Sign up for email alerts, from breaking news to weekly commentary:
Beware of wearing Disney's "Magic Bands"
Walt Disney Inc. has announced that its Magic Kingdom will soon be even more magical, thanks to a new technological wonder called MyMagic+.
Only, MyMagic is not a fantasy, there's nothing magical about it, and you might think it's more of a minus than a plus. What it is, in the un-fun terminology of Disney's corporate managers, is a "vacation management system" to monitor, track, and dissect your family's trek through their sprawling park. They want to know if you buy Mickey Mouse ears, what rides you choose, whether your child shakes Goofy's hand, what snacks you had, and other personal details of your visit – all attached, of course, to your credit card number and Disney's massive database. To keep track of you, your family will be given "MagicBands" – which really are rubberized, RFID wrist bracelets encoded with… well, with the digital y'all.
This will "enhance the [Disney] experience," we're told. For example, the Cinderella character can say to your daughter, "Hi, Angie, I understand it's your birthday." The parking attendant will know your name – and how special is that? And, when you get home, Disney Inc. will send you special offers to buy stuff, based on the info its marketers strip from your MagicBand. Disney executives boast that MyMagic+ will be "transformational."
Hmmmmm. Yes, it transforms us from tourists to targets. Some questions you might want Disney to answer are: (1) are they also videoing our movements; (2) how long do they keep the data they grab from us; (3) what's the process for removing ourselves from their database; and (4) do they ever sell our information to other corporations or turn it over to government spooks?
The Disney charm has turned creepy. Until it can answer these questions to your satisfaction, don't let Disney put a "MagicBand" on your family.
"At Disney Parks, a Bracelet Meant to Build Loyalty (and Sales)," www.nytimes.com, January 7, 2013.
"Customers Beware: You Are Being Tracked," www.alternet.org, January 12, 2013.