Walt Disney World RFID Ticket Implementation Report

Walt Disney World is in the process of switching to a new ticket system. This affects all types of tickets including the Disney Armed Forces Salute military tickets for Disney World.

Background

The new tickets have a small Radio-frequency identification (RFID) transmitter inside which identifies each individual ticket to the WDW ticketing system. These tickets are held up to a scanner in order to be read. The old style tickets had a strip on the back and were read just like an ATM reads a debit card.

Disney is switching to this new technology to allow a smoother guest experience. Disney has plans for these new tickets to be used for a multitude of functions such as, the previously mentioned new ticketing system for the parks, acting as your room key, making purchases, and as your token for the highly anticipated FastPass+ system. The FastPass+ system will allow guests to reserve times for popular attractions before ever leaving home.

For years guests staying in Disney resorts could have their room key and park tickets combined in one card. This continues with the RFID tickets,Disney is even testing bracelets with RFID transmitters in place of credit card type tickets. Unfortunately combining the room key and park ticket has never been available for Disney Armed Forces Salute room reservations and tickets).

No identifying information is stored on the ticket, it only transmits an ID number, the computer systems it interacts with then look up the ID to determine the ticket’s status. So any real data is stored on Disney’s regular systems, not on the ticket.

Green RFID Tickets

A sign showing the new RFID tickets

Ticket Info

Disney Armed Forces Salute tickets can be purchased a several locations

The  Salute tickets you buy from your base or Shades are not not valid tickets, they are exchange tickets and need to be activated (exchanged) upon arrival at Disney World. When you exchange yours you will be given the new RFID type tickets. The RFID tickets a have a green background to set them apart from the old style tickets, the most current of which were light blue.

Those who have previously purchased Salute tickets that were activated and still  have days remaining on them have two options. They can continue to use their tickers as is in the old turnstiles or exchange them for a new RFID ticket with the same remaining number of days left on it.

Current Status

[UPDATE: All WDW entries are now 100% RFID as the FY2013 Disney Armed Forces Salute Tickets were the last holdouts]

Disney World is replacing their old turnstiles which accept the old tickets with new RFID readers. The new tickets will work in the old turnstiles, but the old style tickets won’t work at the new readers, so it is important to know where each kind is located, to have a smoother park entry.

Here are the results from my recent intel trip:

RFID Scanners at Walt Disney World

New RFID Stations at WDW

Magic Kingdom – has a 50%/50% mix of the old and new ticket systems. the RFID readers are to the right side.

Epcot - has a 50%/50% mix of the old and new ticket systems. the RFID readers are to the right side at the main entrance. The International gateway entrance is also 50%/50%.

Hollywood Studios – Has 1/3 old and 2/3 new readers, the RFID readers are to the right side.

Animal Kingdom - Has 1/3 old and 2/3 new readers, the RFID readers are to the right side at the main entrance. The Rainforest Cafe entrance just has the old turnstiles.

Disney has cast members posted at each park with signs to direct people to the correct side they need to go to in order to use the type of ticket they have..

Note: as the day goes on and the volume of incoming guests reduces Disney reduces the manpower on the entrance stations and switches some of the old type turnstiles from entrance to exit locations.

The Future

RFID Cast Member at WDW

Disney Cast Member with RFID ticket sign

I’ve queried Disney World about the future integration of the Disney Armed Forces Salute and their new technology, but they have been unable to give me answered yet.

The way the Disney Armed Forces Salute is currently implemented would exclude the military guest from many of these new emerging features. WDW has never allowed the Salute tickets to be combined with your Disney resort room key (Key to the World) necessitating having to cary and keep track of both room keys and tickets. The upcoming FastPass+ system requires the ticket number in advance to sigh up ahead of time for your FastPasses, but the current exchange ticket procedure prevents this.

Once I do hear back from WDW I’ll let you all know.

 See this post for the latest info…

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Here are my recommendations for products and services I've reviewed that can improve your Disney planning. This is a short list since it only includes my top picks.

Military Disney Tips Gear

The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World - Best WDW Planning book in my opinion

Hidden Mickeys - Kids of all ages will love finding Hidden Mickeys at WDW

Ears of Experience - My recommended Travel Agent, Fee Free, Disney Only, Military Family Owned

YourFirstVisit.net The premier website for first time visitors to Walt Disney World!

