This chapter considers the development of Disney's MyMagic+ app and the critique that it is an intrusive form of technology that removes spontaneity from visitors’ trips. The chapter also considers how theme park fans can organise and look forward to their visits to the Orlando parks using a range of participatory sites such as social media sites, blogs and, in the case of Disney, the My Magic+ app itself. These acts of planning also serve an affective purpose in allowing fan/visitors the chance to invest in anticipating the physical and emotional experience of the visit itself, and the haptic experience this offers. However, the chapter also bears in mind arguments around fan labour to consider how the participatory work that fans do must be examined alongside debates over consumption, work and branding.
Keywords: Haptic fandom, anticipatory labor, fan labor, branding
The contemporary theme park is very different to the early days of Disneyland and Universal Studios in the 1960s. Such places have changed dramatically in the era of digital media, which allows and encourages participation and engagement with the parks even when visitors are not physically present in them. The development of Disney's MyMagic+ technology, comprising the My Disney Experience (MDE) website and mobile app and the accompanying MagicBands (coloured wristbands which function as a hotel key, a form of payment, an entry ticket to theme parks, a way to use the onsite Disney dining plan, and more), encourages guests to plan their visits in minute detail (Foreman 2014; Carr 2015; Kuang 2015; Huddleston et al 2016). Whilst many fan/visitors have embraced the opportunities afforded by the MyMagic+ system, it has been critiqued for being intrusive and for removing spontaneity from visitors’ Disney trips, and viewed by some critics as a ‘tangible, visible symbols of [guest’s] own complicity’ in systems of unpaid labor (Huddleston et al 2016, p. 230).