Billion $ Bet by Disney on Technology to Track Theme-Park Visitors

Description: Jason McInerney and his wife, Melissa, recently tapped their lunch orders onto a touchscreen at the entrance to the Be Our Guest restaurant at Florida’s Walt Disney World Resort and were told to take any open seat. Moments later a food server appeared at their table with their croque-monsieur and carved turkey sandwiches. Asks McInerney, a once-a-year visitor to Disney theme parks: “How did they know where we were sitting?”

Source: businessweek.com

Date: March 7, 2014


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Change is always tricky for Disney, especially at its parks, where introducing a new brand of coffee can spark a revolt by fans. Unhappy mouseketeers last year began a petition drive to keep Disneyland in January from pulling the Billy Hill and the Hillbillies show after 21 years (it didn’t work). Others marched on the park’s City Hall in 2004 after recalibrations made to the Mad Tea Party ride in the name of safety slowed it down.

MyMagic+ promises far more radical change. It’s a sweeping reservation and ride planning system that allows for bookings months in advance on a website or smartphone app. Bracelets called MagicBands, which link electronically to an encrypted database of visitor information, serve as admission tickets, hotel keys, and credit or debit cards; a tap against a sensor pays for food or trinkets. The bands have radio frequency identification (RFID) chips—which critics derisively call spychips because of their ability to monitor people and things.  READ REST OF STORY 

Questions for discussion:

1.  Why is Disney investing in this RFID technology and why is it important?

2.  What potential applications do you see for RFID technology and in what industries will this add the greatest value?

3.  Comment on the statement “critics derisively call spychips because of their ability to monitor people and things.

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114 thoughts on “Billion $ Bet by Disney on Technology to Track Theme-Park Visitors

  1. Sean Roberts

    1. Why is Disney investing in this RFID technology and why is it important?
    Disney is investing in this RFID technology because, first of all, they are trying to maintain their competitive advantage in the theme park industry. What this technology does for Disney, is it allows them to track customers movements throughout the park by replacing there credit/debit card, room keys, etc., with a wrist band that does all of that for them. The wristband can transmit information to Disney helping them determine things like what souvenirs should be stocked, what restaurants should serve, or what rides should be staffed. It’s important because as Disney says it wants to make ““a more immersive, more seamless, and more personal experience”, which is what it will be able to do with the wristbands by calling kids by their names, or sudden openings in the queue for certain rides.
    2. What potential applications do you see for RFID technology and in what industries will this add the greatest value?
    RFID techology can be applied to almost anything and after Disney, if it is successfull, it could be copied not only by other theme parks but also by museums, zoos, airports, and malls. In grocery stores it could make shopping easier for those buying by knowing what someones common purchases are, or how much they usual spend as they step into the store. Airports would know where people fly most often, where they usually like to sit on the plane and coordinate gates accordingly. The possibilities are endless for this type of technology and can be applied to almost any industry.

    Reply
  2. Leon Mella

    1. Why is Disney investing in this RFID technology and why is it important?
    Disney is using RFID as a way to create both efficiency and ease for both themselves and their customers. It is a way to help track customers and its importance is that due to the ability to be used on this Large of a scale is a fantastic indicator of other companies being able to implement this into their own operations. Disney also needs this as a way to monitor children in the park. These chips are all associated so groups are known to the company who comes with who. So the actual protection of children and being able to keep them safe must be a top priority and also a good reason to implement this service.
    2. What potential applications do you see for RFID technology and in what industries will this add the greatest value?
    The biggest value I see is actually Disneyland for monitoring children in their park. Also one thing that it already does have a large foot in is the banking and credit card industry. Tap with cards is an incredible thing to have being able to use your card to easily as well as being able to use your card through your phone to make your phone an even better life central device.

    Reply
  3. Miriam

    1. Why is Disney investing in this RFID technology and why is it important? Disney is investing in Radio Frequency Identification chips, or also referred to as RFID, because it is extremely efficient for both the consumers and the business to do it this way. It is important because it keeps the consumer happy and avoids long line ups.

    2. What potential applications do you see for RFID technology and in what industries will this add the greatest value? They can add great value to companies who are looking for information on individuals and where they go in their day or how they move from area to area, if by bike, walking or driving. It can be beneficial for rerouting traffic and finding the best alternative that individuals already know about.

    3. Comment on the statement “critics derisively call spychips because of their ability to monitor people and things. This is very true because of the invasion of privacy it can bring forward. Individuals may not like the use of these because they don’t know when its happening or where the information is going.

