If you've been to Walt Disney World and stayed in a Walt Disney World resort hotel any time in the last several years, then you're familiar with the MagicBand. The item, worn on your wrist, was your simple access to everything you needed at Walt Disney World. It functioned as your park ticket, your hotel room key, and even your method of payment for food and merchandise. It let you do everything in a clean and simple way, but even though MagicBands made things easy, and were also a merchandise opportunity for the resort, they're being phased out, and Walt Disney World just took another step toward their end because starting this August they will not be given to Annual Passholders.
Previously, when somebody purchased or renewed an Annual Pass to Walt Disney World, it came with a complementary MagicBand. However, an email was sent to Annual Passholders (via Blog Mickey) today which says that any APs that are renewed or bought new from August 16, 2021 will no longer include the free MagicBand. Instead, guests are being encouraged to take advantage of the new MagicMobile system, which basically gives your smartphone all the capabilities of the MagicBand (eventually).
This is the latest move in a shift away from using MagicBands that began with the announcement that the MagicMobile system was on the way. Walt Disney World has already ceased giving free Magicbands to those staying in Walt Disney World hotels. This happened before the MagicMobile service even launched at the end of March. And the MagicMobile service is currently in the early testing phase and doesn't currently do all the things that MagicBands currently do. It works as your park ticket but you can't charge food or merchandise to your room quite yet.
I'm certainly one that is sad to see MagicBands go away simply because they were so convenient. You could leave otherwise necessary items in your hotel room because if you were staying on Walt Disney World property you just didn't need anything else. I'm also one who had significant battery problems with my phone during my last Walt Disney World trip, which has the potential to cause issues for many guests. Walt Disney World has its own app that you may need to refer to often while trying to access virtual queues, make dining reservations, or play the games that are available to play while waiting in lines. If you do all that, you'll want to bring extra batteries to make sure everything stays charged.
Certainly, there is also simplicity to using one's mobile phone. You probably aren't going to leave that in your hotel room under any circumstances, and so you already have it, and adding another device is just unnecessary. Your phone does so many other things so allowing it to also do this is maybe no big deal. I'm still shocked that Walt Disney World is moving away from a method that allowed them to charge for different styles of MagicBand, making them not only good for guests but a money maker for the parks.
The ultimate issue is that there are so many different ways to do a Walt Disney World vacation that no method is going to work for everybody. Walt Disney World is clearly in the middle of a major transition to a new way of doing things, and that won't include MagicBands, the Magical Express, or several other tools that people have come to rely on..