Disney MagicBands are waterproof, plastic bands that utilize radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology that allows guests to enter the theme parks, as well as pay for orders, use Lightning Lane passes, and open the door at their resort. Simply put, Disney Magicbands utilize a type of wireless communication that adds ultimate convenience to your day at Disney parks. Have you ever been on it’s a small world and wondered how you end up seeing your name pop up at the end of the ride? That’s the magic of the MagicBand!
But back to the main question of this article: are Disney MagicBands worth it? If you would have asked me four or five years ago, I would have said yes. But now, even with the invention of MagicBand+…I’d have to say probably not. Continue reading to find out why.
What Are MagicBands?
As briefly mentioned above, MagicBands are plastic, waterproof bands available at Walt Disney World that serve as both your gateway into the park and Lighting Lane ticket. They also offer seamless resort entry, and the ability to pay for items if you linked it to a credit card.
Truth be told, MagicBands really invigorated the whole Disney-going experience. Before their introduction in 2013, guests had to use physical park tickets and actual tickets for FastPasses (may they rest in peace). But with the MagicBand, you were able to do pretty much everything with it, even gaining access to your ride photos.
In 2022, Disney introduced MagicBand+ which has all of the same capabilities as the original MagicBand, but with some enhanced features that we’ll discuss further down in this article.
The Types of MagicBands at Disney World
As we briefly mentioned above, MagicBands have been used by Disney in some capacity since 2013. However, they have gone through multiple iterations including the MagicBand 2 and MagicBand+.
Despite all of the iterations, the basic functions of the MagicBand that we mentioned above have remained the same. Basically, both the MagicBand 2 and MagicBand+ are just product upgrades.
The MagicBand 2, for example, features a removal center (where the Mickey Mouse head is that scans you into the parks and rides). This was so the RFID technology could work with any eligible accessory, so if you wanted to switch out your band on multiple days of your trip, you could. Out of all the MagicBands, this version was probably the least popular, which is why many people don’t even know it exists.
Lately, Disney has been pushing the MagicBand+. This MagicBand has all the core functions of the original, but its biggest selling point is that it can interact with firework shows and other popular forms of nighttime entertainment in real time – aka when the sky lights up, so does your MagicBand+. It’s a cool feature, but at the same time, probably gets old kind of fast. That totally might just be my opinion, but let me know in the comments if you agree or disagree. Also, keep in mind that these interactions will cause the battery to drain. Though they’re supposed to be good for 1-3 days, you should still charge them up every night before you go to bed.
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With MagicBand+ you can also interact with the golden statues scattered around all four theme parks in celebration of Walt Disney World’s 50th anniversary. Since the 50th celebration is ending in early 2023, I’m eager to find out if they’re keeping these statues, considering they made it such a selling point with the MagicBand+ but only time will tell. The band also allows you to participate in the virtual Batuu Bounty Hunters game inside Galaxy’s Edge in Hollywood Studios.
Available MagicBand Colors
The standard MagicBands – those that don’t have specific designs on them – are available in a variety of colors including:
Anyone who gets a MagicBand will also see their name inscribed on the inner rim of the MagicBand. You can customize these names (appropriately, mind you, it’s still Disney after all). On our honeymoon, my husband and I put “wifey” and “hubby” inside our MagicBands. No one saw them but us but it made a very cute keepsake.
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How Much Do MagicBands Cost?
Until 2020, MagicBands were free. Well, not technically free, but they were included in the price of your ticket so they felt free! Now, the standard MagicBand will set you back $19.99. If you want a pattern on yours like your favorite Disney princess or Star Wars character, prices start around $24.99 and can go up from there depending on the design. Keep in mind, this is just for the basic option.
MagicBand+ will cost you at least $34.99 per person (excluding tax, of course). So, the average family of four looking to buy MagicBands for their vacation could be spending close to $100, if not more, so it’s really important to take the time to analyze whether or not you’re genuinely going to use it on your vacation.
Where Can You Buy MagicBands?
The easiest way to buy MagicBands is when you book your Walt Disney World vacation through their website. At any point before your vacation, you can order and customize your MagicBands through the website. Keep in mind, you’ll want to do this at least a month before your trip to ensure they arrive to you on time (though you should still be fine even if you wait two weeks before your trip).
However, if you don’t want to buy your MagicBands through Disney’s website, you can always purchase them at your resort, in the parks, and on ShopDisney. Some claim that they’ve found success when buying a MagicBand on websites like Amazon, but I’d argue against this just in case they don’t work.
If you plan to buy a new MagicBand or MagicBand+ at the parks, you’ll either have to use your phone or get a physical ticket to enter the parks. Then, after you buy it, you can go to guest services to have them sync it up to your Disney account to use for the remainder of your trip.
Disney World Stores That Sell MagicBands
You can purchase MagicBands at the following retailers throughout Disney property:
- Celebrity 5 & 10 (Hollywood Studios)
- Bayview Gifts (Disney’s Contemporary Resort)
- Box Office Gifts (Magic Kingdom)
- Disney Sundries and Gifts (Walt Disney World Dolphin Hotel)
- Chester & Hester’s Dinosaur Treasures (Animal Kingdom – note this location will be closing due to retheming)
- Discovery Trading Company (Animal Kingdom)
- Curtain Call Collectibles (Magic Kingdom)
- Mickey’s of Hollywood (Hollywood Studios)
- Ink & Paint Shop (Disney’s Art of Animation Resort)
- Launch Bay Cargo (Hollywood Studios)
- Pin Traders (Epcot)
- Everything POP Shopping & Dining (Disney’s Pop Century Resort)
- Fulton’s General Store (Disney’s Port Orleans – Riverside)
- Disney Traders (Epcot)
- Emporium (Magic Kingdom)
- Garden Gate Gifts (Animal Kingdom)
- Frontier Trading Post (Frontierland)
- La Boutique (Disney’s Riverside Resort)
- World Traveler (Epcot)
- Windtraders (Animal Kingdom)
Do You Need a MagicBand at Disney World?
