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Privacy Your Rights Online

Disney Wants To Track You With RFID 278

Posted by timothy
from the disney-himself-just-relaxes-in-the-nitrogen dept.
Antipater writes "Disney parks and resorts have long had a system that combined your room key, credit card, and park ticket into a single card. Now, they're taking it a step further by turning the card into an RFID wristband (called a 'MagicBand'), tracking you, and personalizing your park experience, targeted-ad style. 'Imagine booking guaranteed ride times for your favorite shows and attractions even before setting foot in the park,' wrote Tom Staggs, chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, in a blog posting on Monday. 'With MyMagic+, guests will be able to do that and more, enabling them to spend more time together and creating an experience that's better for everyone.' Disney does go on to talk about all the things you can opt out of if you have privacy concerns, and the whole system seems to be voluntary or even premium." With a theme park, at least, you can also choose to avoid the place entirely; that makes it, however creepy, a bit different from compulsory education settings, or mandatory car tracking.
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Disney Wants To Track You With RFID

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  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn@nOsPam.gmail.com> on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @12:45PM (#42520939) Journal
    After watching their recently acquired [slashdot.org] film THX 1138, CEO Bob Iger hailed it as a "feel good" movie although the ending had some flaws and promised to turn all Disney parks and resorts into the futuristic "utopia" from the film. Iger announced at a press conference that Mickey Mouse would replace OMM 0910 as the only approved deity of worship. Iger sat upon a chair made of the late Congressman Sonny Bono's remains while wearing his Grand Dragoon Mousekateer helmet although he refused to answer any questions from reporters who had not been taking their performance enhancing medications.
    • Iger sat upon a chair made of the late Congressman Sonny Bono's remains while...

      Stop. Cut. I'm sold.

    • by OzPeter (195038)

      After watching their recently acquired film THX 1138, CEO Bob Iger hailed it as a "feel good" movie although the ending had some flaws and promised to turn all Disney parks and resorts into the futuristic "utopia" from the film.

      Hmm .. should I be more or less worried if he obsessed with Logan's Run instead?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @12:51PM (#42521035)

    I admit I don't get the reflexive "defend my privacy" stance on slashdot. Why is this "creepy"? You can opt out if you choose, but you can use the system to enhance your experience at the park if you choose. Plus, it gives Disney data to understand patterns and behaviors of people who enjoy the park, and thus allowing them to enhance and modify the park to meet their customer's desires, which makes their experience more enjoyable and increases the value of the park which ultimately makes it more profitable; that sounds like a win-win.

    Can someone please explain a scenario, especially when this is voluntarily opt out, where this is a bad thing for people? Note it's also based on your room card/ticket to the park, so it's not like they can track you outside of the park, only when you're on their facility.

    • by flaming error (1041742) on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @01:01PM (#42521211) Journal

      "I don't get the reflexive "defend my privacy" stance on slashdot"

      I love that about slashdot. It's a great reflex. But after the reflex should come a little thought / analysis.

      I have lots of reflexes, and one is to distrust Disney. But like you, in this case I'm really not seeing the problem.

      • by mwvdlee (775178)

        Reflexes exist for a reason; they help keep you alive.
        You can always change your choice after a "defend my privacy" reflex, you can't after a "please take my privacy" reflex.
        That's not to say a reflex is always the best option, but it's never the worst.

      • One way it's creepy is that this will probably include kids. Maybe the message they're getting is "It's okay when corporations track you at all times. In fact, it's MAGIC! (TM)"

        I have the same concerns about schools doing it, but with that, it's school, so maybe they'll associate being tracked with negative memories of being forced to do algebra. With disneyland, it would be a positive association. That said, when I went to Disneyworld as a kid, I was so excited about it that I was a whiney bitch t
        • " whatever it is their marketing staff tells them girls like. Ponies and ribbons or something like that."

          Dude THIS IS DISNEY the Not Tomboy Girls are either Disney Princess fans or Disney Fairy Fans (or both) this is the place where Mab or Titainia could show up and blend in perfectly.

          • That wasn't really a critique of Disney so much as it was I have no idea what little girls are interested in.
    • by nametaken (610866)

      Besides which, they already have this. You take your card, put it in a machine at the ride or show, and it gives you a "come back at X time" ticket. This is doing that with rfid.

      It works great. You come back and go in a second line, pass all the suckers in the regular line, virtually no wait. :)

    • by JWW (79176) on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @01:22PM (#42521585)

      There's also a key in the name of the system -- MyMagic+. This soooo sounds like something Disney will be charging a premium to get.

      And heres the value proposition they are selling: How much is it worth to you to schedule your visit to their theme park such that you completely minimize the amount of time you spend in lines throughout the day?

