Buzz Lightyear might know your name

The next time you visit Disney World, don’t be surprised if Buzz Lightyear greets everyone in your family by their first names before you’ve been introduced to him.

According to an apparently well-sourced rumor, Disney is morphing its Key to the World card (which acts as an all-purpose credit card, ID tag, and room key on Disney properties) into a smart wristband that will give you a more personal and interactive Disney resort experience.

Depending on how Disney develops its NextGen park technology, here is what you might be able to do during a future visit to a Disney resort:

  • Enter the Magic Kingdom by waving your wristband as you breeze past a turnstile. Or buy a snack at Epcot with a scan of your wrist. No fumbling around for your card as you simultaneously help your children find theirs while you hold up a line of impatient park goers.
  • After you enjoy a thrilling ride on Expedition Everest at Animal Kingdom, purchase a video capturing the moment and send it home to your friends.
  • Have Snow White greet your daughter by her first name (“Hello, Emma, how nice to meet you”!) because your daughter’s wristband is encoded with personal information visible to the Disney Princess.

Disney has made no introduction of the wristbands although it’s quite possible Disney could road test aspects of the technology soon. Meantime the rumor has Disney bloggers buzzing, as evidenced here and here.

To do some renegade consumer research on these planned enhancements, I turned to a highly qualified focus group of three: my 9-year-old daughter Marion, her friend Keelin (who is entering eighth grade soon), and my wife Jan. Reactions:

  • Marion: “Very cool! Having Stitch greet me by my name would make me feel special.”
  • Keelin: “Having Captain Hook come up to me and greet me by name would feel kind of creepy.”
  • Jan: “Sounds cool. But what happens if the technology screws up and my name appears a Bridget on my wristband? Each I turn around, I’d have Mickey and Cinderella saying ‘Hello, Bridget!’ all day long.”

Disney fans can be an exacting but enthusiastic bunch.

You can be sure Disney is thinking through those and every other possible problem that could arise – as well as how much families are willing to pay for the enhanced wrist bands. Meantime, check out this Orlando recap for confirmed improvements that Disney will make to Disney World.

That Disney even makes this kind of effort says volumes about the Disney brand. You spend a lot to visit a Disney theme park. But Disney reinvests into its parks, too. That’s why families return.

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