Personal Finance

Carnival Raises the Bar on Disney World's MagicBand Tech


Image source: Carnival.

The world's largest theme park operator has reinvented the theme park experience with wearable tech, and now the planet's biggest cruise line operator is following suit on the high seas. Carnival (NYSE: CCL) is unveiling Ocean -- a small quarter-sized medallion that allows guests to enhance their cruising experiences -- during this week's CES expo.

Ocean is short for One Cruise Experience Access Network, and like Disney 's(NYSE: DIS) MyMagic+ technology that powers MagicBands through Disney World, it uses portable tech to open room doors and works with a smartphone app to set up vacation experiences.

However, while Disney's MyMagic+ is presently limited to letting guests enter theme parks, claim in-park photos, and waltz through expedited queues -- with resort hotel guests having charging privileges and the ability to unlock room doors -- Carnival's Ocean uses the embedded NFC and Bluetooth technologies to do so much more.

Guests can use Ocean's app to order poolside drinks, and the bartender can track them down with the medallion. Sensors on the ship can turn on your lights and air conditioner when you're approaching your berth. You can use the tech to locate where your friends and family members are on the boat. Dining and activity preferences can prompt suggestions during the journey.

Bon voyage

Disney will get there. The media giant reportedly invested roughly $1 billion in MyMagic+, and it's just scratching the surface. It's in the process of rolling out the second generation of its MagicBands, a medallion-shaped chip that can be accessorized in bracelets, key chains, and jewelry.

It wouldn't be a surprise if in the near future Disney guests can use MyMagic+ to be greeted by name when meeting Disney characters (like Carnival's crew will be able to do with Ocean) and to be notified when reserved ride times arrive (as we will see with Disney rival Universal Orlando when the Volcano Bay waterpark opens).

In the meantime, Carnival is going to have a distinct tech advantage over its smaller rivals. Carnival's namesake line offers cruises at more affordable price points than the competition, and that's something that is compelling to younger passengers who may be more tech savvy than their more seasoned counterparts that don't crave on-board connectivity. If Ocean is able to roll out without any major snags, it could give Carnival a distinct marketing advantage. The Internet of Things has hit the high seas, and now it's time to see if Carnival's Ocean can make waves.

10 stocks we like better than Walt Disney

When investing geniuses David and Tom Gardner have a stock tip, it can pay to listen. After all, the newsletter they have run for over a decade, Motley Fool Stock Advisor , has tripled the market.*

David and Tom just revealed what they believe are the 10 best stocks for investors to buy right now... and Walt Disney wasn't one of them! That's right -- they think these 10 stocks are even better buys.

Click here to learn about these picks!

*Stock Advisor returns as of January 4, 2017

Rick Munarriz owns shares of Walt Disney. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Walt Disney. The Motley Fool recommends Carnival. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy .

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

In This Story


Other Topics


The Motley Fool

Founded in 1993 in Alexandria, VA., by brothers David and Tom Gardner, The Motley Fool is a multimedia financial-services company dedicated to building the world's greatest investment community. Reaching millions of people each month through its website, books, newspaper column, radio show, television appearances, and subscription newsletter services, The Motley Fool champions shareholder values and advocates tirelessly for the individual investor. The company's name was taken from Shakespeare, whose wise fools both instructed and amused, and could speak the truth to the king -- without getting their heads lopped off.

Learn More