A New Dimension of Disney Magic: MyMagic+ and Controlled Leisure

Document Type

Contribution to Book

Publication Date


Publication Title

Disney, Culture, and Curriculum




In 2013, after spending one billion dollars designing and testing new guest services, The Walt Disney Company began implementing “MyMagic+” (Garcia, 2013), a new set of technologies that were conceived by Disney CEO Bob Iger as a way to “overhaul the digital infrastructure of Disney’s theme parks, which would upend how they operated and connected with consumers” (Carr, 2015, para. 3). MyMagic+, which is driven by radio frequency identification technology (RFID), is a complex digital system that involves several interactive components, including the My Disney Experience mobile application and website, which allow visitors to plan, manage, and share the details of their vacation; the MagicBand, which acts as a waterproof ticketing system, a hotel door key, a digital form of payment, and a fashion accessory that can be customized with charms; the Disney FastPass+ service, which enables advance reservations for attractions; and the PhotoPass Memory Maker, which allows guests to take unlimited photos while in the park and download them later. According to the Walt Disney World website, these new services enhance the guest experience by unlocking “a new dimension of Disney Magic” and offering “unprecedented control” of one’s vacation. The website further asserts that “MyMagic+ takes your Walt Disney World vacation to an all-new level, making it uniquely yours, so you can enjoy every moment with family and friends” (Walt Disney World, 2015). In using these services before, during, and after their trip, visitors are encouraged to construct scripted excursions in which all moments are carefully planned to insure a ‘magical’ experience. Thus, the ‘fun’ of a trip to Walt Disney World is not guaranteed with park admission but must be carefully planned for and achieved by visitors within the limits imposed by the use of customized consumer services. In other words, Walt Disney World offers its guests controlled leisure as a means to guarantee, through the guest’s own diligence, research, and organization, the experience of a lifetime.