Magic Band + launched at Walt Disney World on July 27th. It is the newest generation of resort Magic Bands but how is it different from existing Magic Bands? And do you really NEED to have these new bands for your upcoming vacation? Even though they are no longer included in your vacation package I always recommend to my clients to purchase them. They make a great souvenir and they are super convenient. Especially if you plan on using Genie Plus. You don't want to be fumbling with your phone or key card every time you have to check into an attraction, and remember you have to scan thru two checkpoints on each attraction. The current solid Magic Bands can be purchased for a pre-arrival price via My Disney Experience for $10 and the themed band are between $15 to $25.
What are the differences between Magic Band + and existing Magic Bands?
Magic Bands + can do everything that the existing Magic Bands can do. Use them as your theme park ticket, scanning into Lighting Lanes, connecting your Photo Pass photos, opening your resort room door to making purchases while on property. They can also be purchased prior to your stay just like existing bands and you will receive a discount if you purchase them via My Disney Experience for your upcoming stay. They can also be purchased in the parks, at Disney Springs and on shopDisney.com. Below are the current locations where Magic Band + can be purchased at the Walt Disney World Resort.
Magic Kingdom Park: Emporium
EPCOT: Pin Traders – Camera Center
Disney’s Hollywood Studios: Celebrity 5 & 10 and Tatooine Traders
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park: Discovery Trading Company
Disney Springs: Disney’s Pin Traders
Select merchandise locations at Disney Resort hotels
Magic Band + has a couple different features. Here is a breakdown of what it can do. Some of the features work in tandem with the Play Disney Parks app so to get the full experience you'll want to also have that app downloaded to your mobile device.
Fab 50 Quest
Remember those 50th anniversary character statues that were added to each theme park last year? Well the Magic Band + can interact with those statues. You can help Tink bring them to life. You wave your Magic Band wearing hand spreading pixie dust and you'll hear a special message from the characters featured.
Star Wars: Batuu Bounty Hunters
On Batuu you can earn virtual bounties across Black Spire Outpost. The band will vibrate and glow guiding you towards your reward. You'll need to use the Play Disney Park app augmented reality thermal viewing to see who you captured!
During Enchantment and Harmonious the band will light up and vibrate along with the show! It also reacts to the Beacons of Magic in each park or the park icons; Cinderella Castle, Spaceship Earth, Hollywood Tower of Terror and the Tree of Life.
Unlike your current Magic Band these new Bands require frequent charging similar to a smart watch and to be paired with a mobile device. Each one will come with a charging cord and it should be charged prior to use.
Do you really need a Magic Band + for your upcoming vacation?
The short answer is no. They are not critical to your vacation or experience at Walt Disney World. And the existing bands will still be sold and can be used in the parks. Here are my pros and cons of the new plus bands.
They have some really cute options to choose from! So if you think your kids will get a kick out of a certain theme or character or just think they are super cool I say go for it! The solid bands retail for $34.99 but the pre-arrival price is $24.99. The themed bands are $44.99 but the pre-arrival price is $34.99. My favorites are the retro WDW and Tink! And some people just like to collect the unique bands like the 50th anniversary bands.
The Batuu Bounty Hunters game sounds really fun. Especially for Star Wars fans or any guest you likes to solve puzzles and play interactive games.
The new features are really cool. If you are looking for cool new ways to interact in the parks and enjoy high tech features then you'll find the extra cost worth it.
The activities can provide a great way to kill some time. Attraction wait times too long in Hollywood Studios? Go play Batuu Bounty Hunters. Have a small child who can't ride the more thrilling attractions? Take them around looking for the Fab 50 statues while the rest of the family rides. They also vibrate when a statue is nearby so if you are having trouble finding them it will help you out!
The price is pretty steep, especially for the themed bands. If you want a band for each member of your family that adds up quick. Compare the pre-arrival prices of the solid bands. $10 for the existing bands to $24.99 for the plus bands.
They have to be charged. And if you are using it all day in the theme park there's a chance you'll need to charge it mid day so you'll need to carry the charging cord with you just in case. They say if fully charged it should last 1-3 days but it all depends on how much you are using it's special features. You should definitely charge it each night. It's just another device we carry with us that needs charging, along with our phones, smart watches, cameras etc.
Technology can have it's glitches. You should be prepared in case it doesn't sync or the features are not working as advertised sometimes. Syncing to your account will also take more time and be a bit more challenging than the existing bands since they require Bluetooth.
Most guests just don't have the time to dedicate to the extra features. If you only visit once in a while and this is your big family trip I don't think most families want to dedicate the time to finding all the statues or earning bounties on Batuu. If the features are not important to you then I say don't spend that extra money. Save it for a souvenir, snacks or a great drink!
So what do you think? Will you be buying a Magic Band + for your upcoming vacation? Most of my clients have been asking about them. Those that just traveled over the last few months were hoping to have them in time and I know some that have already chosen theirs for their vacations this fall so they are definitely in demand.
Don't have a trip booked? Reach out to one of the magic making travel advisors at Coasters and Castles Travel.
Melissa Lenox is a Vacation Specialist and blog editor with Coasters & Castles Travel. She is a former entertainment cast member, loves Star Wars, Harry Potter, Marvel, Chip 'n Dale, dining at Walt Disney World and planning trips for others! Follow her on her pages below or contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org to plan your next adventure!