Technology often gets a bad reputation as a distraction. Whether it be at dinner with friends or while driving, technology often has strong emotional and safety impedances. However, it also has the power to enhance experiences.
The last place I’d expect apps, smartphones, and wearables to be beneficial is during vacation. However, the “Imagineers” at Disney have created an undeniably impressive software and hardware innovation. The MagicBand wearable and My Disney Experience app truly wowed me on my latest vacation to Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida.
The technological engagement begins before you even get on the plane. Both a web app and a mobile app for iOS and Android, My Disney Experience is the host for all things Disney. Everything from making dining reservations to making custom theme park maps tailored to your specific interests can be done through this powerful software. During your vacation you can quickly view wait times for attractions, maps, shows, character greetings, etc. All of the selections you make flow into a central itinerary in a supremely organized fashion.
The choices you make are then synced with your MagicBand, received a couple of weeks prior to your departure (for guests who booked their package entirely through an official Disney medium). Allowing you to customize the color of the band as well as inscribing your name on the inside, the wearable becomes personal. The band utilizes RFID technology and this is where Disney puts the “magic” in the MagicBand. Synced with the My Disney Experience software, guests touch the band to receivers to enter theme parks, get access to rides, pay for merchandise and food, store photos taken by park photographers, and even enter the hotel room!
We discovered just how deep this hardware/software integration is when my girlfriend and I had lunch at Be Our Guest restaurant, one of the newer dining options at the Magic Kingdom. Here guests order their food upon entering the restaurant and then take a seat anywhere in the beautifully themed dining room. Using the location transmitters in the band and iPod Touch devices, waiters bring the food directly to wherever you chose to sit!
This technology experience is personalized, convenient, easy to use, and simply just plain cool making it a memorable, fun, and integral part of a Disney vacation. However, that is just from a front end perspective. Disney is gaining immense and invaluable data from its visitors that can be used for an infinite number of improvements to the overall experience.
This is clearly just the beginning and Disney has plans to continually expand the capabilities of the software and hardware. Not only are we excited about the future of Disney, but we are also anxious to see how others study this business case to innovate in their own hotels, theme parks, enterprises, and beyond!