After pouring $1 billion into creating the infrastructure for its RFID-enabled MagicBands wearables, Disney World has taken a big step to replace its proprietary tech with a smartphone. 

Disney announced on the official Parks Blog that its new MagicMobile service will allow phones (and other smart devices like an Apple Watch) to access the MagicBand touchpoints throughout the resort. The service will be launched with Apple devices first, starting “in phases later this year,” Disney said. 

“Guests may choose to use Disney MagicMobile service or a MagicBand – pick whichever option works best for you during your visit,” Disney World communications manager Avery Maehrer wrote in the Parks Blog post. “You can even use both and alternate between the two for added flexibility.” 

Disney took the first step in de-emphasizing MagicBands in January, when it stopped giving free bands to hotel guests. Despite Disneyland Resort installing similar Mickey-themed touchpoints, it never implemented the MagicBand system. 

Disney rail station from Brightline now hoping to open in 2026

The proposed rail connection between Orlando International Airport and Disney Springs is at least five years away from opening, according to a new report from the Orlando Business Journal

Miami-based Brightline announced a deal to build a station at Disney World in November. Its construction would follow the scheduled 2022 completion of a route between the Orlando airport and West Palm Beach.

Brightline had previously said it hoped to have the Disney Springs operating by the second half of 2023, but OBJ has reported that in a March 11 meeting with the Central Florida Expressway Authority, Brightline expects to begin construction on the Disney extension in 2023 and complete the segment by the second half of 2026. 

You can read more about the Brightline plans at OBJ’s website

Universal Orlando extends Mardi Gras event 

Universal Orlando will be able to enjoy two extra weeks of Fat Tuesdays, as the resort has extended the Mardi Gras event at Universal Studios Florida.

Mardi Gras will now run through April 11 instead of March 28.

This year’s edition is more spread out throughout the park as well as more food-focused, since the COVID-19 pandemic put a halt to the usual nightly parade and live concerts. 

More Theme Park News:
Disneyland should reopen in late April, Epcot’s ‘Ratatouille’ ride debuts Oct. 1
Theme parks retain COVID-19 safeguards even as some governors remove them
California governor won’t release findings of state employees’ Disney World COVID-19 trip