I know that at certain times they release special edition magic bands such as for Star Wars. If they release a special edition magic band, how much before my scheduled trip can I order it? Are these included in the free ones that you get for staying on property or do you always have to buy them extra? How do I know a special edition on has been released? Anything else I need to know?
The ones you get free with your room are only the basic solid color varities, though if you are artistic you can certainly turn it into more than that. The special and limited edition bands cannot be purchased in advance you have to get them on site and they are immediately linked to your account when you buy them so one person cannot purchase them for someone else.
Until recently you had to buy them in the specific park in which they were released, SW/Frozen in HS, HM in MK. When we were in DTD in December we noticed that they were now selling the frozen bands in the store there but did not see the Haunted Mansion or Star Wars ones.
As far as knowing when they are released you'd just have to keep an eye out around here or other Disney sites. The Disney Parks blogs will also often feature new products as they come available.
Right now, there are four main types of bands:
- Standard Issue Plain: These are the plain, color bands that you receive when you book a trip and pick your color (or just opt for gray) through My Disney Experience. You can also purchase these bands at any place that sells Magic Bands on property.
- Open Edition: These are the first type of bands with a design or character on them. They can be purchased at most places that sell Magic Bands, and different designs will appear over time. Right now, there's things like Belle, Buzz and Woody, or the Castle out there. These run about $20 each. Currently, they are not available for pre-purchase, but there is a rumor going around that they will start being sold on Disneystore.com at some point "soon".
- Limited Release: These are bands with a design or character on them that are sold for a specific time of year or event. A good example are the RunDisney ones that are sold at the race expo and packet pickup for Marathon Weekend (in blue) or Princess Weekend (in pink). A set number of bands is made for the event, and when they sell out, they're sold out. They are only sold at that location. However, odds are good that the same bands will make a return appearance at later events. Another example is the New Years 2015 band. It is sold several places on property, but odds are good that once they sell out, it will be sold out and not printed again (or if it is printed again, it obviously will only be sold for 2015). These are usually around $25.
- Limited Edition: These are bands with a set print run (like only 5,000 made, for example). They are often sold in conjunction with certain events like Star Wars Weekends, Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party, Frozen Summer Fun, or Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party. Often, these make special sounds and lights at the turnstiles. I was just able to get a couple of the Frozen Summer Fun ones that apparently had been lost in a storeroom and put on sale at the Studios last week (score!), but the CM told me that it would only make the sounds and effects during the event for which it was sold. That doesn't sound quite right for me, so I'm going to link my band and try it out this weekend. I'll let you all know. They're about $30 each.
It used to be that when you bought one of these bands, you had to link it to your account right away. (That helps prevent scalpers selling them on eBay for small fortunes.) The last few I've purchased, I've had the option to set the band to "LIL" -- Link it Later. That means it is an unlinked band until I get it set up through My Disney Experience.
There's also a couple other types -- some given as promotionals at media events or development testing bands, and the kids' clubs on Disney Cruise Line has their own specific bands for the ship.