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

March 30, 2021
4 min read
Magic Bands not required: Disney World introduces new technology to enter the parks
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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.

(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.

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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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Best for the well-traveled foodie
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
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  • Welcome bonus of 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first six months

Cons

  • Weak on travel outside of flights and everyday spending bonus categories
  • Not as useful for those living outside the U.S.
  • Some may have trouble using Uber/food credits
  • Few travel perks and protections
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • $120 Uber Cash on Gold: Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.
  • $120 Dining Credit: Satisfy your cravings and earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the American Express® Gold Card at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar and select Shake Shack locations. Enrollment required.
  • Choose the color that suits your style. Gold or Rose Gold.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Apply for American Express® Gold Card
at American Express's secure site
Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees
Best for the well-traveled foodie
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

4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.
4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
3XEarn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.

    60,000 bonus points
  • Annual Fee

    $250
  • 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

There's a lot to love about the Amex Gold card. It's been a fan favorite during the pandemic because of its fantastic rewards rate on restaurants (that includes takeout and delivery in the U.S.!) and U.S. supermarkets. If you're hitting the skies soon, you'll also earn bonus points on travel. Paired with up to $120 in Uber Cash (for U.S. Uber rides or Uber Eats orders) and up to $120 in annual dining statement credits at eligible partners, there's no reason that the foodie shouldn't add this card to their wallet. Enrollment required.

Pros

  • 4x on dining at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets (on the first $25,000 in purchases per calendar year; then 1x)
  • 3x on flights booked directly with the airline or with Amex Travel
  • Welcome bonus of 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first six months

Cons

  • Weak on travel outside of flights and everyday spending bonus categories
  • Not as useful for those living outside the U.S.
  • Some may have trouble using Uber/food credits
  • Few travel perks and protections
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • $120 Uber Cash on Gold: Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.
  • $120 Dining Credit: Satisfy your cravings and earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the American Express® Gold Card at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar and select Shake Shack locations. Enrollment required.
  • Choose the color that suits your style. Gold or Rose Gold.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees