How Disney & CRM Rocked
My Summer Vacation

What makes The Walt Disney Company so impressive is its complete commitment to creating an unforgettable experience. And many of you are committed to that too, which is why the article below is so important for anyone in the business of producing live events and interested in how technology can help deliver a better customer experience. As you may know, Disney has recently embraced CRM, location based wearable technology, digital payments, and personalization in its theme parks in such a stunningly smart way that all I can say is “wow.” I think you’ll find this inspiring.

Below is the follow-up to the pre-vacation blog post Erin Madden Ramirez, Senior Data Specialist here at Patron Technology wrote on August 11, 2015:

-Gene Carr

Yep! We went to Disney World. Aside from the humidity, we had an amazing time. Disney’s use of technology to enhance customer service really impressed me. From the time we arrived at the airport to leaving the resort on our last day, they were able to keep pace with our needs and make it extraordinarily easy to focus on having a good time rather than worrying about details.

We’ve been home for almost five weeks now. When we checked our bag at the airport, we made sure to put our yellow Disney luggage tag on our suitcase so a Disney employee could pick it up for us. When we arrived, we skipped baggage claim and followed the instructions in our booklet to go to the lower level. Once we were on the lower level, there were multiple signs and cast members (employees) to point us in the right direction. Our booklet contained a barcode that, when scanned, told the airport staff which bus line we should stand in and alerted the hotel that we’d arrived in Orlando.


We had to wait about 20 minutes for the bus to arrive, but once on board, we settled into a cushy ride that seemed to go a lot faster than the actual 45 minutes. Monitors played a safety message, told us about how to travel between our resort and the parks, and then showed Mickey Mouse cartoons.

When we arrived at our resort (Pop Century), all we had to do was show a photo ID at registration and tell them which credit card we wanted attached to our MagicBands. Because our MagicBands also act as our room keys, the only other thing we needed was a map to our building. “It’s easy,” the desk clerk said, pointing at the map. “Your building is right next to the statue of Lady.” Yes, it was easy. It’s hard to miss a Lady who is two stories tall.

We received a nice surprise at dinner time. We went to the resort’s food-court-style restaurant and, as we were preparing to pay for our meals (with our MagicBands, of course), the clerk asked us if we wanted to buy refillable mugs. Because we’d be there for six days, the cost-effectiveness made sense, so we picked up a couple of mugs. Then the clerk had to activate the mugs. Activate? Yep! RFID technology is built into the base of the mug. When you set your mug on the pad under the dispenser, your expiration date flashes on a tiny screen on the soda machine. Cool, huh? I’m not sure how they police that, given that they also sell one-off beverages in a normal paper cup. Also, only the soda dispensers had the RFID pads. I’m a tea drinker, and neither the iced tea nor the hot water dispenser had the tech.

The next day, we hit the parks. The combination of MagicBands and the FastPass was terrific. You can prioritize the rides you want to ride and the characters you want to meet. During the appointed time window, you approach the attraction’s FastPass line and touch your MagicBand to the Mickey symbol on the kiosk, and you’re allowed to enter. You don’t necessarily get to go to the front of the line, but you do skip the bulk of the line. When you use FastPass for shows, you get better seats.


You’re allowed to make three FastPass reservations in advance. Once you’ve completed all three experiences, you’re allowed to add additional FastPass reservations one at a time, depending on availability. They even take FastPass reservations for preferred seating at the parades and fireworks shows.

MagicBands were so convenient. I mentioned earlier that you can use them as your hotel room keys. The bands are waterproof, so you can wear them in the pool. No more leaving your key with your towel and flip-flops!

Naturally, the MagicBand makes paying for everything easy, but Disney made sure to put safeguards in place so your 6-year-old can’t go on a shopping spree without your knowledge. Each family’s group of MagicBands requires a PIN to complete a purchase. I found the PIN pads a bit finicky. On several occasions I had to enter my PIN multiple times, but it always worked eventually.

MagicBands are accepted for payment everywhere in the parks, even at the cart vendors selling water and bubble blowers, and nearly everywhere in Downtown Disney (a few restaurants weren’t taking them…yet). I was even able to buy tickets to Disney’s exclusive Cirque du Soleil show using my MagicBand.

Another way Disney makes shopping easy is with its package delivery service. You can either have all your packages held in the park and pick them up near the main entrance before boarding the bus to head back to the hotel, or you can ask the park staff to deliver your purchases to your hotel where you can pick them up at the gift shop.

The day before our departure, we received a notice about what time our bus would leave for the airport and instructions on how to pre-check our bag with the hotel. We were also notified that we’d receive a list of our MagicBand charges via email. The trip home was smooth and uneventful.


What struck me most during our trip was the magic of being at Disney World for the first time. I’ve never seen a fireworks show that tells a story as opposed to just being a seemingly random series of flashy bangs and bright lights. It was amazing to see it snow (soap bubbles) during the Frozen Sing-Along Celebration at Hollywood Studios. In Florida! In August! Also, I had the biggest, geekiest grin on my face after the Star Wars ride.

You have only one first visit to Disney World — and for some people, it may be their only visit. So Disney does everything it can, from start to finish, to make sure every visitor has a fantastic and memorable experience.

And our experience wasn’t over when we arrived home. A few weeks ago, this video arrived via email. Yes, it’s a push to buy more Disney merchandise (like we didn’t buy enough while we were there), but speaking as a data geek, I think the text and audio personalization is so cool! And last week, we received a “hand-drawn” and “autographed” sketch of Mickey Mouse with our family’s name and the year printed on the card. You can bet I’m going to frame it.

Disney, and its use of CRM technology, made our family vacation hassle-free and allowed us to enjoy our time together. When you’re traveling, especially when you’re traveling with young kids, that kind of service is priceless.

How are you using CRM to enhance the service you provide your patrons? Share your answers in the comments section.

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