Walt Disney World pilot test replaces turnstiles with Apple's iPod touch

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014
Family vacation mecca Walt Disney World is in the midst of a trial program that has replaced old-fashioned turnstiles with employees toting Apple's iPod touch for a more personal, friendly ticketing system.

Disney
A Disney cast member scans a park pass with an iPod touch. Photo by Alexandra Hughes.


Visitors to the Magic Kingdom in Central Florida will notice that Disney has begun to eliminate old-fashioned turnstiles at the park's entrance. Instead, some visitors are greeted by the company's "cast members," holding iPod touches in their white-gloved hands.

The change is part of a larger initiative by Disney known as "MyMagic+," which has the ultimate goal of making the company's theme parks even more convenient and inviting for those who visit.Disney's cast members have been equipped with Apple iPod touches as part of a test to more easily provide services to guests.

A Disney representative who spoke with AppleInsider noted that because the program is in a trial stage, there's no guarantee that the company will ultimately adopt the iPod touch as a long-term catch-all connected solution for its cast members. But for now, cast members are utilizing Apple's iOS device with a special accessory case and accompanying software that allow passes to be scanned and information to be quickly accessed if a visitor needs assistance.

Disney's Magic Kingdom is the most visited theme park in the world, having hosted 17 million visitors in 2011. It's the centerpiece of the Walt Disney World Resort located near Orlando, Fla.

Officials hope the changes at the Magic Kingdom make it a more welcoming visit: Instead of structures that block people from entering, visitors are simply greeted by a Disney cast member as they walk into the park. Eventually, all guest tickets will be radio-frequency enabled to further expedite the process.

The new ticketing system means that a full family with two strollers and two adults can now go through at the same time ??something that was impossible before.

Disney's use of the iPod touch at its Central Florida resort is similar to what Apple has done at its retail stores, where checkout counters and cash registers are a thing of the past. Instead, employees at Apple's own stores are also equipped with iPod touches that can be used to finalize a purchase and scan a customer's credit card.

Disney
A closer look at Disney's iPod touch ticketing system.


At the Walt Disney World resort, 50 percent of the previous turnstiles at Disney's parks remain in place, while the other 50 percent were converted to use RFID. As the MyMagic+ plan expands, Disney plans to provide customers RFID wrist bands ? known as the "MagicBand" ? that will do it all, acting as a visitor's hotel key, park pass, Fastpass card, and even a way to authorize transactions tied to a credit card.

The company's plans were detailed by Tom Staggs, chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts in January, when he noted that his company has "devoted considerable time and resources to create a more immersive, more seamless and more personal experience" for guests.The Magic Kingdom is the most visited theme park in the world, having hosted 17 million guests in 2011 alone.

"This collection of tools is another step forward in the ongoing evolution of our guest experience, giving us even more ways to help friends and family create the unforgettable Disney memories that they want most," Staggs said.

Other crucial parts of Disney's changes also rely on iOS. Last year, it was revealed that the iPad was being used as part of a test pilot for Fastpass ride ticketing at the Magic Kingdom. There's also the official My Disney Experience application for iPhone and iPad, which offers Walt Disney World maps, official Disney Parks-provided wait times, Fastpass return times, and the ability to view menus and book dining reservations.

Disney
An iPod touch is shown being used as part of Disney's forthcoming Magic Band service.


Disney has plans to continue to roll out its revamped ticketing system at other Central Florida parks, and potentially at its other destinations around the world. However, the company told AppleInsider that because all of its parks are different, the program will not look exactly the same at each location.The changes are part of a larger initiative at Disney known as "MyMagic+," which will eventually employ an RFID-equipped wrist band known as the "MagicBand."

The ultimate goal, the company said, is to make the experience more seamless, and to allow Disney cast members to more easily focus on the needs of visitors. Rather than requiring customers to go to a guest service window, as they have done in the past, someone in the park with an iPad or iPod touch would instead help that person on the spot.

Disney's embrace of Apple products is not new, as the two companies have had a close relationship for years, driven by the fact that Apple co-founder Steve Jobs also helped to found the movie studio Pixar Animation Studios, responsible for Disney's blockbuster franchises such as "Toy Story." When Pixar was bought out by Disney, Jobs became the largest shareholder of Disney stock.

Disney CEO Bob Iger also joined the Apple Board of Directors in late 2011. Iger worked closely with Jobs to bring Disney's content to iTunes, at a time when other studios hesitated to ink a deal with Apple.

Disney also turned to Jobs in 2009 in an effort to overhaul its own retail stores located in the U.S. and Europe. At the time, Jobs told Disney executives to "dream bigger," and provided access to proprietary information about how Apple has developed and operated its own highly successful retail operations. Like at Walt Disney World, the changes prompted Disney to utilize iPod touches for mobile checkout.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 25
    allenbfallenbf Posts: 993member


    Pretty neat.  My family visited MGM/Hollywood Studios last weekend.  One of the kid's passes didn't "read" so they scanned it with an iPod Touch.  It's amazing to see how Apple's retail experience is influencing other companies in so many market sectors.

