Disney Dials Up More Than Just Better Reception With AT&T Deal

Faster wireless networks inside Disney's parks will enable it to push its mobile apps and increase guest spending

Disney wants more smartphones to work inside its theme parks as the company looks to offer guests more services through mobile devices — especially during peak hours.

In a new multiyear alliance agreement, Disney has made AT&T its official wireless service provider at its theme parks in California and Florida and its Disney Cruise line. AT&T replaces a previous deal with Verizon Wireless that had ended and was not renewed.

As part of that deal, AT&T will participate in various marketing and branding opportunities, including sponsoring Disney’s soccer and run Disney events at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. Employees at Disney’s theme parks will use mobile devices on AT&T’s network, and Disney will collaborate with AT&T to enhance the experience for theme park guests who turn to their smartphones and tablets during visits. Disney also joins AT&T’s “It Can Wait” campaign to educate consumers on the dangers of texting while driving.

In addition to the alliance agreement, AT&T will also bolster cell phone reception by adding more than 25 antenna systems and 350 small cell towers to increase capacity. The towers will enable Disney to redistribute signals to provide more coverage in high-volume areas. An additional 10 cell sites will provide mobile services to guests across Walt Disney World.

AT&T won’t be alone in offering upgraded wireless services at Disney’s parks, with other carriers also making enhancements to their coverage at the properties, according to sources.

Last summer, Disney launched “My Disney Experience” as a free mobile app that gives guests at Walt Disney World access to park hours and maps, wait times for attractions, dining and attraction information. “My Disney Experience” was designed separately from the existing “Mobile Magic” app that can be used to navigate Disney’s parks in California and Florida.

Disney is counting on usage of the apps, and new offerings like MagicBands, MyMagic+ and FastPass+ to improve wait times and traffic flow at its parks to make visits more appealing to guests — and help increase spending, as a result.

It will also expand the exposure of guest visits, as well, with more photos of park visits expected to flood Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

With more consumers carrying smartphones that require access to high-speed cell networks, Disney has been making moves to upgrade its wireless networks available at its parks. AT&T’s 4G LTE network is considered one of the fastest mobile networks in America. It aims to cover 300 million people with 4G LTE service by the end of 2014.

Upgrades were needed, given that reception has often been poor, or nonexistent at Disney’s parks, especially as attendance increased throughout the day.

Popular on Variety

More Biz

  • Frank Grillo'Avengers: Endgame' Film Premiere, Arrivals,

    Matt Phelps Tapped as President of Joe Carnahan, Frank Grillo's Warparty

    Frank Grillo and Joe Carnahan’s Warparty productikon banner has appointed Matt Phelps president of the company. Phelps will head the Los Angeles office and be responsible for overseeing all film and television projects. “We searched long and hard to find the right fit for Warparty and felt that Matt embodied everything that we were looking [...]

  • Jack Gilardi, Longtime ICM Partners Agent,

    Jack Gilardi, Longtime ICM Partners Agent, Dies at 88

    Jack Gilardi, a longtime ICM Partners agent who represented such stars as Burt Reynolds, Sylvester Stallone, Jerry Lewis, Charlton Heston and Shirley MacLaine, died Thursday at his home in Los Angeles. He was 88. Gilardi was known for his gentlemanly style, love of the Los Angeles Dodgers and his skill at representing top actors. He [...]

  • Nexstar Completes Tribune Acquisition, Sean Compton

    Nexstar Completes Tribune Acquisition, Sean Compton to Head Programming

    Nexstar Media Group has become the nation’s largest owner of TV stations after completing its $4.1 billion acquisition of Tribune Media. The deal creates a broadcasting colossus with more than 200 stations serving more than 100 markets, although a number of stations will be divested to keep Nexstar in compliance with FCC ownership limits. Nexstar, [...]

  • Leaving Neverland HBO

    Judge Sides With Michael Jackson Estate in 'Leaving Neverland' Dispute

    A federal judge is leaning towards granting the Michael Jackson estate’s move to take HBO to arbitration in its dispute over the documentary “Leaving Neverland.” Judge George Wu issued a tentative ruling on Thursday in which he denied HBO’s motion to dismiss the estate’s case. Wu is expected to make the ruling final by the [...]

  • Homecoming

    Peak Storytelling Here as Podcasts, Short Form Ride New Wave

    The concept of peak TV is nothing new. But scratch the surface of original content these days, and it’s no longer about television — from podcasts and short-form video, storytelling itself is at a peak. Thanks to audio, video and other new platform companies including Gimlet, Quibi, Wondery, iHeartMedia and Serial Box, listeners and viewers [...]

  • Patti Smith Cambridge Folk Festival

    Patti Smith Muses Over the Many Ways to Tell a Story

    It’s Sept. 11, and Patti Smith has been thinking a lot about people who died. This is understandable. It is, of course, the 18th anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, and an annual time of mourning for New York City, the city that Smith adopted as her hometown 50-plus years [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content