Simple Stroller Rentals - Beats WDW's prices, plus they offer a 10% Military Discount

TouringPlans.com - The website of the Unofficial Guides - Crowd Forecasts, Pre-made Touring Plans, plus lots of other detailed info

My Disney Experience - The Official Disney iPhone App

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Comments

  1. Tricia Mahlau says

    Also curious how this new system will affect the special access passes for handicapped. In the past we often used the fast pass lanes for “alternate” entrance but did not have to sign up for fast pass tickets. I preferred the very old way before fast pass of a separate handicapped entrance (still exists on some rides like big thunder). Anyway just curious if that info will now be embedded electronically for the entire party rather than having chair/stroller stickers and paper cards.

    • Steve says

      Excellent point Tricia, we’ll have to wait and see. I’ll ask WDW when they get back to me.

  2. says

    It’s all a wicked cycle isn’t it? In order to participate in FP+, you have to link your tickets online to your room, in order to get tickets, they have to renew the Armed Forces Salute… but by the time they renew the Salute we’ll probably be too late to order magic bands! That’s what we get for booking our trip the first weekend of Food & Wine Festival, which also coincides with the end of the current discounts… c’est la vie! Love your site by the way!

  3. says

    Thank you for this post. I wasn’t sure if WDW tickets I got via mail order were the new RFID style and now I do since I could compare them to the sign you shared the photo of.

  4. DebF says

    Thanks for the new ticketing info. Going to Disney in December and was wondering if we would be able to participate in the fast pass+ program. Hoping they have it figured out by then.
    thanks again!

    • Steve says

      Hi Deb,

      The FP+ and other Next Gen options like the magic bands are strictly in beta testing now. Only WDW knows how it is going (many think not as well as planned). There is some more extensive testing at certain resorts in Sept and Oct.

      In fact I’ve been selected. So look for info from me in early Oct.

  5. Tanya says

    They do not have it figured out as of today. We were selected to participate in the ‘testing’ of the magicbands, etc. We have received our magicbands but are unable to use the fastpass+ because we do not have tickets linked to our account. I will definitely be giving Disney feedback on this! I do appreciate what Disney does to allow military families to enjoy the benefits at a reduced rate but would also enjoy not having to spend as much time in line by using the fastpass+.

    • Steve says

      Hi Tanya,

      I’m in the same boat. Our magic bands have shipped, My FL Seasonal Pass is linked and I could get FP+s for me, but the rest of my party will be using the AFS tickets so like you I can’t link their tickets.

  6. Meredith says

    I have spoken to the Magic Band department. They have told me that when the Military tickets have been activated, they can now be added to the Magic Bands. Will be going to WDW in a 2 weeks, so I hope this is the case!

    • Steve says

      Yes Meredith, that is correct.

      I just returned from a WDW trip and had no issues with my magic bands, once I bought and activated my Disney Armed Forces Salute tickets there.

      The question is what about the AFS exchange vouchers you buy on base, will any FP+ reservations survive the activation process?

  7. Meredith says

    Seeing as you do not get an actual ticket until you exchange your vouchers at WDW, you can’t even make FP+ reservations until you have the actual tickets added to the account. That was our experience….

    • Steve says

      Hi Meredith,

      I’ve had several people tell me they have linked the ticket number on the back of the exchange voucher (non-functional ticket) in MDE.

      Not sure why your wouldn’t, but we still need to know if these will carry over.

      Steve

      • Meredith says

        I wish I would have taken a picture, but the vouchers given to us at the base ITR were much different this year. They were like green paper coupons. There was no information to input for tickets or FP+. When we exchanged them, we were given regular card tickets…..as opposed to the Military card tickets we normally got in the past. While at guest services, we immediately input our ticket information into MDE. We were then able to make FP+ reservations. According to guest services, they no longer have “military” ticket cards. I guess they may be changing things across the board with this new system?

        • Steve says

          Hi Meredith,

          Yes the special plastic stars and stripes Disney Armed Forces Salute tickets from base ticket offices are a thing of the past.

          When WDW switched to RFID tickets they began the exchange at activation for the new RFID ones.

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