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Magic Bands not required: Disney World introduces new technology to enter the parks

March 30, 2021
4 min read
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In 2013, Disney World introduced wearable Magic Bands as a fun, colorful way for guests to experience a vacation that was free of managing room key cards, park tickets and constantly digging around for cash.

Instead, you could use the Magic Band on your wrist to tap into your Disney resort hotel room, pay for purchases, enter the park and more.

But, times change. While Magic Bands are still available at Disney World, they are no longer included for free with the cost of a resort stay. Increasingly, they aren't even needed as your phone or Apple Watch can now do many of those same functions -- and more -- without having to wear a just-for-Disney wrist accessory.

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(Photo by Melissa Ann Photography / The Points Guy)

Today, technology at Disney World took a big leap forward as Disney launched MagicMobile for Apple devices.

This means you can use your Disney tickets to enter the theme parks and more courtesy of the tech built directly into your phone or watch, which means one less thing to keep up with when you're on vacation with Mickey.

Related: Disney tests face-recognition as a way to enter the parks

Set up Disney MagicMobile Pass

First things first: If you didn't already bring a back-up phone charger on trips to Disney World, it's time to add that to your packing list.

The My Disney Experience app is officially a must-have as it's not only where you set up your MagicMobile tickets, but it's also how you order food, make dining reservations, unlock your hotel door, access the virtual queue for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, check wait times, view your plans and Park Pass reservations and more.

You can no longer really maximize a day at Disney World without your smartphone, so having a portable power bank (or two) is now crucial.

When it comes to setting up the Disney MagicMobile pass, head to the My Disney Experience app on your Apple device and select the Disney MagicMobile Pass.

Related: Guide to visiting Disney World

From there, you can select which members of your Disney friends and family lineup you'd like to include in your MagicMobile account and customize the look of each MagicMobile pass with different designs.

Parents who need to manage passes for multiple family members who don't all have a smart device can easily do that from one account.

When it comes time to enter the parks, you will hold your phone or watch near an access point, just like you would a MagicBand. You don't even have to unlock your device or open the Disney app to use the MagicMobile pass when it's in express mode, which seems pretty exciting for its ease of use.

However, if you're managing multiple passes for friends and family, you'll need to double click or hold your fingers on the home button to open Apple Wallet, then swipe the passes to use them.

Related: What to expect at Disney World in 2021

(Screenshot courtesy of Disney)

Bottom line

Disney World is always changing, and this year is no exception. You need a park pass reservation to enter the parks, Magic Bands are no longer free, the Disney Magical Express Bus will end after this year, Extra Magic Hours and FastPass+ are not available and now ... your iPhone or Apple Watch can act as your ticket thanks to the magic of the new MagicMobile Pass.

Featured image by (Photo courtesy of Disney Parks)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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  • For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
  • 80,000 Points are redeemable for $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
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TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
1XEarn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Intro Offer
    For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

    Earn 80,000 ThankYou® points
    60,000 points
  • Annual Fee

    $95
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent, Good

Why We Chose It

The Citi Premier’s 3 points per dollar spent across a wide range of popular categories is one of the more lucrative offerings in the world of points and miles. The Citi Premier comes with a $95 annual fee and is currently offering a solid sign up bonus of 80,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months. It also has some valuable transfer partners to make the most of your rewards. Add in access to Citi Entertainment plus a $100 hotel credit for any single-stay hotel booking that exceeds $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through the Citi travel website, there are few reasons why the Citi Premier should not be in every traveler’s wallet.

Pros

  • Earns 3x points on restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, air travel and hotels.
  • $100 annual hotel savings benefit (on single hotel stay bookings of $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through thankyou.com)
  • Points transfer to 16 airline programs, from JetBlue to Virgin Atlantic.
  • World Elite Mastercard benefits, extended warranty, damage and theft protection.

Cons

  • $95 annual fee
  • Lacks travel protections that other travel rewards cards come with
  • For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
  • 80,000 Points are redeemable for $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
  • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases