“Though Disney World has had support for MagicBand for years, the MagicBand+ is the first to be supported at Disneyland Resort. For frequent visitors, the convenience could be worth the price.”
- Lightweight, waterproof material
- Plenty of designs
- Rechargeable battery lasts 1 to 3 days
- Interactive elements in the park
- Incredibly convenient for frequent visitors
- Design isn’t very secure
- Some features feel gimmicky
- Proprietary charger
- Not all functionality available yet at Disneyland Resort
If you have gone to Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, then you may already be familiar with Disney’s proprietary wearable — the MagicBand. It’s basically a waterproof wristband that contains a small radio frequency (RF) chip inside (the same tech used in video game controllers and even your keyless car fob). The MagicBand is used to gain entry to the Disney World park itself or even your hotel room, access Lightning Lane reservations, charge for purchases with a linked credit card, add PhotoPass pictures to your account, and more.
For a long time, only Disney World made use of MagicBands, which included the original MagicBand and MagicBand 2. But MagicBand+ was launched this year, and it has finally come to Walt Disney’s original theme park in Anaheim, California: Disneyland and Disney California Adventure, as well as Florida’s Walt Disney World (Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Animal Kingdom, and Hollywood Studios).
I have an annual pass for Disneyland myself (surprisingly, I’ve yet to go to Walt Disney World), and I am at the park frequently — several times a month, or even a week, depending on my schedule. I was always envious of Disney World visitors having MagicBands, because, to me, they seemed so convenient to use. As of October 26, 2022, Disneyland finally started using MagicBand+ in its parks (it was available in Disney World in July 2022). Is it worth the cost and easier to use than your smartphone? Let’s dive in.
The MagicBand+, at first glance, makes me think of a slap bracelet. It’s made with a lightweight plastic material that is also waterproof, so you can even wear it in the pool. Or if you are going to go on Splash Mountain before it gets rethemed to Princess and the Frog, fret not! The MagicBand+ will survive any splashes on water rides.
The band design is a bit interesting, though. At the very top, on the underside, are two little nibs that you can press through the holes on the other end of the band — similar to how an Apple Watch Sport Band works. However, there is no loop or anything that helps keep the band secure, unfortunately, so the MagicBand+ may fall off if it’s not properly secured. The point of it having two nibs to push into the holes is to help keep it fastened on your wrist. But there are some third-party parts on Amazon or Etsy that are designed to help secure your MagicBand+ strap, so that is an option if need be — they’re relatively affordable at a few dollars or so.
By default, the MagicBand+ comes in adult sizes. But if you’re getting one for a child, the band has a perforation, allowing you to get rid of the extraneous strap and make it fit a child’s smaller wrist. Be careful, though — this extra part cannot be reattached once removed.
There are a ton of different colors and designs for the MagicBand+, with some designs and patterns sold exclusively at Disney parks, or even online at shopDisney. The prices also differ based on design. Solid colors are the cheapest at $35, most designs and patterns are $45, and “limited edition” or designer ones can be $55 or higher.
For my first MagicBand+, I chose the Disneyland Fireworks design. It features a pink and blue Sleeping Beauty Castle with the Disneyland logo on the top part of the strap and fireworks on the bottom, with the famous Walt Disney quote, “To all who come to this happy place: welcome.” In the center of the MagicBand+ is the puck, which on mine, features a golden-brown background color with stars and the Disneyland “D” logo emblazoned in the center. Around the edges of the MagicBand+ puck are color-changing lights, which indicate various statuses (such as charging) and interactions all over the park.
On the underside of the MagicBand+ puck is the proprietary charging mechanism that is brand new with the MagicBand+ only. Previous iterations of the MagicBand did not have fancy lights and other interactive elements to it, so it didn’t need a rechargeable battery — the one it came with could last a few years, but was single-use only. You will also find four small screws that keep the puck nestled in the band. You could choose to unscrew those and remove the puck to place into a holder of some kind, like a necklace or something that attaches to your Apple Watch strap, eliminating the need for two wearables on your wrist. Plenty of such accessories can be found on Etsy.
When I first took my MagicBand+ out of the box, I thought it felt cheap because it was so lightweight. But that’s a good thing, because I tend to forget that I have it on while I’m running around the parks. However, since I’ve heard from other parkgoers that they already lost theirs, I always make sure that both nibs are fastened into the holes and haven’t had any issues so far. Again, there are accessories out there that help secure and fasten the MagicBand+ if you are worried.
It’s definitely not as easy as an Apple Watch to put on, but I’ve grown accustomed to it with how frequently I go to Disneyland.
Setting up the MagicBand+ was a little confusing. You have to push the power button on the underside of the puck to turn it on, and then tap it to your phone to initiate setup, which is done in the Disneyland app (My Disney Experience for Walt Disney World fans).
There are a couple of ways to pair the MagicBand+ to your iPhone or Android device with the Disneyland or My Disney Experience app: tapping it to the back of your smartphone, using the camera, or entering it manually. Then it’s pretty much just a matter of following the on-screen instructions.
For my first MagicBand+, I did need to install a day one update after I set it up and assigned my pass to it (only one ticket or pass can be assigned to each MagicBand+). This takes several minutes, but it’s pretty straightforward. You’ll want to check every now and then for updates, which I assume keep it optimized and up to date whenever new features are added to the park.
