World of Color's 'Glow with the Show' and the Prisoner's Dilemma
Published: June 15, 2012 at 10:22 PM
The Mickey ears glowed in a seemingly random alteration of ever-changing colors, creating a wild visual effect as the crowd filled in the view areas in front of Paradise Bay.
But, just before the show started, when every single one of those ears shut down, plunging the area into darkness, the crowd let out a collective gasp. These weren't just light-up ears. They were synchronized, by Disney, to make each one of us a participant in the World of Color show. You can hear on the video before another cheer at the start of the show, when our ears began to light up - together - in conjunction with the show.
"Glow with the Show" changes the dynamic of World of Color. No longer do you want to get close to the Bay, to see the water screen projection and fountains. Instead, you'll want to stand farther back, so you can see the full scope of the ears flashing, with waves of color rolling across the crowd. (I'd wished I'd stood father back for this recording.) It's just a stunning, awesome sight.
That said, I wonder if the effect ever again will be as visually impressive as it was last night. "Glow with the Show" awes when the entire crowd is involved in the show, with thousands of pairs of ears lighting up around the lagoon. That's easy to make happen when Disney hands out free ears to everyone. But you're probably not going to get that deal - the ears are now on sale for $23.95 each. (There will be other free hand-outs for Disneyland Resort annual passholders during a few advance-reservation showings for them later this month.)
So here's the problem, and it's a classic one in the field Game Theory, which I studied in college. It's a variation of the Prisoner's Dilemma. You see, "Glow with the Show" works best when everyone else pays $23.95 to buy the light-up ears. But you can't see the ears on top of your head. So the show's no better for you if you buy the ears, which serves to encourage people not to buy the ears. But if no one buys the ears, "Glow with the Show" doesn't work. The effect depends on people acting irrationally, and buying a set of ears they won't see during the performance, to create a better show for all the people around them.
Are Disney fans irrational (or, depending upon your point of view, optimistic) enough to make this work? I guess we'll find out this summer.