At Disney, the magic is all in tracking visitor movements

Disney has invested $1B to integrate data at its parks

Disney has a sophisticated system for tracking the data of guests to its theme parks
Disney has a sophisticated system for tracking the data of guests to its theme parks

People’s data is being tracked more closely and in more places than ever before, and it’s no different at the Happiest Place on Earth.
For the last few years, Disney has been gathering reams of data from visitors to Disneyland and Disney World via smartphone apps and its MagicBand wristbands, according to the Los Angeles Times. The company tracks what rides visitors frequent, where they wander in the 85-acre park and what they spend their money on. And it does so at a pretty penny, spending over a billion to enter the data-obsessed world.

What does Mickey Mouse want with all that data? For one, it can help manage crowds. The MagicBand lets visitors reserve spots in line, which Disney said has allowed it to reduce turnstile transaction times by 30 percent and increase park capacity.

It can also inform what attractions are rising or falling in popularity. The data could even inform Disney what films to produce in the future based on the franchises waxing and waning with guests.

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Disney’s programs have raised many of the same concerns about privacy that have been raised about data-tracking by tech companies like Facebook and Google. Disney CEO Bob Iger has said that the tracking programs are opt-in.

Disney’s adoption of these methods are part of a wider trend in retail and real estate. Landlords and retailers gather data, mostly from smartphone activity, to discern consumer trends and inform strategies based on those trends.

CBRE and JLL have invested heavily into new technologies to track people in office and retail spaces. CBRE buys geolocation data from companies that gather it from consumers’ mobile phones to provide to retailers.
Some co-working and co-living companies inform programming at their spaces based on visitor and resident data. Earlier this year, WeWork bought data platform Euclid to do just that, raising privacy concerns for the many companies that use the co-working giant’s spaces. [LAT] —Dennis Lynch