A glimpse of an RFID magic-banded future

Discussion in 'Theme Parks Attractions and Strategies' started by JR864, Mar 6, 2013.

  1. JR864

    JR864 Earning My Ears

    Mar 5, 2013
    Been lurking for a while, especially in the last couple months; however, this is my first post.

    Just returned from a too-short trip to WDW. I have an Annual Pass, and stayed at Caribbean Beach with the dining plan added.

    I was on my own for the first day (Friday), so I headed over early to Old Port Royale for breakfast around 7:15. The place was fairly deserted (though not for long) and only 2 registers were open.

    This was my first use of the KTTW RFID card to make a point-of-sale transaction (specifically to use my first counter service meal). After the young lady rang me up, I tapped the Mickey pad --- didn't light up. She touched a couple keys and asked me to try again -- I did -- didn't light up.

    By this time, I had a couple people behind me in line. Now, I'm holding my key well away from the touchpad and it lights up on its own. She tells me to enter my PIN, but it won't enter (the little keypad screen still said "Welcome" or something to that effect).

    People in line behind me now shrug and sigh and move to the other line.

    The cashier is embarassed at this point. I look at her screen and see that the system is now rebooting. She apologizes profusely, calls over two separate managers, and I go stand in the now ever-growing line for the other register. I wasn't irritated in the least -- stuff happens after all with point of sale registers even using debit/credit cards.

    I was surprised to see how she was grilled by the managers -- "what keys did you touch?" "why is this screen showing?" -- I thought they were unnecessarily rough on her (especially since they were 3 feet away from the line to the other register).

    Her system comes back up and she motions to me to come back. I laugh and say, "should I risk it?". She apologizes again, and I tell her not to sweat it. Still no response from the touchpad, so she takes my KTTW card and swipes it, and I'm on my way (after verifying that I in fact didn't accidentally use three counter service meals).

    A minor inconvenience, but think about the implications here. In the amazing Tomorrowland magic-band future that Disney is envisioning, I would not have a KTTW card -- just a groovy wristband emblazoned with the requisite amount of flair.

    So now replay this scenario -- when the Mickey keypad goes on the blink (or in this case, off the blink) -- how do I prove that I'm on the dining plan? And how do I complete the transaction without shelling out cash or a credit card since there's no magstrip to scan from my nonresponsive (but pretty!) band. And what does this do to the poor schlubs in line behind me while multiple managers attempt to fix the issue (and grill the cashier CM) before shuttling me off to a different register.

    Now replay this scenario once FP+ comes into play and you're in line for Peter Pan. Imagine what that does to the wait (both FP and standby) when the Mickey posts stop responding!

    Aside from the many valid concerns raised in earlier posts, I think the lack of a viable, readily available backup to the magicbands will prove to be the most distressing, and could prove to be their undoing. When a point of sale keypad goes down at Target, the cashier can always swipe your credit card themselves, or if that fails, just key in the card number. Neither of those backup steps is available once you put all your eggs in the magicband basket. And remember -- [insert Paul Frees here] -- there's no turning back now....

    So, when the RFID readers go down (and they will -- that's natural), what does that do to the unlucky souls who dutifully made their FP+ reservations months in advance? And what does it do to the line while everything grinds to a halt while one CM after another tries the required next steps before contacting tech support?

    I have seen the future -- and it looks surly!

  2. parkhopping

    parkhopping DIS Veteran<br><a href="http://www.disboards.com/s

    Oct 3, 2012
    I wish I could be optimistic, but given Disney's track record so far with new technology (website, app, etc.), I'm afraid your prognosis is correct. I'm reminded of my Dad's reaction to getting a new truck with power windows - he sighed heavily and said, "Just something else to break..."
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  4. dsneprincess

    dsneprincess DIS Veteran

    Feb 3, 2009
    You are not alone. We had a few issues with the RDIF cards not reading on the touchpad during our stay as well. It was pretty random as to when you had to swipe card vs tap card. Sometimes one worked & other didn't. Sometimes tap needed pin & sometimes it didn't. I would NOT want to be anywhere near WDW when this first goes live; it is not going to be pretty. However, I am not a fan of MagicBand, nor do I want to decide what I want to ride or eat 180 minutes in advance. JMO
  5. ghtx

    ghtx DIS Veteran

    May 29, 2012
    All new technologies have glitches.

