June 20, 2024

‘Hey Disney!’ Device Now in All Disney World Resort Rooms: What to Know

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'Hey Disney!' is a new Amazon Alexa device that's now available in hotel rooms at Walt Disney World Resort. This post covers everything you need to know about the new voice-activated assistant that helps guests

‘Hey Disney!’ is a new Amazon Alexa device that’s now available in hotel rooms at Walt Disney World Resort. This post covers everything you need to know about the new voice-activated assistant that helps guests order amenities, speak with Cast Members, get answers to common questions, plan park days, have fun character interactions, and more.

In mid-February 2024, Walt Disney World celebrated a milestone in the multi-year rollout of ‘Hey Disney’ as every one of its more than 28,000 hotel rooms now is equipped with the ‘Hey Disney!’ device and all guests in those rooms now have access to the free voice assistant service.

‘Hey Disney!’ was first announced before the kickoff of Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary and was expected to roll out beginning in late 2021 through 2022. Instead, the device debuted in mid to late 2022 (unless you count the modified version in Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser) in select rooms and has had a slower rollout since. Regardless, it’s now everywhere as of Winter 2024.

Using Amazon’s Alexa technology for Echo devices, the ‘Hey Disney!’ digital voice assistant brings characters and stories to life and allows guests to ask questions about weather forecasts, as well as perform basic tasks like setting timers and alarms, etc.

Guests can also hear from more than 25 popular characters including Mickey Mouse, Olaf, Rocket, Groot, Princess Tiana, and many more. ‘Hey Disney’ can tell a Cars story or let you laugh along with jokes from Goofy. Relax with a Star Wars soundscape or take off on a Muppets adventure.

In the Echo devices found inside Walt Disney World Resort hotel rooms, guests can use ‘Hey Disney!’ to learn helpful information about their vacation, offering info about transportation, and more. The assistant can answer questions, like when Magic Kingdom opens, where to get a meal, or times for nighttime spectaculars.

From your room, you can also use the ‘Hey, Disney!’ assistant to make specific service requests. Need more pillows, towels or coffee? Just tell ‘Hey Disney!’ and a Cast Member will take care of your request.

‘Hey, Disney!’ was designed with Amazon’s Alexa to enhance the Walt Disney World guest experience with things like jokes, interactive trivia for families, personal greetings from characters, soundscapes, and more. As noted above, it offers authentic character voices, original recordings, unique audio environments inspired by films and parks, plus over 1,000 interactions.

The experience as a whole is guided by the “Disney Magical Companion.” Essentially, this companion is a Disneyfied version of Alexa. It’s a custom voice that Disney itself developed to guide users through the ‘Hey, Disney!’ experience.

Resorts offer the ‘Hey, Disney!’ service features through Alexa for Hospitality. This is an enterprise service that simplifies tasks for hotel occupants: playing music, getting the weather forecast, calling the front desk, ordering room service, controlling in-room temperature or lighting, and checking out.

Amazon pitches Alexa for Hospitality to the industry as “voice immersive experiences to help your property increase revenues, reduce costs, and improve guest satisfaction.” Alexa for Hospitality is already utilized by several hotel chains; as with most hospitality innovations, that’s particularly the case in Las Vegas. (Here’s an interesting Wynn Las Vegas case study about Alexa for Hospitality.)

In terms of commentary, I’m going to keep this relatively brief because–in my experience covering this–very few fans care about ‘Hey Disney!’ To the extent that you do care, it seems like roughly three-quarters of you are concerned about the privacy implications. At least, if judging by comments to past posts about ‘Hey Disney!’ prior to its rollout.

I do think that over-represents those with privacy concerns. Most people are indifferent to this sort of thing, which is precisely how so many companies are able to offer products and services in exchange for user data. Those who do care comment; those who don’t care…don’t.

With that said, I find it interesting that the ‘Hey Disney!’ support page on DisneyWorld.com pertains mostly to privacy. There are four questions listed, two of which are basic ‘getting started’ ones. The other two are: “When is the Device Listening?” and “Do I Have to Have ‘Hey Disney!’ in My Room?”

That second question actually made me laugh out loud. It makes me wonder if, during testing, they had requests from guests to remove the devices…or Mousekeeping kept finding them in the safes or hallways. (For those curious, no direct answer is given to the question, just: “If you have any other questions or concerns, call the Front Desk.”)

Otherwise, Disney and Amazon attempt to preemptively address by guests’ concerns by needing to opt in, not opt out, to use ‘Hey, Disney!’ Upon arrival, the ⊘ button on top of your device will be red, meaning the device is muted. If you want to use the smart speaker press the button to unmute it. If you don’t, do nothing.

Once unmuted, the digital voice assistant will listen for the wake words “Hey Disney” or “Alexa.” To get started, say or tap “Hey Disney, start the magic!”

The in-room experience at Walt Disney World is designed with privacy in mind and so no audio is stored by default. Visitors will not log in with their own Amazon accounts to use the experience–meaning no personal information is transmitted or known when interacting with ‘Hey, Disney!’

We’ve only seen ‘Hey Disney!’ in the wild twice now. I kept expecting to see it last year during my resort stays–especially in newly-reimagined rooms at Deluxe Resorts–but that never happened. I don’t know if that was just bad luck, or if most of the rollout has occurred in 2024. (It seems like the device has been testing forever.)

