For the 50+ Traveler

It was really only a matter of time until Walt Disney World Resort began using facial recognition technology to speed entry into its parks. That day has now arrived -- spurred in part by a need for contactless admission to theme parks.

Earlier this week, Walt Disney World announced that until April 23, it will be testing the use of facial recognition technology at the Magic Kingdom theme park’s entrance. Those who don’t like the idea can take heart: Participation is strictly optional.

“At Walt Disney World Resort, we're always looking for innovative and convenient ways to improve our guests’ experience -- especially as we navigate the impact of COVID-19,” Walt Disney World Resort said on its website. “With the future in mind and the shift in focus to more touchless experiences, we’re conducting a limited 30-day test using facial recognition technology.”

How It Works

Disney explained that use of the technology still requires volunteering guests to bring both their Disney Park Pass reservation and theme park admission to the park. When guests arrive at Magic Kingdom, they’ll line up in the admission lane for the test program. If they are wearing a hat or sunglasses, they’ll need to take those off -- but they are required to keep their face covering or mask in-place.

“Once in the facial recognition test zone, stand facing the camera and then position your valid park admission or MagicBand close to the scanner to activate the technology,” Disney explains. “The technology will capture an image, which will be converted into a unique number that will be associated with your valid ticket media.”

One important note about children: Guests under the age of 18 can participate in the test program, but only with the consent of a parent or guardian -- who must be present.

Data Security And Privacy Concerns

Anytime this type of technology is implemented, people naturally have questions -- and even some amount of apprehension -- about privacy and data security. To ease those concerns, Disney notes that it places a high importance on the “security, integrity, and confidentiality” of guests’ information.

“We have implemented technical, administrative, and physical security measures that are designed to protect guest information from unauthorized access, disclosure, use, and modification,” Disney explains. That said, Disney also points out that “despite our best efforts, no security measures are perfect or impenetrable.”

Disney further explains it has taken two other key steps to protect guests’ information and privacy. First, guests’ facial images and their associated numbers will be discarded after the test period ends. Second, Disney won’t share the images or unique numbers with any third parties.

Know Before You Go

Walt Disney World explains that “certain parks, hotels, restaurants, and other offerings may be modified or unavailable, limited in capacity and subject to limited availability or closure, and park admission and offerings are not guaranteed.” To enter a park, you’ll need both a park reservation and valid admission for the same park on the same date.

Following health guidelines, the parks have adjusted practices and attractions to promote physical distancing between guests. What’s more, temperature screenings are required for admission to some locations, and face coverings are required for guests -- ages two years old and up -- and cast members alike.

For more on experiencing Disney in 2021, consider all our Disney content here.