Walt Disney World has revealed the release date and other details for MagicBand+, the next generation of interactive wearable technology. This covers everything announced: base pricing, launch date, and minigame info for Magic Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, and the other parks.
To quickly recap, Disney announced MagicBand+ about a year ago and subsequently revealed last fall that it’d be coming to both Walt Disney World and Disneyland. There have not been many updates since, especially for Disneyland Resort. However, earlier this summer Walt Disney World teased the minigames and reiterated that the wearable was still coming this summer to Florida.
In terms of basic info, MagicBand+ can do everything a MagicBand can do and more at Walt Disney World. For one, you can scan it to enter the parks or Lightning Lanes. Unlike those, when it’s activated, the MagicBand+ will light up in rainbow colors. Additionally, you can connecting your PhotoPass memories, unlock your Walt Disney World Resort hotel room door, and more.
The newest wearable also has great new features, including color-changing lights, haptic vibrations, and gesture recognition. It also pairs to your smartphone using the My Disney Experience app. There’s a lot you can do when MagicBand+ launches!
Speaking of which, MagicBand+ is launching July 27, 2022 at Walt Disney World. Upon debuting, it’ll offer a lineup of over 25 different designs.
Here’s everything else that Walt Disney World revealed today about MagicBand+, along with some other details we already know…
Disney Fab 50 Quest
As part of the Walt Disney World 50th Anniversary celebration, you can interact with the Disney Fab 50 Character Collection throughout all four theme parks with the “Disney Fab 50 Quest.” Help Tinker Bell bring the sculptures to life across all four Walt Disney World theme parks using virtual pixie dust from Tink.
Jodi Benson, the voice of Ariel in “The Little Mermaid,” recently embarked on the quest and caught up with a few familiar friends–Sebastian and Flounder–just a couple of characters you may meet as part of the scavenger hunt.
You can wave your hand to sprinkle virtual pixie dust at each Disney Fab 50 Character sculpture for different reactions! To unlock even more during your quest, use the Play Disney Parks app to collect the sculptures and enter the worlds of your favorite characters through an augmented reality feature.
Star Wars: Batuu Bounty Hunters
On Batuu, the bounty hunting business is booming. MagicBand+ is your guide to seeking numerous virtual bounties hidden across Black Spire Outpost with the Star Wars: Batuu Bounty Hunters experience. Vibrations and lights on MagicBand+ guide you down the right path.
When you find your Bounty, you can use the Play Disney Parks app’s augmented reality thermal viewer to reveal who’s hiding in the shadows. Local guild master Raga Bua will reward you with galactic credits. Do you have what it takes to join the guild?
MagicBand+ brings the magic of nighttime spectaculars closer than ever before during Disney Enchantment at Magic Kingdom and Harmonious at EPCOT! MagicBand+ complements the action in the sky, lighting up and vibrating in sync with fireworks, visual effects, and music. Your MagicBand+ will also engage as all four theme park icons transform into Beacons of Magic!
A select group of Cast Members were among the first to enjoy these experiences in advance of the official launch. Before you embark on these experiences, make sure your MagicBand+ is charged, up to date and paired to your device.
If you’re planning to get one or even collect some, don’t forget that Disney Resort hotel guests may purchase MagicBand+ online at special prices before their arrival. Annual Passholder discounts will also be available on MagicBand+.
All guests can buy MagicBand+ at select stores across Walt Disney World and online at shopDisney, starting at $34.99. (Interestingly, this is a higher starting price than the “leaked” shipment sold for back in May.)
At Walt Disney World, you’ll be able to purchase a MagicBand+ at the following locations:
- Magic Kingdom: Emporium
- EPCOT: Pin Traders – Camera Center
- Disney’s Hollywood Studios: Celebrity 5 & 10 and Tatooine Traders
- Disney’s Animal Kingdom: Discovery Trading Company
- Disney Springs: Disney’s Pin Traders
- Select merchandise locations at resorts
Although features and experiences across Disney Parks will vary, Disneyland Resort guests will be able to get in on the MagicBand+ fun later in 2022.
And as always, regular MagicBands will continue to work throughout the parks, and Disney will be releasing new designs and styles of the legacy MagicBands. If you’re not interested in interactivity or light-up wearables, that’s fine. Regular ‘ole MagicBands aren’t going anywhere anytime soon!
Beyond today’s announcement, there’s a lot we already know beyond that about the MagicBand Plus.
First, because an early shipment of the MagicBand+ was placed on shelves in Disney Springs at World of Disney and sold over two months ago. Those were quickly pulled from inventory after being sold for only a few hours. However, that did result in a couple dozen MagicBand+ being “out in the wild” for over two months at this point.
This summer, we had the chance to play-test the MagicBand+ and learned several things about it.
As covered above, the MagicBand+ must be charged for use. It comes with a charger and USB cord, which attaches to the underside of the Mickey head. It’s not totally clear how long each charge will last, but the preliminary recommendation we heard is that guests should charge it nightly. It’s not clear whether this is the default advice out of an ‘abundance of caution,’ or if the MagicBand+ is really that bad about holding a charge.
You also might need to charge it before use, which could present problems if you want to grab one off store shelves to play the minigames that day in the park. Yet another reason why it’s a good idea to pack a compact external battery charger!
Next, the MagicBand+ will interact with the 50th Anniversary statues around Walt Disney World. This was previously announced, but the company didn’t clarify how that would happen.
