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Walt Disney World Quietly Disables MagicBand Interactivity on Rides

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Over the last few years, we have slowly seen Walt Disney World install screens at many of its theme park attractions for new interactive elements that would utilize the technology in a guest’s MagicBand. Many of these effects were eventually turned on, such as the Hitchhiking Ghost scene at the end of the Haunted Mansion, the “it’s a small world” finale where guests would receive a customized farewell, and the Mission Roster at Mission: Space at Epcot. Quietly over the last few weeks, many of these effects were turned off.

The now-retired effect on The Haunted Mansion
The now-retired effect on The Haunted Mansion

Is Disney finally throwing in the towel on these elements? It is uncertain, but all of theme being turned off simultaneously certainly means that they are up to something.

Some of these changes were deemed controversial by fans. The personalized tombstones that the ghosts would carry in the Haunted Mansion finale were called hokey, the “it’s a small world” goodbyes considered forced, and overall many guests felt like Disney was shoving it down their throats that they had the technology to put their name (and where they live) on a screen. Personally, I thought at least a few of them were clever, but agree there was likely too many of them present.

Guest names would show up as "it's a small world" would say goodbye in various languages to them using RFID technology in the MagicBand
Guest names would show up as “it’s a small world” would say goodbye in various languages to them using RFID technology in the MagicBand

Similar effects were also installed at several other locations but never turned on. For example, screens inside Star Tours and the Hollywood Brown Derby at Hollywood Studios were simply never used. Another set of screens at Cover Story on Hollywood Boulevard were turned on for about 2 weeks before going back to being just static images again.

The Mission Roster at the exit of Mission: Space was turned off for the first time this week since it was installed. A short ISTC video with famous quotes about the exploration of space plays now:

Perhaps Disney will be upgrading these systems and they will be returning soon, but for now (or possibly forever), don’t be surprised if you don’t see your name in lights at your favorite Walt Disney World locale.

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About the author

Tom Corless

Tom has been regularly visiting the Walt Disney World® Resort from the time he was 4 months old. While he has made countless visits in the last 28 years, he did not become a truly active member in the Disney fan community until the summer of 2007, when he decided to launch the WDW News Today website and podcast. Tom has since become an Orlando-local and is a published author on Walt Disney World.

14 Comments

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  • The possibility may be that Disney has taken a more in-depth look at the collection, storage and processing of data gathered by non-direct means (I.E. by a direct attached device) and have determined that collection of this type of data could be construed as an invasion of privacy. I seem to remember some new laws being considered in the EU that are associated with the collection of data via non-direct means. Or, considering how many things across many Disney parts are being shuttered/closed, temporarily or not, this would seem to be a quick way to reduce support costs at many attractions. After all, capabilities cost money.

    • If you have an MDE account then Disney already have the data. The fact they then show your name and/or location on a screen is irrelvant.

  • I could definitely see it being shut off due to complaints from certain types of people who would freak out suddenly seeing their name pop up on an attraction screen. Thanks Snowden

  • I read it was because some people don’t use names they use nick names ,funny names and even “slang” names that might not be appropriate and there were complaints . If that’s true they need to get some sort of software that checks names .

  • Disappointed this is done just before we arrive for our trip. This sort of “magic” is one of the better uses of MagicBands in my opinion. I do think maybe there should be a tick box in MDE so you can opt-out of your name & home location being used in magical experiences for those who don’t like it.

    I hope it comes back in an enhanced form, being greeted by Mickey by name or having a Princess know its my birthday would be very special.

  • I know many people get uncomfortable with any personal information being made public. This feature could feel a bit over the line for them. I m not like that. Co thought this was a cool idea. I think they should give you the option of using this feature or not. They could put it in mde under customize you bands or could be part of online check in.

  • Pure speculation but they may have deemed the invasion of privacy is too great for a small perceived gain in a magic moment.

    Let’s say I waited forty minutes in line and was bored, found someone interesting or attractive, and then at the end of the ride there’s their name “John Doe, Akron, Ohio”. In the next line I’ve got time to browse their Facebook and Instagram.

    This is just a benign idea, someone with malicious intention would know the name of someone who is out of town on vacation in Florida. Maybe their Facebook has comments from their house sitter or pet sitter.

    Not an ideal experience for guests. Security and safety concern.

    • Why would it matter if someone on a ride in Florida, found out a family from Kansas is out of town on the same ride? Does your malicious person have a team of thieves stationed strategically around the United States ready to strike whenever their boss finds them on a Disney ride? Or does that person just hope on a plane, go to the targets city, rob their house of literally everything to cover the cost of the plane ticket and then rent a uhaul to drive all their stuff back to Orlando?

  • They are still working at Rock n Roller Coaster or at least they were yesterday. They were also running on Everest last week. So unless this just happened today this article isn’t correct.

    • Umm no.
      This was simply a tiny side project to the Magic Bands, which supposedly are very profitable for Disney.

      A fail, perhaps.
      If so, let’s call a couple hundred thousand dollar fail.

  • We rode Rock n Roller Coaster on Wednesday 9/21 and they had my name and town in the posters in the queue. Use this info as you will. I, personally found it fun and exciting.