ANAHEIM, Calif. — The MagicBand, a ubiquitous accessory at Walt Disney World that allows visitors to customize their theme park experience through technology, is finally coming to Disneyland.
Josh D'Amaro, the chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products, made the announcement Saturday in front of 2,000 people at the Destination D23 Disney fan event in Orlando, Florida.
The new MagicBand+ technology feature highlights a slew of announcements and changes coming to the Disneyland Resort and other Disney theme parks worldwide, as the Walt Disney Co. rebounds from the economic impact caused by the coronavirus pandemic that shut down its operations for more than a year in Anaheim.
Old favorites are returning, new features are coming, and big changes are in store at the Disneyland Resort, which includes two theme parks, a retail and dining strip and three hotels.
"We're so happy to have you back at our parks and resorts," said D'Amaro.
Nighttime shows coming back
After a year-long COVID hiatus, World of Color — Disney's popular light and water show — and Fantasmic! are coming back to Disney's Anaheim theme parks next year.
The two nightly shows have been closed since the pandemic shut down the state's theme parks last year. While theme parks and Disneyland reopened, both shows have remained on hiatus.
D'Amaro also said the Main Street Electrical Parade and its synthesized Baroque Hoedown would return in time to celebrate the nighttime parade's 50th anniversary.
D'Amaro did not give a specific date on when these shows will come back.
New look for Downtown Disney
As part of a multi-year reimagining of Downtown Disney, Disney plans to tear down the AMC theater building and revamp the surrounding area.
D'Amaro said in its place, Disney will turn the former AMC theater and the adjacent areas into an open space lawn and lifestyle zone.
The multi-year project will begin this January and include more shopping, dining and entertainment, and event experiences. D'Amaro did not say how long construction would take.
A Disney official later said the Earl of Sandwich, Sugarboo & Co., and Starbucks Coffee, which sit adjacent to the former movie theater building, will close in late January 2022. The Starbucks location on the east end of Downtown Disney will remain open.
Sneak peek of new Disneyland Hotel tower
Construction has been well underway for Disneyland Hotel's new hotel tower for their Disney Vacation Club or timeshare members.
But D'Amaro and Disney officials pulled up the curtain and gave fans a sneak peek of the 12-story, 350-room addition.
The hotel will pull guests into the perspective of the Disney artist — their creative approach, sketching and animation style, said Bhavna Mistry, a Disney Imagineer heading the project's design. She added that the project designers studied Walt Disney's sketching style.
Mistry also said the tower would feature a new pool and children's play area, along with rooms designed and inspired by Disney's animation artists.
"From the moment you step into this property, we're bringing you into a storytelling journey, one in which even the color palette we've chosen will become a meaningful part of the story," she said.
MagicBand+ and new tech arriving in Disneyland
D'Amaro said that for years, visitors who have visited Walt Disney World in Florida and then visited Disneyland in Anaheim have always asked, "When are MagicBands coming to Disneyland Resort?"
Now, they have their answer: next year.
The MagicBand and MyMagic+ is a type of wearable technology that allows visitors to customize their theme park experience. The band is worn on a wearer's wrist and could be synced and programmed like a smartwatch with their theme park and hotel activities. The MagicBand technology came out in 2013 but only for Walt Disney World visitors and Disney Cruise lines.
That is about the change. The new iteration of MagicBand, the MagicBand+, is finally arriving in Disneyland.
The MagicBand+ will allow visitors to sync their theme park tickets and enter the park, serve as their hotel room key, connect with a photo pass, charge food and merchandise and more.
"MagicBand+ will have a new functionality to unlock magic throughout your stay," said D'Amaro. "In a theme park, it might come alive at key moments in lights and haptics and gesture recognition to add a brand new dimension to Disney storytelling, and it lets guests discover new interactive experiences like maybe playing a bounty hunter in a galaxy far far away...It's a pretty awesome way to connect us with the magic."
Along with MagicBand+, Disney is rolling out a "Hey, Disney!" voice assistant that works with Alexa on Amazon Echo devices. The new technology will begin rolling out to guest rooms across the three hotels at the Disneyland Resort next year.
After a year of shutdowns, theme park closures and other restrictions due to the pandemic, as Mickey and Minnie and other Disney characters began to fill the stage at the D23 fan expo, a jubilant D'Amaro raised his arms up high, excited about Disney's park's future.
"We are back, and I promise you there is so much more."