Starting March 20th, if a guest purchases or renews a Walt Disney World Annual Pass they will receive an RFID Pass. These passes will allow guests to enter the parks via the Nex-Gen turnstiles. If you have an existing Annual Pass and would like to change it over to the new RFID system, you can go to the Odyssey Center in EPCOT between March 20, 2013 and May 19, 2013. All passes will have a green background and a stripe will be included on it to indicate whether or not it is entitled to free parking. If a pass has free parking it will have an orange stripe, if it doesn’t it will have a black stripe.
We’re just cross pollinating the internet with the full text of Iger’s letter to congress retorting the privacy issues with MyMagic+ and the MagicBand. The most notable take-aways are that guests will have a card option that wont transmit long range like the bands, that the bands aren’t GPS enabled in any fashion, and that guests using FastPass in the future will have to provide at least their name and email address.
As part of the The Congressional Privacy Caucus, Representative Markey (D- Mass.) has sent a letter to Bob Iger, CEO of the Disney corporation to ask several pointed questions about privacy concerns relating to the new MagicBand and MyMagic+ systems. Disney had intended to begin rolling out these systems in the coming months – rumors say as early as February for select resort locations – and was gaining publicity for the innovative data collection and park experience customization systems in the media, in particular the New York Times.
The New York Times articles is cited several times in the letter from Markey to Iger as a basis for the questions the caucus is asking. Technically the caucus is not a formal committee and has no subpoena power, but Disney is expected to respond with at least minimal answers to quell public worry over their systems.
The full letter, in PDF form, can be found here: http://markey.house.gov/sites/markey.house.gov/files/documents/Letter%20–%20Disney%20–%201-24-13.pdf
Snow Globes used to be one of the most popular vacation souvenirs at the Walt Disney World Resort. Then there was the TSA and the ban on liquids in carry-on luggage. This killed snow globe sales within Walt Disney World, though some guests do choose to either risk their snow globe being broken in checked luggage or have it shipped to their home at a somewhat costly markup.
Today, that changes!
TSA allows small snow globes in carry-on luggage when packed in a passenger’s plastic 3-1-1 bag: Snow globes that appear to contain less than 3.4 ounces (approximately tennis-ball size) will be permitted if the entire snow globe, including the base, is able to fit in the same one clear, plastic, quart-sized, re-sealable bag as a passenger’s other liquids.
Now it’s a matter or snow globe size. Those huge honking ones are not likely to be approved anytime soon, but this is a step in the right direction. No more snow globes in TSA trashcans at checkpoints and no more paying for shipping charges that often cost just as much as the snow globe itself.
We hear that Disney already clearing out shelf space on Main Street USA in preparation of the coming snow globe harvest over the holidays. And a side note – you can actually buy the snow globe of the castle pictured above from Amazon.
The Walt Disney World resort recently debuted their new castle project show at the Magic Kingdom park called “Celebrate the Magic.” We managed to snag some footage of highlights from the show along with a quick interview with show director Katy Harris.
As Katy explains, Celebrate the Magic is based on the concept of Walt Disney’s paintbrush coming alive to share classic Disney stories with the audience. She also touches on some of the challenges in making the show work on such a complex surface. in addition to the classic films the show explores, newer films like Wreck It Ralph and Pirates of the Caribbean are also explored.
Over the course of the next month the Walt Disney World Resort will be installing “touch to pay” RFID readers at all of its merchandise and sales locations which accept the Disney Resort room key charge (except valet, laundry, and arcade locations in the resorts.)
Beginning in December a phased roll-out of the program will begin with select resorts having their guests create a pin-number at the time of check in. By the end of January all resorts are expected to be live on the program with touch-to-pay capabilities on all room key cards with charging privileges.
This is the first step in the RFID NextGen integration, which will be followed by conversion to the wristband system replacing room keys cards and ticket media in the coming months.
Mickey Mouse and a few of his best pals opened the gates of Magic Kingdom a little early to welcome dozens of Central Florida kids to be among the first to experience New Fantasyland.
Disney recently revealed their plans to have the Be Our Guest restaurant make extensive use of their new RFID systems for the lunch period.
Guests visiting the location for the quick-service lunch will be handed an RFID rose the size of a hockey puck. This rose will function as a group identifier for the guest’s order and track their party as they travel through the restaurant. Guests will frist take their rose to the ordering kiosk – tap the Mickey head of the rose to the Mickey head of the sales kiosk (lower left of photo) to identify themselves to the system.
