and requires no cooling time. The custom retail MagicBand can be associated to your My Disney Experience account, or you can give it as a gift to friends or family. Price for a custom retail MagicBand is $21.95; with personalization the retail MagicBand is $29.95.
You may also buy MagicBands as gifts. (See below.)
NOTE: The “touch to pay” option (which entails linking a credit or debit card to the MagicBand) is not available for day guests.
How much do MagicBands cost?
If you are a Disney World Resort Hotel guest or an annual pass holder there is NO extra charge for your MagicBand. They will be shipped to you after you order them or will be available at your resort when you check in.
If you are not staying at a Disney Resort Hotel (known as a “day guest”), you are able to purchase a MagicBand if you wish.
Offsite guests (or anyone who wants a more interesting MagicBand) can order a MagicBand in advance from www.disneystore.com (from about $12.95 each for plain colored bands to $19.95 each for bands with character and other decorations, before taxes and delivery charges). MagicBands can also be purchased at retail outlets throughout the Walt Disney World theme parks and Disney Springs.
I plan to buy a retail MagicBand. How do I link it to my MDE account?
When you buy a retail MagicBand, you are now eligible for a program called “Link-It Later.” Retail MagicBands can be purchased by anyone, including guests who are not staying at a Walt Disney World Resort owned and operated hotel. Usually, you must present one of the following at the time of purchase to link a retail MagicBand: valid theme park admission, Memory Maker card or an active MagicBand. With the “Link-It Later” option, you will be able to purchase solid-colored MagicBands (available in seven colors) and link them to valid theme park admission at a future date. This new option allows you purchase MagicBands as gifts. Special “graphic” MagicBands like the ones featuring characters from Disney’s “Frozen,” can NOT be linked later at this time. “Link-It Later” is available in select retail locations at Walt Disney World Resort and participating off-site locations including Hotel Plaza Boulevard hotels in the Downtown Disney area, Disney liquidation stores in Florida, and the Disney merchandise shops at the Orlando International Airport. You can associate MagicBands using the “Link a MagicBand or Card” option in your My Disney Experience account.
I will be using an old admission ticket, the kind that is manually date-stamped without a magnetic strip. Can I still link that to my MagicBand?
When you enter the park, you will need to exchange your old ticket for a new plastic card with an RFID chip. That information can then be linked to the MagicBand. See a cast member at the park entrance for instructions.
My child is 2 years old and won’t require an admission ticket. Does she need a MagicBand?
No, children who do not require admission media do not require a MagicBand.
Can I have multiple MagicBands at one time?
Theoretically, you should not need to have more than one MagicBand per person, however, you may have up to seven. You can manage your MagicBands, linking, activating or deactivating them, on the My Disney Experience website or via the mobile app.
My Disney Experience gives Walt Disney World guests the option of declining MagicBands if they already have an active MagicBand. To decline a band, sign into a My Disney Experience account and follow these steps: Click on “MagicBands and Cards” from the MDE pulldown menu. A list will appear showing all pending trips. Click on “Customize” for the trip or trip segment to be modified. A “Customize Your MagicBands” screen will appear. To cancel shipment of a MagicBand, click on the “Decline MagicBand” link on this screen. Users who manage MDE accounts for other family members or friends must decline MagicBands for each member. Guests scheduling split stays across multiple Walt Disney World resort must repeat this process for each individual reservation. Note that each individual’s MagicBand(s) are linked to their My Disney Experience account. A single MagicBand can be re-used for multiple resort stays and even multiple vacations, as long as the band continues to function. The active transmitters embedded in Disney MagicBands are expected to last for a period of 2-3 years.
Where else can I use my MagicBand?
You can also use your MagicBand to identify yourself when you pass through theme park parking plazas, and when you enter a resort.
You can also use your MagicBand for your PhotoPass/Memory Maker photos, including animated magic shots. Animated magic shots are special videos that appear in your account after having your photo taken by a Disney PhotoPass photographer in select locations. They feature a still photo of the travel party overlaid with a video appearance by an animated character. All unexpired videos will be visible. Therefore, attraction videos and animated magic shots taken within the previous 45 days are included. All guests are able to view their videos via their My Disney Experience account, but a Memory Maker entitlement is required to download them.
Guests wearing or carrying active MagicBands will have certain attraction photos and videos automatically associated to their My Disney Experience accounts. Some of the attractions where this is available:
- Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin, Space Mountain and Splash Mountain in the Magic Kingdom
- Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Staring Aerosmith and The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at Disney’s Hollywood Studios
- Test Track in Epcot
- Dinosaur and Expedition Everest in Disney’s Animal Kingdom
NOTE: Guests without MagicBands can associate attraction photos with RF-enabled media (e.g., park ticket or Memory Maker card) via new touch points at the photo preview walls.
What if I lose my MagicBand?
If you should lose your MagicBand, deactivate it using your My Disney Experience account online or on the mobile app so that no one else can use it. Notify Guest Relations or your hotel’s Lobby Concierge if you are at Walt Disney World, and they should be able to issue a replacement band for you. If you are not at home when you notice you have lost your MagicBand, deactivate that band using MDE and order another. There may be a charge for the replacement.
Can I wear my MagicBand when I go swimming? What if I get it wet?
Is my personal data secure on my MagicBand?
MagicBands and RF cards are part of Disney’s My Magic+. Disney says that MyMagic+ was built with extensive privacy controls from the outset and is completely voluntary. To further protect your privacy, your printed name appears on the inside of your customized band.
Learn more about Disney’s privacy and data collection policies and how RF technology is used in MagicBands and cards HERE.
What if I don’t want to use a MagicBand?
If you prefer to use a plastic RF card for admission/room entry instead of a MagicBand, simply request it at your Disney Resort hotel. The RF cards cannot be detected by long-range readers as the MagicBands can.
MagicBand 2 offers the option of removing the centerpiece of the band (the “gem”), which can then be inserted into other accessories that can be clipped to backpacks or otherwise worn not on the wrist.
Who can I contact if I have more questions about MagicBands?
Passholders who have questions about MyMagic+ can call (407) 560-7277.
All others call (407) 939-5277, visit Guest Relations at the theme parks or Lobby Concierge at your Disney resort hotel.