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How Disney uses Behavioral Analytics for customer experience?

  • Mallika Rangaiah
  • Jun 02, 2020
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Envision just another regular day, strolling through the glorious happy place we call the Disney World, which makes the hearts of children soar with glee and exhilaration and gives adults a chance to relive their childhood. With the sun shining bright, the roller coasters in full swing, and hundreds of costumed characters cruising about spreading positivity and excitement, it does indeed feel like a magic world doesn’t it?  But when we jump back to reality, it's not really magic and in actuality, a lot of forces are at play here to make this possible. 


Disney World has come a long way in terms of progress from the early 1960s back when it started evolving to now, with the conglomerate impressively accommodating the rise of smartphones, digital platforms as well hand-held techs, which had initially been threatening its traditional theme park experience.


Simply visiting the park for getting to see and play with age-old costumed characters was no longer enough for the public in an era of video games and rising platforms like Facebook and Twitter. Not to mention the hassle of it all when we take into account the struggle of the parents, from the whole process of planning, booking the trip, finding a hotel and purchasing and printing tickets, locating maps and finally having to wait in an excruciatingly long queue while managing their children. These practical factors do take the magic of the Disney World down by a notch, don’t they? 


But Disney hasn’t left any stone unturned in weaving its wand for overturning these obstacles. The brand has integrated Data Analytics into its theme parks for developing a more customized and superior entertainment experience for its customers at Walt Disney World. Disney gathers plenty of data that allows the conglomerate to comprehend past behavior and facilitate customized offers by employing predictive analytics. This is where behavioral analytics steps in. 


In 2013, the MagicBand was introduced by Disney World that aided in accommodating around 3,000 additional daily guests. The wristband holds the key to unlocking a variety of goodies at the resort, while also allowing a friction-free visit.  Now a Disney World stay incorporates personalized itineraries, the maps become digital smartphone maps, the tickets and hotel keys become the MagicBand, and lineups are eliminated through reservations and Fast Passes.



Disney World’s use of behavioral analytics 


“Technology is lifting the limits of creativity and transforming the possibilities for entertainment and leisure.” - Bob Iger, Chairman and CEO, The Walt Disney Company 

The image shows the areas where Disney World is using Behavioral Analytics

How Disney World uses Behavioral Analytics 


1. A personalized experience through MagicBand


Like lots of other companies, Disney World employs data for understanding the behavior, preferences, and needs of its guests. It offers an opportunity for learning as well as facilitating relevant information for enhancing their customer experience. (Speaking of customer experience, you can also sneak a peek at our blog on how Netflix is enhancing its customer experience through Data.)

With this in mind, Disney initiated its MyMagic+ program, aiming at employing it for changing how the theme parks operate and how the guests interact with them. One of the biggest wins of the program was the MagicBand


This band is a radio-powered wristband which is accompanied by short and long-range radio frequency (RF) technology, implying that when one taps the band its sensors are activated with the short-range antenna serving a variety of purposes, from serving as a park ticket, a room key, Fastpass+ reservation tool, to the credit card. Meanwhile, the long-range antenna employs the help of beacons around the park for garnering information regarding where the guests are investing their time and delivering it back to Disney. The band is also enabled with the option of personalization by offering a choice of color and name. 


This aids Disney in comprehending user patterns as well as in personalizing the experience. For instance, Fastpass+ Disney’s online reservation tool, allows customers to plan their visits before visiting the park. The tool allows the users to reserve entry to three attractions, various entertainment events, as well as character, meet and greets.


This enables guests to avoid lineups as well as gain a daily personalized itinerary which provides details of the best route for each attraction, reducing chances of them getting lost. This gives the brand an edge over maximizing customer experience.