Once everything’s good to go, you can customize your MagicBand+ settings, including the light, brightness, vibration, and more. You can also pick the color theme for the lights that you like, and it appears certain designs have their own special themes. For example, my Disneyland Fireworks band has the “Castle Fireworks” theme. But there’s a Darth Vader MagicBand+ that has a unique “Darth Vader” light theme, though it doesn’t look much different than the standard red set.
I first bought my MagicBand+ during the Disneyland early access sale, which started on October 19, 2022, for Magic Key holders and cast members, as well as Disney Vacation Club and Club 33 members. When I set mine up, the battery appeared to be fully charged, though I had heard others say that it was either half charged or not charged at all upon arrival. Mileage may vary here.
A proprietary USB charger is in the box, and about two hours on the charger nets you a full charge. With average use, a fully charged MagicBand+ should last between one to three days. Disney recommends overnight charging for optimal use.
Of course, it’s the interactive elements of the MagicBand+ that will involve the most battery drain. At Disneyland, there is an interactive mini-game in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge (aka Batuu West, but it’s also available in the East) that involves tracking “bounties.” You will also need the Play Disney Parks app on your phone for Star Wars: Batuu Bounty Hunters, but it’s a simple little game that’s like a scavenger hunt. Once you get the bounties and start looking for the targets, the MagicBand+ will flash green as you get closer, or red when you’re moving farther away.
However, the LED lights can be a bit hard to see in direct sunlight, which this game heavily relies on, and playing will drain the battery significantly, according to others who have played the mini-game. The other interactive element of the MagicBand+ right now is lighting up during the nighttime spectaculars, including Fantasmic! at Disneyland and World of Color at Disney California Adventure. It should also light up with the fireworks shows. I personally haven’t had the chance yet to stay for the nighttime spectaculars to see how the MagicBand+ interacts (ah, the joys of parenthood), but I’m sure that it’s quite a sight to see everyone’s wrist light up.
Just keep in mind that while the interactive elements are cool and add an extra layer to the functionality, they will drain the battery faster. You can always bring the charger and plug it into your battery pack if you want to keep taking advantage of the interactive aspects.
An important thing to note, however, is that even if the battery is fully drained, you can still use the MagicBand+ for things like park entry, Lightning Lane, and PhotoPass. It’s the interactive parts, lights, and sounds that won’t work if the battery is depleted.
As a very frequent visitor of Disneyland and Disney California Adventure, my primary reason for getting a MagicBand+ was mostly to see if it would make my park trips any easier. The answer to that is both yes and no — at least right now in its current state.
Before Disneyland supported MagicBand+, I had to constantly have my phone out for everything: parking, getting through the gates, PhotoPass service (I love getting my pictures taken by their photographers), Lightning Lane, Apple Pay, mobile food ordering, mobile checkout at stores, and just checking wait times for attractions and showings for various entertainment. Yeah, that’s a lot of stuff!
So far, the MagicBand+ only does three of those things that I usually would need my iPhone 14 Pro for: admission at the gate, Lightning Lane, and PhotoPass. Again, as a frequent parkgoer, I don’t necessarily ever need to use the Lightning Lane services, so I don’t pay for that, even with my discount.
But for getting into the park and PhotoPass, I have found the MagicBand+ to be much more convenient. I’m still on my phone quite a bit throughout the park, as I’m constantly checking social media and taking pictures, but now I don’t need to stop what I’m doing to pull up my Magic Key screenshot or the Disneyland app — I’ll simply stick out my wrist and have someone tap it with their scanner, and be on my merry way. And if I wasn’t on my phone before, I’d often be fumbling around with getting my phone out, but that’s no longer a problem with the MagicBand+. It’s just way faster and more streamlined than having to pull out your phone.
That said, the MagicBand+ is not as functional at Disneyland as older MagicBands are at Disney World. You can’t use it for parking quite yet, nor is it ready for checking in to your hotel room or even paying for things. These functions are coming later, but for now, MagicBand+ features are still limited at Disneyland.
You can find MagicBand+ available for sale online at shopDisney.com, or all over the parks. Though you can find older MagicBands online at places like Amazon, it doesn’t seem like the MagicBand+ specifically, which is the only version supported at Disneyland, is available elsewhere.
There are many different colors and designs available for the MagicBand+. Solid colors are the cheapest at $35 a pop, and the various designs can be anywhere from $45 to $55, with the higher price tag usually for limited-edition designs. If you have a Disneyland Magic Key pass, you can get a slight discount depending on the tier.
For me, I think the MagicBand+ is convenient if you’re a pass holder at Disneyland. I’m enjoying the fact that I don’t need to pull my phone out to get into the park or take PhotoPass pictures anymore — and it just feels much more streamlined to do those things now. If you’re like me and tend to do a lot of PhotoPass photos, then I’d recommend it for that alone.
However, it is still a little disappointing that Disneyland’s MagicBand+ integration seems only half-baked still. As of this writing, it wasn’t working yet for parking, you can’t check into your hotel room with it, and there is no way to link a credit card to pay yet. There is definitely more functionality for a MagicBand+ over at Disney World parks, but hopefully, Disneyland gets more MagicBand+ integration sooner rather than later.
In the end, it’s about your preference for convenience. You can still do all of these things with your phone, and if you prefer that, more power to you! But I personally find the convenience of a MagicBand+, even if it’s still evolving right now at Disneyland, to be worth the cost. As someone who may go a few times a week, it helps me speed things along — and when you’re battling the crowds and masses of people at the park, that’s not something to be taken lightly.