Now Disney Can Track Your Every Move with NSA-Style Wristbands

Big Brother's got mouse ears

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Yoshikazu Tsuno / AFP / Getty Images

Families planning trips to one of Disney’s theme parks can now get waterproof rubber wristbands embedded with computer chips in lieu of paper tickets. When scanned, the bands can act as a park entry ticket, a FastPass, a hotel room key and a credit card. The “Magic Bands” — which are currently optional — are part of a new MyMagic+ “vacation management system” that can track guests as they move throughout the park.

Efficient? Perhaps. But post-Snowden, some worry that Magic Bands are nothing more than NSA-esque tracking devices. The MyMagic+ system is designed to track users’ purchasing habits, and if parents agree to certain settings, employees playing characters in the park can use hidden sensors to track children and their information; so Goofy can walk up to a child and say something like, “Hi Bobby. Happy birthday.” Pretty creepy. Plus, others worry that someone might be able to hack your band and thus access your hotel room and credit card.

Massachusetts Rep Ed Markey publicly criticized the bands after they were announced last year, saying that he worried that the new tickets invade the privacy of millions of children. Disney’s CEO, Bob Iger, responded by calling Markey’s statements “ludicrous” and “ill-informed.”

Disney fanatics, for their part, can’t wait to get their hands on the devices.

121 comments
CharlotteBirch
CharlotteBirch

I have no doubt that Disney supplies the fingerprints to the government in exchange for trade-offs -- for instance, cell phones mysteriously don't ring in WDW.  It's actually an ingenious ploy:  Where's the one place in the world visited by most people? And the fingerprints are collected voluntarily. What's frightening is how many people are willing to undergo the same process to enter an amusement park as they would to be socked into a Turkish prison -- and to put their innocent children's fingerprints on file in perpetuity.  Americans are so pathetic.....

CheyenneRose
CheyenneRose

I am excited about using the magic bands for my trip in May.I could care less if Disney wants to track me or not.Its not like I am doing anything I don't want them to see.Who cares if they know what rides I went on or where I had lunch.Any where you go now days has cameras they are watching you evan if they don't give you a magic band.If you pass out cold on the ground a least they will know who and where you are.I say who cares I have nothing to hide and could less.

mtoy024
mtoy024

Some of the information on here isn't even accurate! There is no option for characters to use children's name. Goofy doesn't event talk! If you can't see the person's face, they can't talk. Nice job fact checking!

MarkBroadworth
MarkBroadworth

The idea of a middle-aged pedophile dressed up as a mouse knowing the whereabouts and all personal information of my children is more than slightly disturbing to me...

teedo757
teedo757

I love the Magic Bands. I used them at Disney 2 months ago and enjoyed not needing to carry a keycard in my wallet, especially down to the pool. They work at all the stores and snack shops and were great to use since we had a meal plan. They appear to be RFID as you need to hold them directly to the receivers in order for them to operate....not that a more powerful receiver couldn't track you as you walk by certain areas of the parks. Overall it made my experience better and no creepy characters came up and said happy bday to me when I was there so I'm sure your safe. If you are worried about tracking then you better dump your smartphone and go off the grid.

hooverbagel
hooverbagel

Post NSA, everything is so much more scary!


How is this any more creepy than being watched on CCTV the entire time you're at Disney, or having your purchasing habits with a credit card being analyzed? Disney has always been creepy, but you'd expect that a company trying to sell you an experience would track your every move and try to figure you out.


This story has nothing to do with the NSA revelations, and your idiotic fear mongering and click-baiting actually takes attention away from what is actually scary about the NSA--dragnet surveillance of Americans who are going about their lives while NOT at a corporate controlled, walled citystate. 



