Saturday, August 16, 2014

Tomorrowland is Today: Technology at Disney World

By Lindsey Allmon

There are some things that are inherently Disney: Mickey bars, cherubic Small World figurines, and a dedication to an atmosphere that transports you to another world. While these are treasured constants about the most Wonderful Place on Earth, there has been and always will be room for growth. Walt Disney was always a poster child for innovation and revolutionary ideas and in his absence the Disney Corporation has kept on with his legacy. Continue after the break for a recap of some of the newest technological updates to grace the Disney Parks...

Magic Bands

Perhaps the newest edition to the parks (and the most talked about) is the handy new Magic Bands that are donning wrists throughout the park. This tech piece has some very good pros, and yet some pretty significant downsides. On the pro side of things, that little band is EVERYTHING! If you are staying on property it’s your room key, park ticket, credit card, and your fast pass holder. Aside from carrying essentials like your phone, sunscreen, or a water bottle, your Magic Band is all that’s necessary for a fun-filled day in the parks and you don’t need to keep reaching for your wallet every time you hop into the Fast Pass line. That being said, they are clunky and their plastic material traps sweat which can be uncomfortable in the Florida heat. They also contain a battery that isn’t replaceable so you won’t be able to keep the same Magic Band for years, leading to unnecessary waste. I love to see a thinner, more stylish version of the band introduced in the coming years.

Fast Pass +

The newest version of Disney’s line skipping protocol has some very big pros and cons. The new Fast Pass + is controlled via My Disney Experience app which is insanely handy. No waiting in a line just to get a pass to jump another line. Because you procure your fast passes on your phone you don’t actually have to be in the park to get them as they load directly to your Magic Band (No more keeping track of those tiny slips of paper). You can select fast passes days, even weeks in advance so for those of you who are the planning type, Fast Pass + is the best thing since sliced bread. However, for a family like mine, it is a bit of an annoyance. My family had fast passes down to a science, with a clever system of acquiring them that got us up to five or six fast passes per day. The new system limits you to only three per day, four if you go to a kiosk within the park after all 3 fast passes have expired, meaning that if you are not purposeful with you may only get three. It’s also easier for fast passes to run out. The new Fantasyland Mine Train was rid of fast passes the entire week that we were there, something that we could have avoided had there been traditional fast pass kiosks.

The Magic Rose at Be Our Guest

You know those little beepers you are given at restaurants when there is a long wait? Well, Disney just upped the ante. Dinner at Be Our Guest is traditional table service, but Disney has introduced updated tech that combines the relaxation of a sit down meal with the speed of a quick service for lunch. Here’s how this works; first, you are handed a menu and placed into a line heading towards the ordering terminals, enjoying the ambiance of the not-so-silent guards in the castle hallway. Once you arrive at the ordering terminals you are handed a hockey puck sized plastic rose. You scan the rose into terminals where you place your order. You get to input your own order, cutting down on mistakes in your order. Once you finish, you pay and go grab a table in one of the three amazing dining rooms. You grab your own drinks and silverware and your rose does its final job. When your food is ready, servers will actually bring your food directly to your table, the rose having a tracking device in it so that they can find your table. To compare this to most other quick service restaurants, it is worlds better. No more scrambling over people to get your meal, no more shouting orders to be heard over bustling crowds. Honestly, I think all of Disney quick service should take a cue from Be Our Guest. It’s one of the best ideas I’ve seen Disney come up with in a long time.

Well there you have it, some of the new technological advances that Disney has made recently. I can’t wait to see what else Disney will come up with.

Lindsey Allmon is a great lover of all things Disney and has been from the moment she was born. Lindsey is eager to share her knowledge of Disney with all of you. She is twenty one years old and hails from a suburb just southwest of Columbus, Ohio. Recently Lindsey graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in English from The Ohio State University with hopes of becoming a screenwriter. Her hobbies include reading, baking, singing obnoxiously loud in her car and shower, perfecting her Pinterest boards, and watching movies. In addition to that, she is planning her Tangled and Paperman themed wedding to her wonderful fiancé, Colby. As far as her Disney history goes, Lindsey's first trip was before she was a year old and she has made a trip nearly every year since, both as a basic family vacation and as a performer during Magic Music Days and the Magic Kingdom parade prior to the fireworks spectacular Wishes. She has been through countless park changes and stayed at approximately 10 different Disney Hotels. Her favorite character of all time is Maleficent. As a general rule Lindsey tends to love villains the most as she thinks they have some of the best lines, and who can resist a diabolical laugh? Her favorite Disney movie is easily Mary Poppins. When Lindsey was little all she wanted to watch was Mary Poppins over and over again, and as she grew older she realized the perfection that is Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke. Lindsey's favorite Disney Park is the World Showcase section of Epcot. She loves traveling and the World Showcase is a great way to experience so many different cultures at once. Fun Fact: Every year her parents buy her an oyster at the Japan Pavilion. The pearls from these oysters have all been saved and will be strung into a necklace that Lindsey will wear on her wedding day. Her favorite ride is Splash Mountain. Lindsey's articles will focus on navigating Disney World as well as providing some great insider info about the history of the company and the parks.

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