Now we know that when you wave at the statue while wearing a MagicBand+, the characters will talk to you (those with voices) or a message or other effect will play. We tested this out with the Mickey Mouse statue, and he had a few different greetings.
This will also be integrated with the Play Disney Parks app on your phone, so you can also “collect” interactions with the characters by finding them all in every park. The app component of this has been dubbed the “Disney Fab 50 Quest.” It’s a scavenger hunt throughout the four Walt Disney World theme parks using MagicBand+ to “help spread pixie dust and interact with the golden character sculptures.”
This was all pretty underwhelming, especially as compared to what other Disney theme parks (see commentary below) have done with interactive anniversary statues in the past. It doesn’t feel like the statues were originally designed in tandem with the MagicBand+ interactivity, but instead interactivity was added after the fact. Kids might enjoy this, but it didn’t do much for us.
The other minigame is Batuu Bounty Hunters in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
This one is much more interesting and engaging–you use your MagicBand+ to track down virtual bounties throughout the land, with hotter/colder interactive feedback from the band. Once you’ve located the bounty, you scan with the Play Disney Parks app to collect them to return to the guild master.
These bounties start out pretty easy to find, but get progressively more difficult as you continue to collect them. Imagineering indicated that this could be more of a long-form experience spread over multiple days if you wanted to move up the ranks.
We really liked this and found it to be an iterative improvement on the interactivity already in Batuu. It’s also nice that most of this game revolves around the MagicBand+ itself, rather than the app screen.
You can learn more about these interactive experiences in MagicBand+ Minigames: 50th Anniversary Quest & Star Wars Batuu Bounty Hunters.
Below are all of the different MagicBand designs that will be released with the initial rollout:
As you can see, there are solid colors, 50th Anniversary designs, fireworks, the Partners statue, princesses and bounty hunters, and a variety of family options.
Walt Disney World has indicated that this is just the first batch of designs, with more to debut in the future.
We also know that supply chain shortages have plagued the MagicBand Upgrade Program for Walt Disney World Resort Guests. Earlier this summer, Walt Disney World issued an official update about its MagicBand upgrade program that offers discounted pre-arrival for on-site resort hotel guests as well as Annual Passholders. In this, Disney warns of Limited MagicBand Upgrade Availability.
In a statement, Walt Disney World says the problems are “due to ongoing, industry-wide supply chain challenges, MagicBands may have limited availability or be unavailable in some styles. Our teams are working to improve our selection over the coming weeks and recommend Guests continue to check back to see if their preferred style is available.”
That was a couple of months ago, and things haven’t improved much since then. As of today (July 21, 2022), there are only 10 designs available via the pre-arrival MagicBand upgrade program.
Even after the MagicBand+ does launch in Summer 2022, there’s no guarantee it’ll be easy to find unless the outstanding supply chain issues are resolved and the company is able to procure adequate inventory. It could be released on July 27, 2022, with the entire initial shipment selling out in two weeks, and then nothing again October or December 2022.
It’s also possible there’s sufficient inventory for store shelves, but not for shopDisney.com or the pre-arrival MagicBand upgrade option. We truly don’t know–and won’t know until after the official release. As such, we would strongly recommend ordering the MagicBand+ as soon as you see it if you really want the wearable.
In terms of commentary, the first thing that jumps to mind with MagicBand+ is Glow with the Show. You might recall those color-changing and “magical” Mickey Ear Hats that interacted with Fantasmic!, Wishes, Celebrate the Magic, and even the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights.
Glow with the Show was a colossal flop. Despite a colossal campaign to push the product, it never caught on with guests. The problem was that they were bulky, cumbersome, and–critically–the person spending the money on Glow with the Show ears could not benefit from how they interacted with shows and changed colors, since you cannot see the top of your own head.
The other thing this reminds us of is the interactive statues that Tokyo Disney Resort has done for pretty much every anniversary in the last decade.
With those, you’ve purchased a wand or lanyard, and those unlock a light and musical feature on the statue itself. I’m guessing this won’t be quite so elaborate since the statues appear pretty static, but it should still be cool. Moreover, it’s a window into the type of interactivity that could be possible in the future.
As someone who is absolutely obsessed with colorful lights and interactive objects, I love the idea of the MagicBand+ and will end up buying one when they’re released. I’ve passed up a lot of MagicBands recently with designs I’ve liked because wearing one has felt a bit like ‘dead weight’ (especially with an Apple Watch on the other wrist).
I know there are ardent MagicBand fans out there, but I cannot be alone in this sentiment. When the device was released back in 2013, wearable technology wasn’t really a thing. In the years since, all sorts of smart watches and other devices have been released, raising the technical bar every single year.
Ultimately, we’re really looking forward to seeing how the MagicBand+ performs in the parks, playing the minigames in full, and seeing what the wearable adds to nighttime spectaculars, and how the technology evolves over time.
We’re hoping that this revitalizes and modernizes the MagicBand, giving it a bit more kinetic energy. Once we have the chance to buy (hopefully they’re not too hard to find) and fully test the new MagicBand Plus, we’ll report back with a full report and review. Stay tuned!
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What do you think of the MagicBand Plus? Will you be purchasing these new interactive wearables when they go on sale at Walt Disney World on July 27, 2022? Will you hold off on purchasing current gen MagicBands now that an overhaul/upgrade is on the horizon, or do you not really care about the interactivity? Do you agree or disagree with our assessment? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback–even when you disagree with us–is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!