I’ve been a pretty big supporter of Magic Bands. In fact, it’s not overkill to say that I love Magic Bands. They’ve totally changed the way I tour–and for the better, as far as I am concerned. I wouldn’t want to go back to paper FastPasses. Absolutely not.
But during a recent visit to WDW in October, I experienced my first truly INCONVENIENT, ANGER-INDUCING experience with Magic Bands. And it happened before I even stepped a single foot on Disney property.
Instead, it was in the airport, where Cast Members were scanning Magic Bands to confirm that everyone had reservations to get on the bus.
Now, I had reservations. I’d double checked them on the phone two days prior. But my Band didn’t know about my bus reservation. So, although the CM had a computer and could have used it to look up my reservation, she sent me over to the reservations desk. Because … um … they were told that EVERYONE had to use their Bands to get on the bus.
I almost “get” this. Really. Disney’s trying to train guests to rely on their Bands. It’s smart. For most guests. But I pulled three Bands out of my bag, I knew the deal. I wasn’t just “any guest.” But this CM wasn’t empowered to make exceptions.
So I went to the desk. Where they put me in a line for people with Magic Band problems. There was a second line for people who just didn’t have reservations. For some reason, the CMs were exclusively helping the people in the reservations line, letting those of us in the Band line wait. THAT was pretty frustrating. After about 8 minutes, I asked to speak to a manager.
The manager (who’d previously been standing by, watching this clown show unfold) quickly helped me. And (sort of) apologized for the wait. And for the confusion with my Band. It took about two seconds to fix. With that worked out, things were smooth sailing.
And, once I escaped the hellscape that is the DME reservations desk, I was really impressed. Because there are actually THREE Magic Band touchpoints at DME: One near the desk to check your reservation; one at the podiums to confirm which bus you’re on; and one more right before you head outside to confirm your party. And at each point, the Cast Members were encouraging different family members to try the touch point. (“Oh, DS, you scanned yours before? Why don’t you let Mom try now?”)
This is genius! It gives infrequent guests a chance to use the Magic Band in a low-stress environment, and it gives Disney a chance to make sure the Bands are all properly linked up. And as I watched families excitedly strap on their Bands and try to use the touch points, I grew more and more impressed. And my frustration melted away. And then there were cartoons on TV and a cute baby who wanted to play peek-a-boo … and before I knew it, we were at Disney World. Ahhh …
Have you ever had a nightmare experience in Orlando International Airport? Tell us about it!!