How Disney World Uses Big Data

How Disney Uses Data/Behavioral Analytics To Improve Its Business

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Disney has combined Data Analytics and it’s theme parks into one to create a more personal and supreme magical entertainment experience for guests at Walt Disney World. Disney collects a lot of data, and all of this data mining allows Disney to understand past behavior and make personalized offers using predictive analytics. This is called behavioral analytics.

Behavioral analytics is an area of data analytics that focuses on providing insight into the actions of people. Behavioral analytics is used in ecommerce, gaming, social media, and other applications to identify opportunities to optimize in order to realize specific business outcomes.


A visit to Disney World today can be magical, but planning the trip there used to be anything but . Guests would have to book the trip, find a hotel and buy tickets separately. Then , the tickets had to be printed and brought to the park every day. Once guests got into the theme park, guests had to find a map, plan out the day, and figure out how to find everything. Once the guests eventually found the correct place, they would have to wait in a very long line.

In 2013, Disney World introduced the MagicBand with the MyMagic+ initiative which helped Disney accommodate 3,000 additional daily visitors. The wristband unlocks many goodies at the resort. Unlike a few years ago, guests can now experience a remarkably friction-free visit. A stay at Disney World now includes customized itineraries, digital maps on the phone, your magic band is your ticket & hotel key and zero lineups through reservations and Fast Passes.

One of the main projects Disney uses to gather data is the MyMagic+ initiative which combines (FastPass+ , Magic Bands, and My Disney Experience )

Let’s take a look at how Disney World uses data analytics to create magical experiences for guests, and the people behind it.

The Board

Disney has some big tech players on it’s board, so it is safe to assume that this entertainment juggernaut will continue using big data and machine learning to maximize the customer experience.

The board members include Jack Dorsey Executive chairman (Founder of Twitter), Sheryl Sanberg Member of the board (COO of Facebook), John Chen Member of the Board (CEO of Blackberry), and Robert (Bob) Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of The Walt Disney Company.

Robert (Bob) Iger said, that after creating Disney’s call center analytics project, that the project paid for itself 10 times over within the first year of operation.

“I really believe the company should look at technology as a friend”

“Analytics helped improve Disney’s accuracy in managing labor resources at its parks by 20%”

— Robert Iger

I think that’s incredible getting so much from investing in data analytics and gathering new insights that can help your customers and business. You can check out the board of directors: here.

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Mickey Mouse (left) and Bob Iger (right)

A Customized Frictionless Experience With the MagicBand (a $1 Billion Big Data System)

The Magic Bands were introduced in 2013 at Walt Disney World Orlando FL. These wrist bands are water proof and use short range Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology and a 2.4 GHz transmitter that tracks your location while inside the park.

The long-range antenna uses beacons around the park to relay information back to Disney, telling them where guests spend time. They are fully customizable by allowing users to change the color or theme, add accessories and or their name which allow users to have a more personalized experience.

You can get and start customizing your own Magic Band here if you are planning a trip to Walt Disney World or just curious about the item.

The amount of information that is able to be collected from a family that uses the bands during their vacation is priceless.

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Disney Magic Bands

A) Enter the park.
B) Unlock hotel rooms
C) Priority access to experiences (Fast Pass)
D) Make payments at Disney shops and restaurants
E) Be recognized by Disney Characters
F) Link your Disney Memory Maker or PhotoPass account

Now that you know the capabilities of the Magic Band, what does this information tell Disney World ? Well, this information let’s Disney know where, when and what you eat and drink, as well as how much you spent.

This data also tells Disney which rides you go on through FastPass+ selections, what time you came to the park and left the park, what time you leave and come back to the Disney resort, if you came to the park that day or not, when and where you had your picture taken with Disney characters, and when, what, and where you bought a souvenir and for how much.

Disney World friction-free experience starts as soon as guests get to the airport. If they signed up for the Magical Express, then all they need to do is show their Magic Band before boarding the shuttle to the Disney resort. The visitors tagged luggage is automatically sent from the airport to their Disney resort room. Guests don’t have to wait in long lines at the airport, try to find a cab/Uber/Lyft to their resort, wait in line to check in, and then lift luggage to the room. It’s all taken care of with the data transmitted from the band.

FastPass+ Initiative

One of the biggest challenges of Disney theme parks and any amusement parks for that matter, is how to reduce the times guests have to wait for a ride or an attraction. This is a problem because people waiting in line, means they are not spending money on other things at the park like shopping or food .