JoshuaGlowzinski
JoshuaGlowzinski

What is with people having such a problem with the NSA thing?  haha I mean, it is not like they stop you from doing anything.  They do not care if a guy and lady go and buy two scooby doo outfits and then go to a sex shop.  They are interested in the guy buying a thousand pounds of C4.  Disney will use those bands to help improve your visit.  Imagine, they get the age and sex of one visitor.  They see what they like the most and visit the most.  Then, when someone of the same age, sex and likeness come to the park, they can give them a detailed list of the things they think they will like, based off of the information they get from a like visitor.  How is that a bad thing?  I mean, you don't think they have cameras at every single inch of that place, that can track you anyway?  Eagle Eye anyone?  I am 28 and no nothing about the government.  I do not watch the news or care about people smoking crack and doing whatever.  If I did, I guess I would have more of an opinion about the entire thing.  But coming form an average 28 year old guy, just relax.  It is not like you are required to use the thing.  It simple helps the company better YOUR time at the resort.  I would love to have one.  I have been wanting to take a trip to Disney since I watched the Christmas day parade.  haha

JaniceSmith
JaniceSmith

The magic bands do change how many Disney fans will approach using the parks.  For one thing you will not be able to get on as many rides as you did in the pre-magic bands days(unless there in a slow season).  The bands only allow 3 fast passes per day and at most parks, only one premium ride. It is an anti-park hopper system since you can only get the 3 fast passes for one park per day. Disney now has a reason to track the guests -- more time for guest to visit the monotonous shops.



I used to visit WDW a lot, but I may change my travel plans in the future.  Magic bands were okay but limiting on my last trip.

metalijojo
metalijojo

I think the fuss about being "tracked" at Disney is nothing but nonsense. You tell me, what is wrong with Disney trying to find out what makes their customers tick? Isn't that the cornerstone of any customer based industry? What's wrong with Disney using the technology to track crowds in the park and realloate staff and resourses to the busier areas? Isnt't that what a good resort should do for their customers to be happy and satisfied? If you don't like, stay home; this solves a few problems:

1) Those of us who aren't so paranoid don't have to listen to you

2) The fewer people in the parks, the shorter the lines

I would, however, be winning to bet that at least 85% of those who are paranoid about Walt's kin spying on them, have the GPS on their phones turned on right now...just saying!

solon.benjamin1959
solon.benjamin1959

" so Goofy can walk up to a child and say something like, “Hi Bobby. Happy birthday.” Pretty creepy.  "

Tell a little child it's creepy, or the parent that loves him, it's creepy. Many take their children to Disney World, as a lifelong remembrance of family fun. To a criminal or someone that fears life, I guess it's creepy... to a sane person, it's a wristband which adds more sparkle to a little child's eye while they visit Disney World

DonMcCoy
DonMcCoy

I've actually always felt like Disney is a little creepy with the enforced happiness of employees, etc. However, these bands are used IN the park. It helps keep kids from getting lost and molested and murdered. It will probably help them with marketing and future attraction design as well...to make more money, yes, but also to make your visit better. This is a tool. When you leave...throw it away if you're that paranoid. I just don't see the problem.

If you're worried about being tracked, and your movements being followed...you should be more worried about whatever Obama has cooking in the wings...I'm SURE he's looking for more ways to keep an eye on each of us. THATS the tracking that should scare us.

DavidFoose
DavidFoose

If you have a social security number, you are being tracked.  We are all tracked all the time.  There is a record somewhere of your every phone call and text.  There is a record of every website your computer visits.  


I don't particularly care for the Magic Band program, but for very different reasons than are outlined above.  


The writer of this article seems to know very little about Disney or the Magic Bands.  To invoke the NSA here is muckraking.  The things that pass for journalism these days...sheesh.

Aut
Aut

"to hack your band and thus access your hotel room and credit card." Well first they would need your custom 4 digit code to USE your credit card because Disney is requiring that (which you "accidentally" didnt mention) AND the credit card number itself isnt on the band. Then of course someone would have to STALK you back to your room because the number isnt on the band.. OH WAIT and let's not forget when you LOSE the band you can DEACTIVATE it in the MDE app... you seriously just wrote this to get a reaction instead of providing valid and researched fact didnt you....

Oinia
Oinia

Disney is storing PUBLIC information with customers' explicit permission.  Not everyone's PRIVATE data without our consent!

Which rides you go on is public knowledge (anyone can observe you going on rides), and is not equivalent to archiving private, secure internet activity.

There are laws in place regulating the storage and transfer of personally identifying information, all of which gets transmitted over the internet - bank accounts, SSN, passwords, etc.  ALL of which the NSA steals.  None of which Disney's RFID ever touches.

