Walt Disney World rolls out free Wi-Fi Internet at Magic Kingdom theme park, enabling further NextGen Fastpass testing

in Disney, Magic Kingdom, Theme Parks, Walt Disney World

wifi-magic-kingdom

Free wireless Internet access is now available at the Magic Kingdom theme park, part the an ongoing “NextGen” project that’s using technology to improve guest experiences at Walt Disney World.

Guests visiting the Magic Kingdom can currently connect to a Wi-Fi network called “Disney-Guest” and, after agreeing to Disney’s terms of usage, are able to tweet, post to Facebook, browse the web, and freely use the Internet. The new wireless access follows just a couple months after Walt Disney World Resort added free Wi-Fi across all its hotels.

The addition of free Wi-Fi to the Magic Kingdom has been confirmed by its announcement on the internal Disney Cast Member web portal known as the Hub. Disney didn’t immediately respond to a request for a comment regarding the in-park Internet access, which is believed to be just the first step in a resort-wide roll out reaching across all four Walt Disney World theme parks and possibly even into water parks and onboard the monorail system.

UPDATE: Walt Disney World spokesperson Laura Spencer let me know that Disney plans to provide free Wi-Fi in all four theme parks (Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom) as well as Downtown Disney by early 2013.

Don’t always expect blazing speeds while surfing the ‘net in the parks. While at the Magic KIngdom, local guest Johnny Norris (@NorrisJohnyWG) sent over one surprising result of a Wi-Fi speed test:

But others have reported speeds far greater, reaching nearly 10Mbps down and 8Mbps up, so how fast the Internet works depends on how many people are using the system and how close guests are to the nearest hotspot. Speeds and connection strength, of course, may vary as Disney continues to roll out and test the availability of Wi-Fi.

Directly related to the addition of Wi-Fi in the park, testing on the NextGen Fastpass system will soon be resuming at the Magic Kingdom, scheduled for August 14-20, just a couple weeks from now. Familiar RFID-equipped posts have once again begun showing up outside various attractions around the park (still under covers in the photo below, taken two days ago).

UPDATE (8/14/12): The next phase of NextGen Fastpass+ tests has been moved to September.


(Photo by @TravisInOrlando)

The public Wi-Fi network will reportedly be used to connect the new NextGen Fastpass system with a mobile app called “My Disney Experience,” building upon the existing Mobile Magic app, which already offers attraction wait times, Fastpass availability, and more information helpful to guests inside the park.

One of the biggest complaints guests have had in using the Mobile Magic app is the unreliable availability of Internet access over cellular connections, necessary for receiving park information. Disney aims to fix this problem by making free Wi-Fi available to park guests, also allowing future integration with Internet-enabled mobile apps.

Smart phones and other Internet-capable mobile devices won’t be required for guests to utilize the NextGen Fastpass system, previously tested using RFID-based cards that provide the necessary information regarding pre-scheduled ride and show return times. But as the saturation of mobile devices continues to grow, more guests will find increasingly convenient ways of enjoying Disney’s theme parks with less time spent waiting in line – or, at least, that’s the goal.

Beyond its initial announcement in February 2011, Disney has yet to fully reveal plans for their NextGen project. Testing continues this month in the Magic Kingdom and on and off until Disney is ready to officially debut their revolutionary new ways to experience theme parks.

37 Comments

  1. Jared

    Have you heard anything about any plans for Disney offering free WiFi for those of us on the West Coast?

    1. Ricky Brigante

      I asked Disney and haven’t heard back yet.

    2. beb

      The Wi-Fi team is moving to Anaheim after Orlando is complete. Late 2013.

  2. Ross Beattie

    Randomly coming across this article whilst watching the Election… Was pleased to see about the free wifi at Walt Disney World considering we are planning to visit the park tomorrow. Am curious to see how it impacts the ‘experience’ of wdw and hopefully will only compliment the incredible park(s).
    I’m hoping tomorrow I won’t see visitors young and old paying more attention to their mobile devices rather than to all the effort that has been created towards the whole park in respect to decor, landscaping and of course ‘the experience’.
    Looking at today’s society we do see a tendency of watching certain age groups pay more attention to these devices rather than simply communicating. So lets see what happens tomorrow as I revisit Walt Disney for close to over 60 individual visits whose customer service and attention to detail is probably the best in the world.
    And yes I will be taking my ipad :)

  3. Glenn

    Guess I’ll be making sure to pack my SG3 and tablet for the next trip then…

  4. Stephanie

    Hi I was wondering if there is an update on wifi access in all of the parks? My family and I are travelling there next week from Canada and it would be nice to be able to iMessage each other in the parks instead of having to buy a texting package so we can split up and meet up afterwards. Thanks!

    1. Ricky Brigante

      Free WiFi is available at all four theme parks, all hotels, and Downtown Disney.

    2. Lori

      What app did u use for texting using wifi? I’m coming from Canada also and don’t want to pay for texting package.

  5. Helen

    How is the WiFi speed in theme parks, hotels and Downtown Disney 2013?
    I will be coming to Orlando October 2013 and was wondering how it has developed since the initial installation.

    1. Ricky Brigante

      The connection is spotty. It’ll work fairly well in some areas but horribly in others. It also depends on how many people are using it around you. It works, but not reliably.

  6. Tracy Rotton

    So I just got back from WDW today and I must say, having the free Wifi throughout all the parks was a true godsend.

    No, speeds aren’t blazing, but I didn’t care if they were. I wasn’t there to do high-bandwidth work, I was there to have fun.

    But with 6 people in my party, including 2 children with very different tastes in attractions, it was a huge help to be able to use Find My Friends on our iPhones and to message each other with iMessage. Also, I was able to check my email while in line for rides which was awesome since I was expecting some important emails during my trip. I love coming back from a vacation not having to wade through hundreds of emails waiting for me.

    My only request is that Disney somehow decorate the roofs of the buildings in Future World with something distinctive like the attraction logo or name or something. That was the only place where it was difficult to know where someone was based on the satellite view. Fortunately, the satellite views of the other buildings, especially MK, are more distinctive so it was easier (except in the new Fantasyland, which still looks like a massive construction site according to Apple Maps satellite view).

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  8. Jen

    That’s pretty cool that they have free wifi. Also, is it possible to show a character something on the Internet? Like the parody of Jafar on Family Guy on YouTube??

  9. Brian

    We just spent 2 weeks at Pop and Animation, Wifi performance was mostly excellent with 10mb test speeds up and down.

    We used the magic bands and planned our fast passes out ahead of time, it worked out great for us, avg wait time for popular attractions was less than 15 minutes.

    Is there any info on the wireless hardware the Disney wifi team is using? I’d be interested in looking into how they are able to get such excellent wifi speeds.

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