The December 2013 trip was mostly spent offsite at a villa but we did spend 4 nights at the contemporary. Sure enough, my disney experience popped up with an invitation to customise the bands a couple of months before the reservation. I chose the colours and names, that was about it. I guess since we're in the UK they didnt sent out the bands, rather they said they'd be available to pick up at the resort.
When we got to the contemporary, we did all the checkin stuff and he said oh we have a present for you, went away and came back with the box everyone's seen with the bands in.
He'd already given us the RFID room keys so in a way the bands seemed like a bit of an extra thought rather than an only option.
In terms of quality, theyre "OK" and with the range of extra customisations sold at the shops Im sure they'll be a huge hit! It does save carrying cards around for sure although I found it a little uncomfortable (but that says more about me than the bands)
In use they worked fine for us for the whole vacation although I would say that they were sometimes less convenient than the cards! by that I mean, we'd return to the room and normally have the card in our hands ready to swipe and done, this time we'd get to the room and contort our wrists to the mickey ear and nothing. So then we'd have to put everything down, pull up our sleeves and mess around putting the band directly against the sensor. It seems to really need a perfect touch in exactly the right place.
Getting into the park was easy, put the band to the first stalk then when the white light flashes fast, finger to the reader and it worked every time. Much faster than the old system certainly. I should say though that there were always queues with CMs calling for other CMs to help because some band or other wasnt working. I guess these are just teething problems.
We were all wondering if they'd add annual passes to the bands even though that would mean the band would work for access after the resort stay? Well yes, I have my annual pass added and it worked for the whole holiday even when I wasn't staying onsite. When I said to the CM that it was interesting, she said well that's how APs will be done in future anyway. (my AP rfid card also worked so having the band didn't stop me using the card and vice versa).
The only problem I had was, we wanted to use some of the AP benefits... discount at a shop and tables in wonderland at another time and both occasions the CMs stropped and said they wanted to "see" an annual pass. I Said it's on the band? and they got stumped until another CM came and explained they just used their band reader. So, just a training issue but sometimes not being able to SEE what's actually on the band is a bit of a pain as I'd like to verify things like that for myself before I stamp my feet and insist its there! Perhaps my disney experience could list in a simple list format whats on the band?
All in all, cute idea and it'll just get better with use I guess. On the privacy issues, you can turn off what it broadcasts, to some extent, in my disney experience. A recent disassembly of the bands shows they're using a battery and a strong RFID sender chip soooooo even though we needed to get very close to the door to let us in, there may well still be some security concerns. For example, when walking round the malls it was AMAZING how many people had bands on. I know many shops are already tracking rfid credit cards and ID cards to see where people go as they browse and it doesn't matter that they can't necessarily see your name, all they need to get is something like "ID: 121920123" and then as soon as you check out they can say ah ha! so 121920123 is actually Dave! and then they have loads of info.
Disney claim it's secure and I've not seen anyone claim otherwise yet though.