This is a tricky question to answer and the truth is that whether or not you need a MagicBand at Disney World will depend solely on the kind of vacation you have planned.
For example, if you’re using Lighting Lane, then yes, you would probably benefit from wearing a MagicBand because otherwise, you’re going to have to get your park ticket out of your purse or pocket every time you go to enter a ride queue.
While this may not seem like a big deal, it’s easy to forget until you’re about to enter the line and then, if you’re like me, you’re trying to scramble to get everything out of your pocket/wallet and then back in again. With a MagicBand, you can just scan your band. No fuss. And no panic about inadvertently holding up the line.
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However, outside of using your MagicBand for Lighting Lane rides, I don’t think a MagicBand is necessary, especially when it comes to entering the Disney theme parks because you can just as easily use your phone now thanks to the new MagicMobile Pass. Theme park entry with your mobile phone is somewhat on the newer side – having been introduced in early 2021. Five years ago, it was either a physical pass or your band. Now that you can offset some of the MagicBand’s uses with your phone, it doesn’t make it as impressive in my opinion.
The same applies to entering your hotel room. All you have to do is click an option on your phone through the My Disney Experience app and boom – your door is unlocked. Couple this with the fact that you now have to pay for a basic MagicBand when they used to be included with your ticket, and it seems like the only good reason to have a MagicBand is if you want to keep it as a souvenir to remember your trip.
MagicBands vs. MagicMobile
We briefly mentioned MagicMobile, but what is that exactly? If you haven’t used MagicMobile yet, it’s basically a digital pass to get you into the Disney theme parks.
To enter the park with MagicMobile, you’ll just tap your smartphone on the entry device the same way you would scan in your MagicBand or physical ticket. The pass is available through the My Disney Experience App. Just add it to your wallet app and you’re all set.
MagicMobile has other features, too, including the ability to connect Disney PhotoPass and sync up ride phones to your phone, as well as utilize Disney’s virtual queues for popular rides like Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind.
When comparing the two, MagicBands offer way more features for convenience. MagicMobile is really nothing more than another method to enter the park. If you don’t plan on using your MagicBand for anything more than entering the park, then MagicMobile is your best option. Otherwise, it’s probably better to opt for the MagicBand itself.
Read more: TURN YOUR PHONE INTO A MAGICBAND
Tips on Using Your MagicBand
Regardless of whether you’re getting a traditional MagicBand or investing in MagicBand+, here are some helpful tips for using your MagicBand in the Disney theme parks:
- When using a MagicBand, make sure that the Mickey head is lined up with the Mickey at the device touchpoint stations around the parks. This will ensure that your band is scanned correctly each and every time you enter the park or your Lighting Lane entry
- Keep in mind that you don’t have to wear it. Many people opt to clip it onto their purse or backpack instead of wearing it. Just make sure that, if you do this, your MagicBand is easily accessible when you need it.
- Leave them in your carry-on. Since your MagicBand can work as your room key to your resort, you’ll want to have these handy. They’ll be much easier to dig out of your carry-on than they will be your actual luggage.
- Link your credit card before you arrive. Anything you can do to lessen the tasks you need to complete while you’re on vacation, the better.
- Go to Disney often? Reuse them. MagicBands are good for a few years, so if you plan on coming back in a few months or the next year, save money by just linking up your previous MagicBand.
A Warning on MagicBands
I just learned this recently, so I want to share it with any other couples who are Disney fanatics like me, but also in the process of trying to have a family. According to both Disney’s website and ShopDisney, MagicBands may expose wearers to different chemicals, including Bisphenol A (BPA). BPA, as indicated in the state of California, is known to cause both reproductive harm and birth defects.
Truthfully, I was kind of shocked when I learned this, only because I didn’t really have that much information on MagicBands outside of how they worked. Granted, BPA is in a ton of stuff, including plastic containers, toys, and eyeglasses. However, I just wanted to put this information out there because I don’t think Disney has been super forthcoming about this. Before last year, I never really saw it on their website as easily as you can now.
So…Are MagicBands Worth It?
The conclusion is…no, not really. Unless you’re planning on utilizing Lightning Lane for the majority of your trip, there are now too many alternatives to MagicBands for everything you do around the park. Even with mobile ordering, you can just have everything on your phone.
MagicBand+ may be cute the first time you wear it, but after one use, seeing the band light up at the same time as the fireworks isn’t really a big deal. After all, chances are you’re not going to be spending the entire show looking at your MagicBand+ – no, you’re going to be enjoying the show (as you should!)
MagicBands were once a really excellent feature that I adored. But, I haven’t used a MagicBand in two years and honestly haven’t missed it. Of course, the decision to use a MagicBand is personal so if you prefer to wear one, do it. This is your vacation and you should enjoy it in anyway you want to! But, if you’re looking for ways to stay within budget, nix the MagicBands. Trust me, you can definitely have a lovely Disney World vacation without them.
As a self-proclaimed Mouseketeer, Courtney Dercqu is a fan of all things Disney. Between decorating her desk with souvenirs from the park, to making unique mouse ears and having a dedicated Disney Instagram, Courtney is a true believer in the magic of a Walt Disney World vacation. Having had more than 200 articles published on various content, Courtney’s excited to share her knowledge and experience with everyone! Be sure to follow her on Instagram for all the Disney magic.