2. Creating Friction-Free Experiences


One of the biggest drawbacks that Disney’s theme parks faced was in their long queues which tested the patience of their guests. The company sought an opportunity for developing a friction-free experience for getting out of this drawback.  The MagicBand is the not so magic spell which eliminates all the drawbacks which hinder the park experience of the guests. They’re no longer required to sit and make sense of complicated memberships or perks for gaining smooth admission. The band does all the work. Let’s understand some of the features of this experience : 


Transportation and Check-In


The friction-free experience begins from the moment the guests reach the airport. If the guests have enlisted for the Magical Express, all they need to do is present their band before embarking on the shuttle for the resort. The band also quickens the process of hotel check-in with the guest’s labeled luggage being automatically delivered to their hotel room from the airport. The band’s imparted data eliminates the need for the guests to stand in long queues at the airport or hotel check-in and also the struggle to fetch a cab to the hotel and then hoist their luggage till their room. 




Along with transportation and check-in, the Magic Band also doesn’t forget to pervade its magic when it comes to entertainment. There’s no need for the guests to always remember to carry their printed tickets or cards for entry, not when the MagicBand is around and a mere tap on the front gate does the trick. 


The wristband focuses on making the guest’s experience as flawless and immaculate. The band allows the guests to purchase food as well as souvenirs easily without the need of fishing around their wallets constantly to locate their cash or credit card. 


Flawless photo sessions


Forget tickets or entry cards, MagicBands even make clicking pictures a flawless experience. There’s no need for the guests to fish around to take out their cell phones every time they wish to click a picture, not with their being hoard of photo ops at every nook and corner. Plus the amazing part is that these pictures get automatically linked to the MagicBand through the Disney PhotoPass Service which the guests can use for seeing and downloading their pictures. 



3. Gathering Behavioral Patterns through Data


The long-range antenna in the MagicBand allows Disney to continuously collect data which can be employed for tracking customer behavior insights to determine the places where the guests invest their majority time in the park. This helps garner insights regarding the tastes and inclinations of the guests.


All this aids the company in ensuring that it allocates the correct resources at the correct time by keeping track of particular patterns such as the peak times, beloved attraction spots, or the busy rides for enabling them to formulate and arrange their schedules beforehand.  For instance, if the antenna provides data regarding a rise in the crowd near a particular attraction the planners can employ this data for coordinating where they can place characters or the quantity of food they can stock up restaurants with. 


The data is also used for the purpose of geo-targeting, which implies delivering content to users on the basis of their location such as advertisements. 


The antenna also aids in providing a smooth restaurant experience. Guests can log onto the Disney World app, make a dinner reservation, and then order their meal. When the guests head towards the restaurant the long-range antenna delivers a message to the host's phone to notify them that the guests are within reach. Upon arriving the guests are then welcomed by name and invited to sit anywhere while the kitchen is simultaneously given the message to begin making the meal. This advanced preparation aided enabled through the band and the radio receivers in the restaurant allow the guests to be served promptly with their meal by the time they are seated and comfortable. 



4. Staying Ahead of Customer Needs


Disney’s magic wand here is only its capacity to analyze and carry out on their analytics. Instead of introducing the MagicBand as a technology, Disney has primarily focused on the advantages, positioning it as an invitation for the customers to maximize their experience.


The band has aided the brand in employing data for staying one step ahead and predicting the preferences and needs of the customer. That's what the MagicBand has helped Disney do. It has focused on discovering ways for detecting their drawbacks and employing the data for making the experience of the guests as flawless as possible.





When it comes to customer experience, Walt Disney World is a class apart.  The brand thrills its customers by ensuring a timeless experience for them, from the second they buy their tickets to the second they leave the park, stressing deeply on the importance of lifetime customer relationships. 


From the COO of Facebook - Sheryl Sandberg, the CEO of Blackberry - John Chen to the Founder of Twitter - Jack Dorsey (Executive Chairman), Disney holds an extremely powerful and talented team of board members. 


Stemming from this effective digital leadership which has laid the foundation for the revolutionizing power of big data and behavioral analytics, Disney has been able to design a clear-cut and coherent vision that is complemented by an effective analytics culture as well as displaying an increasing interest in digital investment. The brand serves lessons fruitful for all industry brands on developing exclusive, detailed experiences that will create a lifetime impact on their customers.

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