Disney World Is Testing Facial Recognition Technology for Entry to Magic Kingdom
"With the future in mind and the shift in focus to more touchless experiences."
Disney World started testing facial recognition technology at Magic Kingdom on Tuesday, giving guests the option to try the touchless tech for entry as it continues to navigate operating amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The trial period, which is slated to run through April 23, captures a park goer's face (with their face mask firmly in place) and converts it into a number "which is then associated with the form of admission being used for park entry," Disney's site read.
Guests will enter a designated lane, face the camera, and scan their MagicBand or other form of admission ticket.
"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," Disney wrote on its website. "With the future in mind and the shift in focus to more touchless experiences."
Guests who opt-in to the test will be asked to go through the same entrance lanes each time so Disney can "better understand how the technology works."
While removing a mask isn't necessary — or allowed — people will have to take off their hats, visors, and sunglasses for the test.
The park, which will celebrate its 50th anniversary this year, noted all images associated with numbers during the test will be discarded within 30 days of the test ending.
Disney isn't the first to test facial recognition technology in high-traffic areas. In September, the Transportation Security Administration started testing the contactless technology, having travelers insert their IDs into a scanner rather than hand them to an officer while the machine verifies their flight information and photo.
And in February, Delta Air Lines began testing it for domestic flights out of Detroit, allowing eligible passengers to simply look at a camera at the security checkpoint without the need to produce their boarding pass and ID. This was an expansion of the carrier's efforts in 2018 to use the technology for international flights out of Atlanta.
And in 2019, JetBlue expanded its use of the technology as well.
Alison Fox is a contributing writer for Travel Leisure. When she's not in New York City, she likes to spend her time at the beach or exploring new destinations and hopes to visit every country in the world. Follow her adventures on Instagram.