    All of the arguments that OP made about MagicBands could have also applied to original FP when it was first introduced, or to KTTW cards. Those systems seem to work pretty fine.

    All technologies occasionally don't work. Every so often I swipe my credit card and it can't be read. Cars have been around for more than 100 years, and still people's cars occasionally break down.

    It's overly pessimistic to conclude, from one bad incident (which occurred during a trial period for a new technology, when kinks are to be expected), that the new technology is doomed to failure.
  6. DizDaD7

    DizDaD7 Truly a ~GOOFY~ Person.

    Jan 8, 2009

    1st off:welcome:to the disboards.

    2ndly. I think your point is spot on.....I'm hoping that it was just a bad day.....I know that's probably not the case, but let's for arguments sake, hope they have plan b, c, & d in place.
  7. auntfrannie

    auntfrannie DIS Veteran

    Aug 30, 2001
    So true! I was at the F&W festival last year and there were people waiting in long lines only to get to the front and when they tried to use their room card for the dining credits were told that the system wasn't working!
  8. newdeal

    newdeal DIS Veteran

    Apr 12, 2009
    they will get it worked out. Have you ever had to wait because the biometric scans didn't work or because the turnstiles wouldn't work? Well actually now that I think about it perhaps you have, and they scan your tickets bar code. Perhaps the magic bands will ahve bar codes just like the tickets. Although I find it very rare that this happens and mostly because the stripe has demagnetized
  9. ManyMinnie

    ManyMinnie DIS Veteran

    Feb 4, 2013
    Considering Disney's record with technology, you raise very valid points.
  10. jenjordan

    jenjordan Earning My Ears

    Dec 5, 2012
    I agree. At least credit cards have a backup system in case the magnetic stripe fails, so I hope that the magic bands will have some kind of barcode that can be used in case of a technology breakdown.
  11. sweetpea29488

    sweetpea29488 DIS Veteran

    Jul 19, 2006
    So you had to have a pin# even though you were using the dining plan and not charging? Just trying to figure this thing out. When we go I won't be putting a charge card on our account but we will have the CS dining plan. Will we need a pin# even though their won't be a credit card on the account?
  12. mickeyluv'r

    mickeyluv'r DIS Veteran

    Feb 14, 2005
    Under the old system- I have experienced errors a good number of times.

    More than once, we had a problme with DDP, and had to use my cc. Then I had to wait in line at the resort's concerige desk to get the charges reversed.That's how they resolve it when your dining plan does not show up. It acn be quite time consuming. I imagine the new system will be the same.

    Also, once I was in Epcot- I''ve posted this story before. It was an EMH day, and it was almost dinner time. Many times I've sued my own lanyard/ID holder withotu problems. That trip I had bought a WDW version. It broke. My ID was gone.

    the middle of Epcot/WS is the worst place to have this happen. None of the WS CM's really had much of an idea. I finally talked to a Manager who told me my options, and let me use a phone. In short- if you lose your ID you can goto Guest RElations, or you can go to the concerige desk at your resort.

    Going back to the resort would have meant missing my whole dinner and most of emh..so my only realisitc option was to hoof over to the GR in the back exit of Epcot. For the most part, the CM's were all directing me to go to my hotel,and when I pressed GR at the front of the park. By that point though, I was partway around the WS.

    the GR booth only had one person,and the wait to get my ticket/KTTW card replaced was long- but mostly because there was only one person- and she was not in any rush, shall we say. The restaurant was actually pretty nice- even though I was half an hour late. (Luckily this was before no show fees!)

    So yes, I hear your concerns. On one trip- we tried to put two cc on noe room for charging. It totally messed up everythign, and took multiple visits to get fixed. It was pretty time consuming.

    Often though, when Disney messes up on a thign like that- they have offered me some small compensation in addition to reolving the issue. I'd prefer not to have the problem, but they usually make some effort to conpensate your aggravation, which is more than I can say for many companies these days.
  13. larryz

    larryz Rogue Five DIS Lifetime Sponsor

    Apr 16, 2006
    Thanks for posting your experience.

