Disney’s Digital Transformation Hits Key Business Goals

Disney’s Digital Transformation Hits Key Business Goals

Every time I head to Disney World, I quickly find new technology developments — true digital transformation — aimed at improving the customer experience, helping Disney take in more of my hard-earned dollars, or reduce their costs.

The Most Magical Place on Earth was among the first places to deploy mobile wireless food and gift carts to make it easier to spend more money by accepting credit cards thanks to a massive wireless infrastructure. They developed the MagicBands (as frequent visitors, we earned the privilege of being trial users) to improve the customer experience by leveraging the embedded RFID chip for everything from opening the hotel door to buying lunch to gaining entry to the theme parks.

What was new in our most recent visit a few months ago? Some interesting, and somewhat concerning, developments in the digital transformation world:

Limited Refills, Thanks to RFID

Disney guests must have been filling, and refilling, their pop (that’s soda for those not from the Midwest) cups an awful lot to justify the investment in a new dispensing system.

Now, when you buy pop, you can go to the fountain machine to fill it. But you must place your cup down on the machine so it can read the RFID tag on the bottom. As the cup fills, you see a message on the screen in front of the machine that tells you how many more refills you can get—and by what time. (See photos.)

Through this technology, Disney not only controls and reduces the number of refills customers can get, it gathers tremendous data on how much people drink, at what times of the day, and how frequently they refill.

Photos Galore, But Sorta Creepy

My daughter went on one ride early in the day and scanned her MagicBand at the photo booth outside the ride. That way, the embarrassing photo of her screaming as she went down the roller coaster would be on her personalized mobile-enabled Disney photo stream for her to view later.

She didn’t scan her bands on any other rides, so she figured that would be the only one on the stream. She was wrong! When she looked at the stream later, she saw numerous photos of herself on rides throughout the park—some she didn’t even know were taken. Was it IoT platforms reading the embedded sensor in her MagicBand? Sure. But how did it know for sure it was her? My guess is that facial recognition is also part of this equation.

Yes, it’s nice to see all the photos. But if you’re expecting any semblance of privacy at Disney, don’t.

The Ghosts Know Us?

Those of you who have been in the Haunted Mansion know Disney does a remarkable job creating a dark, spooky ride with hologram ghosts. Among the last of the special effects through the ghost-ridden mansion has for years been a bunch of funny-looking, hitchhiking ghost who appears to be sitting right in your car as you exit the ride.

Now, they’re different. We live in Illinois. So as we left the ride, the ghost was holding a sign telling us he was going to follow us back to Illinois. Yes, the ghosts now know where we live. Thank you, MagicBand.

No More Parking Nightmares

One of my favorite new technologies removes the frustration of trying to find a parking spot at the new Disney Springs (formerly known as Downtown Disney or The Marketplace). After all, the quicker I can park, the faster I can go spend money at all the new shops and restaurants there!

Though parking garages like these are popping up all over the place, I first saw this type of garage at Disney two years ago, actually. When you drive up the parking ramp, changing LED signs display the number of parking spots on each level, and as you drive through each row, you can see screens at the end of each row showing the number of spots within that row. Sensors on the top of each parking spot have color-coded light indicators—green light means the spot is available, red means it’s taken, so you can see down the aisle where the open spots are.

Really Fast Food

A new capability linked to the My Disney Experience app lets guests order food remotely from select restaurants, pay in advance, notify the restaurant when they arrive, and immediately starts the food preparation. The goal is to reduce food lines, and move people along to the next thing—the less they stay in line, the more they enjoy their overall experience.

GPS Tracks Buses, Updates Arrival Times

GPS is another technology in wide use at Disney. While waiting for a bus at one of the resorts, we could view a sign that provided updated arrival times for all the buses coming to the stop.

Overall, the technology serves key business goals of digital transformation—increasing revenue, improving the customer experience, and reducing costs. Learn more about digital transformation improving customer experience here: https://nemertes.com/webinar-transforming-customer-experience-digital-transformation-part-3-3/