In any case, I’ve admittedly only done cursory testing with ‘Hey Disney!’ The soundscapes, jokes, and all of the interactive features are fun enough. They’re cute and I could see kids enjoying the jokes or bedtime stories. A fun enough way to start or end the day. I know some families used to love the wakeup calls from Mickey Mouse, and this seems like this next evolution of that.

Even though it’s bigger in scale and scope, it’s also not the same? I dunno, maybe it’s just me, but there was a certain novelty in that wakeup call or even the bedtime channels on the resort TV. There has since been a technology tidal wave, and things like Amazon Alexa have become ubiquitous. Even though they can do a whole lot more, they don’t quite have that same magic of the more ‘analogue’ things of the 90s. Maybe that’s just me having an old man yells at cloud moment, though.

Perhaps kids today love this stuff, and ‘Hey Disney!’ is actually a huge hit on the TikTok, the #1 trending topic for the last year with a bunch of viral dances dedicated to the device. After all, if anyone doesn’t have privacy concerns, it is definitely TikTok users.

For whatever it’s worth, I’m not saying I dislike ‘Hey Disney.’ The interactivity is far deeper than anything ever seen in resort rooms–even on the new smart televisions. There’s a lot of cute little stuff in there! It’s well done, and there’s a lot of it. Kids could probably play with ‘Hey Disney’ for hours and not exhaust its entertainment options.

Honestly, though, it’s very hard for me to ‘review’ this as adult male solo travelers almost assuredly are not the target audience. Maybe if Megatron were a few years older and we were using ‘Hey Disney’ as a family, my opinion of it would be dramatically different. As an adult, I’m mostly just neutral on ‘Hey Disney,’ having used this type of thing in the real world for a while.

The one thing I really do like about ‘Hey Disney’ is the ability to make requests from Mousekeeping. I also like that this can be done via the touchscreen, and does not require enabling the smart speaker. I’ve used this to request more coffee, and viola, more coffee appeared in my room while I was out for the day.

Otherwise, the practical side of ‘Hey Disney!’ doesn’t seem all that deep. When this was first announced, Disney teased integrations with the Genie service (presumably the itinerary planning side since you wouldn’t be logging into the device with your My Disney Experience account).

None of that came to pass. That’s not a huge surprise, as the free side of Genie flopped and Walt Disney World hasn’t really done anything with it since launch. Whatever info you can get about the parks from ‘Hey Disney’ is superficial; you’ll still want/need to be on the app first thing every morning, so why not just get the same info there?

Beyond using ‘Hey Disney’ late last year and in early 2024, we had the chance to use the D3-O9 Logistics Droid aboard Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser when that launched (but before it closed). This character interacted with you via an panel on the wall, and is both audio and video.

While the interface is different, D3-O9 was like the ‘Hey, Disney!’ Alexa service on steroids. This logistics droid has the ability to brief guests on mission elements, details, and more. Now D3-O9 actually did have that magic quality, actually feeling like a character come to life. The droid had personality and it was like an actual two-way interaction–a conversation.

Perhaps this is why I’m less enthused about ‘Hey Disney!’ The devices in regular resort rooms remind me of Amazon Alexa, a device I used back in the real world almost a decade ago and have since stopped using. The novelty wore off long ago. By contrast, D3-O9 was something new and unique, and felt imbued with that sense of Disney wonder and charm. Of course, Starcruiser also cost a ton of money and ultimately failed, so I wouldn’t expect to see anything like this in standard hotel rooms.

Ultimately, ‘Hey, Disney!’ is a worthwhile service when it comes to trivia and interacting with their favorite characters, hearing bedtimes stories, jokes, and that sort of thing. Families with small children will probably enjoy it. Basically, I think ‘Hey Disney!’ is a solid addition when judged only from the perspective of “a fun thing for kids.” I could see some families getting a lot of mileage out of this. Some kids will absolutely adore it.

As a feature that improves the quality of the guest experience or stay, ‘Hey Disney’ is fine. It’s nice to be able to request room amenities (etc.) without picking up a phone and dealing with the front desk/call center or whatever. In this regard, I’d file ‘Hey Disney’ as an incremental improvement.

My guess is that most guests won’t use ‘Hey Disney’ at all, never unmuting the microphone upon arrival into the rooms. Most of those people who do enable it will toy around with it for a few minutes, deeming it a cute novelty and then forgetting about it for the rest of their stay. Some who do will find it mildly entertaining, with a small minority of families really loving it as a way to keep their kids entertained. At the other end of the spectrum, another small but more vocal minority will be angered at its existence and the privacy concerns presented. I would guess that most people won’t be so passionate; indifference will be the top response to ‘Hey Disney!’ (and this post about it).

Planning a Walt Disney World trip? Learn about hotels on our Walt Disney World Hotels Reviews page. For where to eat, read our Walt Disney World Restaurant Reviews. To save money on tickets or determine which type to buy, read our Tips for Saving Money on Walt Disney World Tickets post. Our What to Pack for Disney Trips post takes a unique look at clever items to take. For what to do and when to do it, our Walt Disney World Ride Guides will help. For comprehensive advice, the best place to start is our Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide for everything you need to know!

YOUR THOUGHTS

What do you think of the “Hey, Disney!” Alexa assistant? Excited to try this out at Walt Disney World or would you prefer to not have an Amazon device in your hotel room? Think this will be helpful and improve the resort experience, or are you skeptical/indifferent? If you’ve used ‘Hey Disney,’ do you agree or disagree with our assessment? Other thoughts or concerns? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback–even when you disagree with us–is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!

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