Disney World Tests Facial Recognition

Beginning Oct. 1, 2021, Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse will host “The World’s Most Magical Celebration” honoring Walt Disney World Resort’s 50th anniversary in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. They will dress in sparkling new looks custom made for the 18-month event, highlighted by embroidered impressions of Cinderella Castle on multi-toned, EARidescent fabric punctuated with pops of gold.
(Image credit: Matt Stroshane, photographer/Walt Disney World)

Walt Disney World Resort is conducting a 30-day test of facial recognition technology to improve the guest experience.

The technology captures an image of the visitor's face and then converts the image into a unique number that is then associated with the form of admission the guest used for park entry.

[Privacy and Digital Signage]

“At Walt Disney World Resort, we’re always looking for innovative and convenient ways to improve our guests’ experience—especially as we navigate the impact of COVID-19. With the future in mind and the shift in focus to more touchless experiences, we’re conducting a limited 30-day test using facial recognition technology,” said a statement on the park's website.

On its website, Disney also says that the process is optional and that the length of the test—currently scheduled through April 23—is subject to change.

According to Walt Disney World, it is a three-step process:

Step 1: Enter the Facial Recognition Technology Test Lane

When guests are ready to enter the park, they enter the lane designated for the test program.

Step 2: Remove Accessories, But Keep Mask in Place

Guests are asked to remove hats, visors, sunglasses, etc. before entering the testing zone; they are required to keep on their mask/face covering the entire time. 

Step 3: Face the Camera

Once in the facial recognition test zone, guests will stand facing the camera and then position their park admission or MagicBand close to the scanner to activate the technology. The technology will capture an image, which will be converted into a unique number that will be associated with their ticket media.

[Facial Recognition: What You Need to Know]

Walt Disney World noted that all unique numbers captured during the test will be discarded within 30 days of its conclusion and that the images and unique numbers will not be shared with third parties. 

The park also stated on its website that "the security, integrity, and confidentiality of your information are extremely important to us. We have implemented technical, administrative, and physical security measures that are designed to protect guest information from unauthorized access, disclosure, use, and modification. Please be aware that, despite our best efforts, no security measures are perfect or impenetrable."

Megan A. Dutta

Megan A. Dutta is a pro AV industry journalist, and the former content director for Systems Contractor News (SCN) and Digital Signage Magazine, both Future U.S. publications. Dutta previously served as the marketing communications manager at Peerless-AV, where she led the company’s marketing and communications department. Dutta is the recipient of AVIXA's 2017 Young AV Professional Award and Women in Consumer Technology's 2018 Woman to Watch Award. Dutta is co-founder of Women of Digital Signage, an organization designed to provide a pathway to promote networking, mentoring, and personal growth.