Earlier today, at the All Things Digital conference, Disney Parks and Resorts chairman Tom Staggs took the stage to speak on the MyMagic+ experience being developed for Disney Parks, following a brief introduction to the system by Edna Mode of Disney/Pixar’s The Incredibles (video of appearance available here). Staggs spoke about the experience, beginning with online reservations for activities and dining — even suggesting guests will be able to order their entire meal online so service will start immediately upon arrival at the restaurant — and other perks guests can expect to receive with the system’s MagicBand, given specific permissions. One such example is that Staggs confirmed (as we have long suspected and promoted) characters at meet and greets will know guests’ names automatically. To that end, Staggs also talked about the talking Mickey Mouse technology that is under development by Walt Disney Imagineering and has promised he too will come along for the experience. In addition, Staggs also talked about how attractions such as “it’s a small world” will be modified to include acknowledging celebrations of a guest during the actual ride through. He also talked about how the band (which uses a combination of BlueTooth and RFID technology) will be customizable through items he compared to Crocs’ jibbitz.
When asked whether there was potential for the MagicBand outside Walt Disney World (Staggs indicated that all resorts worldwide will be receiving some variation on the MyMagic+ experience), Staggs responded by making a strong reference to the upcoming ‘Disney Infinity,’ which we know to make use of RFID technology through a reader:
‘As an example, I think that seeing something like that tie into other Disney experiences both makes sense and is something that we’re thinking about. And one of the things that we know is that — and Bob Iger said this two years ago — people have no interest in consuming the Disney org chart, they want to have a relationship with Disney overall and so it’s important for us to be integrated in that way. So one of the things we’ve got — and I won’t make a specific announcement — but [Disney] Infinity is coming out, which is the new game with the playables, so that’s an opportunity to think about how [the MagicBand] might enable something else in the game, so that’s something we’ve got in mind and I’ll let John Pleasants announce it.’
So although he stopped short of acknowledging that the MagicBand will integrate with ‘Disney Infinity’ on some level, it’s a pretty strong suggestion in our book.
UPDATE: A spokesperson for Disney Interactive declined to comment.
While Walt Disney World’s billion-dollar NextGen project has been no secret for quite some time, along with many of its aspects such as extensive use of RFID, the company itself has remained famously mum about the extent of the project, something we have been discussing for well over a year.
A new article from the New York Times, goes into the technology, now officially known as MyMagic+ and My Disney Experience (terms we have been applying for nearly a year), and some of the experiences it will offer. Some of the recently confirmed technology will allow characters to be able to deliver personalized experiences, a topic we have spoken about quite a bit, including in this article on just what Disney will learn about its guests, from which the NYT quotes some of our commenters. Back in October, we also looked at additional NextGen technology which describes just how the MyMagic+ will function inside the parks and negotiate multiple guests with multiple ‘entitlements,’ including characters who will greet guests by name (as the NYT article also suggests).
As extensive at the NYT article appears to be, it’s our contention that it still just a drop in the bucket with what the full MyMagic+ experience will entail, such as ‘Achievements’ (discussed in Big Brother article), a mobile app that will let family members at home virtually join the trip and interact including purchasing real in-park gifts, personalized and interactive elements at attractions like ‘it’s a small world’ and much, much more.
Stop us if you’ve heard this one: When is a character not a character? When they’re an ‘experience delivery system.’ Get it? Okay, maybe it’s not that funny, or clever, but according to a patent application for a system known as ‘Managing Experience State to Personalize Destination Visits,’ it’s the future truth — and it’s a key element to the MyMagic+/My Disney Experience coming to the Walt Disney World Resort as part of its NextGen experience.
Though it lacks any shocking revelations, the patent application answers one of the most forefront questions since information began pouring in since we began sharing information about the project. Completely apart from FASTPASS+ which is available to families just as the regular FASTPASS system is, this is more in line with the “it’s a small world” real-world avatar; the question being if there are multiple people entitled to a customization, how does Disney decide who gets it?
And so then you have this: the Experience State Management System. And it goes a little something like this.
First, the familiar. Guests will have the reusable and personalized (for an upcharge) MagicBand which uses RFID technology and serves as the key to virtually everything from unlocking hotel room doors (for which Disney is aggressively updating all the locks systematically as you read this) to holding park admission media (though both of these are optional depending on the circumstances) to holding access to FASTPASS+ enabled attractions. Readers, however, will be installed virtually everywhere and it is no gross understatement to suggest that the system is capable of identifying guests virtually anywhere in the parks. We also know that with the readers being able to identify guests as they enter attractions, it also potentially provides supplementary information to a cast member who can now greet a guest by name and/or wish them a happy birthday even if there’s no button, congratulate them on their graduation, or any other possible celebration imaginable, so long as it’s noted in their CRS database.
That’s where the ESMS really comes in because it too will have access to all of this information and not only will it be able to see what entitlements a guest is set to receive, it will obviously be able to record and reference entitlements already distributed. Therefore it can use its guest history to decide who amongst a group of guests will receive the special attention at any single experience, be it within the same family or amongst different groups as well. For example, an attraction could be configured to wish someone a happy birthday when it detects them in a group. But what if there’s two guests celebrating a birthday that day? Maybe one of them was already recognized for it earlier in the day, so the system will decide to honor the other guest. There are several other factors it can consider, or if it determines there is a statistical tie, it can make a random decision to skew the numbers going forward. The system will also use biological information such as age and gender to determine which experiences will be available for a particular guest.
Aside from a talking character (note we do not say face character) being able to greet guests by name upon entering a room, several other potential uses are suggested by the patent application. Special upcharge experiences include birthday acknowledgements, or a pirate experience in which the guest will be acknowledged automatically throughout the parks as being a pirate in any number of ways including visually morphing the guest into looking like a pirate, being dressed like a pirate, etc. The same technique could be applied to make the guest appear to be most anything such as a movie star or athlete.
Although the patent application doesn’t explicitly mention it, the ESMS is also likely to play a role in Achievements, which we also previously spoke about to some extent.
For further reading, you can view the patent application in its entirety here.