World of Color's 'Glow with the Show' and the Prisoner's Dilemma

June 15, 2012, 10:22 PM · Last night during the Disney California Adventure press event, Disney presented a special showing of World of Color, handing out thousands of free "Glow with the Show" mouseketeer ears to the park's invited guests.

Glow with the Show ears

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.

Replies (22)

June 16, 2012 at 4:26 AM

That is pretty darn cool... I am already pining for Disney to create an installation of ths for WDW (the ears AND World of Color).

June 16, 2012 at 5:25 AM

Just before the show, take the ears off and hold them in your hand!


June 16, 2012 at 6:36 AM

I LOVE these ears! When I first heard about them I was thinking not everyone would buy them. If I'm going to DL next year, I would do one show up front, then the next in the back to see the ears.

June 16, 2012 at 7:02 AM

Going to a themepark has never got me to the point to look silly, I never bought Mickey ears and I'm sure I never will. The amount of $25 is extreamly high for this kind of cheap tech made in China product. The overall effect is cool but walking around with a silly hat in very hot weather, no thanks.
You know Coldplay GAVE away magic wristbands during their concerts? But FREE and DISNEY are just not 2 words that go together.

June 16, 2012 at 10:17 AM

At the anon comment... you do realize that Coldplay may stop doing that because of how expensive the bands are to give out for free? It ends up costing the band around $600,000 a night which eats up a lot of their profits. Musical acts don't make most of their money through touring, so this is hurting them.

And before anyone makes a comment that they're millionaires already, that's still cutting into their profit per night.

As for the Glow with the Show Prisoner's Dilemma... I'm torn as I'd have to know where else the hats work and if we can change out the batteries.

June 16, 2012 at 11:38 AM

Brandon - You can change the batteries (two AAs) and they last about three days of use I've been told. They don't just work at WOC, but the Mad Tea Party as well. I was also told by a Cast Member that they can be programmed to be used at other venues in the future very easily, AND (best part) they automatically shut off when you go on a ride.

June 16, 2012 at 5:06 PM

Saw the video, not impressed.... (saracasm off)

June 16, 2012 at 5:32 PM

AWESOME! I'm glad to hear that they also turn off automatically in attractions! Now if they could only do that to Flash Photography. Bleh.

June 16, 2012 at 6:19 PM

They are giving away the glow hats for free... To APs who signed up for special midnight showings later this month.

June 16, 2012 at 9:34 PM

I think this is awesome! It is so breathtaking to be part of a nightime spectacular. Imagine if Disney did this with Wishes at the Magic Kingdom. I might be crazy, but I would pay good money for those ears!

June 17, 2012 at 5:55 AM

When you think about it, placing over sized cartoon mouse ears on your head already requires a certain level of irrational behavior. And the basic principle of clothing is that it is communication. We don't wear stuff for ourselves alone, but for others to see, especially hats. You can't really appreciate any hat once its on your head. I think the draw here will be the communal experience and the chance to be part of the show. Its just like getting to push a button that makes something happen, or volunteering to be a bystander in the Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular. This is one more level of cooperative engagement in an experience. I'm excited to see how this unfolds. There are so many amazing uses of technology on the horizon right now for Disney. While yes, Universal has pushed the envelope with some of their new rides, Disney's push for technology, I think, is going to have the more long term pay off. And, this is taking Disney back to its pioneering roots.

June 17, 2012 at 10:01 AM

Interesting points, Tom. Thanks.

That said, I've read reports that only a few dozen people were wearing the ears at WOC last night, compared to the thousands at the media event, making the effect much less impressive, and even imperceptible at times.

June 17, 2012 at 8:44 PM

Pretty cool. Perhaps over time with all of the APr's that go to DLR, the number of hats in the audience will slowly increase to a level that makes a reasonable visual each show.

June 17, 2012 at 9:19 PM

Those light swords or spinning light things or any lighted contraption or toy can be very annoying during evening shows like the fireworks, Fantasmic, World of Color and Electrical Parade.

