Making Disney Magic

Many reader posts this week focused on John Foreman’s article, which doesn’t surprise me.  I would have, too.  Full disclosure: I was literally obsessed with Disney as a child, and as far I was concerned Disney could never be bad.  It all started when Cinderella came to my birthday party when I was 3 and told me I was a princess.  I was 5 years old the first time my parents took me to Disney World (which I pronounced Dis-uh-nee), and we’ve returned many times since.  I vividly recall receiving a special hotel room key with my name printed on it, and hiring a family tour guide who could get us extra fast passes as we rode the rides.  It was all about efficiency, and there would be no time wasted.  As my sister and I grew older, it became more and more like a game as we tried to get as many fast passes for as many rides as possible.  It seemed like a race against all other families to do the most we possibly could in the shortest possible time.  In hindsight we were maybe too intense about our vacations.

Modern Fam - gloria- i lose i burn this hose down
The Duncan Family Disney Mentality, as demonstrated by Gloria from Modern Famliy


So to me, the Disney MagicBand feels like a device that would cater directly to my weirdly intense family.  We get sucked into the adventure and can’t stop running between rides and discreetly racing other families and buying snacks along the way, which is probably what they want — complete absorption in the entire theme park experience.  The MagicBand removes all obstacles in our way, like having to physically remove your wallet to pay for things.  It seems like it would be a perfect fit for us, so I decided to dig deeper into Disney’s data collection.  Apparently, the MagicBand is technically defined as “an all-in-one device that effortlessly connects you to all the vacation choices you made with My Disney Experience.”  What a nice personal touch.  However, if you check out Disney’s Privacy & Legal page you can actually “review how your information is collected and protected” which will then direct you to this FAQ where you can then access The Walt Disney Company Privacy Center.  The sheer number of links it takes to get to this page is enough for me to lose interest in learning about how Disney is tracking my data.  This stuff is boring so I read it for you.  Here’s what I’ve found.

Disney collects three types of information: personal, anonymous, and aggregate.  They collect your name, address, email, password, gender, date of birth, phone number, payment information, anything posted on their website, anything posted on a Disney app, location information when using their websites or apps, usage, viewing and technical data, and more.  So what happens to your data?  Well, a member (read: subsidiary or affiliated entity) of the Walt Disney Family of Companies (including ABC, Disney, DisneyPixar, ESPN, Hollywood Films, Marvel, Lucasfilm, Muppets, Playdom, Star Wars, and others) will act as data controller.  Specifically, a data processor will be the one analyzing your data on behalf of the data controller.  Using your data, they can “send you offers and promotions for our products” and “provide you with advertising based on your activity on our sites and applications.” From here, you can click through to Disney’s Online Tracking and Advertising page, which, if you’ve made it this far, is where you’ll really lose interest in caring about any of this (with the exception of maybe some data enthusiasts or something).  Do I really want to understand the full reality of giving Disney my data in return for this plasticky wristband of convenience?  Or do I want to be blissfully ignorant as I buy my $9 bottle of water with the wave of my arm, just like a magic wand?  I want to say no, that I wouldn’t be a part of their system, and that I wouldn’t simply give my data away so easily.  But let’s be real…

Tom - this is america, I want it now

One thought on “Making Disney Magic”

  1. This is great—I appreciate how you drilled down into the fine print. The details matter: one discovers it’s not just Disney World getting the data, but all of these subsidiary and affiliated companies. Mickey has one long arm when it comes to data.Reference

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