  • Reply 2 of 25
    libertyforalllibertyforall Posts: 1,294member
    Just what we DO NOT need -- RFID tracking -- who the hell wants that?! NO THANK YOU!

    Read:
    http://spychips.org

    Watch the documentary:
    http://freedomtofascism.com
  • Reply 3 of 25
    constable odoconstable odo Posts: 1,041member
    That's great. Something else Samsung can steal from Apple and benefit from more than Apple does.
  • Reply 4 of 25
    solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    Just what we DO NOT need -- RFID tracking -- who the hell wants that?! NO THANK YOU!

    Read:
    http://??????.org

    Watch the documentary:
    http://????????????.com

    You only comment when you can post links to your fanatical conspiracies. Do you not realize that doesn't make you look credible?


    PS: Not clicking on your links.
  • Reply 5 of 25


    As allenbf noted, the systems is pretty cool.  However, I think the iPod touches are only being used when the RFID systems can't read a ticket.  I was there last week and every time I tried to enter a park using the RFID scanners my ticket didn't work.  Whichever cast member who happened to be standing at the station I was attempting to go through would have me try my ticket 3 times (hold ticket to the Mickey Ears logo, then my finger to the scanner) before asking another person to swipe my card with the iPod.  The swipe worked every time (they would ask me to verify what parks I had visited earlier that day/the day before).


     


    All the rest of the people in my party had no issues with the RFID scanner and never had their cards swiped by the iPod toting cast members.


     


    It appeared to me as it was just a short term fix until Disney get all the bugs worked out of the RFID side.

  • Reply 6 of 25


    Having recently been down in Florida at the ESPN site, I can vouch for the problems that they face with the current RFID system.  It works ~ 50% of the time.  I think the problem is more with the fingerprint reader than with the RFID stuff.


     


    I suspect that Disney is not happy with those issues and is looking for a better way.  Remove the gates, remove the fingerprint reader (which is creepy, BTW) and move to bands and scanners.  


     


    Apple continues to change the world; Samsung simply keeps on copying Apple and trying to catch up in Apple's ability to throw off cash.  I hope Apple realizes that market share does matter; they won the iPod market through marketshare, not just innovation.   I'd hate to see Samsung win the marketshare using 80% of Apple's technology (and not quite getting it right, as usual).

  • Reply 7 of 25


    Clearly you are not the voice of reason, more like knee jerk rejection.  The information is credible and factual.  Instead of learning and educating yourself, you seem to want to enter a digital prison, which is what Disney is becoming -- except it's all voluntary.  


     


    I suppose you would be first to get chipped like a dog w/RFID chips then huh? 

  • Reply 8 of 25
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 43,399member


    So… hired people you have to continuously pay instead of simple machines you buy once? Isn't that backward?


     


    More personal? Friendly? If I'm at a park, I sort of want to get into the park. The less impediment to that the better. I don't want someone anywhere near my wrists.


     


    Also, drop the politics.

  • Reply 9 of 25

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by libertyforall View Post



    Just what we DO NOT need -- RFID tracking -- who the hell wants that?! NO THANK YOU!

     


     


    Right, last thing I want is Disney using my information to make my vacation way better.  Oh wait, totally do want that.


     


    Would hate to go through life thinking they are all out to get me.

  • Reply 10 of 25
    That's great. Something else Samsung can steal from Apple and benefit from more than Apple does.

    I was at a local restaurant with a "membership rewards" tracking kiosk at the cash register, and it used a 7" Samsung tablet running custom software. You were supposed to be able to scan a QR code printed on the rewards card using the tablet's camera. It was not working (the software). The whole thing appeared to be a third party solution. It makes sense for them to use Samsung, since all they need is cheap hardware to drive the camera and send tracking data back to the mothership over 3G.
  • Reply 11 of 25
    zoetmbzoetmb Posts: 2,445member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by libertyforall View Post


    Clearly you are not the voice of reason, more like knee jerk rejection.  The information is credible and factual.  Instead of learning and educating yourself, you seem to want to enter a digital prison, which is what Disney is becoming -- except it's all voluntary.  


     


    I suppose you would be first to get chipped like a dog w/RFID chips then huh? 



    I think a tracking device in a closed environment like an amusement park is really not a big deal.   What's the difference if they know what rides you went on and when or what food you bought?      I think that the membership cards issued by supermarkets, drugstores and other retailers is much more onerous.   I don't use them because I don't want my purchases tracked, although when you use a credit card, they're being somewhat tracked anyway.


     


     


     


    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post


    So… hired people you have to continuously pay instead of simple machines you buy once? Isn't that backward?


     


    More personal? Friendly? If I'm at a park, I sort of want to get into the park. The less impediment to that the better. I don't want someone anywhere near my wrists.


     


     



     


    I agree (except for your "wrist" comment).    It seems to me that passing through a turnstile would be much faster than having to line up in front of a person who has to move a device in order to scan.     And once you're in the park, since it's still a pay-one-price park (right?), I don't understand why the wristband is necessary at all, except perhaps as a way to pay for food and other crap instead of using cash or a credit card.   

