Mickey Prints

Published 19 years, 5 months past

Since Kat and I were going to be visiting Florida so often last year and this, and therefore we of course had to visit Disney World a lot, we decided to buy annual passes.  I was quite interested that when you buy an annual pass, the Disney folks take the prints of your right hand’s first and second fingers.  That data is associated with the card; whether it’s encoded onto the card’s strip or not, I don’t know.  But either way, some of your biometric data is associated with your Disney pass.  When you enter the park, you run the pass through the turnstile and stick your fingers into a reader.  If the fingers don’t match the card, you can’t get in, so you can’t share an annual pass with anyone else.

Now, suppose the Disney database stores that biometric data.  Now they have that data tied to a credit card number, purchasing patterns in the parks, probably a home address and phone number, and so on.  Interesting.  Guess what?  As of 2 January 2005, Disney is doing that for all passes: day passes, park hopper passes, all kinds of passes.  Every kind of pass.  Get a pass, get your fingers scanned.  (Okay, yes, you can opt out and be required to show photo ID, but how many people will bother?)

That’s a whole lot of biometric data associated with a whole lot of consumer data.  Interesting, don’t you think?

Comments (29)

  1. Is this leading edge ticketing system being implemented due to increased fraud?
    I can’t see how the Disney Marketing arm needs biometrics to track the popularity of different menus, attractions or demographics.
    Oh, but then again, Marketing…. :)
    Enjoy the coming flood of valuable information from Disney


  2. What I find interesting is that we are willing to give up our privacy for convenience.

  3. Oh no… now you’re going to get me started. This kind of activity is just the thin end of the wedge. It has long been a fear that as technology begins to allow biometric tracking of individuals, our privacy and implicitly our freedom of movement is fundamentally erroded. In the hands of corporate fat-cats this is dangerous enough, but in the hands of the state…

    The UK (so called) Labour government plans to introduce national identity cards under the guise of reducing the threat from terrorism (sic). Of course some will ramble “But if you’ve done nothing wrong, what have you to fear?” To which my answer is, if I’ve done nothing wrong, why do you need my data?

    People in the US and UK need to realise that the insidious rise of corporate/state power ultimately leads to, as Engels put it, a Society of Control.

  4. What exactly is the worse case scenario in a world where the computerised environment knows the exact identity of everyone around it?

    Personally, I’m rather looking forward to the day where I can wear augmented-reality glasses that overlay people’s names, age, field of expertise, marital status, and short biography onto my field of vision, all continuouslt updated by the biometric sensors in the environment. It works for MMORPGs, why shouldn’t it work for reality?

    Sure, when people are easy to track down they’re easier to profile, etc. But that’s been possible for thousands of years, to one extent or another. The only reason I can see to fear this kind of technology is if you fear that your government is a non-democratic thought police, and if you fear that, then this technology isn’t going to make matters any worse than they already are.

  5. John hit on something that I think is really the only reason Disney is starting to attach biometric data to the passes. It’s for the marketing. Not so much so they can spam you, but for the tracking of purchases, etc. — just like you said, Eric. Remember: Knowledge is power. Why else do websites ask you to sign up for free in order to access certain content? To know who their visitors/customers are.

    People can formulate conspiracy theories all day long about Disney’s practices, but it all comes down to money. This increased amount of info they’ll get will help them trim costs, and of course gain profits.

  6. Ian,

    Sure, there are some cool and useful purposes, however it won’t get used that way. Instead, when you put on you glasses you will be inundated with Coke, Pepsi, Nike and Disney ad overlays. As you glance at a store front window messages will flash “Hey Ian, just say ‘Buy me now’ and these Nike Xtremes will be sent to you at [repeats your address]. We’ve got your credit card purchase preapproved and are awaiting your OK.”

    We’ve got enough advertising in the world – I certainly don’t want more of it, especially talking to me.

  7. Tim,

    So a bit like the internet circa 2005 then?

  8. Sure, it may be only for the marketing, but imagine the furor that would (will) break out when the data is hacked… Imagine a hacker with not only your credit card info, but biometric data also. Or able to change your data to his.

    Paranoid? No. Likely? No. Possible? Definitely.

    And since as part of the Patriot Act in the US the government has access to all of your financial data, it would be a very simple method to expand fingerprint databases by subpoena of Disney’s records in the name of anti-terrorism.

  9. So a bit like the internet circa 2005 then?

    Exactly (well, maybe the internet of 2003-2004), only more annoying and everywhere you go. At least online we have the option of using something like Firefox or other pop-up blocker solution….

  10. Sea World are doing the same now. Really freaky.


  11. From what I understand, the biometric data that Disney uses for passes is not precise enough to uniquely identify a single person; its only present use is to curb pass sharing. The apparent reason for the recent expansion of the system has to do with the new pricing structure, which makes it incredibly cheap to add extra days to a pass after the four-day mark (to encourage longer stays). They obviously want to make sure that people don’t spend the few extra dollars to add days and then sell the pass with days still remaining.