      They already know in the basic sense where you are since you bought a ticket to their park, how important is the privacy of what ride you are on at what time?

      While I loathe Disney's policy with respect to copyright, these people know how to run a good theme park. I love the Disney theme parks.

      • by SomePgmr (2021234)

        I don't think they will. This works well for them... it's opt-in scheduling of all your park guests. They're already masters at controlling the flow of people, now they're going to get much better.

        It makes the park experience better for everyone involved, and that's great for them. No reason to charge... and they don't charge right now for this same feature (it's magswipe and paper tickets, currently).

      • I wish I had mod points... I would mod you up. I too love Disney theme parks. Nobody else comes close (except, maybe, Universal)... I agree that this will be at a cost and one that I will gladly pay. Universal already does this, and it makes the entire park experience SO much better... Universal's is where you buy the plus pass, and you get to bypass the lines on every ride, once. I HATE the current Disney FastPass system... it requires you to RUN to the ride you want a fast pass for, and then, RUN to a
    • by Sique (173459)
      I don't want the hotel crew to ruffle through my belongings, and I don't want the park operators to track my behaviour. It's that simple. And yes, I happen to have dirty laundry in my bags, when I am travelling.
    • by dpilot (134227) on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @01:32PM (#42521773) Homepage Journal

      Disney already collects a ton of information about how their parks are running. It's just not noticeable during normal times. My wife loves WDW - a few years back we went the day after Labor Day and the part was practically deserted. The information collectors were much more visible without the big crowds to hide them. Twice going on the Haunted House ride we got the "wait-time measurement passes" from one of the information people. He gave it to us, and we handed it to the last attendant before the Doom Buggy started into the ride. On this occasion it basically measured our walking time and the delay in the little room.

      We also got a chance to chat with one of the information collectors while waiting for a bus. He explained how most visitors felt the day's experience was good if they'd gotten on 6-8 major rides, and they do what they can to make sure everyone has a good experience. After all, that's what gets you back and spending money again.

      Really that's their goal - to get you into the park, spending money, and feeling good about it so you'll do it again. (and again, and again, ...)

      • by kelemvor4 (1980226) on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @01:50PM (#42522067)

        Disney already collects a ton of information about how their parks are running. It's just not noticeable during normal times. My wife loves WDW - a few years back we went the day after Labor Day and the part was practically deserted. The information collectors were much more visible without the big crowds to hide them. Twice going on the Haunted House ride we got the "wait-time measurement passes" from one of the information people. He gave it to us, and we handed it to the last attendant before the Doom Buggy started into the ride. On this occasion it basically measured our walking time and the delay in the little room.

        We also got a chance to chat with one of the information collectors while waiting for a bus. He explained how most visitors felt the day's experience was good if they'd gotten on 6-8 major rides, and they do what they can to make sure everyone has a good experience. After all, that's what gets you back and spending money again.

        Really that's their goal - to get you into the park, spending money, and feeling good about it so you'll do it again. (and again, and again, ...)

        Sounds like a solid business plan. Sell a product or service, do what you can to make your customer like it enough to become a repeat customer. Maybe even get some word of mouth advertising out of it. I think I may have heard something about that in a class somewhere...

      • by SomePgmr (2021234) on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @01:52PM (#42522105) Homepage

        Really that's their goal - to get you into the park, spending money, and feeling good about it so you'll do it again. (and again, and again, ...)

        And they're f'ing amazing at it.

        We were just there, and outside Epcot my little nephew said something about only needing two more stuffed characters to complete the list of ones he wanted. I said something like, "not tonight buddy". It was late and after hours (we were headed out at the time).

        A young man working customer service, behind glass, heard him say so and asked us to hold up. Remember we're actually outside the park at this point. He asked my nephew what his favorite characters were, grabbed a comp book from behind the counter, and left the customer service area. He walked over to the store next door where he got both of the toys my nephew wanted.

        He talked to him a little, signed his character book for him, took a picture... and that was it. The little guy gave him the lucky penny he'd been carrying for days... felt like he had to give something back.

        Stuff like that costs Disney about $0.20. They empower their employees to do things like that if they're so compelled. They don't have to have a reason or answer for it later. Meanwhile, the story was worth way more than the little gifts alone and it'll be worth thousands to Disney when we (certainly) come back.

        Small story. Seem like nothing... and you only know about it because I told it. But it demonstrates the depth of mastery they have at creating an experience people love.

