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Fingerscans for Passes at DisneyWorld

AllEarsNet

Finger scans. Just the mere mention of it suggests something out of a Star Trek movie. But finger scans at Walt Disney World are not evil. In fact, they are a necessity if you purchase certain WDW admission media. Hopefully this will take some of the fear of the unknown out of doing a finger scan for your park admission.

In early 1996, Disney began a new system to identify users of annual and seasonal passes. Abandoned was the barcoded laminated photo ID pass in favor of a new mylar paper one. This new pass had no photo and only contained minimal visual evidence of ownership - your name and the expiration date of the pass. What was new was the magnetic strip on the back.

This magnetic strip stored all of your pass information that the previous photo one had plus it would store one new piece of information: your biometric finger scan.

Why does Disney need my fingerprints?

This admission system has nothing to do with your fingerprints. It scans your index and middle fingers and uses a geometric formula to come up with a number that will identify your fingers. The calculated number is apparently something that is not totally unique, but is statistically significant in identifying you.

What admission media require the use of finger scans?

All WDW annual passes, Florida resident's annual, seasonal and specialty passes ("Play-4-Days", etc.) and other selected admission media such as extended admission passes sold in select European and Asian markets.

Does everyone that has one of those passes have to use the finger scan system?

Yes and no. Finger scans are not required for any child passes for children under age 10. Nor are they required for handicapped people who cannot use the finger scanners. If you personally prefer not using the finger scanners, a photo ID can always override the use of biometrics. Just present the gate CM a photo ID and be admitted without using the scanner.

How does the scanner know that it is my fingers, not someone else's?

Because the first time that you use the pass, your initial biometric reading will be recorded. This is the reading that all subsequent admissions will be compared to. The scanner uses six lasers to take a picture of the contours of your fingers. If you are wearing a ring the first time you scan and the second time you are without the ring, it will not recognize you. If you use three fingers instead of 2, it will not recognize you. If you use the opposite hand, it will not recognize you. And if you wear gloves, it will not recognize you.

How do I use a pass that requires finger scans?

You insert your pass into the park entrance turnstyle just like everyone else. After you have inserted your pass, you put your index and middle fingers into the scanner located atop the turnstyle. Once your fingers are inside the scanner, you will feel a small rubber knob. Place your fingers so that the rubber knob is between the index finger and the middle finger. *LIGHTLY* bring them together so they touch the rubber knob and push your hand all the way in so the web part between your index and middle fingers touches the small plastic spindle at the very front. Do not squeeze the rubber knob tight.

Located atop the finger scanner is an inverted triangular array of red LED's. These LED's will light up when your fingers are first inserted and will all go out when your hand is properly positioned. If you see that some of the lights are still lit, slowly move your hand inside the scanner in the opposite direction of those lights. When all ten of the lights have gone out, all the lights will blink signifying that it has read and verified your biometric reading and your pass will be ejected through the turnstile and you will be able to enter the park.

How should I put my hand in?

Make a "peace sign" with a clenched fist and insert the index and middle fingers around the rubber knob. Push your hand in until the small plastic spindle sits firmly in the "v" between the two fingers.

What happens if I can't get all the LED's to go out?

Then your pass will have to be overridden by the CM at the gate. They will ask you for your ID to verify that the name on the pass matches yours.

Sometimes you will successfully complete the finger scanning and the turnstile still won't let you in. If this happens, you can ask the gate CM to reset your biometrics. This often, but not always, helps. The biometrics can only be reset during a successful finger scan (all lights go out).

Sometimes the magnetic strip on your pass gets demagnetized or otherwise compromised. You can take it to any Guest Relations window where they will replace your pass for you.

I tried all that and I still can't get my pass to work right. Is there anything else I can do?

You can take it to Guest Relations and ask them to permanently override the biometrics requirement. This will *require* you to show a photo ID every time you enter a park.

Should I care if my pass has to be overridden at the gate?

There are several codes the gate CM can use to override the biometrics. If the gate CM codes your override incorrectly, you will not be able to use the FastPass machines during your stay at that park. This is because the computer will not show your pass actually being used for admission that day. Each time you put your pass in a FastPass machine, you will get back a slip that says "not valid pass" instead of a FastPass. You will have to get the attraction FastPass CM to override the "not valid pass" info that the computer will give. This can be a real pain explaining this to the CM at every attraction you want a FastPass for.

What happens if I try to use someone else's pass and it won't work?

Besides your not gaining admission to the park, you will have the pass confiscated. Taken directly from the WDW AP sleeve is this quote:
"The owners of the Walt Disney World Resort reserve the right to revoke the Annual Pass if it is presented for admission by anyone other than the Passholder of record or if the Passholder violates park policies."

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Keep in mind that the system is not protecting Fort Knox. It isn't perfect. There will be the occasional time that you may have done everything correctly and it still will reject your pass. Don't worry about what you can't control. Just remember to bring your ID with you. Then make the best of it and enjoy your visit to Walt Disney World.

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