  12. Here’s a page with more information about the type of scanning Disney uses:

  13. While I agree that Disney is the ultimate marketing machine… I believe the main iniative behind this move is to prevent fraud. People would buy a 7 day pass, and only use 5 of the days and then in turn sell it to ticket vendors. The ticket vendors would in turn resell them saying there were 2 days left on the card.

    Problem is, there are always bad apples in the bunch, and there were some who were selling the cards with days left that didn’t actually have days left (or only had one day left instead of the three promised). This will provent the ability for those vendors to abuse the system.

    Here are a few Diseny fansite links with info:
    http://www.miceage.com/kevinyee/ky122304a.htm (Walt Disney World At Your Fingertips section)

    All that being said, I think that the finger scan only happens at the gate. So after that, their tracking of your name/number/purchases/etc is no different then it was before when using your passes for discounts or Fast Passes or the like.

  14. I guess I’ll take the blame for at least some of this technology encroachment. When I was a poor college student at UCF, I had an annual pass to Universal Studios/Islands of Adverture. They even had a photo on the annual pass ID card – but I looked amazingly similar to my younger brother, and let him borrow my pass a few times.

  15. As a Disney World regular myself I thought I’d chime in with some info.

    As pointed out above the main reason behind the finger scan is to cut down on the re-sale of Disney World Tickets.

    A somewhat healthy industry re-selling Disney World Tickets has sprung up around the central Orlando area with many hotels and restaurants having tickets booths who buy “un-used days” from Tourists for a few dollars each and sell them on to other tourists looking to make a saving on the high cost of taking a vacation at Disney World. Of course if people are buying tickets from unauthorized sources this means less dollars in Disney’s pockets – the new ticketing scheme instantly wipes out this re-selling business as it becomes almost impossible to cheat the finger scanners and therefore tourists have no option but to buy their tickets direct from Disney or their authorized agents.

    In addition, as mentioned above there are also some unscruplous folks (mostly on eBay – surprise, surprise!) who re-sell used tickets with no days remaining on the pretense that there are still a few days left, only for the boor buyer to get to Disney World and have their ticket rejected (the tickets are cards with the info stored on a magnetic strip with no visible indicator of how many days remain), all this does is create bad PR for Disney.

    As for the finger scans tracking your purchase habits and such, that’s not really what there in place for, rather than do a true scan of your finger-print (no two person’s are alike) the scanners actually simply measure the length of your finger-print. It’s quite possible, infact very likely that people will have finger-prints the same length, it’s just that who knows that they have the same finger print size as eBay seller diznee_ticketts2005 (or some such nonsense)??? And of course, they already have your credit-card details on file from when you purchased the ticket to match you up with your purchases in the parks.

    Disney have some far cooler ways of tracking their visitors, such as their My Pal Mickey plush toy which picks up parade and show times, and “fun facts” about the parks as you take ol’ Mick around the world with you, all via Wi-Fi, and of course your every move in the park is sent back to Disney via the same, innocent wireless transmitting plush.

    It’s not all smiles and pixydust in the Magic Kingdom!

  16. so they steal your fingers along with the pass???

  17. Who minds it when fingers are being scanned? To tell you all the truth, I don’t mind sending you a scan of my feet.

    Bigger privacy issues are detailed logs, with IP addresses, domain name and in an academic domain (as in my case), even your name.

    Privacy is compromised. Google can identify many of you given the full name and then refer to people’s thoughts on you.

    It’s inevitable. The younger generation lives and copes with it.

    In the 60’s: man goes to work, gets phonecalls from close friends only and lives far away in suburbs.

    2004: young man surfs the Web, writes about his next door neighbour, gets telemarketing harassments.

  18. Privacy is an illusion, and has been for many years. It is an unfortunate byproduct of the times we live in.

    So Mickey wants my prints – that’s cool. It’s not a real shocker. What’s actually amazing to me is that people are still surprised by this type of thing.

  19. Yes, in a sense, the only thing that is surprising about this bit of news is the fact that (as I gather) the process has yet to be implemented as compulsory.

    Were it me, and were I with one of the children who almost inevitably figure into this form of entertainment (save for the early morning/last day solo jaunt back into the recesses of Epcot), I’d bend the kid’s ear for a minute or two over a Mickey-head-shaped frozen treat (the one with gumballs for eyes) and ask them what _they_ think about the business. Safe to say that maybe the only thing a kid likes more than being indulged as a kid is being treated like a grown-up. In any event, I bet it would make for illuminating conversation.

    Of course, if I sensed myself getting to sound a bit too grown-up, I’d challenge the kid to see which of us could successfully identify more closed-circuit cameras in an hour’s time.