    Reply
  4. Rahul Ramesh

    1. Why is Disney investing in this RFID technology and why is it important?
    Introducing Radio Frequency Identification chips are an excellent way to keep track of customers. With all the data collected from all the RFID tags it could be used to analyze the most used rides, most eaten at places, things people like to buy at gift stores etc. Knowing this kind of information about customers can help the company yield massive profits. This is a very smart way to take advantage of people on vacation as most of us are looking for convinience, a card for everything.

    2. What potential applications do you see for RFID technology and in what industries will this add the greatest value?
    RFID’s have many uses. E-Passports have been using RFID technology since 1998 where the user can just scan the tag and carry on with the rest of his travel. RFID technology, more specifically implantable RFID tags has been used in animal identification and is one of the oldest uses of RFID technology. Libraries these days are replacing library item’s barcodes with RFID technology, making the process of checking out and returning library items faster and more efficient. Most large corporations have RFID technology in employee identification cards which help in monitoring the actions of employees during work and the security of the company by authorizing access to the company only to people with their employee identification card.

    3. Comment on the statement “critics derisively call spychips because of their ability to monitor people and things.
    One of the main privacy concerns of using RFID technology is the ability of anyone to obtain the information contained in the RFID tag by getting close enough to scan the tag. This is a huge privacy concern as it might lead gathering of sensitive information about a person without the authorization of the owner of the RFID tag. Which is probably why the statement “critics derisively call spychips because of their ability to monitor people and things” in the article is very true.

    Reply
  5. Jamie Henders

    1. Why is Disney investing in this RFID technology and why is it important?

    The RFID technology Disney is investing in allows customers to have a “more immersive, more seamless and more personal experience.” Disney is constantly coming up with new advances in technology for their park to give them a competitive advantage against any other theme parks around the world. It is important because customers will overall have a better experience, they will share that experience with others, and they will want to come back. The easy connivence of this RFID technology is what will drive their profits.

    2. What potential applications do you see for RFID technology and in what industries will this add the greatest value?

    I believe this RFID technology will add great value in a lot of industries. For example, music festival would benefit a lot because they can keep track of people coming and going into the festival grounds as well as seeing what people are buying. They can keep tabs on what they need to provide to allow the best experience possible for musical festival goers.

    3. Comment on the statement “critics derisively call spy chips because of their ability to monitor people and things.
    I think these spy chips are very useful because it can help companies gather data about their customers. Anything from what they eat, to how much, at what times,etc could be very beneficial for profit reasons. I think that if this information gets into the wrong hands, it could be an extreme violation of privacy.

    Reply
  6. Kathryn Yost

    1. Why is Disney investing in this RFID technology and why is it important?
    The investment into RFID technology is a good investment as it allows Disney to efficiently manage their labour cost by allocating staff to where they are needed at the exact time that they are needed. RFID uses technology to track people and can specify when extra people are lined up for rides which tells Disney to direct staff to that part of the park.
    2. What potential applications do you see for RFID technology and in what industries will this add the greatest value?
    RFID is used in hospitals to help track and locate patients. The ability to track patients reduces the staff requirements and lowers the risk of medical issues associated with not knowing a patients history. I can see this benefiting hospitals and theme parks. Theme parks can use this to track down lost kids. Hospitals can use RFID to track down patients more efficiently and effectively, potentially saving lives.
    3. Comment on the statement “critics derisively call spychips because of their ability to monitor people and things.
    There are pro’s and con’s; this topic has sparked a lot of controversy around the world. The U.S has attempted this before. People want their privacy, and view the use of spychips as an invasion of their privacy. On the opposite side of the argument, monitoring individuals can reduce the impact/stop a serious terrorist attack in the future.

    Reply
  7. Marilou D

    1. If Disney is investing in this RFID technology, it is to satisfy the customers by offering them an effective and efficient service that ease their trip in the park. They achieve this satisfaction with the use of the fast-pass system and now the RFID, the “MagicBands” wristbands that pair with compatible devices for the relay and collection of data. By using this new technology it is a great mean to keep their clients and attract new ones, by using innovative technology and adapting they assure the future of their company.

    2. Surly the RFID technologies will be very popular for the next few years and will soon be considered as a normal equipment to get in any kind of industries. To me having this technology in the retail industry would bring great benefits because implanted in a tag the chip would record and store data such as a serial number, price or purchase record, which would add effectiveness and efficiency to daily operations of any retail company. In addition the tag can be attached to all sorts of things not just merchandise, but also shipping containers, vehicles, even pet or animal collars. At the end, this concept would add greater value and be useful to all sectors.

