Disney‘s MyMagic+ wristbands sparked some controversy when the program was first promoted back in January, but testing at Florida’s Walt Disney World has shown positive results. At the Allen & Co conference in Sun Valley this week, Parks division chairman Thomas Staggs told Bloomberg that 1,000 people recently took place in a trial, which led to increased spending. Staggs offered few details, but said the “MagicBands” showed that guests spent more than the average because they had fun with the technology. The digital wristbands enable park visitors to upload personal information designed to enhance their experience by allowing them to reserve time on rides and in restaurants. The wristbands also act as admission tickets, hotel room keys and credit cards and, notably, allow the parks to track guest interaction and purchasing behavior. Further trials are planned before the bands expand throughout Walt Disney World by the end of the year, Staggs said. When Disney chief Bob Iger first unveiled the initiative, a Massachusetts congressman raised concerns about children’s experiences at the parks being manipulated through the use of their personal information. Iger responded that his suggestions were “ludicrous” and “utterly ill-informed.”
Your wallet will feel a little lighter than you might have expected next time you visit Disney‘s theme parks in California or Florida. Yesterday the company raised the prices for single-day and annual tickets — something it typically does each year. It now costs $92 (+5.7%) for those over 10 to enter Disneyland or Disney California Adventure Park, and parking costs $16 (+6.7%). If you want to visit both parks then it will cost $137 (+9.6%). An annual ticket usable almost any day runs $669 (+3.1%). And it takes $95 (+6.7%) to experience the Magic Kingdom at Orlando’s Walt Disney World. The increase there comes about two weeks after Universal Orlando raised its one-day price to $92 (+3.4%) for either Universal Studios or Islands of Adventure, or $128 (+3.2%) for both. Disney Premier Passport — which offers anytime admission to any of its parks in California or Florida — now costs $979 (+15.3%). “Like any business, we evaluate and adjust our pricing based on a variety of factors,” says Disney spokesman Bryan Malenius. “A ticket to our theme parks represents a great value, particularly when you look at the breadth and quality of attractions and entertainment we offer and the special moments guests experience with our Cast.” Morgan Stanley analyst Benjamin Swinburne says that recent increases in attendance “helped alleviate investor skepticism” about the company’s ability to increase profit margins at its parks.
The Disney parks PR folks are having a rotten week. The day after a small dry-ice bomb exploded at Disneyland in Anaheim, a woman and her grandson found a loaded pistol on the Dinosaur ride at Walt Disney World in Orlando. Grandma turned the Cobra .380 automatic over to park authorities, who called Orange County Sheriffs. When deputies found its owner, 44-year-old Angelo Lista, in the park, he told them he realized the gun was missing several minutes after he’d left the ride. Lista — who has a concealed-weapon permit — said he didn’t realize that Disney doesn’t allow park visitors to pack heat, assuming that the checkpoint patrons go through before entry is merely to check bags for weapons and explosives. He later told deputies that the piece “just slipped out” of his pocket “as a result of the ride being extremely bumpy”.