Since my first visit to Walt Disney World in 1997 I have been fascinated with their use of technology. When Earl and I were first here back then, I promptly noticed Disney was using a modified version of the IBM 4680 General Sales Application for their retail needs. At the time they were using IBM 4695 touchscreens in the food outlets, running software I was unfamiliar with.
If you look in older stores at WDW, you’ll notice holes in the counter that used to accommodate the customer display as pictured above.
With each visit to Walt Disney World I’ve noticed evolutionary steps in their use of technology. Point of sale systems were upgraded. The food service program I noticed at the first visit (MATRA) was then used throughout the entire property. IBM 4695s gave way to NCR touchscreen terminals. iPods started making an appearance as another point of sale device. RFID capable credit-card sized tickets were introduced. Then they were capable of unlocking our resort/hotel door. The cards gave way to Magic Bands, which can be used for tickets to the park, charges to the room, unlocking doors, identifying who you are for photo opportunities; the list goes on.
Tonight I noticed several of the Disney establishments are upgrading their point of sale terminals again. The size of an iPad, it looks like they’re still running MATRA but they take up half the space of the preceding terminal. The customer information display is bigger and brighter.
When we check into a FastPass+ attraction, the cast member monitoring entrance activities has the opportunity to say, “Hello, John!”, as my name appears on their screen.
Technology is awesome when it’s used responsibly and enhances our real life experiences. Having a Disney Cast Member take our photo and have it appear in our Disney Parks Photo Stream on our phone 10 minutes later is awesome.
Technology has come a long way since Walt Disney World opened in 1971, apparently using Sweda Model 46 cash registers, as evidenced by this receipt I found online.