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How Disney Creates a Magical CX with Digital Transformation

The best brand experiences aren’t just seamless - they’re downright magical. What does it take to become an industry leader in brand loyalty and customer engagement? It doesn’t just come down to decades of global recognition or billions of dollars of revenue - in fact, the missing piece can be reduced to the use of technology and data. 

When it comes to customer experiences (CX), Disney stands in a league of its own. No matter how many guests visit their parks at any given time, every visitor has a truly personalized experience. With a passionately loyal fan base, Disney’s parks have created a lasting impression on their guests with both welcoming 157 million visitors in 2018–with a phenomenal 70% return rate for first-time visitors. 

One of the many reasons why Disney has created the gold standard in CX comes down to their innovative use of IoT devices within their parks.

In this case study, we’ll examine how - and why - the use of Internet of Things connected devices has helped the beloved brand to create stellar customer experiences and takeaways that all organizations can use to elevate their relationship with customers, as well as efficiency and consumer insights.

Connecting IoT and CX

There is a holistic strategy as to how we think about the connectivity, not only from digital experiences but also even some of those moments like getting a food delivery or accessing an attraction. It is partially about making it a fantastic experience for our guests but also about how we can use technology in service of the story.

- Kelly White, Disney World Vice President of Digital Strategy (Forbes)


When understanding our customers, we know that cookie-cutter service just doesn’t make the grade. In today’s demanding economy, we are looking for much more than substandard brand experiences - we need to supercharge our marketing, in-store, and product services with intelligent components that transform passive visitors into active, engaged, and loyal customers. 

The power of connected devices gives us the insight, information, and ability to learn more from our customers, and personalize their experiences with recommendations, discounts, and assistance in creating seamless, smile-inducing experiences visitors will never forget.


The next generation of CX

Impacts of IoT on Customer ExperienceUtilizing high-tech tools to improve the customer experience is nothing new for the Disney brand. Josh D’Amaro, Chairman of Disney Parks Experience and Products says technology allows Disney’s parks to, “seamlessly integrate the physical, digital and virtual worlds to help you navigate our properties and platforms, immerse yourself in our stories, connect with those you love, and share your unforgettable experiences with the world.” (Disney Parks)

  • Process Automation: By creating intelligent workflows to create hands-off process management, Disney Parks employees (known as Cast Members) have more time to dedicate to the most important part of their job - making customers smile.
  • Proximity Marketing: It’s easy to miss something at a theme park, but at Disney can be overwhelming for guests to navigate. Luckily, Disney’s proximity marketing solutions allow their wristbands and smartphone applications to alert guests of nearby attractions, refreshments, and more. 
  • Equipment Monitoring: By utilizing sensors in Disney Parks, operations are able to run smoothly and monitor equipment before failure or malfunctions. This data leads to smarter consumption of energy, preventative maintenance, and ultimately a more predictable and enjoyable visit for guests.


Display of Disney's Magic Bands

Enchanting CX with MagicBand

Anyone who has ever taken a trip with small children understands the challenges of staying organized. One of the most innovative uses of IoT in Disney parks is the proprietary MagicBand, Disney’s solution for consumer connectivity. Although these were introduced in 2013, the connected devices have only grown more powerful with advanced applications. These wearable wristbands communicate using RFID (radio frequency identification transmitters) to interact with sensors, displays, and park features to create a truly personalized experience.

In the next months, Disney is expected to release the MagicBand+, an optimized response to the initial MagicBand.



Announcement photo of Disney's MagicBand+ Coming Fall 2022

MagicBand+ makes CX better by:

  • Eliminating the need for physical payments: Guests can travel lighter and safely knowing their MagicBand is connected to their debit or credit card and can simply tap to pay.
  • Making long lines a thing of the past: With passes synced to the MagicBand, registered users can simply swipe and hop onto rides, and gain entry to the park. With the MagicBand+, guests will be able to purchase Lightning Lane passes to make the wait even shorter.
  • Making it right: Faster than you can utter, “I’d like to speak to the manager”, your wait times are monitored - and Disney notices! If you are waiting in line for your favorite treat, you may be sent a coupon for complimentary items for the inconvenience. 
  • Creating a game plan: If you’re juggling a long list of to-dos and must-sees, you understand the challenge of squeezing the most into your vacation. With the integration of the My Disney Experience app, visitors can create itineraries, share with other guests, and collaborate so everyone makes the most of their trip. 
  • Screenshot of Disney's Batuu Bounty Hunters gameEnsuring you don’t miss a thing: In the park, you’ll get notifications that alert you to interactions with nearby attractions.
  • Enhancing attractions with interactive and immersive experiences: Attractions, entertainment events, and rides take engagement to a new level with your MagicBand+. For example, the Star Wars: Batuu Bounty Hunters game in Galaxy’s Edge will allow guests to take on tasks for their guild and join the ranks as bounty hunters. 
  • Managing reservations: The MagicBand+ syncs your Disney hotel accommodations, parking, and dining reservations to make your visit all the more enchanting. 
  • Helping create better staffing solutions: Using analytics provided by MagicBands, IoT, and sensors, insights on park usage help to ensure intelligent staffing and scheduling to create magical experiences for every guest.

Custom solutions create exceptional customer experiences

Although Disney keeps much of its engineering tools under lock and key (and for good reason!), its innovative perspective on the use of IoT and RFID technology demonstrates how customized digital engineering solutions can lead to better customer insights and outcomes for outstanding brand experiences. How we collect, synthesize, and integrate this information not only comes down to our unique use of IoT but how our teams incorporate digital transformation within our organization.

Digital transformation can lead to groundbreaking opportunities to enhance our customer experience by delighting our patrons with new products and services, behavior-driven workflows, more intelligent customer service, and ease of navigating both in-person and digital locations. With new technology comes the need for new team growth - and it is our goal to connect these vital pieces for maximum benefit. These shifts represent a pivotal time for both processes and our teams, as we begin to move into a new chapter for the future success of our brands with the technology, education, and process augmentation that creates magical outcomes for all.


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