  20. What surprises me is that Americans seems to take their privacy so lightly. In the name of security all is allowed. I agree with ‘Malarkey’ in that if I”ve done nothing wrong, why do you need my data? It’s just another way for the goverment to keep their fear of citizens under control. It’s a “If I know where everyone is, they can’t hurt me.” attitude and it sucks.

    What’s next, neighbours spying on each other … sounds very East-German.

  21. Why willingly give even more information to Disney for their business? Are we on their payroll, or something?

    Really, do any of you thinking this is a good thing actually believe in competition in the marketplace to ensure a robust economy? For some reason you want to willingly give one business a serious advantage over others, and based on what merits? They let you ride Space Mountain?

    Give me a break, you can call people who disagree with it conspiracy theorists all day long, but at the end of the day this isn’t necessarily a privacy issue, it is an issue with willingly giving one corporation a competitive advantage over others with no long term personal gain for yourself. That’s just too fascist for many of us.

  22. People here mention that this was done by disney to stop reselling of passes. But there are more simpler solutions if the objective was to stop reselling of passes. how about put a simple picture on the pass, that way it becomes a photo id and can not be easily mis used.

    To think that disney put in this high tech system just to stop misusing of passes when there are simpler solutions available which guard the consumer privacy better is a falacy.

  23. Good thing they accept photo id, cause it would mean I would never see Disney.

    I’m all for technology but when humans become a scanable product… well I guess you elected Bush, and that other 48%, see!

  24. I agree with Mats. I couldn’t believe how all the “cattle” at Disney and Universal behaved. (Universal’s policy is even woarse, they require a thumbprint!) No one else seems to mind! I was blowing a gasket at the customer service counter. I asked for a refund of the unused days on my multiday pass. Disney refused. What recourse do you have? Nothing! Disney says this policy is being used to prevent reselling of tickets, but it is really pi$$ing me off, a family guy who only wants the ability to save a partially used ticket for a later trip, possibly with another family member.

  25. Pingback ::

    No Sheep » Disney Biometrics

    […] ple do… I bet it is less than .01%. Also of interest are these further discussions: Mickey Prints Biometrics at the Disney Gates tags: biometrics, disney, disney wor […]

  26. I just visited Disney world this past week and I was taken back by this system…At first I was angry at myself for just blindly giving my fingerprint…the next time I questioned what the purpose was, and then was given the same explanation everyone has mentioned previously, it is to prevent the re-selling of tickets. I have read both sides of the arguments for this, and I agree with Pingback: what is the percentage of tickets that Disney sells that have been resold? Does everyone realize how much money Disney makes? I doubt that the prevention of a few ‘resold’ tickets amounts to anything substantial in comparison to the amount Disney profits from its ticket sales…so for this we are giving up our personal information. While this may not seem like such a big deal now, I believe we are just opening pandora’s box, and we are being conditioned to give up our privacy without questioning it.

  27. Who gives a shit what the reasons are behind Disney using biometric scanning. The reality is, they use it. “It’
    s not even your fingerprint” No, but it’s a small pebble that’s being rolled down a snow slope. The worst part is, when I go to Islands of Adventure and Disney, I see thousands of people getting they’re fingers scanned without question. (Big smiles. Everything is ok.) Whatelse are they not going to question? Retinal scans in 3 years. DNA scans in 7? We’re being slowly(the most effective way to brainwash society)manipulated to accept this technology and it’s only going to get worse. Example; instead of using my finger to get through the gate, I showed my drivers license. They were cool with this a year ago. One year later, now I have to have a manager come out and I have to sign a piece of paper and go through a whole lot of noise just to get into the parks without a peice of my body being scanned.(Inconvient isn’t it. That is what they want. Invasive technology liek this will be cloaked in “conveniences”) Now they tell me that pretty soon the “Driver’s License” option will no longer be available. Just a small pebble rolling down the snow slope.

  28. Shit, a few spell errors. But that doesn’t take away the credibility of my statement.

  29. Give it a friggin’ rest. The scanners get you in the park. There is no correlation between the park entry scan and any purchase you make while at the park. If you use cash there is no electronic trace of any purchase activity. Sure, there are hidden cameras everywhere but not tied to the scanner nor the purchase history. Stop with all the noise. Disney is doing this so they can charge big bucks for their tickets and have no secondary market to give the consumer relief. Didn’t anyone find it strange that 6 months after the park system went live, Disney overhauled all its ticket prices. 5 days at the park costs well over $200. Disney knows that given that steep pricetag, the ordinary consumer will look everywhere for price relief. Enter biometrics; driven simply by Disney greed for ever increasing entry prices.

    Cap’n Jack

Add Your Thoughts

Meyerweb dot com reserves the right to edit or remove any comment, especially when abusive or irrelevant to the topic at hand.

HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strong> <pre class=""> <kbd>

if you’re satisfied with it.

Comment Preview