I Was a Shipment at Disney

On a recent trip to Disney World with my family, I felt like one of the shipments you manage. I experienced firsthand the recent technological magic Disney has invested in.

The impact of that technology investment starts before you hit the park—advance planning, if you will. Disney encourages everyone seeking information about park attractions to download its new and updated My Disney Experience app and buy a MagicBand ($14.99 extra!), which contains long- and short-range RFID and allows "a simple touch to unlock the magic of Walt Disney World." The technology tracks you from origin to destination. It also keeps all your data from this visit so you can enjoy all the benefits IoT and big data can deliver for your future visits.

Given the crowds, I know Disney designed this technology to offer the best experience possible. But from a logistics perspective, I kept comparing each of my touch points to what a shipment in today’s supply chain might "experience."

Visibility. With the app, wait times at all the attractions are available real time.

Real-time tracking. The long-range RFID allows attractions you visit to welcome you by name. The kids I was with thought seeing their names on the attraction was "awesome," but I felt a little weird. Using big data, the Disney folks know in advance where people are heading so they can staff accordingly.

Routing. The smartphone app, which it seemed everyone was using, displays your location and routing on an interactive map. The mission? To quickly get you to the attraction you want in a massively expanded and crowded venue.

TMS. The FastPass routes visitors to a special entrance, skipping long attraction lines. Can’t do that without the app! And the MagicBand clears you for entry.

Merge in transit. If everyone opens the app on their smartphone, you can see your location and so can others in your party, letting your group identify the closest meeting point.

Visual proof of delivery. This was cool. Certain attractions take your picture; then, when the ride is over, you tap your bracelet on the picture wall so you can see how much fun you had. If you are 3 years old and want a photo with Buzz Lightyear, a Disney photographer taps a reader on his camera, and boom, sends the photo directly to you. Proof that you and Buzz are besties.

Blockchain provides an immutable record of the status of all in your party—including what they buy. If you are in a hotel park, you can securely buy anything and even open your hotel room door.

Big data. Your entire Disney digital footprint is kept for future visits.

How technology is being applied to all things supply chain amazes me. I now know firsthand how magical this is because I felt like a shipment. You are the wizards who make it happen.

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