    • by Jawnn (445279)
      Because the notion that some system is making note of your every move during your entire visit, with the express aim of manipulating your behavior (buying more shit) is nothing if not creepy.
    • by alen (225700) on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @01:35PM (#42521811)

      this is slashdot, people are morons

      using google phone with NFC and google wallet with google now in your phone tracking all your movements so they can use it to market and advertise to you is awesome

      disney doing the same thing so they can improve the park layout and organization, evil

    • by Sez Zero (586611)
      If anything, this is the exact opposite. If Disney could magically know what rides and food me and my family wanted to eat, and made it readily available with minimum waiting in line...

      that would be the BEST VACATION EVER!
  • Local news media are already saying it's not even available to everyone. They're bundling it for certain people and making it an optional extra for others, and they're really going to have to stretch to come up with good reasons why someone would want to pay extra for an RFID band on a single-day ticket, considering that single day admission is already nearly $100, and you'll be lucky if you get to ride 6 or 8 rides due to the length of lines.

    • RFID is a solution they are trying to the two problems you mention

  • by dkleinsc (563838) on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @12:57PM (#42521137) Homepage

    "I'm going to build my own theme park! With blackjack! And hookers! You know what- forget the park!"

  • Calm Down (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    It's a wristband. You take it off when you leave the park.

    I took my family on a Disney cruise and you booked all sorts of things before leaving port. It was nice and the combo room key/charge card/etc was super convenient.

    I don't think Disney is hiding the fact that they want to squeeze you for every penny you are willing to give them. Any adult with half a brain can figure that out within a few hours of visiting a park/boarding a ship. They manage to make sure that no matter your budget you can have fu

    • by Synerg1y (2169962)
      The title is orwellian, so most of the posts will be as well, I doubt Disney cares about where you go, at best they'll be able to better gather big dataish walk times between the rides and correlate that to ride times or something.
    • by dpilot (134227)

      I mentioned elsewhere on this topic - they want you on their property and spending money. But at the same time, they want you to have a good time, so you'll keep coming back and spending money.

    • by arth1 (260657)

      I took my family on a Disney cruise and you booked all sorts of things before leaving port. It was nice and the combo room key/charge card/etc was super convenient.

      Whenever ideals conflict with convenience, convenience wins.

      When enough people want the convenience it becomes mandatory.

      We lost the fight against tracking cookies and black boxes in cars. We'll lose this one too, and can look forward to tracking people with RFID becoming SOP within a few years.

  • Non-issue (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gravis777 (123605) on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @01:09PM (#42521373)

    I don't see an issue with this. You already have a room key tied to your credit card number, a pass with your name on it, and you have to book reservations at most of the eating places in Orlando. Disney already has my information for all of that stuff, and pretty much can already track me. Why not have an all-in-one system? Or is it just because its RFID wristband that everyone here is having an issue with?

    • by gravis777 (123605)

      *That is the Orlando Disney parks and resorts, not the city of Orlando. :-)

    • by PhxBlue (562201)

      Or is it just because its RFID wristband that everyone here is having an issue with?

      That's probably part of it, along with the worry that the information on the RFID chip would be unencrypted, such that anyone with a reader could spend a day at the park and walk away with much more than $100 worth of people's identities.

      • by bws111 (1216812)

        Enlighten me on exactly what is so valuable about knowing someone is Disney Customer 00123865387.

        • easy when you have a friend that can access the backend DB (by whatever means).

          oh gee thats funny he bought a lot of Princess/Fairy themed stuff but we don't have a record of him having a female child
          IS THIS GUY CRUISING THE PARK??

          (or its just a db corruption caused Obi Won error)

          • by gravis777 (123605)

            A friend and I went to Disney a couple of years back, simply because we were looking for something to do, and Orlando was a cheap destination. All of my friends sent me money to pick up stuff for their kids. I picked up tons of Princess / Fairy stuff, had them shipped to the front gate with my name and other information on it (I think you can even have it sent to your room if you are in a Disney resort). Many people do this, pick up stuff for their friends. Once again, non-issue.

    • by houghi (78078)

      I see an issue with all that. Just because it already exists does not mean that I am happy with it.
      The RFID is just something else I have a problem with.

  • Yay, Cory! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by sootman (158191) on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @01:12PM (#42521419) Homepage Journal

    I just finished re-reading Makers. [craphound.com]

    She bought it all: all the fast-passes and priority cards, all of it loaded into a grinning Mickey on a lanyard, a wireless pendant that would take care of her everywhere she went in the park, letting her spend money like water.