Guests using the Fastpass+ online tool, can now reserve entertainment events, reserve access to 3 attractions, or reserve meetings with Disney characters. Guests now can not only bypass lineups but also get a custom itinerary that maps out the best route to each attraction. Guests will no longer get lost trying to find where something is — it’s all automatically done for them.

This level of personalization acts as starting point to keep Disney one step ahead of customer needs. As each guest swipes their band at a ride thanks to the new FastPass+ system, important intelligence is being transferred in real-time to the operations team which allows very important decisions to be made like adding staff or incentivizing guests to go to a different attraction or ride. This re-rerouting of guests makes more efficient use of the park and even allows for excellent customer service to be delivered.

Machine Learning With Big Data

Disney research is tracking audiences reactions while watching Disney films through a subset of machine learning called neural networks. Usually studios have an audience watch the content and then asks for their feed back, however the difference here is the amount of data that can be collected and analyzed.

This type of analyzing is called sentiment-analysis, and it is expected that the cameras that do this type of analysis would make its way into many of the experiences at the Walt Disney World Theme Parks.

On the front end, Disney uses machine learning (ML) to help guests develop itineraries. This minimizes the time guests are waiting in line. Machine learning algorithms also help predict key customer events like where and when a visiting family will sit for their dinner reservation. Walt Disney World control centers can then notify kitchen staff to get a head start on the food the family pre-ordered earlier in the day. Machine learning helps to increase guests satisfaction and to maximize the time visitors are free to make purchases around the parks by reducing idle time.

In the background, Disney uses advanced machine learning algorithms to better plan resource allocations. With continuous updates, park operators can better allocate the 80,000 employees across 240,000 shifts each week. These algorithms help Disney to actively predict and manage demands for costumes and laundry needed to make a magical experience for its visitors. Disney also uses dynamic pricing models to match demand with park capacity throughout the year.


With all of this information on guests, Disney could send you personalized emails a month or two after your visit to give you more incentives to come back.

If Disney collected data showing that you ate a lot at the parks, they could send you a Disney Dining Plan recommendation or at no additional charge, or maybe they saw you made many Fast Passes, so maybe they could send one additional FastPass+ selection per day, or maybe you tried making reservations at the Be Our Guest restaurant but it was closed so Disney offers a dining reservation for your next visit or maybe Disney could offer you the opportunity to purchase limited edition PinTrader pin packs for your kids since they noticed you bought that souvenir during your last visit.

The possibilities are endless with all of this data being collected, and Disney’s investment of $1 billion is small compared to the possible revenue they could make once they are able to utilize the data that’s being collected though these systems/devices.

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An imagined email from Disney using Data Analytics

Disney is investing heavily in artificial intelligence and machine learning. If you are also interested in reading up a little bit more on machine learning to immediately get started with problems and examples then I strongly recommend you check out Hands-On Machine Learning with Scikit-Learn and TensorFlow: Concepts, Tools, and Techniques to Build Intelligent Systems.

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Hands-On Machine Learning with Scikit-Learn and TensorFlow: Concepts, Tools, and Techniques to Build Intelligent Systems

Thanks for reading this article I hope its helpful to you all ! If you enjoyed this article and found it helpful please leave some claps to show your appreciation. Keep up the learning, and if you would like more mathematics, computer science, programming and algorithm analysis videos please visit and subscribe to my YouTube channels (randerson112358 & compsci112358 ).

Extra Information:

Walt Disney World Facilities:
27 Themed Resorts
2 Miniature Golf Courses
2 Water Parks
1 ESPN Sports Complex
9 Non-Disney Hotels
1 Shopping Mall
4 Golf Courses (not miniature)
4 Theme Parks
80,000+ Cast Members
28,000+ Hotel Rooms

Disney Data and Analytics Conference
This Data and Analytics conference is a summit where people go to share and exchange insights and ideas. Disney also has Disney Accelerator, which is a collaboration with academic labs and supporting startups.

My Disney Experience
A Disney Mobile App for managing the visit experience.

Technology being used
Disney uses a data management platform based on Cassandra, Hadoop and MongoDB to process, analyze and visualize all data.


Disney Bets on Tech:
(1) Data Analytics Conference:

(2) Disney Accelerator:

How data Analytics Helps Disney:


Disney Datasets:



Disney Board Members:

Disney Magic Bands:

James Rathwell:

Disney Parks Attendance:

Disney Data Analytics Conference:

Fun Stats on disney:


Top Theme Parks in the World:

Disney Uses Big Data, IoT And Machine Learning To Boost Customer Experience:

Machine Learning Research:

ThemePark Analytics:

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