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  • Dave Talaga

Why You Need a Little Pixie Dust in Disneyland

I remember when I went to Disneyland in the 1960s that certain special rides required something called an “e ticket.” The paper e-ticket was necessary if you wanted to ride the Matterhorn bobsleds, the submarine voyage, or the Monorail.

The e-ticket is long gone, having last been used at the Disney parks in 1982. Today with our technologically advanced society Disney relies on phone apps and a wrist band they call a “magic band” for their ticketing, reservations and accommodations.

That leaves seniors like my wife Wendy and me in the lurch. The only phone app we use on our shared cell phone is the rewards app for our local Tim Horton's. Fortunately, I'm more literate with a computer and was able to make an on-line purchase of the modern day version of an e-ticket to get us into the Magic Kingdom during a family vacation in Florida recently.

So we joined our son, his wife and their two children on a bus ride from our resort hotel to the Magic Kingdom. The early morning lines to enter were fairly long and busy, but moved quickly past the turnstiles . . . until it was mine and Wendy's turn. Have you ever been in a long line when the person in the front suddenly has a problem that holds up the whole line, making you wait while everyone else has long gone and are free to do whatever? And you so hate that person for holding up the line? Well, we were that person. Actually, it was my wife Wendy.

I flashed my magic band at the turnstile, the light turned blue and I walked on in while the ticket guy was helping someone else. Then I saw Wendy waving for me to come back to the line she was in. Her band wasn't working. The ticket people tried several times but each time they said ‘no go.' We were referred to guest relations which had a line of its own by now.

We motioned to my son's family to go into the park without us and they seemed to have no problem cutting us loose. Good thing as we were in line at guest relations for nearly a half hour, about the same length of time for people waiting to ride the Magic Kingdom's most popular Seven Dwarfs Mine Ride. But I figured when we got to Disney's version of customer service, they would find the error and fix it forthwith.

I figured wrong.

The agent said her records showed I didn't purchase a ticket. But I did! And it wasn't cheap at over $300 for two tickets. My wife mentioned how I was able to enter the park with my own magic band. “Did the light turn green or blue?” the agent asked.

“Blue,” I replied. The agent explained that it was the wrong color and I shouldn't have been allowed in. What??? I could see maybe red or yellow, especially if accompanied by an audible alarm, the type you hear in stores sometimes when someone walks out past the store's anti-theft system. But blue has always meant good things, particularly to a University of Michigan fan like myself.

She said I needed the confirmation number off my reservation. I did have that. But it was back at our hotel. So would I have to ride the bus back to our room, retrieve it, and then return by bus again? How late was the Magic Kingdom open anyway?

Then the agent asked whether I purchased the tickets on-line. Yes. Did I have the credit card on me that I used to buy the tickets? Yes again. She ran the card and found out that, yes, my tickets were showing on my account. BUT . . . the magic bands we were wearing were purchased by my daughter-in-law on her account since she booked the room where we all were staying. So we found out there's a limit to the magic on the magic bands. They don't communicate across accounts.

Anyway, the agent did something in her system she said would allow us entry into the Magic Kingdom and just in case our magic bands didn't work, she gave us a back-up plastic card which she said should do the same thing. We made it in . . . this time.

I returned that night for the Magic Kingdom light show. I figured I would not have any trouble getting admitted this time. I figured wrong. My magic band turned the light at the turnstile blue again. I gave the very nice turnstile agent that card I was given by guest relations. We tried that. Another blue light. I lamented that I might have to go through guest relations a second time.

“Let me call my supervisor over and see if she can sprinkle some pixie dust on this to make it work so you don't have to go to guest relations,” the very nice turnstile agent said.

Wow. Pixie dust? Why didn't they think of that this morning!

The supervisor came over, did something on her portable computer, took my picture and apparently while I wasn't paying attention did sprinkle some pixie dust because I got in.

So note to anyone else caught by a technology snafu while trying to enter a park in Disney World–just tell whoever is in charge to sprinkle some pixie dust on your magic band and all will be cool. And you can even quote me if you like.

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