Looks like the “Happiest Place On Earth” is about to become the “Most Connected Place On Earth.”

According to the New York Times, this spring Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla. will roll out MyMagic+, a new vacation management system that will include radio-frequency identification bracelets called “MagicBands.” The rubber RFID bracelets will be encoded with credit card information, allowing visitors to buy ride tickets, pass through turnstiles and purchase food with a flick of the wrist.

The MagicBands will also include user information such as the wearer’s name and birthday, so that costumed Disney characters may offer a more personalized interaction. Imagine Mickey approaching someone and saying, “Hello Billy, I understand it’s your birthday.” This seemingly clairvoyant feature just adds to the fantasy says Disney officials.

“If we can enhance the experience, more people will spend more of their

leisure time with us,” Thomas O. Staggs, chairman of Disney Parks

and Resorts, told the New York Times.

The bands are part of a new website and app called My Disney Experience that will enable users of MyMagic+ to select three FastPasses for rides or VIP seating for special events. Visitors can register here for the MagicBands, which will also serve as room keys for on-site resorts and parking tickets.

The bands will remain optional, however Disney does plan to mine the wealth of consumer data it will collect from those who decide to participate. What rides did you visit? Did you purchase Mickey Mouse Ears or a balloon? Did you stop and say hi to Goofy or make a beeline to Donald Duck? These are all questions Disney believes MyMagic+ will answer.

Disney says they’re aware of potential privacy concerns, especially with children, but explains that integrating the technology of MyMagic+ to the theme park is essential to staying relevant in the digital age. MagicBands will not be mandatory and guests will decide how much information to provide.

Analysts expect the initiative will cost $800 million to $1 billion and affect the roughly 30 million people who visit Disney World every year.

Yes, the MagicBands are optional, but news like may make some people feel like a duck being gavaged for foie gras. So if you’re not into being force fed monoculture, how about Black Flag’s “Rise Above” for a little dessert. If that’s a little too heavy for your palate, might I recommend the Dirty Projectors’ more delicate version, one of my personal faves.

via NPR, the New York Times

Credit: Kent Phillips/Disney