AaronBateman1
AaronBateman1

Yet I still have to print up paper flipping tickets for our DLand trip today... hate that place.

troyg318
troyg318

paranoid? then don't go to disneyland.

oblivion328
oblivion328

So what's the issue here? When you go to a Disney park, you're entering their property. What privacy do you think you're entitled to?

tmind
tmind

Anybody here read the Bible? This "mark" has already been foretold and it's only going to get more powerful because, as the proverbial frog not aware that he's being cooked, citizens of this world are buying into it all

hook, line, and sinker. 

magaman
magaman

The people slamming this technology are the same people who carry smartphones which can PINPOINT your exact location, but those are ok. Disney has been able to track your movements for a very long time, now instead of a card it's a neat band which really adds to the experience. And if they really wanted to know where you were what exactly would you be doing in Disney World that is so secretive? GET A GRIP, and please if you don't like it stay at home with your tin foil hats, this way the lines will be shorter for me.

ChristyMullinsWicklund
ChristyMullinsWicklund

I recently had the pleasure in using this Magic Band on my recent trip to WDW.  When I got back home, I wanted to use it for my everyday life!!!  it was so easy to use . . . and dare I say addictive?  You had to get right on top of the readers for the RFID to read anything, and you needed a pin number.  So the likeliness of someone stealing your information, was slim.  No more possible than the old way with the 'key to the kingdom' card.  Only anyone could use the old cards as no pin was needed to purchase.

bford
bford

Adults attending music festivals should know this is also in place and being used at Bonarroo and other large festivals. A few years ago I was in a roped off area at the soundman's mix tent  and given that I had been alternating drinking beer and gin, I did the Technicolor Yawn right there. I was sweating and had the shakes and someone notified security. A few security guys came over and while I was talking to them one of them said "Bill, we need to get you out of here where you can get some air". Right then I knew one of them had scanned my wristband with the RFID chip embedded and they knew who I was, how old I was, where I was from, and worst of all-who I was working for ( I was a subcontractor on a crew).


So, if you are attending Bonarroo, Coachella, the Hangout, or any of the other big festivals that are using the RFID chips embedded in the wristband, keep your nose clean. I learned my lesson and luckily I didn't lose my job, which I love.

goofy173
goofy173

Strat68 is the one that hasn't actually read anything about these bands. Here's a quote from Disney: "MagicBands can also be read by long-range readers located at Walt Disney World Resort used to deliver personalized experiences, as well as provide information that helps us improve the overall experience in our parks."

So yes, they can track lost kids. READ before posting worthless comments.
And being a parent that his 10 year old got lost in the Contemporary Resort, these things would be awesome.

PamelaHaleyThompson
PamelaHaleyThompson

I know people who are choosing to get the bands that monitor their sleep/wake, calorie intake, energy expenditure, activity levels, heart rate, breathing, GPS track how far they walk, everywhere they go and transmit it to a conveniently accessed internet app. There is nothing that could possibly go wrong...

jclipp100
jclipp100

These "Magic Bands" are used under a voluntary contract for commercial purposes.  If you do not want to use them then you can simply choose not to do so.  When I checked in I was asked at the front desk if I wanted to use Magic Bands or the standard 'Key to the World' card (by the way the traditional cards have RFID chips too)...Having recently been to Disney World and used the Magic Bands I would recommend anyone spending the time and money to stay at a Disney World resort for multiple days in the theme parks take advantage of them.  In addition, you can use your DisneyWorld app on your iPhone to make dinner reservations, use FastPass+, and pay for anything in the DisneyWorld parks.  This usage is entirely by choice which is COMPLETELY different that the involuntary situation of NSA, etc.  Are you ready for the kicker!  Hold on to your hats...when I used the Magic Band at Disney World I then gave my fingerprint at the gate!  MY FINGERPRINT!  Why did they do that?  Probably so someone else could not use my multiple day ticket on another day with the same 'Magic Band'.  Maybe Disney World is secretly storing my fingerprint and giving my index finger print to the government?  If so, then I could sue Disney for breach of contract...(I guess I would have to find out about it first...)... If someone hacked into my room or use something improperly for charges there is no more risk (in reality even less risk) of this happening than with standard hotel 'keys' and a credit card.  When my credit card is cloned (as it has been a couple of times) i just called Visa and they void all of the transactions that were a result of the theft and send me a new card.  I really do enjoy reading the comments though.  Very fun.

strat68
strat68

This article had no research behind it.  If the author had done ANY research they would have found out that people can't be tracked with these bands similar to a GPS.  Nor can you find lost kids with it.    The band has an RFID chip that is read at very short distances for fastpasses, charging, etc.

