Disney Unveils MagicBand+
Disney theme parks don’t often experience merchandising snafus, but we witnessed a huge, hilarious one last week.
Yes, Disney has unveiled MagicBand+…a few days after some of them went on sale at various theme park stores.
During a media day event this week, park officials revealed the next generation of MagicBands, the wearables that weren’t sure to last.
Recently, Disney has emphasized smartphones by adding My Disney Experience features like MagicMobile and keyless room entry.
These abilities had previously been exclusive to MagicBands, a billion-dollar technology that Disney developed right around the time smartphones became ubiquitous.
While wearables have somewhat diminished in popularity, park officials doubled down on the concept last year. They announced a new version of MagicBands.
At the time, Disney provided some details about what to expect. However, the highlight, at least for me, was the return of the Glow with the Show feature.
As a DVC member, you likely remember how Disney briefly sold merchandise that would light up in tandem with its nighttime entertainment.
The MagicBand+ will utilize the same technology, only via a wearable on your wrist.
Disney envisions park guests waving their arms in tandem and adding a new form of unified illumination to the proceedings.
Some invited guests got to try out the new functionality at the parks this week. Here’s a CNet video at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge:
One of the big selling points for this tech is the upcoming game, Star Wars: Batuu Bounty Hunters. That’s some of what you’re watching in the CNet clip.
Your goal in this game is to track down bounties and other missions at Black Spire Outpost and then complete them for galactic credits.
Yes, that’s the same stuff you’ve been getting for Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run.
About the Presales
However, there’s a hilarious secondary aspect to this story. Disney accidentally sold some MagicBand+ units several days before the event.
Seriously, you can go on eBay right now and find one, albeit at a huge markup.
Disney has confirmed that the new version of MagicBands will go on sale in June. So, you shouldn’t buy one of those, but it’s a hysterical snafu.
Disney pulled these items from shelves and refunded guests because, well, the new tech doesn’t work yet:
Disney says a limited number of MagicBand+ bands were sold earlier today. They removed the bands from the store and are offering refunds.
MB+ features/in-park experiences are not live and are planned to launch later this year. Details (and a launch date) will be revealed later. pic.twitter.com/KlzdU7ASyK
— Scott Gustin (@ScottGustin) May 1, 2022
That hasn’t stopped current owners from testing out the functionality at the parks. Here’s a video of the official usage at the media event:
Reports suggest that the new technology is lighter, which is a plus. However, you’ll need to recharge it via USB. It comes with a tiny charging station for this purpose.
Finally, here’s a clip of the MagicBand+ interacting with various Fab50 statues throughout Walt Disney World:
One rule will continue for MagicBand+ from the prior system. Annual passholders and official Disney resort guests (like DVC users!) will receive a discount on MagicBand+.
Technically, Disney hasn’t released prices for the new MagicBand+ tech yet, but they just sold for $29.99. So, I’m boldly predicting that’s the price.
A Quick Fantasmic Update
During the media event, park officials also tipped guests to details about upcoming changes.
We just learned that Pocahontas won’t play the same role in Fantasmic!, as Disney has removed her scenes from the show.
In their place, Fantasmic! will add “heroic moments” starring Aladdin, Elsa, Mulan, Moana, and Pocahontas instead. So, she’ll be there, just in a different way.
Disney has also promised technical enhancements for the show.
Unfortunately, we still don’t know when the nighttime presentation will return. I had high hopes it’d be back by now, but then Disney drained the moat again.
Until someone says otherwise, I’m still expecting a summer return, though. It wouldn’t make sense to delay this one until the fall.