At Walt Disney World, instead of tickets or hotel cards, those who stay at a Disney Resort hotel or are a Walt Disney World Passholder use electronic bracelets called Magic Bands. These bands connect to your My Disney Experience account with hotel reservations (for an official Disney hotel), FastPass choices, and park tickets. All you have to do is place the free bands next to the scanner.
Magic Bands are mailed to you ahead of time with your name and account but you can also pick them up when you arrive at Walt Disney World or at your Disney hotel. You can enter your hotel room, use FastPasses, save photos, and get into the park by scanning your Magic Band. It is also possible to pay for food and merchandise by scanning the band and entering the four-digit PIN you set up at check in.
How to Customize Your Magic Bands
It’s already pretty exciting to receive your personalized Magic Bands in the mail. However, that’s when the fun is just beginning. The standard bands are plain gray but, if you set your preference early, you can get red, blue, orange, yellow, pink, or green. If you stay at more than one hotel during your trip, you’re sent another set for each reservation. They’re pretty plain. No wonder a whole world of customizing these Magic Bands has exploded!
Personalization Options for Magic Bands
Custom bands can be found in the Disney Parks for about $20 each. Also, there are etsy sellers and online stores that sell cute decals especially for Magic Bands (i.e. My Fantasy Bands or Magic Your Bands which also lets you upload your own design). At only $2 to $6 these sets are not expensive. However, they might not have your design of choice in stock or, if you’re like me, your vacation is coming sooner than anticipated and you don’t have time for the items to be shipped. So what then? Do it yourself!
There’s a whole forum thread with 170+ pages dedicated to customizing your Magic Bands at home. Even those with ZERO artistic talent took a go at it and they turned out great. Yes, I did actually go through most of the pages looking for inspiration (I’m on page 143 now). My daughter and I finally decided to try it. She started by sketching out some designs to get those creative juices flowing.
Disney DIY Tips
Based on the comments in that forum and on our own experience, here’s what we learned:
- Glob on that polish and try not to keep brushing it too much! It makes for a smoother layer and you avoid the odd texture when some polish starts to dry already.
- Allow to dry thoroughly between coats. Otherwise, parts of your artwork might get smeared.
- To prevent painting on certain areas, use masking or scotch tape to cover them first. Some suggested putting tape on the edges and fixing the band to a water bottle for easier handling.
- Nail polish remover (with acetone) can be used to correct mistakes. It does not erode the surface of the Magic Bands but dark colors can stain.
- Paint, permanent markers, and gems are fine but try to stay away from metal-based materials so as not to interfere with the band’s sensor.
- Circular shapes are REALLY hard to paint. If possible, use a nail dotting tool for small circles/dots and art paintbrushes for details.
- Apply a clear top coat to make the Magic Band shine and seal in the design. If you don’t want it to be shiny, use a matte finish. A base coat can be used but is up to personal preference.
- Some have found success in using flexible spray coatings instead, lessening the possibility of smearing or cracking.
- You can use a “glow” polish but it takes several coats for it to actually show in black light.
- Some contributors even mentioned printing at home on waterproof vinyl (then cut using a template for a Silhouette/Cricut machine) or rub-on tattoo paper.
We just used the nail polish we had stocked at home. My teen enjoyed it so much that she was busy for hours painting all of our Magic Bands. I only got to one and she decorated the rest. We had to force her to take a break and free herself of those polish fumes.
Easier Than It Sounds
Still a bit nervous? Many other materials can be used if not comfortable with your artistic skills. Other options include use of temporary tattoos (apply the same way you would on skin but with rubbing alcohol and allow to dry fully), washi or decorative duct tape, nail art stickers or gems, or scrapbook embellishments.
My daughter and I came up with ideas thanks to that forum I mentioned earlier. There are tons of tips on how to customize your Magic Bands in there so, if you have several hours to spare, take some time to click through each page. To be extra safe, try to find some inexpensive used bands that people might be getting rid of online to practice on first.
Whether you get to decorate your Magic Bands or not, you’ll still have a fantastic time using them. They are sooooo handy! Enjoy your next trip to Walt Disney World!