Photos: Disney Puts the Magic in Mobile

The happiest place on earth is also one of the most advanced in terms of a lot of hot topics in mobility

Sarah Thomas, Director, Women in Comms

May 1, 2013

3 Min Read
Photos: Disney Puts the Magic in Mobile

Service providers could learn a lot by spending the day at a Disney theme park.

That may be the reason that Genband sent them there as part of its Perspectives conference in Orlando this week. I was amongst the group who went to Hollywood Studios, where I saw examples of cloud, big data, mobile advertising, mobile payments, wearable computing devices, and customer experience management alongside the bratty kids, costumed characters and overweight out-of-towners.

Hollywood Studios in Orlando, Florida was hopping on a late-April Monday. I'm not just trying to justify going to Disney on company time. The amusement park, and happiest Wi-Fi hotspot in the world, is doing a lot of things right. It has a set of mobile apps that let you track wait times, find your way around the park and plan out your day. What's more exciting is its plan to equip visitors with MyMagic+ rubberbracelets that contain their (or their parents') credit card information for mobile payments within the park and an RFID chip that alerts them when lines have decreased for Space Mountain or to meet Mickey Mouse.

The park can also use the bands to collect information about its visitors to tailor their experiences around their preferences, including what rides they went on, where they ate lunch, what souvenirs they bought, and which characters they lingered around. Cinderella could even greet children by name and wish them a happy birthday, if appropriate.

MyMagic+ is part of an integrated mobile experience that also includes apps and augmented reality-enabled toys. It has the potential to transform the user experience and Disney's business model in the process. By making the customer experience more accessible with shorter wait times, no paper tickets and fewer things to think about, its visitors will (hypothetically) stay longer, spend more and return more often. It's a way of innovating on the experience, not just on the rides and attractions.

And, while the bracelets use RFID chips for the connectivity, they could just as easily use machine-to-machine communications or near-field communication. The implications for the wireless operator that was smart enough to partner up would have been equally huge.

MyMagic+ is a great example of so many of the areas that operators are trying to tackle: It's cloud storage for users' personal data. It's big-data analytics in understanding what users want and what they do. It's mobile payments and contactless interactions. It could also be mobile advertising and promotions well after visitors leave the park, for those who opt in. And, the idea is that it benefits the customer so much they don't care about all the privacy implications.

So, do like I did -- head to Disney World, observe connectivity in action and ride the Tower of Tower four times in a row. You'll want to vomit, but you'll learn a lot. Trust me.

A Disney spokesman says the MyMagic+ bands are in trial stages now, but will officially launch later this year. For a highly educational tour of Disney's tech prowess (or something like that), click ahead to the next page ... — Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, Light Reading

One lucky volunteer got drenched Hollywood-style.
That's not New York City; just a 2D skyline on the Disney backlot.
Robots greeted guests at the start of the Star Tours ride.
The Hollywood Tower? We expected Genband to put us up in nicer digs for the show.
Candy Land: Located conveniently down the street from the Tower of Terror for a post-terror-rush sugar rush.
Our longest wait was for the 4G Toy Story ride, but a talking potato made the time fly.

About the Author(s)

Sarah Thomas

Director, Women in Comms

Sarah Thomas's love affair with communications began in 2003 when she bought her first cellphone, a pink RAZR, which she duly "bedazzled" with the help of superglue and her dad.

She joined the editorial staff at Light Reading in 2010 and has been covering mobile technologies ever since. Sarah got her start covering telecom in 2007 at Telephony, later Connected Planet, may it rest in peace. Her non-telecom work experience includes a brief foray into public relations at Fleishman-Hillard (her cussin' upset the clients) and a hodge-podge of internships, including spells at Ingram's (Kansas City's business magazine), American Spa magazine (where she was Chief Hot-Tub Correspondent), and the tweens' quiz bible, QuizFest, in NYC.

As Editorial Operations Director, a role she took on in January 2015, Sarah is responsible for the day-to-day management of the non-news content elements on Light Reading.

Sarah received her Bachelor's in Journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia. She lives in Chicago with her 3DTV, her iPad and a drawer full of smartphone cords.

Away from the world of telecom journalism, Sarah likes to dabble in monster truck racing, becoming part of Team Bigfoot in 2009.

Subscribe and receive the latest news from the industry.
Join 62,000+ members. Yes it's completely free.

You May Also Like