Technology is a wish your heart makes: How Disney harnesses practical magic discourse to legitimize MyMagic+

Kelley Cotter, Priya Kumar, Ankolika De, Ryan Tan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article explores how Disney employs magical discourse to legitimize its MyMagic+ system. Through an analysis of the Disney Parks blog, we introduce the concept practical magic discourse, which entices users to indulge in the fantasy of transcending the constraints of reality, while obscuring the labor involved in the system’s development and maintenance. Practical magic discourse differs from existing conceptualizations of magical discourse, emphasizing experiential aspects of technology rather than capabilities; its mundane, rather than grandiose aesthetic; and individual level, rather than societal effects. Like existing conceptualizations, it is performative in willing a particular kind of relationship with a technology. Consequently, it holds the potential to enhance the allure of data-intensive systems, while diverting attention away from negative consequences. We discuss implications of practical magic discourse and underscore the need for critical examination of the enchanting narratives surrounding technological advancements beyond the realm of Big Tech.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalNew Media and Society
StateAccepted/In press - 2024

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Communication
  • Sociology and Political Science

Cite this