    Thus girded, she consulted with her bellhop some more and laid out an itinerary. Once she'd showered she found she didn't want to wear any of her European tailored shorts and blouses. She wanted to disappear into the Great American Mass. The hotel gift shop provided her with a barkcloth Hawai'ian shirt decorated with tessellated Disney trademarks and a big pair of loose shorts, and once she donned them, she saw that she could be anyone now, any tourist in the park. A pair of cheap sunglasses completed the look and she paid for it all by waving her Mickey necklace at the register, spending money like water.

    OK, so it's a bracelet, not a necklace -- otherwise, pretty much spot-on.

    Great book, and you can read the whole thing (and all of his books) online for free [craphound.com] in a variety of formats.

  • It'snot like they don't know where you are. Are you secretly attending their resort without them knowing?
    This is all about a better experience at Disney resort. It's a good idea. It's not even creepy.

  • You are already in their park, quite probably staying at one of their resorts. If you bought a meal package they know when and where you are eating. Even if you didn't anytime you use your credit card they could determine what and where you are buying things. I am all for protecting my privacy in the general world, but I'm at freakin' Disney doing Disney things for a couple days. No this is not Orwellian. When Google/Apple/Microsoft/the Government start requiring these things, then we can talk.
  • by aaaaaaargh! (1150173) on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @01:29PM (#42521713)

    I've never been to any amusement park so I can't tell whether they are actually fun and worth it, but whenever I hear of one I'm thinking of Westworld [imdb.com] with Yul Brynner. Oh, and by the way, whenever someone mentions McDonalds or a circus, It [imdb.com] comes to my mind.

    Needless to say I avoid amusement parks and McDonalds.

  • by gr8_phk (621180) on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @01:30PM (#42521733)

    With a theme park, at least, you can also choose to avoid the place entirely

    Yeah, but when you're already booked and just spent 2 days driving 1200 miles to get there, already checked in and spent one night at a resort, then show up at a theme park where they ask you to stick a finger in a scanner.... That's not really the time to opt-out. Thanks Disney World.

    • by bws111 (1216812)

      Which you can easily opt out of. All you need to do is show ID to prove that you are the same person who used the ticket previously. If even says that right on their FAQ page.

    • by PRMan (959735)
      So go to Customer Service and complain bitterly. They do take that stuff seriously at Disney.
    • If you don't want to do the fingerprint scanning thing, you're going to the wrong Disney park. Disneyland in California doesn't have them.

  • You do not even want to know where they stick your personalized "hidden Mickey".

  • Oooh, am I the only one visualizing RollerCoaster Tycoon: Disney LARP version?

    Visitor #1176675 (Translation Error) has been trapped in It's a Small World for 2 hours.
    Visitor #1176675 (Translation Error) is very unhappy.

  • imagine the awesomeness if they gave you a loaner nexus phone with google now to track you in the park, let you pay with google wallet, make some limited free calls, plan your vacation and track your movements to organize the park better

    that would be a geek wet dream come true

    i mean how awesome would it be if you put in your plan for the day and disney google now told you when to leave your hotel and where to have breakfast to make the most of your time

  • to Yul Brenner wearing a cowboy hat...
  • by Picass0 (147474) on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @01:59PM (#42522205) Homepage Journal

    I took my family to WDW in Orlando last year for a week. We had a great time, no problems. But one concern I had the entire time was "what if we get seperated from the kids?" I'm sure this happens constantly at the park and there's a whole system in place.

    Before we left I installed an App on my android that featured maps of the four parks, wait times for rides, locations of characters, restaurants and all that. What if you could your individual party members on your phone? "Person 1 scanned their wristband at Star Tours at 12:34pm"

  • Everyone meets in the hotel lobby at the beginning of the day, and swaps wristbands.

  • Having been to Disney world this past august this is just a more advanced version of the system they currently have in place. The only real difference is you currently use your park pass and buttons (personal event greeting) instead of an wristband. The new thing is pre-booking some ride times which considering the lengthy wait times on some of the more popular rides (2 hours+ some days). Disney constantly tracks ride times, guest flow, guest approval and a whole host of things we would never think of al

  • With a theme park, at least, you can also choose to avoid the place entirely... a bit different from compulsory education settings, or mandatory car tracking.

    You can choose to avoid car tracking. Remember, cars aren't people. (We tend to forget that.)

  • As a general rule I am against any sort of tracking. But, knowing what I know about the "happiest place on Earth" from my college room mate who worked there in the summers, having a tracking wrist band on my kids while I'm there is something that I am 100% for. While the Mouse does everything it can to ensure that the "no child has ever been kidnapped FROM a Disney park" statement holds true, the fact is that things happen to kids there every year and the perpetrators don't have to leave to property to do
  • by CosaNostra Pizza Inc (1299163) on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @03:45PM (#42523733)
    Big Bro...I mean, Mickey Mouse is watching you.

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