This flat out sucks and they should fire the idiot at Disney who came up with this stupid idea. These ideas work for like an Olympic Opening Ceremony because the device is given to all involved and it's staged for TV. Neither applies in this case.

In the end, the price point will prevent this from ever really catching on in mass and I'm thankful for that. Disney if you're reading you should up the price to $50 a piece.

It really sucks that Disney is going to give a bunch of these away to pa**holes, because those same takers will be bringing them back and annoying those of us who enjoy the dark while watching the show.

June 18, 2012 at 5:48 AM

Are these hats operational away from the park at all? Can you take them home and get the lights to go, or only when in a park and controlled by Disney? To me, that makes a difference about whether to purchase.

Speaking of that control, it is a cool effect, but it simultaneously creeps me out due to the Big Brother nature of it.

June 18, 2012 at 7:44 AM

"So the show's no better for you if you buy the ears, which serves to encourage people not to buy the ears."

That's the wrong conclusion and you should know it. People who buy ears are buying them for themselves. They want the glowing ears even though they might not see the effect during a show. They can certainly see the glowing effect surrounding their head, which creates a community effect.

I do think the $25 price is much too high to encourage participation. Perhaps Disney should offer other types of "Glow In The Show" contraptions to ensure people will want to buy Disney merchandise like lightsabers, pendants, and baseball caps at different price points.

June 18, 2012 at 8:13 AM

The ears work anywhere, so long as the three AAA batteries haven't run out. I just put in a new set, and the ears started blinking again, until I took the batteries out. (I haven't found an on/off switch.)

But the ears only do the coordinated blinking if they are in range of a Disney broadcast point. At this moment, those are World of Color, the Mad T Party, and some locations in Cars Land.

June 18, 2012 at 9:20 AM

Thanks for the video. Proves my point - totally annoying!

June 18, 2012 at 9:53 AM

Angry much Eric G? Instead of complaining on here, why not just contact Disney Parks?

At least Disney is trying something new to the parks rather than the same ole tried and true. And instead of whining about AP Holders (who are a very large portion of DLR's customers unlike WDW but we won't get into that), realize that Disney is still trying to give AP Holders incentive to continue to return to the parks. It's not like the hats are free for Disney to make.

The ears are part of the show unlike the swords, bracelets, etc. That's the big difference.

June 18, 2012 at 1:38 PM

Hunh, you know, I never really thought of buying the ears for me, but rather for my two kids. If the price was closer to about $12-15, I wouldn't think twice and then buy two sets for the fun of watching my kids interacting with the show. But $50 is just a bit too steep.

June 18, 2012 at 4:08 PM

Brandon, why do I have to limit my comments to Disney itself? This is a discussion forum and opinions should be welcome. Thanks for trying to limit that. Also, a negative opinion doesn't equate to one being angry either.

I'm well aware of the number of passholders at DLR. Disney's problem in Anaheim isn't from a lack of passholder usage, but from over usage. Hence the recent, huge price increases. They don't need to create incentives to keep passholders coming.

I stand by what I said before - super annoying.

June 19, 2012 at 1:22 PM

Eric G, if you're not angry, then why call AP Holders "P***holes?" That's a blanket statement towards a group of people you don't even know.

My point is, discussion is fine. People will disagree on things all the time. We don't live in China or North Korea where you're just not allowed to do anything like that. I get it, you think it's annoying and you're free to make that comment.

But just complaining and calling people names is just like anyone who complains about politics and doesn't vote or doesn't do anything about it. DO something other than complain about it. It's just like people who vent about people and whine that "so and so is such an idiot." It's a waste of energy and time.

Btw, the increase in ticket prices is enough to stop some people from renewing or downgrading. Yes, there is over-usage where locals don't buy anything at the parks. But hearing about these types of events might be enough to get people to pay the higher fees.

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