JohnNeumann
JohnNeumann

Oh for crying out loud. Mickey mouse is tracking you like the NSA. What a bunch of Drudge paranoids. Trust me with all the computers, cameras and people, Disney could already tract you in the park if it really wanted to without a band. Same with most Casinos in Vegas, and most cruise ships. If anyone has stayed in the Disney parks its basically the regular key card, but in wristband form. The key cards are plastic swipe cards that have your info, including your room key, your park pass, and if you want your credit card info to make purchases.  makes sense, tons of other amusement parks offer wristbands, why not Disney? This way its not a plastic card you or your kids can lose, or a card that you just realized was left behind in the hotel room after it just took you 30 minutes to get to the park gate. Instead its on your wrist.     

adamhose
adamhose

I have to say, this article seems to be trying to take advantage of a current controversy to get clicks and I think it's completely off base.

My wife and I just used the Magic Bands at Disney in November. They were awesome, made things amazingly convenient and helped Disney cater to us in ways that were impossible in the past, which seems to be their main purpose.

I will admit that my libertarian radar went off once I was seeing how much I was being tracked - and to be sure, we were being tracked - but if it scares you to order your food, then go sit down (anywhere you want in a giant restaurant) and have your food magically brought to you without having to post a flag on your table, then maybe you scare too easily.

Disney is using they bands to make the guest experience better. I cannot imagine a nefarious purpose for the bands. Sure they can use information they get from the bands to market specifically to you; they could theoretically have a character walk up to your kid and tell him Happy Birthday (although not Goofy, he doesn't talk to guests); the are able to track, in our case, where a late twenties/early thirties couple might spend their time waiting in lines and which shows they might skip in order to ride which ride another time, but honestly what is the harm in that? They are making my experience better, more efficient, more convenient, thus - yes - more magical.

No more carting around a wallet, a room key, and waiting in lines for fast passes that you then wait in line to use. You use your bands, and if you need to change a fast pass time, the cast members are there to assist or you can use a smart phone app, which "tracks" you to show you later options which are best suited for you and where you are located at the time.

I don't have kids, but with these Magic Bands, gone are the days of losing a kid in the park. In fact, I could see parents who want a little time away from their teenagers or who want to give then a little freedom, using the bands and app to keep track of where they are.

My understanding is that Disney will move to the use of the bands for everyone in the future. Right now it is still optional. But from what I have read, they are phasing out the old fast pass system and phasing in the Magic Bands to a full switch over. In my opinion, the sooner the better. Our experience with the bands was pretty great.

Maybe Time should have interviewed someone who has used the bands before writing an article for which the sole purpose was scaring their readers. Or getting traffic.

jimnyjeepny
jimnyjeepny

When I invented these devices back in 1987 my intention was for them to increase people's and particularly, vulnerable people's safety and security, and this privacy ethic had not entered my mind because I felt it would be a boon for all concerned. I do feel that the paranoia which is exhibited by people who don't trust technological possibilities is to do with their attitude to the benevolence of authority. The agreement between government and people is breaking down, and without it there will be no order in our society.

MoreFreedom
MoreFreedom

A corporation collecting information about you is quite different than the government doing so.   What's not mentioned in the article, is that the government believes it should have access to that information without a search warrant, because it's not in your posession and is held by a third party.      The corporations of course, would rather keep the information confidential.  But thanks to the FISA court, the corporations aren't allowed to keep the data confidential, nor may they tell you that the government got a copy of it.   


Of course, Disney will implement security to prevent scammers from doing things like figuring out how to access the data to say access the hotel room.  They'll be sued otherwise, and lose business due to the publicity.

johansezbyteme
johansezbyteme

Someone...anyone...post what you have discovered about these chips, since I'm *sure* one of you has disassembled one of these bracelets and have taken a close look at one.

Bo69
Bo69

Welcome to the NANNY STATE

rono3849
rono3849

This is absolute rubbish. The reason that the media loses credibility is shown right here. This isn't accurate at all. Just awful reporting by TIME. These guys are headed to the ash heap to join NEWSWEEK.

ljrain
ljrain

This story is so misleading. This is nothing at all like the NSA, I just returned from Disney and used the bands. As a computer security professional, I have no problem with it. It is the same as a card that you use for your room.

eaglejuan07
eaglejuan07

@JaniceSmith The magic bands have the extra option called Fast Pass + in addition to the traditional Fast Pass services. Disney is trying this new option and I guess that is why it is limited to 3 FastPass+ per day.


