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Published On: Tue, Nov 5th, 2013

The Mouse goes RFID: A digital walk through the Disney Resort

I just got back from a short visit to Walt Disney World Resorts.

Specifically I stayed at the Disney Yacht Club.

Disney resort RFID bracelet photo Judy Aron

Disney resort RFID bracelet photo Judy Aron

Upon check-in I was given this lovely bracelet which contains an RFID chip, although I could have refused it and just gotten a plain old card (like a credit card) with the chip embed in it… but I figured, what the heck… let’s give this a whirl.

Had I known about this beforehand, I could have even pre-ordered one in a color of my choice!

In any case, the bracelet has information on it which links to your Disney “account”.  It combines your room access, park passes, credit card (for purchases) and other aspects of your reservation.

Upon check-in you are presented with a rather large box which contains your bracelet, with your name printed inside the box and on the bracelet itself.

Some families get multiple bracelets in one box… here is what it all looks like:  (click on the photo below for a closer look)

What an incredible waste of resources…. thousands of boxes printed and then thrown away.

But what is really creepy is the personalization: both on the box and on the back of the bracelet itself.

Disney resort readerThe bracelet is then placed on a scanner where the registration people transfer/sync-up all of your information.  You then get to select a PIN number so that if someone happens to find a lost bracelet they cannot use it without the PIN number.

You match up the Mouse on your bracelet to the reader and type in your PIN for transactions.

It’s that easy!

Ok so everyone is so excited to have these bracelets – it makes it so easy to get around and spend money and do stuff.. and so many people were wearing them! It’s like being part of a special “club”…
and I was told how you had to have actual “contact” with readers and that no long range reader can read these RFID bracelets so they are “identity safe”… but they also admit in their privacy policy that there are long range readers that can read the bracelets – and it records your “experiences” and Disney may use that information for future targeted marketing.. plus

“The security, integrity and confidentiality of your information are extremely important to us. We have implemented technical, administrative and physical security measures that are designed to protect guest information from unauthorized access, disclosure, use and modification. From time to time, we review our security procedures to consider appropriate new technology and methods. Please be aware that, despite our best efforts, no security measures are perfect or impenetrable.”

How nice.

The bracelets themselves are kind of big and clunky…. oh, and if you have a pacemaker or some other kinds of implants, you should check with your doctor to verify that it is safe to wear.

It is apparent that Disney is very heavily invested in this technology .. there are readers everywhere and every person checking in gets one.. especially the kiddos.  In fact, this technology probably saves Disney lots of money in resources when it comes to lost children.. just scan the kid and Bingo! they can be re-united with mummy and daddums in no time flat.

So if you don’t mind being tagged like a barnyard animal or sporting a modern high-tech version of the Nazi Concentration Camp tattoos.. then it’s cool!

Oh, and one other item I should mention… anytime you enter a Disney Park your bags are searched … and when you scan your bracelet (or present your RFID chipped card) they also take a scan of your pointer finger!

Unless of course, you are me and refuse to have a fingerprint scan done!

I told the attendant that I did not want to scan my fingerprint and he had me step aside and present a photo ID to another attendant… that was all.  He looked at my driver’s license and then at me and gave me the “okey-dokey” to proceed into the park.

So Disney, a private corporation, is collecting thousands of fingerprint scans of people from all over the world, everyday … and people willingly and blindly give up this personal biometric without question or hesitation when entering the parks!! How compliant and passive people are with these sorts of things.. it’s really quite frightening.  I am certain they do not know or care to know why it’s being done or what is done with their bio-metric.

The attendant told me that they use this procedure for “identification”. Of course they must attach the finger scan to your “account record” after scanning your bracelet (or RFID card).  Although they say in their privacy policy that the fingerscan (Ticket Tag) is converted to a code and the actual fingerprint discarded, one can only wonder how true that is.

In any case, I had the bracelet but never used it to charge anything – and only used it to get into my hotel room and most of the time had it in my handbag.  I didn’t much appreciate the thought of being tagged, but just about everyone else thought it was a wonderful addition making their stay truly “Magical”.

As for me.. I wasn’t impressed with their “technology … I was somewhat annoyed with it … and it didn’t do anything to “enhance my visit”.  If you ask me, all of this RFID stuff is too Minority Report-esque for my liking.

