What does Disney World mean to you?
Do you think of Mickey Mouse, Magic Kingdom, throwing up after Space Mountain, and Radio Frequency technology wrapped into wearable devices that improve throughput time, capacity and amusement park data capture? Yeah, me too.
In 2014, Walt Disney World rolled out its $1bn MyMagic+ program, defined by wristbands guests scan on Mickey Mouse-shaped sensors to enter the park, board rides, buy food and more – eliminating the need for paper tickets and even wallets. The bands hook up to a smartphone app and are detectable by scanners throughout the park, resorts and restaurants.  
The goal of the Magic Bands was to increase the efficiency of a visit and collect live data— all while being sure not to compromise the magical feeling of Disney World!
The value proposition of a Disney theme park is fairly straightforward—provide visitors with rides, attractions and food; send strangers in costume to hug their children; and, generally be the Happiest Place on Earth.
At the time MyMagic+ was designed, Disney World was 25,000 acres large, had 140 attractions, 300 restaurants, 36 resorts and a monorail that carried 150,000 people across 15 miles, a day. The Parks & Resorts segment was not only a large contributor to the parent company’s income, but it was also one of the more stable divisions, especially relative to the hit-or-miss studio and TV segments. 
The delivery of this value proposition however – ie the operating model – was becoming more difficult. As lines to enter the park, board rides and buy food got longer, customers were getting more disgruntled and tired. Metrics and surveys showed a significant decrease in visitors’ “intent to return.” Executives worried that modern technology, social media and smartphones would make the parks seem antiquated to newer generations. 
MyMagic+ aimed to solve these problems— and though it took a large capital investment, and the pain of re-doing park technology while continuing to operate, the program appears to have succeeded.
Improving the Operating Model
Better Process Flow
Given the simplicity of just scanning one’s Magic Band, the cycle time and variability of lines has decreased, hopefully mitigating guest unhappiness. Early tests showed park entry time shortened by 25%. 
Similarly, MyMagic+ removed entire steps from the dining process. A family going out to dinner at a Disney resort, no longer waits to be seated, waits to order or waits for their customized food to be prepared. They simply order in advance on an app, enter the restaurant, and find a table. Sensors in the restaurant identify the family and their order—their food is delivered shortly! 
Data: Park to Customer
As sensors around Walt Disney World track tourist locations and feed data to the Park app, visitors can identify longer vs. shorter lines and decide what to queue for. 
Data: Customer to Park
Also using the location-tracking, Disney is able to identify busy locations and optimize where it sends employees and delivers more food. 
Making Magic: When the Operating Model adds to the Business Model
The Magic Bands first offer a fun way to customize your experience at the park – visitors choose amongst different Disney themes and colors, ranging from $6-35. 
Moreover, kids can enter on the app whom they want to meet— meaning Mickey can find and surprise them, and even greet the kid by his/her name!
Finally, Disney can make a whole family feel surprised and special—they create “Story Engine” videos of all the photos taken of your family, and if they notice your bands languished in line longer than average, the Park staff can give you a discount or FastPass to apologize. 
The most obvious gripe customers might have is privacy, given Big Brother Mickey is watching everywhere they go. Additionally, operationally, Magic Bands speed up queues but the park could potentially get more crowded with the faster entry rate. This issue is not detrimental, provided the staff and infrastructure is ready to deal with heavy peak traffic.
What’s Next for the Happiest Place on Earth?
The Magic Bands could be integrated with social media to post official end-of-ride photos associated with your ID. They could serve as an easy way for families to communicate amongst themselves—helping parents with young kids and international groups with no cell service. Visitors can use the app to upload real-time feedback and feel involved in their own experiences. The Park could use visitors’ preferences to offer more customized suggestions for attractions, as well as discounts to encourage them to go certain places if they need to distribute park crowds.
Finally, Magic Bands could serve as vacation FitBits – if your Buzz Lightyear-decorated RF plastic band makes you feel healthier, you’re definitely more likely to buy that extra side of fries!
Brooks Barnes . 2014. A Billion-Dollar Bracelet Is the Key to a Disney Park. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/02/business/billion-dollar-bracelet-is-key-to-magical-kingdom.html?_r=0. [Accessed 17 November 2016].
Walt Disney World My Disney Experience. 2016. My Disney Experience – Frequently Asked Questions. [ONLINE] Available at: https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/faq/my-disney-experience/frequency-technology/. [Accessed 17 November 2016].
Austin Carr. 2015. The Messy Business of Reinventing Happiness. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.fastcompany.com/3044283/the-messy-business-of-reinventing-happiness. [Accessed 17 November 2016].
 Barnes, 2014
Cliff Kuang. 2015. Disney’s $1 Billion Bet On A Magical Wristband. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.wired.com/2015/03/disney-magicband/. [Accessed 17 November 2016].
 Carr, 2015
Walt Disney World Disney Store. 2016. MagicBand Learn More. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.disneystore.com/disneystore/product/category?offset=&priceRangeLower=&priceRangeUpper=&sortKey=sortProductsPriceLowToHigh&productDims=1024701. [Accessed 17 November 2016].
 Carr, 2015