How Disney parks anticipate crowd control

According to a Disney fan account on TikTok, the theme parks have come up with a clever way to prevent crowds from building up — although some people may feel violated by the tactic if they don’t fully understand the technology behind it.

A group of siblings who’ve called themselves The Mouselets on TikTok explained in a recent video that the wristbands Disney hands out to visitors to gain access to the parks and hotel rooms actually help staff monitor where people are throughout the park.

The bracelets, which are called MagicBands, can open doors or be used to make payments at shops and restaurants. Visitors also use their MagicBands to check in at rides, so Disney staff can also anticipate which rides are busiest.

“This is the coolest thing that Disney can do with your MagicBand — they can actually perform crowd control,” one of the Mouselet narrators said on TikTok. “Disney knows where you are at all times because your MagicBand has a tracker. So, when a big crowd starts to form, Disney can be ahead of it. They actually have an entire team devoted to monitoring crowds.”

Up until 2020, MagicBands were free to all resort guests but now cost between $20 and $58.

“When a big crowd forms, they’ll address the issue as quickly as possible by adding characters, opening up additional space in restaurants and adjusting wait times and ride queues,” the TikTok continued.

A couple of commenters on the video clarified that the magic bands are not “trackers.” It’s not clear whether the commenters are affiliated with Disney.

“It’s not a tracker,” one person clarified. “It has a chip that can be read if you’re in [the] general area of a reader.”

“[It’s] definitely not tracking,” another agreed. “It’s an RFID chip. It’s read in certain areas when you scan it but isn’t constantly tracking you.”

An RFID chip refers to a radio frequency identification tag that works kind of like a bar code. A lot of everyday items use RFID technology, like video game controllers and keyless cars.

A 2019 Bloomberg report found that the MagicBand system has helped Disneyland tremendously. It does keep track of visitors’ spending habits, what rides they go on, where they’re eating and what characters they’re stopping to see.

“It’s designed to anticipate your desires,” WIRED wrote about the program in 2015.

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