Disney World Testing Facial Recognition Technology for Park Visitors

People pass through the ticket/monorail entrance to Walt Disney World November 11, 2001 in Orlando, Florida. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Walt Disney World announced a one-month test of facial recognition technology for use in guest tracking at the Magic Kingdom on Tuesday.

Disney began its month-long test of facial recognition technology at its Magic Kingdom park in Florida on Tuesday. The test is planned to run until April 23. In the company’s official announcement, Disney said it is looking for “innovative and convenient ways to improve our Guests’ experience—especially as we navigate the impact of COVID-19.” The test is part of an effort to “shift in focus to more touchless experiences.”

Disney assured guests that participation in the testing is optional. Those interested in participating will need to enter a designated “test lane” at the entrance to the park, removing any obscuring hats, visors, sunglasses, or other obscuring accessories. Guests will hold up their admission to a scanner, then wait for a brief scan of their face. The scan will then generate a unique number linked with the admission.

The multi-billion dollar entertainment company stressed the importance of customer safety during the inaugural test, assuring potential volunteers they have “implemented technical, administrative, and physical security measures” to protect the information gathered. Any images and consequent identification numbers will be discarded at the conclusion of the test period.

The “happiest place on Earth” has enjoyed traffic to capacity since the beginning of spring break 2021, leaving little to no access to additional park visitors in the coming weeks. Since reopening in July 2020, the company said it has employed “enhanced safety measures” to protect both visitors and employees. “It may be different from the last time you visited,” the site reads, “but together, we can find new ways to create magical moments—and memories to treasure.”

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