  • Reply 12 of 25

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by libertyforall View Post


    Clearly you are not the voice of reason, more like knee jerk rejection.  The information is credible and factual.  Instead of learning and educating yourself, you seem to want to enter a digital prison, which is what Disney is becoming -- except it's all voluntary.  


     


    I suppose you would be first to get chipped like a dog w/RFID chips then huh? 



     


    CREATOR: gd-jpeg v1.0 (using IJG JPEG v62), quality = 90

  • Reply 13 of 25
    allenbfallenbf Posts: 993member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post


    So… hired people you have to continuously pay instead of simple machines you buy once? Isn't that backward?


     


    More personal? Friendly? If I'm at a park, I sort of want to get into the park. The less impediment to that the better. I don't want someone anywhere near my wrists.


     


    Also, drop the politics.



     


    Actually, there are employees standing at the turnstiles anyway (practically 1 person per turnstile), scanning the tickets will not slow the process at all.  It may even increase the speed a bit, because what inevitably happens is John Doe can't get his card to feed into the machine correctly, slowing the line.


     


    I'm not interested in the wrist thing at all.  What I'd prefer is for my ticket to be Passbook compatible and also for it to function as my Fast Pass, discount coupon and maybe even payments if they can swing that. 

  • Reply 14 of 25
    MacProMacPro Posts: 18,219member
    Just what we DO NOT need -- RFID tracking -- who the hell wants that?! NO THANK YOU!

    Read:
    http://spychips.org

    Watch the documentary:
    http://freedomtofascism.com

    Mickey Mouse is out to get you!!!!
  • Reply 16 of 25
    solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    rob bonner wrote: »
    Right, last thing I want is Disney using my information to make my vacation way better.  Oh wait, totally do want that.

    Would hate to go through life thinking they are all out to get me.

    How can you possibly enjoy a vacation when you know that everyone is out to get you?¡
  • Reply 17 of 25

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by allenbf View Post




    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post


    So… hired people you have to continuously pay instead of simple machines you buy once? Isn't that backward?


     


    More personal? Friendly? If I'm at a park, I sort of want to get into the park. The less impediment to that the better. I don't want someone anywhere near my wrists.


     


    Also, drop the politics.



     


    Actually, there are employees standing at the turnstiles anyway (practically 1 person per turnstile), scanning the tickets will not slow the process at all.  It may even increase the speed a bit, because what inevitably happens is John Doe can't get his card to feed into the machine correctly, slowing the line.


     


    I'm not interested in the wrist thing at all.  What I'd prefer is for my ticket to be Passbook compatible and also for it to function as my Fast Pass, discount coupon and maybe even payments if they can swing that. 



     


    An employee scanning a ticket will always be faster than leaving it to the customer to figure out how to scan their own ticket (blame ignorance, stupidity, being overwhelmed at arriving at a new place for the first time that is designed to be over-stimulating). And having a live employee there also prevents ticket fraud. The turnstile equipment and "ruggedized" PCs that run the software are expensive to purchase and maintain. The employees are cheap compared; most don't get benefits and some don't even get a raise every year.


     


    Also, if you want to give customers a more personal touch, you want there to be a live greeter available to point out important information and to answer questions. 

  • Reply 18 of 25

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by libertyforall View Post


    Clearly you are not the voice of reason, more like knee jerk rejection.  The information is credible and factual.  Instead of learning and educating yourself, you seem to want to enter a digital prison, which is what Disney is becoming -- except it's all voluntary.  


     


    I suppose you would be first to get chipped like a dog w/RFID chips then huh? 



     


    You think you don't live in a digital prison now? Do you use credit cards? Do you use grocery store membership cards? Do you use banks? Do you pay a cable company for cable tv? Do you pay an ISP for your internet connection? Do you own a mobile phone? Do you own a car... with a (gasp) license plate? Do you only go outside with a brown paper bag over your head so the public/traffic cams don't see your face? Do you mask your heat signature with sufficiently insulating clothing so infrared cams can't identify you?


     


    The point is you've been tracked since the moment your mom peed on a pregnancy test strip and your data will be used long past your death. And the best part is, this is actually a good thing unless the world goes full totalitarian, which it WON'T.

  • Reply 19 of 25
    kdarlingkdarling Posts: 1,640member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Constable Odo View Post



    That's great. Something else Samsung can steal from Apple and benefit from more than Apple does.


     


    Err... handheld ticket and checkout terminals have been around for a very long time.


     


    Apple themselves used to use Windows CE handhelds in their stores, and many sports arenas have used similar devices for about the last decade for scanning tickets.


     


    This is nothing new.  It's just today's developers using off-the-shelf devices instead of buying slightly more custom ones.


     


    Hey, does anyone recognize the scanner case being used here?   Is it one of the LineaPro models like Apple now uses?

  • Reply 20 of 25
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 4,612member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by libertyforall View Post



    Just what we DO NOT need -- RFID tracking -- who the hell wants that?! NO THANK YOU!



    Read:

    http://xxxxxxxxxx.org



    Watch the documentary:

    http://xxxxxxxxxx.com




    You never recovered from that alien probe did you?

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