Are MagicBands Worth It?

Customizable and convenient, MagicBands aren't a necessary accessory but can enhance the experience for some guests.
Jennifer Calonia
By Jennifer Calonia 
Published
Edited by Giselle M. Cancio

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For some Disney enthusiasts, no level of convenience is too small to go unnoticed. Disney’s MagicBands can help make your park experience easier, but are they a “need to have” or a “nice to have” accessory?

Keep reading to decide whether MagicBands are worth it for you.

What is a MagicBand?

A MagicBand is a wearable device that Disney guests (or anyone else) can wear on their wrists like a watch.

The first version, which launched in 2013, included digital room access for Disney hotel guests and the ability to pay for merchandise and dining using the band.

The updated MagicBand+ that launched last year has a rechargeable battery and syncs to interactive experiences throughout both Walt Disney World and California's Disneyland Resort.

For example, through gesture detection technology it lets you interact with the Disney Fab 50, Disney World’s popular collection of gold statues throughout the parks.

Types of MagicBands

Over the past decade, new Disney MagicBand models have been released. Each version refines the original MagicBand in terms of design and usability.

  • MagicBand. The original MagicBand offers many of the core features of the later versions. The band width was thinner, but it was thicker in depth, and it didn’t have the Mickey icon that today’s bands have.

  • MagicBand 2. The notable change was the removable face plate, or “icon”; newer technology for faster scanning; and a more functional design. 

  • MagicBand+. Usable at all Disney resorts where MagicBand is supported. This is the latest iteration of the MagicBand, and its rechargeable via USB. It offers gesture sensors along with interactive vibration features during shows.

Cost of a MagicBand

MagicBand 2 and MagicBand+ are sold on shopdisney.com and can also be purchased in person at various locations throughout the parks. Prices start at $34.99; however, limited edition bands can go for as much as $64.99.

Occasionally the bands go on sale. When we last checked, for example, the limited edition “Thor: Love and Thunder” Walt Disney World MagicBand 2 was available for $26.98.

How MagicBands work and how to use them

Aside from adding extra flair to match your outfit, MagicBands can be useful when you have your hands full with a Dole Whip and bucket of popcorn.

Thanks to the MagicBand's chip technology, you can use it for tasks such as:

  • Opening your room door at Disney hotels.

  • Entering the parks.

  • Making purchases at Disney shops and restaurants.

  • Checking in at Lightning Lane entrances and virtual queues. 

Additionally, a MagicBand+ can enhance your experience at shows with haptic gestures, light displays and scavenger hunts.

MagicBand pros and cons

Weighing the pros and cons of this Disney wearable device can help you decide whether it's worth it for you.

Pros

  • Hands-free access to park and interactive features. A quick tap lets you enter Disney parks, unlock your Disney hotel room, make purchases at Disney properties and enjoy interactive haptic and visual light experiences during certain shows, like World of Color or Fantasmic.

  • Lets you connect to your Disney PhotoPass pictures. When you’re at a PhotoPass opportunity at the park, tap your band on the cast member’s receiver to link your photos to your PhotoPass account.

  • Can link multiple bands. You can connect your Disney account to multiple MagicBands if you’d like to wear different band styles for your visits.

  • Exclusive designs for Disney World annual pass holders and Magic Key holders. Personalize your MagicBand style with special or limited availability designs for yearly pass holders. Make sure to bring a valid photo ID and pass at checkout.

Cons

  • Not all MagicBands are usable at different parks. If you enjoy visiting different Disney resorts, check ahead to see whether your band can be used. For example, at Disneyland Resort, only the MagicBand+ is supported.

  • MagicBand+ batteries aren’t replaceable. Eventually, even rechargeable batteries die, and there’s no way to replace them if they do. Although you can still use the band for core features like park entrances or lines after your battery dies, you won’t be able to use the interactive features of your MagicBand at that point.

  • Personalization costs money. Personalization is one of the reasons MagicBands are a popular accessory at the parks. However, with each band retailing for $34.99 or more, collecting customized bands can get pricey fast.

  • It’s not entirely necessary. Although MagicBands can make your park experience a touch (or tap) easier and can provide some unique experiences, you can function just fine in the park without one. You can still enter the park by scanning a physical ticket or using your Disney app on a mobile phone, for example.

Are Disney MagicBands worth it?

If you stay at the Disney hotel often or visit the parks regularly — for example, if you’re a Magic Key or Annual Pass holder — a MagicBand might be worth it.

Families with young children also might find MagicBands convenient. A band can help parents and guardians avoid digging into pockets and bags to use a wallet or a phone while watching the kids.

However, especially if you rarely visit Disney resorts and are planning a one-off trip, a band certainly isn't required to have an enjoyable experience.

(Top photo courtesy of Disney)


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