Disney World's Reservation System Revealed, MagicBands Will Be Replaced By Phone App

If you're heading to Walt Disney World, things are about to get a bit more complicated than they've been in the past. The company has announced details of its new reservation system, which it has implemented in the era of COVID-19 in an effort to better control park attendance. Find out what you need to know about Disney World reservations below, and learn why this might be the beginning of the end for the park's MagicBands.

All Disney World guests, either those with tickets or annual passholders, will need to make reservations before they enter any of the resort's theme parks. Disney's website has all of the nitty gritty details, but here are some of the big ones:

  • You'll need a My Disney Experience account, as this is where your Walt Disney World Resort plans are stored and managed.
  • You'll also need a valid theme park ticket or Annual Pass that's linked to your My Disney Experience account.
  • If you have a Disney Resort hotel reservation, be sure to link it to your My Disney Experience account beforehand, as well.
  • Once you set all of that up, you'll be able to look at a calendar of available dates. Even multi-day ticket holders will be required to make reservations for every day of their trip – but take note: park hopping has been temporarily cancelled, so you can only visit one park per day. This new reservation system will give priority to folks staying at a resort over annual passholders and regular ticket holders.

    Meanwhile, MagicBands might be on the way out. Previously, if you booked a stay at a Walt Disney World resort, you'd get a MagicBand for free, which would have your credit card information attached and be used as payment for restaurants and merchandise, as a key for your room, as entry into the park, and for access into Fast Pass rides. They came out in 2013, and Disney spent a boatload of money to develop the technology to make them. But today, Disney announced that MagicBands will no longer be free to Walt Disney World resort guests starting on January 1, 2021.

    They aren't being removed entirely...yet. Guests can still purchase them at a discount if they're staying at a resort, and Disney will be "introducing even more colors and designs featuring favorite Disney characters in the future." But while the reader technology will still be in place throughout the parks, the features of the MagicBand will be integrated into the My Disney Experience app starting next year. It seems as if the company is encouraging folks to transition to using their phones more. It's worth noting that Disney never released MagicBands in Shanghai Disneyland, because they found that visitors to that park preferred to use their phones anyway. Maybe they're finding the same is true of Walt Disney World visitors?

    If all of this has been too overwhelming (it's a lot), theme park reporter Carlye Wisel has a good breakdown here:

    The Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom parks re-open on July 11, while EPCOT and Disney's Hollywood Studios will re-open on July 15, 2020.