Tips for Decorating your MagicBands with your home printer

NOTE: This post refers to the old magic bands. While the steps remain the same, the dimensions have changed. 

Yes, you can make quality decorations at home for your Disney MagicBands just like those that you can buy online. All you need is some specialty paper and a home printer.

Now before I tell you what works, lets discuss my failures. You don’t need to repeat these so let me take the fall for you.

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Let’s start with what doesn’t work

inkjet printable stickers

I love using inkjet printable stickers. I use them all the time and they are great for many many projects. Magic Bands are just not one of them.  The paper will just not hold up to park use or weather. (i.e. no pools)

Cricut inkjet printable stickers are actually even worse.  The paper is just too thick.  Great for making paper crafts but bad for a flexible band.

When you adhere the stickers to the MagicBand as the sticker actually breaks apart as it bends. No bueno.

inkjet temporary tattoo paper

I have seen some posts showing how people have made this work. And for small applications I agree. So if you are just adding a small image to a band this is not a bad idea but there are better options.

The problem is when you try to use an Inkjet Temporary Tattoo Paper to cover the entire band. If you remember your temporary tattoo directions you have to hold the tattoo in place for 60 seconds before it adheres.

There is no way to do this on a curved surface.  If the inkjet printable tattoo slips as you hold it the image will bunch up and wrinkle. I think it is near impossible to get a temporary tattoo to stay still as you apply it to plastic. No bueno.

Now let’s have some fun and move on to what does work.

Now on to what DOES work

inkjet printable waterslide decals

If you ever put together models as a kid you will remember these.  Waterslide decals are the decals you soak in water for a few seconds and then slide off the paper and apply onto the item you want the image in.

Inkjet Printable Waterslide Decals are awesome as they are already water proof and permanent.  The backing is clear which means there is a lot of room for error when cutting them out. (that I always appreciate – especially when I am not using my Cricut or Silhouette)

Decorating Your MagicBand - Templates

You can choose to either have it cover the entire band or just the ends. (for waterslide decals I am partial to the full because it will also show the texture of the band)

TIP: Make sure the length of the band template is 7.69 inches long.

TIP: Once you have printed the bands you will need to spray them with a Clear Acrylic Gloss Spray and let them dry. This sets the image and makes is waterproof.

LESSON LEARNED: make sure the spray is acrylic. The first time I did this I used the wrong spray (seen in the image below) and the images were very faint. The acrylic really does set them image for use.

Once the images are dry (approximately 20 minutes) you can use a personal cutter or scissors to cut them out. Remember that decals are very forgiving so cutting them out does not have to be perfect.

LESSON LEARNED: Before you apply them do think about the color of your band. If you used the Inkjet Printable Waterslide Decals with a clear background the color of the band will show through.

TIP: If using a colored band try using white backing inject waterslide decals.  The white backing will make your band more vibrant but you will need to be careful about cutting out the label.

Sometimes having the color show through is great (like the scar band I created on the gray background) but other times the colors just overwhelm the image (like the red on the Buzz Lightyear band).

TIP: If the color is too bright put a layer of white acrylic plastic model paint on the band prior to adhering the decal.

Decorating Your MagicBand - Apply a coat of white acrylic as a base for semi-transparent decals

The decal is really easy to apply and quite forgiving to work with.  It works just like of you were applying a decal to a model car.

Once wet the decal easily slides off the paper and onto the Magic Band.  You can move it around while it is still wet giving you plenty of time to get it in the right place.  You can even stretch it a bit if you need to.

TIP: The directions say to leave the decal in water for 15 seconds. I had a problem with this as the decal came off too quickly and rolled up like a cigar. I could work with it but it was a pain. I found running it under a faucet just until it began to move allowed me to easily remove it from the paper before curling.

TIP: Once the MagicBand is dry apply 1-3 coats of Clear Acrylic Gloss Spray as protection. (I used matter spray for my bands because I wanted that look but glossy is what most people would prefer)

Your Magic Bands are not ready to go.  Not only will they hold up all day in the parks but they are also waterproof so feel free to wear them swimming.

Decorating Your MagicBand - waterslide decals decorated magicbands


inkjet printable vinyl

This is type of decal you see for sale most of the time.   And to be honest how I did it is exactly like they do it. (so you are now a professional that can sell on Etsy )

Just like before you create your decals using the template above. (For vinyl I like the two piece bands. The Inkjet Printable Waterproof Vinyl just does not go over the center portion well – guess that is why they sell them this way.)

The image is matte from the printer, so add a layer of Clear Acrylic Gloss Spray to give it that glossy look.

You do need to be careful here about cutting them out. The background of the Inkjet Printable Waterproof Vinyl is white and will show errors. I used my Cricut but scissors are also fine.

Decorating Your MagicBand - cutting out the vinyl decals

TIP: Prior to applying the Inkjet Printable Waterproof Vinyl you will need to clean the MagicBands with rubbing alcohol.

The Inkjet Printable Waterproof Vinyl works as a sticker so it is easy to apply and really forgiving. You can lift and replace a couple of times.

Once you have the Inkjet Printable Waterproof Vinyl attached you can apply 1-3 coats of Clear Acrylic Gloss Spray as protection. These bands are also waterproof and can be worn at all times.

Decorating Your MagicBand - vinyl decals

The pros and cons of each application

inkjet printable waterslide decals

Pros: forgiving to apply, good for full MagicBand Application, has an artistic look to them

Cons: takes time to apply, may have to use a base coat to remove color from the MagicBand

inkjet printable waterproof vinyl

Pros: forgiving to apply, easy to create, strong colors

Cons: not much flex when moving it (bunches up when you take the band off)

In the end I like the Inkjet Printable Waterslide Decals better. They take more time but they look beautiful. Like works of art.

But if I want to quickly change my MagicBand vinyl will be my go-to. Now go out and have fun!

UPDATE – tutorial for making your own band in Cricut Design Space


Well we are back from our first Disney trip using the decorated MagicBands. We did end up using the one with the waterslide decals. We got many many compliments from cast members (especially on the Scar one).

I did learn a couple of things about how they hold up. First of all the decals were definitely weather proof. We all wore them to the pools and water parks multiple times with no problems. There was also no issue with the use of the Magicband. So covering the Mickey head was not a problem at all.

On the adult bands we did start to see cracking around the holes from taking them on and off. I got concerned because it happened day one but it never progressed after that. In fact my husband is planning on using the same band on his next trip.

The kids on the other hand beat their bands to death. The decal did crack anyplace they would bang it. (pretty much the whole thing) But the decal never fell off just started looking a bit rough.

For the kids I would say these are one trip use. Adults will get more wear out of them.


UPDATE – after trying them out in the parks…


I got a great question from a reader, Jackie, who wanted to know how to use the template in Cricut Design Space to customize her band with any of the elements in the Cricut library.

After a bit of research I found out you can use the ‘slice’ option to get the graphics to fit the band but it has a couple of tricks to it.

To help you out I created a quick video. Enjoy.