I understand that there is technology being developed that when it is determined who you are (via biometrics or any other collected information), your friends faces on Facebook (and other Social Media)  will be collected and morphed together so that advertising can be tailored to you… in other words, that person in the ad selling Coca-Cola to you will look vaguely familiar, friendly and trustful to you…. need I say more?

Have a Magical Day!

DisneyRFIDBox Magic Band

About the Author

lives with her husband Michael in CT. They have three grown children who were homeschooled and are now successfully pursuing careers. Judy earned her Bachelor’s degree in Economics, Magna Cum Laude, with minors in Business Administration and Computer Science from the State University of New York at New Paltz.

Judy has been involved in politics for over 15 years. Judy has written many articles on various aspects of education at home and in public and private schools. She has been published in magazines and online, and has been interviewed on radio and in print.

She served as Vice President of Connecticut Homeschool Network (CHN) and was their legislative liaison. She now serves as Research Director for National Home Education Legal Defense (NHELD) providing parents across the nation with important information on legislative issues concerning parental rights and education.

 

 

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About the Author

- Judy Aron is the author of the Libertarian Blog "Consent of the Governed" Judy has been involved in politics for over 15 years. Judy has written many articles on various aspects of education at home and in public and private schools. She has been published in magazines and online, and has been interviewed on radio and in print.

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  2. Ed says:

    Tommy.. why is it that you feel the need to attack this writer? If you want to hand out your information, fingerprint, or whatever… that is your business. It is Ok for someone to be skeptical about the technology and/or their privacy. I think you are naive (at best) to believe the public statements about what and how something is being tracked. Having said that, even if the company doesn’t do a thing with the data and it is perfectly safe.. what is wrong with someone not wanting to participate? Why the venom and nasty comments? Should we all just bow down and hand over whatever a private company ask for or be ridiculed and accused of wearing a tin hat? Who made you the authority on what everyone else should think? What a jerk

  3. Tommy Boy says:

    Well, that’s quite a screed you’ve written and so full of FUD it’s hard to know where to start.

    Though I have to say that stooping to comparing a pseudo-randomly generated number in a bracelet that you have the option to use or not to a Nazi concentration camp tattoo is pretty offensive. Frankly, libertarian or not, you should be ashamed of yourself for even coming up with the association let alone putting it in print. It’s just disgusting.

    Second, you can read all about Disney’s use of fingerprints, RFID tages, etc. all over their page and others. The armband doesn’t contain any PII (it only knows a randomly assigned number given to you that’s stored in the computers to associate with you). But apparently you didn’t read down far enough in the fine print you quote to be bothered by that (https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/faq/my-disney-experience/frequency-technology/). Do you wear a tin foil hat when you use your debit card at the grocery store? Or do you only pay in gold bullion lady?

    3rd, the fingerprint scanner is old and trodden ground (and has been in use now at SeaWorld, Universal, and so many other parks in the country to counteract ticket scamming that you are way late to the party complaining about it) And no Disney doesn’t store your fingerprint, I bet you happily place your finger on that shiny new iPhone you bought. Gee, maybe Apple is sending your fingerprint to the FBI every time you scan or, gasp, the NSA so they can target YOU. What a load of baloney.

    4th, some people actually like being able to leave their wallet, purse, etc. locked up in the safe or in their car while they are in a theme park. But no thoughts about how it might actually IMPROVE your safety other than helping lost kids find mom and dad? 😛

    5th, you obviously MISSED the part of Minority Report where they have to predict the future apparently. Last time I looked, RFID only claims to know a number associated with a record where it can be seen what you’ve done, but no prediction of the future….

    Lastly, all of this load of scaremongering and crap to unload with that last paragraph that has nothing to do with the text of your article??? I’d make some snide comment about the quality of journalism from home schoolers here, but it would be too easy to compare the whole thing to a Nazi tattoo….

    Quit taking yourself so literally.

  4. Matt says:

    “So if you don’t mind being tagged like a barnyard animal or sporting a modern high-tech version of the Nazi Concentration Camp tattoos.. then it’s cool!”

    This was a completely normal, well-developed comparison to two things that are completely similar (a death sentence in hell itself, vs. a visit to a theme park) and not at all offensive to anyone.

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