NBA Season Restart 2019-20

Disney World Diary: MagicBand passports reprogrammed to keep campus safe

ORLANDO, Fla. — It’s made of plastic, or maybe rubber, and is embossed with the silhouette of Mickey Mouse’s face like everything else around here. It’s a wristband because it looks like one. Or a handcuff because you figuratively cannot take it off. Let’s call it a wristcuff.

Actually, there is an official name: MagicBand. It’s your passport inside the NBA campus. Everyone was issued one upon arrival and must wear one at all times in public. It literally opens doors by acting as the key to your room; just tap the band just above the door handle and presto, you’re back in your home for the next few months.

The bands were commonly worn by selective Walt Disney World visitors who wanted more exclusivity and flexibility, and it gave them more perks than other park visitors. The bands are worn to access rides, order meals and other such courtesies. If you wear them you don’t need to wait in long lines or carry a wallet. Inside each band is a computer chip of some sort. A half-dozen years ago Disney paid a small fortune to create them and have them engineered to act computer-like; think of them as the world’s first smart wristband.

Well: With tourism down considerably since the coronavirus hit, those bands were collecting dust … until the NBA arrived.

They were reprogrammed to the specifications of the NBA campus. They are essentially snitches. If you fail to record your temperature and health chart daily on your cell phone, the band will not give you the green light clearance when touched against a box at the entrance of every practice facility and arena front gate.

I’ve been caught twice, and unfortunately, you can’t come up with an alibi or blame it on faulty wiring.

But that’s all good. These bands keep you on your toes and on top of your health charts. And therefore, they keep this place safe. They’re further proof that the NBA spared no expense to make protection the priority here in Orlando.

My band is now like family. It travels with me everywhere — not that I have a choice — and has become an automatic daily part of my life, like deodorant. In fact, it’s more mandatory than deodorant, even here in the stifling humidity.

But make no mistake: When I leave this place, thankfully my wrist will be naked once again; enough is enough. And no matter how nostalgic I might feel upon returning home, there will be no urge to get the band back together again.

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Shaun Powell has covered the NBA for more than 25 years. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter .

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