Disney tests facial recognition as new way to enter Magic Kingdom

Mar 25, 2021

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Facial recognition technology is the newest attraction at Walt Disney World in Orlando.

Disney has rolled out a limited programme testing facial recognition as a method for entering its flagship Magic Kingdom theme park, which is prepping for its big 50th-anniversary celebration this fall.

It’s another step the company is taking to adapt in the age of COVID-19 and shift towards a more touch-free experience. It could also help reduce the bottleneck crowds that can occur at the entrances of its theme parks.

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(Photo by GREGG NEWTON/Gregg Newton/AFP via Getty Images)

How does it work? The software technology captures an image of the park visitor’s face, then converts it into a unique number linked to the guest’s ticket or other form of admission used for park entry. There is a special lane designated for the programme for visitors to enter the park. Guests taking part in the facial recognition trial must keep their face masks on, but will have to remove accessories such as hats, visors or sunglasses.

A Disney blogger who visited the Magic Kingdom on Tuesday, the first day of the facial recognition testing, described the process as extremely efficient. That’s encouraging, since the rollout of vaccinations and the expected increase in travel is expected to slowly bring crowds back to Orlando’s theme parks. In fact, many Florida parks including Universal Orlando are already at capacity at many days this month.

On top of that, Disney has big plans to mark Disney World’s 50th anniversary, including the debut of new rides such as the Ratatouille experience.

The facial recognition programme is optional. Also, the images and the unique numbers captured during the test programme will be discarded within 30 days after the test concludes. Disney says it will not share the information collected during the test with any third parties. Children under the age of 18 must be with their parents or guardian and have consent before taking part in the pilot program.

There’s no word yet if the facial recognition entry-point will be tested at Disneyland when the Anaheim park reopens on 30 April.

On the park’s official website, Disney said the company is “always looking for innovative and convenient ways to improve our guests’ experience — especially as we navigate the impact of COVID-19.”

You can find more details on the various health and safety measures Disney has implemented at Walt Disney World due to the pandemic here.

Featured photo by Roberto Machado/Getty Images

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