Then they will use the touch screen to complete their full order if paying with credit, giftcard, or a Disney dining plan. They will then go to a self-service beverage area and then be seated in the dining hall with their rose-at-hand. The rose will identify to the servers who bring the food to the tables where the party has chosen to sit and thus the food will be delivered in a timely and seemingly magical manner to the proper location.
Guests choosing to pay with cash or vouchers will have the option of going through the same process with a pair of cash registers located in the same gallery as the rose-encoding kiosks. Also, with the way the system works, once RFID wristband ticket media is up and functioning the roses-pucks themselves will not be needed and guests can merely scan their wristband when placing their order instead of the rose-puck.
As charming as this is, Be Our Guest has already begun to run into some major issues during their few test dining periods. The building was designed and redesigned hastily during the construction process with the interior locations being reworked and the type of service the restaurant would offer – both full and quick service – changing more than once during the construction period. This had led to the kitchen being smaller than needed and the workers utterly frustrated with the situation. There’s no place to store hot prepared foods and everything else is choked by a lack of proper workspace. The 580-something seat location is strained because it has a kitchen equipped to serve far less than that.
For the time being, Disney having their staff work late into night “rehearsing” workarounds to the problems caused by the improperly designed facilities. Early test meals have been, at best, a small fiasco with food coming out wrong, taking forever, and not being properly prepared or even served with the right accompaniments. Thankfully this is what testing is designed for and hopefully something can be worked out – or rebuilt – lest the staff be forced to endure all night rehearsals of choreographing movement in the wonky space.
Walt Disney World has issued the following statement regarding the botched sign-up for New Fantasyland Annual Passholder previews at the Magic Kingdom:
Passholders, due to strong demand, we are working quickly to create additional New Fantasyland preview opportunities for you and will share more details by the middle of next week. Here is a note from Debbie Hart, the director of experience services here at Walt Disney World Resort.
We are aware that some of you had difficulty in trying to sign up for a New Fantasyland preview earlier this week and appreciate your candid feedback. We understand how precious your time is and sincerely apologize for any inconvenience you may have experienced.
The demand for New Fantasyland has exceeded even our expectations and we are working quickly to create additional preview opportunities. We expect to be able to provide more details by the middle of next week via email, as well as at www.disneyworld.com/passholder and on this page.
We value the special relationship we have with you as passholders and want to assure you that we are committed to making every experience you have with us the best it can possibly be.
Director, Guest Experience Services
We will post any details we receive as soon as possible, but be sure to follow us on Twitter and Facebook for breaking news. We were able to help several followers get into the original sign-ups by linking to the backdoor landing page of the registration process. Why? Because Disney’s website for passholders is ultra-ghetto.
New Fantasyland soft-opened this morning for lucky guests in the Magic Kingdom. These openings are expected to continue for the Voyage of the Little Mermaid attraction and Enchanted Tales with Belle until the previews for Imagineering, Cast Members, D23 and Annual Passholders occur.
Here’s the official word from Disney….
Guests may be invited into the Enchanted Forest within New Fantasyland at Magic Kingdom Park intermittently, giving our Cast the opportunity to have a full dress rehearsal of their locations. During the rehearsal, there may be times when it is necessary to suspend operation of a location or even the entire forest area so that we can make adjustments. We will also be hosting film crews in New Fantasyland over the next week as they capture footage for marketing purposes, so that will also limit availability of areas within the forest.
The following areas will be participating in dress rehearsals:
- Under the Sea ~ Journey of The Little Mermaid (FASTPASS will occasionally be made available from the distribution point at Mickey’s PhilharMagic)
- Ariel’s Grotto, where Guests can meet their favorite undersea princess
- Enchanted Tales with Belle, a unique storybook adventure where Guests can go back to the day Belle and Beast fell in love
- Gaston’s Tavern, an indoor stand featuring LeFou’s Brew, cinnamon rolls and roasted pork shank
- Gaston, the comic antagonist from Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast,” will soon be making appearances and greeting Guests in the Belle’s Village area of New Fantasyland at Magic Kingdom Park.
- Gaston will arrive in time for Guest previews of New Fantasyland, beginning Nov. 19.
- Gaston will appear intermittently each day. Cast Members may call the CHIP Hotline (8-273-CHIP) for up-to-the-minute character appearance times and locations.
- Bonjour! Village Gifts, selling home goods and apparel themed to “Beauty and the Beast”
Please note that the Be Our Guest Restaurant is not serving food to our day Guests at this time.
New Fantasyland officially opens to Guests Dec. 6, with a soft-opening Nov. 19