    Reply
  8. Jaylen Korver

    1. Why is Disney investing in this RFID technology and why is it important?
    Disney is investing in this technology because it allows them to track their patrons to their parks, and allows the people that go to Disneyland easier accessibility to the various services with in the park. It’s all about the guest satisfaction. If you can make the guest happier by allowing them to do other stuff in the park, instead of being stuck in line, it encourages repeat business. Plus, instead of standing in line, they could be spending money in a gift shop or buying food, which is easier as well with the RFID technology.
    2. What potential applications do you see for RFID technology and in what industries will this add the greatest value?
    I think places where mass amounts of people attend will benefit well from this technology, like malls, music festivals, and theme parks. It allows the guest to have a more personalized experience, and by notifications and tracking, it allows the guest to me more accessible in the things they care about.
    3. Comment on the statement “critics derisively call spychips because of their ability to monitor people and things.
    If the information were to fall in the wrong hands, it could be bad. Say your information was kept in a database, criminals could determine habits and get you when you least expect it. Privacy goes straight out the door with this kind of technology, but, if you have nothing to hide, why should you be worried about that kind of spying?

    Reply
  9. Brian Kemp

    1. The Radio Frequency Identification chips can potentially allow Disney to better plan its operations. By tracking what people buy where they are they have important intel that ca lead to a more seamless experience at their Disney theme parks. The rfid wristband can track not only their guests movements but also tracking what they purchase, and of course if everything becomes more convenient the consumers can more time having fun ( and spending money) then worrying about what to do next or fumbling with key to get into a hotel room.
    2. I see rfid technology being applied quite generously in the future and it could be applied in shopping malls for the same effect or in a extreme scenario it could be applied to an entire countries populace. The information gathered could invaluable for planning roads, and other infrastructure. Communities could be built and designed with exactly what they would need supported by the overwhelming amount of data an operation like this one could provide.
    3. The spychips comment is unfortunately very correct with all this information that is gathered we could know someone’s eating habits, where they live, work, etc. All this information is extremely useful, however, in the wrong hands it could equate to an extreme violation of privacy.

    Reply
  10. Chris Hansen

    I have always been amazed by the organized chaos that is amusement parks. People are moving in seemingly random ways. Jumping from ride to ride to washroom to food and then back to a ride still with food in hand. Basically, amusement parks were at the will of luck. If people all wanted to go to the rollercoaster at one time, there would be a huge line that they could not fix.
    As a Rollercoaster Tycoon player, this is unbelievably cool. This technology basically gives Disney the ability to track what ever they want. Maybe families always go to the washroom after a certain ride, maybe they get hungry after that. If Disney can better understand their patrons, they can better design their infrastructure to serve them.
    Unfortunately, this is a little invasive on the other side. If I was walking around and I knew I was just a data point on the huge Disney machine, I would be a little creeped out. I definitely value my privacy, but I certainly appreciate the value of having more data. At the moment, I do not know how to consolidate these two beliefs. Maybe if Disney was transparent with the information, and anonymity was guaranteed, I would feel better.

    Reply
  11. Graydon Burbnk

    1. Why is Disney investing in this RFID technology and why is it important?
    Disney is investing in RFID tags and is placing such importance on it because the company is trying to make a visit to one of the parks a “more immersive, more seamless and more personal experience” this allows for more personal interactions between Disney employees and their customers. This important development allows customers to have an easier experience at the parks, where they can focus on having fun with their family and focus less on stumbling through the park worried about where to eat, what time they have a reservation or how many tickets it takes to ride certain rides. This all in one device called “My Wrist” is an all-encompassing wrist band that converts many devices into one that is easy to use and hassle free which the customers love and allows the parks to track customers usage, popularity of rides, amount of money spent on meals and even the names and special circumstances of each patron.

    2. What potential applications do you see for RFID technology and in what industries will this add the greatest value?
    I believe that there are so many useful applications for RFID technology in many industries in our marketplace. For example, in a shopping experience for furniture or groceries this technology could make the experience much more seamless and easy for those buying and selling the products. Say a customer comes into the store, once they enter the store the employees would already know the name, product purchase history, average amount spent and other very useless information as soon as they stepped foot into the store. Employees could greet the customer by name, tell them deals and products they may be interested in based on purchase history and could potentially create stronger customer relations all simply by instituting RFID technology.

    Reply

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