What  I noticed on several online videos is that when entering a park you scan the bands and then place your fingerprint for verification.  Maybe next year they will come up with a blood identification system, lol.  

metalijojo
metalijojo

@tmind Pretty sure this has ZERO to due with religion. Disney has been around a long time but I am fairly certain there is no reference to Disney in the Bible. Get a grip!

ArthurFiggis
ArthurFiggis

@tmind Sorry, check your Revelations 13 again--wristbands aren't listed.

bford
bford

@strat68 Maybe not like a GPS system which monitors exact positioning in real time, but the RFID wrist bracelets do report back to a central control/information server every time you get on a ride, pass through a gate, walk into a store, etc.(because you are instructed to wave the RFID chip in front of the scanner upon entry).  That info is enough to know that the lost child is now waiting in line at Space Mountain, or has wandered into another section of the park and has just gone into a specific store and bought a soda, etc.


So yes, they can be used to track lost kids and they can track where you have spent money, what rides you've been on, how much time you spent in a given area of the park, etc.

goofy173
goofy173

@strat68  Wrong. "MagicBands can also be read by long-range readers located at Walt Disney World Resort used to deliver personalized experiences, as well as provide information that helps us improve the overall experience in our parks."

bford
bford

@adamhose This is called "click bait" in the internet industry. Stories designed to at least get you to the page (whether you read it or not) so that the website can claim X amount of daily clicks, readership, etc. to their advertisers in the interest of raising ad rates and of finding out what types of stories interest people most. Would you rather read about the latest of Sarah Palin's inane statements, or would you rather read about Mickey Mouse? We are watching everywhere you click...... and we know what you like, and what to try to sell you.

bford
bford

@jimnyjeepny In Europe, the government's are afraid of the people; in the United States the people are afraid of the government......

bford
bford

@MoreFreedom  Wait until the Disneyland database is hacked and the hackers get your fingerprint. They could sit on that for 10 years and it is never going to change. you can't just get a new set of prints like you can a new credit card.

I foresee databases of people's fingerprints and iris scans being sold online in the future.


In 2025, whenever we are out in public we'll all be wearing sunglasses and latex gloves, and our phones will be in lead lined pockets or purses .

johansezbyteme
johansezbyteme

@ljrainYou have thoroughly examined the chip that's installed in these things? Post your investigation results.

ConservativeNotRepublican
ConservativeNotRepublican

@ljrain I completely agree with you.  I saw several people using these bands as well, and I wanted one!  They're just a convenience, and if anyone knows anything about DisneyParks, it's that they are very efficient at catering to what visitors want, from parking to shopping to the new fast pass on some rides, they strive to provide a seamless, predictable, and stress-free experience.  "Gee they know where I am!" Uh, yeah, you're in their theme park; hate to disappoint you, but they know that already!  If I understood the cast members when I asked them, the bands don't track your movement like a GPS, but rather record transactions (e.g. getting on a ride, buying a drink etc.).


This is one of those pick your battles moments, and this author has mis-picked.

metalijojo
metalijojo

@slinadamst @ChristyMullinsWicklund No!! I must defend ChristyMullinsWicklund on this one. It is the people like you who ruin things for everyone. If you don't like it, don't participate; that is your right. Just as much is it is Christy's right and my right to utilize the technology and leverage it to our advantages. Also, as Christy pointed out, the band is actually much more secure. On my trip in 2012, before RFID tech was insituted at Disney, no PIN was required to make a purchase. Last year's trip, with RFID tech required a PIN. So you tell me genius, which is more secure??

goofy173
goofy173

And I just got an email back from my friend who's an IT at WDW and he confirmed it can be done.

adamhose
adamhose

I am a former executive editor of a news website. I know how traffic baiting works. That's why I wrote it in my first and last sentences.

jimnyjeepny
jimnyjeepny

@bford @jimnyjeepny The US government has an extreme authoritarian profile it is true, although it acts according to logical rules which are comprehensible to the average citizen. This is a definite plus compared to the incomprehensible behaviour of other strict governments like for example that of Northern Korea.