    I'm sensing that management is taking some heat over the less-than-stellar roll-out of the RFID-enabled system at WDW. Can any CM's comment on the extent of training they're receiving on how to cope with the changeover?

    As for your concerns about proof of purchase, each band will have a unique ID number on it, which will doubtless be registered to your reservation account. They can probably pull up any information they might need from that.
  14. GillianP1301

    GillianP1301 DIS Veteran

    Jun 22, 2012
    The OP's point about needing a backup plan is going to be key to a successful roll out of this technology. And the backup should be part of the testing that is going on, which clearly it's not. If a scanner is down (which will happen, it's technology), they need to be able to react to that with minimal negative impact to their customers. I'm seeing no evidence of it and anything I have seen them attempt to roll out from an IT perspective in the last little while, doesn't show evidence of being well thought out either. Their website alone is really not appropriate or acceptable for a company of the magnitute of Disney.
  15. CuteAsMinnie

    CuteAsMinnie DIS Veteran

    Jun 16, 2004
    Thank you for sharing! I think you're spot on!
  16. JR864

    JR864 Earning My Ears

    Mar 5, 2013
    Yep, I had to enter the PIN for most times where I used the card for counter service or snack credits -- no requirement for table service though.

    There was a credit card tied to the KTTW, but I never used the card for charging (it was my buddy's credit card).

  17. khaoskat

    khaoskat Mouseketeer

    Feb 21, 2013
    If they are anything like the bands places like Great Wolf Lodge use (room key, water park pass, charging ability to your room, etc), they suck. Our last trip we had to have one of ours replaced because it stopped working. We had to get every single person in our room together and reprogram/replace every single band at one time.

    Hopefully the will get better, and glad you had a positive attitude when they were testing it out on you.
  18. danceintherain

    danceintherain DIS Veteran

    Oct 2, 2007
    This is my concern exactly. I think that eventually they will have MOST of the glitches worked out, but until that happens, I can see it very frustrating.
    Luckily, it seems that that most they'll have ready to go by my trip time in April is the RFID equipped KTTW cards and not the wristbands (I can't imagine that they'll unleash the newest technology over Spring Break). I was planning on really taking advantage of room charge this time around, but maybe I won't.
    We already bought our AFS tickets (which can't be added to KTTW) so park entrance won't be an issue.

    It is possible that they won't actually start distributing wristbands until after they get most of the issues worked out.
  19. cbnsoul

    cbnsoul DIS Veteran

    Aug 12, 2009
    This is a very well-written post. Hopefully the Disney people have contemplated this very scenario.
  20. Diznotyzed

    Diznotyzed It made Sunday Nights special

    Jun 6, 2006
    My rough guess from our trip last week was about 2/3 successful tap-to-pay to 1/3 unsuccessful. Every successful tap did require us to input our pin, however. We also wondered what sort of back up there will be for Magic Bands vs key cards.

    The reactions of CMs when the readers didn't work was very mixed. Some simply switched to swiping the cards, some hit some buttons on their touch screen and asked us to try again, and some acted as though *we* were doing something wrong.

    Our friends KTTW wouldn't work at any of the entry turnstiles, but fortunately the hand held scanners were a quick fix to that. When they tried back at the hotel to get them fixed, they were told there was nothing wrong with them and it was implied that our friends simply didn't know how to use them correctly. We found that pretty funny since none of the turnstile greeters could get them to work, either.
  21. TDC Nala

    TDC Nala 1937, what a year that was

    Jun 22, 2001
    Anybody tried the WDW website? I stalled it at least two times trying to add a celebration to a restaurant reservation. On the DVC site, when you try to add a celebration, it takes you to the regular WDW resort booking page - to book a resort reservation, nothing to do with DVC reservations. Which you absolutely do not need if you are DVC. They need to clean this whole thing up before they start expecting the entire thing to be run by the website and related apps.

    I used the KTTW for touch to pay once and it worked fine...but I do not have big hands, and the touchpad to insert your PIN number is TINY. I pressed the wrong buttons twice.

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