The article is fairly benign, but the title is alarming: “Big Brother Mickey Mouse to monitor behavior via Disney’s MyMagic+ RFID wristbands”.
If you’ve ever been to Disney World, you know that the fun and excitement is often mixed in with frustrations. Waiting in line for hours during peak season. Having to scramble to find a spot for the parade and fireworks. Standing in lines for restaurants. Seemingly hitting the most crowded parts of the parks at the wrong time.
Though I can’t discuss any specifics, I did visit with some of the Disney team in Orlando when they were first conceptualizing this project, and I also know a number of individuals that have been part of this project for several years. It has been a huge undertaking, and Disney was always most interested in making a more positive guest experience for its visitors and making the park more efficient. The idea of having visitors use wrist bands made a lot of sense since it would allow Disney to have two way communication with guests and track their flow to help make their experience more enjoyable.
Now, if you want to be cynical, you can look at the individual data that Disney will have at its disposal – tracking what you buy, where you go and how you spend your time. And to some people, that level of privacy interruption feels uncomfortable. Some of these same objections occur when marketers track consumer usage across the Internet or collect personal data from hundreds of sources to create individual profiles.
But, as with most things, I don’t believe it’s the information or the tool that is dangerous – it’s what you do with it. Most organizations are brand conscious, and Disney is even more so. To that end, Disney is going to be very careful about using this data in ways that guests consider to make the experience more enjoyable (and, not surprisingly, a bit more profitable for Disney). But privacy intrusion or using the data in underhanded ways would not be tolerated.