Hands-on with the new Magic Kingdom Wi-Fi internet service

Aug 02, 2012 in "Internet Access"

Posted: Thursday August 2, 2012 10:55am EDT by WDWMAGIC Staff
Disney has been installing Wi-Fi all over the property in the last few years, with all Walt Disney World resorts now featuring in-room and common area internet access.  Yesterday's introduction of the Magic Kingdom service marks the first time that Disney has made available to guests full park-wide internet access.  So how does it perform?

The Wi-Fi service became active on our iPhone 4 just before the turnstiles at the main entrance.  Those of you who are familiar with the resort internet access will know exactly how it works.  The Wi-Fi network is detected, 'Disney-Guest', and your device displays a login screen with some terms and conditions for you to accept.  Once done, the service is activated, and remains active through the park.  You do not have to continually login when moving from area to area.  We walked the entire park, and did not have to login again at anytime.

Connection speed was impressive.  The fastest speed that we saw was at the Haunted Mansion queue area with a massive 9.37Mbps download, and a 7.58Mbps upload, with a 98ms ping time.  The slowest performance we saw was on Main Street at parade time, with a 0.2Mbps download, and a 0.1Mbps upload with a 171ms ping.  Average speeds tend to be around 5Mbps, which is roughly similar to what you may experience at home on an ADSL or cable connection.

Along with impressive speeds, we also saw very consistent coverage throughout the park, with only brief outages as we walked around.  In each case, the service was reconnected quickly.  There was service inside most shops and restaurants, but in most cases, no service at all inside attractions.  Good news for those of you who may have been fearing that you would be riding your doom buggy with someone playing a Lady Gaga video on YouTube in the buggy behind you.

The service is obviously filtered, with some sites being blocked.  We tested this by trying a site that would be classified by most as perfectly acceptable, but the Victoria Secret website was blocked (you can see a screen shot of this below).  This gives an indication of how tight the service is locked down.  Access is available to YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, and all of your regular sites.  For the technical amongst you, non-standard ports are blocked, so trying to access things on for example port 8081 would not be allowed.

As well as being a guest convenience, the new service is obviously being introduced to power the new NextGen components of Disney's massive investment in technology at the Walt Disney World Resort.  The soon to be introduced 'My Disney Experience' apps, along with the new ticketless FASTPASS service will all require fast, reliable connectivity for guests.  3G service struggles with capacity, so this Wi-Fi solution appears to be Disney's best option for implementing some very ambitious plans.  The tests we did today were carried out on day one of the service, so obviously more users will tax the system going forward, but Disney will hopefully also be able to respond to that by adding more capacity as needed.   The service will be rolled out to the other parks and Downtown Disney over the next few months.

Here is the full rundown of our test locations and performance at each.  Results were recorded with the Speedtest.net app on an iPhone 4.

Main Entrance - 124ms ping, 4.94Mbps down, 8.42Mbps up
Town Square - 125ms, 0.75Mbps down, 0.37Mbps up
Tomorrowland - 167ms, 2.70Mbps down, 2.82Mbps up
Speedway - 108ms, 7.85Mbps down, 7.48Mbps up
Fantasyland - 166ms, 6.77Mbps down, 3.86Mbps up
Haunted Mansion queue - 98ms, 9.37Mbps down, 7.58Mbps up
Pecos Bill - 97ms, 3.75Mbps down, 5.19Mbps up
Adventureland - 130ms, 1.85Mbps down, 4.56Mbps up
Main Street Casey's Corner - 171ms, 0.2Mbps down, 0.1Mbps up

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