I know many of you are not going to be happy about this, but sadly MyMagic+ full rollout is being delayed.
Disney World’s billion-dollar MyMagic+ program, which offers guests a Magicband, that is supposed to make their vacation more magical and get them planning more of their trips in advance has sadly fallen behind schedule. Honestly I saw this coming.
They say at a minimum, it will probably be several more months before all of the resort’s guests can use “MyMagic+,” which includes a new reservation system allowing visitors to book ride times weeks before their vacations and microchip-embedded “MagicBands” that act as all-in-one park tickets, room keys and credit cards.
Senior Walt Disney Co. executives once said they hoped to have MyMagic+ “largely” introduced by the end of the company’s 2013 fiscal year, which concluded in September. But it is still in testing and pretty much limited to guests staying in Disney-owned hotels.
Disney did not provide an updated timetable. In a written statement, the chairman of the company’s global theme-park division said he was pleased with the progress.
“From the outset, our MyMagic+ development has been focused on enhancing the experience our guests have with us. Our roll-out schedule is designed to be flexible so that we can make adjustments based on our testing and guest feedback,” Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Chairman Tom Staggs said in the statement. “We’re happy with the progress we are making, and MyMagic+ is now available to all our Walt Disney World hotel guests.”
Staggs added that Disney has been making “modifications” based on the feedback it is receiving from guests during testing. “Once we’re satisfied with those adjustments, we will continue to broaden the availability to our other theme-park guests.”
MyMagic+ has been in development for over five years. Disney has been incurring significant costs with this project for at least two years, according to regulatory filings.
One month after announcing MyMagic+, Walt Disney Co. Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Bob Iger said it would be rolled out “over the next several months.” Chief Financial Officer Jay Rasulo expanded on Iger’s comments in May, telling analysts at a New York conference that “by the end of this fiscal year, you’re going to feel like it is rolled out,” though he said Disney would continue to add elements over time.
But they began to push that target back over the summer. Iger told analysts in August the project was designed for “a probable full rollout in the early part of fiscal 2014.” They have since stopped offering any specific time frames.
During Disney’s year-end-earnings call earlier this month, Rasulo said MyMagic+ was “still very much in the early days of rollout.”
Disney would not discuss the delay in any detail. But in discussions with analysts, executives have characterized the project as exceedingly complex and repeatedly said they intended to make sure all kinks were ironed out before beginning a wide launch.
“We are walking before we run, so that when you come down and use the service, you are going to feel really good about how it works and not experience glitches, which is our business and not the guest’s business,” Rasulo said in September.
In addition to taking longer than expected, some analysts suspect the price tag for MyMagic+ has climbed. Doug Mitchelson, a media-industry equities analyst with Deutsche Bank, said he initially projected spending on the project at about $800 million, but “clearly they would have to be north of $1 billion at this point in time.”
Still, Mitchelson said he remains optimistic that MyMagic+ ultimately will drive the double-digit returns that Disney management has predicted. And he said Disney is wise to wait until management is “absolutely sure” the systems will work as promised.
“This is obviously one of those projects that you can’t afford to get wrong, not even once. Disney’s brand is so crucial — they really have one good shot at introducing this to the marketplace,” Mitchelson said.
Disney once said it expected those projects would cumulatively be more profitable during its 2014 fiscal year than they were in 2013. But during its year-end-earnings call, the company changed that forecast, saying the “growth initiatives” would generate about $300 million in expenses during the current year and “more or less the same amount” in revenue.
Asked what had changed, Rasulo cited MyMagic+ costs, noting that the information-technology infrastructure Disney World has installed as part of the project depreciates more quickly than conventional attractions.
Among those who have followed the project closely, Yee described the collective feeling as one of “trepidation.” Some fans have been especially vocal about fears that MyMagic+ will sap the spontaneity from their visits by forcing more planning — fears that Yee said won’t truly be addressed until the project is totally launched and being used by all guests.
“There are so many variables that the actual implementation could be really positive or it could be really negative,” he said.
I know we all want MyMagic+ to have been fully rolled out already. I think all the testing they are doing makes total sense. We know Disney doesn’t do anything halfway. I would rather wait until the program is in working order, instead of going on my vacation, or visiting for the day, and having more issues than fun. You know that they say good things come to those who wait!
Wishing you Faith, Trust and Pixie Dust (and Patience)