1 - No more Keys to the World.Previously, you were issued a card at resort check-in that opened your hotel door, granted access to the parks, acted as a form of payment, and allowed you to obtain Fast Passes. Those are now a thing of the past, if you are staying in select Disney resorts that participate in the new Magic Bands programs.
You will now be issued a nifty Magic Band, that will do everything the old Keys to the World did, plus more!
2 - Be sure to order your Magic Bands in advanceAfter booking your vacation, go to My Disney Experience (link). You'll be able to choose your colors for your Magic Bands, as well as book dining reservations and make Fast Pass+ selections. They also have a great app too! If you fail to order your magic bands in advance, your entire travel group will receive standard gray upon check-in. If two family members want the same color band, don't worry! Each person will also have their name printed on the inside of the band. You can also buy charms in the gift shops, making each Magic Band customizable
3 - Don't forget to check your mail!Your Magic Bands will arrive at your house in a plain brown box prior to the trip. Disney does send you an email and a pop-up notification on the My Disney Experience app, providing you with tracking info. It's important that you not forget to pack them... if you have to get replacements while at the park, they will be grey.
4 - Make your Fast Pass+ selections as soon as possibleYou are able to begin making Fast Pass+ selections via the My Disney Experience app or website up to 8 weeks prior to your departure. Be sure to do it soon, as the best times fill up quickly. You'll be able to choose up to three rides per day, and all three Fast Passes must be made in the same park. So, you can't Fast Pass the Toy Story ride in Hollywood Studios, Enchanted Tales With Bell in the Magic Kingdom, and Kilimanjaro Safaris in Animal Kingdom all on the same day. There are also rumors going around the parks that the moderate and deluxe level resorts may end up being able to Fast Pass more than three rides per day. This has not been confirmed by Disney, that I can tell.
I'd like to pause here to say that a lot of people have complaints about the Fast Pass+ system. BUT, I think it's nice that I can make my Fast Pass+ selections from my smart phone, while it's hooked up to the FREE park wi-fi. I don't have to walk across a park to get to a Fast Pass machine, just to find that it's issued the max number of vouches for the day and covered up.
5 - The sizes adjust for little kidsThese bands are one size fits all. BUT.... they adjust to fit even the tiniest of arms. My 18 month old's band fits just as well as my husband's. If you child's band is too large, simply peel the colored portion of the band away from the grey backing, and voila! It's small enough for any child.
6 - Don't forget to make your kids wear their Magic Bands for Extra Magic HoursWe stayed late for Extra Magic hours at Epcot, and ran into trouble. In order to board any rides during Extra Magic Hours, you must scan your Magic Band as proof that you belong there. We forgot one of our Magic Bands, which led to issues. Thank goodness the Cast Members were very nice and allowed us all to ride using my husband's Magic Band. But, I have a feeling as these become more common, this exception won't be made nearly as much.
7 - It's QUICK and convenient!These magic bands are awesome for me, as a mom. I don't have to fumble for a room key while holding a sleeping infant. I don't have to dig out my credit card to pay for purchases. I don't have to find my annual pass card to gain access to the parks. I simply touch my bracelet to the little pad, Mickey's ears turn green, and I'm good to go.
8 - No need to remove the bands before swimmingSince these handy little bracelets are waterproof, there's really no need to take them off. I am one of those people who has the WORST time keeping up with hotel room keys, especially when going to the pool. I love that I can go swimming, and not have to worry about leaving my Key to the World on the lounge chair at the poolside, where it could be lost or stolen.
9 - Be sure to recycle them!Back in early January, when I received my first Magic Band, I asked the front desk staff at Pop Century what I should do with it when my trip concluded. She said I could throw it away, recycle it, or keep it until my next visit. They are sometimes able to skip re-issuing a new Magic Band when you make a return trip. Instead you have the option of reactivating an old Magic Band!
I'll admit though - our old Magic Bands go straight in the girls' dress-up trunk. They love wearing their 'Mickey Mouse jewelry' when they play dress-up.
10 - Stay open minded.
We are only human - and oftentimes human nature is to resist change. I hear a lot of complaints about the new Magic Bands... from Cast Members, resort guests, and especially on lots of the Disney forums and internet chat boards. But, they are really a great iteration of the Disney Resort experience. They are MUCH easier to keep up with, and the ability to sync it with my iPhone is awesome. Give it a try, and I'm sure you will be surprised at how nice it is!