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Will Businesses Wear Disney’s Big Data Bracelets?

The first roller coaster that turned and twisted me upside down was Ninja. Riding a roller coaster that disrespected gravity was a life accomplishment for 12-year-old me. But this life accomplishment also brought a life lesson: anything worth riding at a theme park starts with a line. My family spent eight hours at Six Flags Over Georgia and the Ninja line ate one of those hours. Worse yet, I don’t remember much of the one minute and twenty second ride – it was incidental to the thrill of finally leaving the line. I do, however, recall most of the dates and cities of John Mellencamp’s 1992 tour, which were printed on the back of the t-shirt of the guy ahead of me.

Disney may have a solution for this common theme park line problem in an RFID bracelet coupled with Web and mobile applications. This summer, Disney will launch the MyMagic+ system, which will allow theme park visitors to customize their Magic Kingdom adventure. Visitors will schedule a time to ride Space Mountain via the MyDisney website or mobile app, and then scan their RFID wristband (MagicBand) when it’s their turn to ride. Credit card information can also be stored in the wristband, letting them pay for food or wearable Mickey ears or make dinner reservations by just swiping their wrist.

MyMagic+ aspires to improve the customer experience too. Robotic park attractions, which normally would operate independently in their android bubble, will now detect a visitor’s presence and chat directly with their human friends. If parents elect to provide more information in their family’s MyDisney profile, Cinderella will greet their daughter by name and wish her a happy birthday. If this technology existed when I was young, all my father’s children would coincidentally have celebrated their birthdays during our family’s Disney vacation – Dad would want maximum MyMagic+ value.

Disney’s databases will feel the magic too. Last year, more than 30 million people visited Disney theme parks and, soon, RFID bracelets will track and monitor the behavior of that number of visitors. This Big Data will reveal new patterns of customer behavior, helping Disney identify inefficiencies in park operations, or insights into the customer experience, as an example, show that customers tend not to eat for hours after riding Space Mountain.

RFID technology has been around for years. Coachella uses a similar wristband as an entry ticket and contactless wallet. Here are a few other businesses that should adopt this RFID wristband technology:

Sports Stadiums

Timing the perfect moment to grab a beer during a game takes tact and precision. RFID sporting event wristbands would reduce time spent in line, and help fans avoid missing important plays. Customers would order drinks and food via an app and then pick up their food at a window by swiping their wristband. The wristbands could include an “Alert” button that would immediately make Security aware if trouble were brewing. [Usually, it’s trouble caused by brew.] When an alert warning appeared on Security headquarters’ computer screen, or if there were multiple alerts from the same location, Security could signal a guard in the exact area of distress.


People wear so much gear at the gym now, what’s one more piece, right? From your iPhone, reserve your favorite elliptical machine, and then activate the machine with a personalized RFID bracelet. No more awkward kicking someone off the machine you reserved. And, a gym wristband could monitor your exercise routine, similar to the Fitbit Flex wristband that was previewed at January’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. With that kind of insight into exercise activity, health insurers could abandon the annual gym membership rebate check, and replace with a pay-per-workout model to keep customers healthy. Imagine being paid $2 for every hour you ran on the treadmill – I’d earn $4 a week!


Whatever happens in Vegas … stays in a data center somewhere in the Nevada desert. Maybe monitoring all your movement in Vegas isn’t ideal, but neither is ordering vodka tonics poolside when your wallet is in your shoe at the cabana. What could be more convenient in Las Vegas than your room key, ATM card and identification secured to your wrist? Also, you could cap wristband spending before you left for the evening, which is way better than making financial decisions at a Bellagio ATM at 3 a.m.!

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