Just Glow With the Shoooow

Written by Kevin Yee. Posted in Disney Hollywood Studios, Magic Kingdom

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Published on October 22, 2013 at 5:01 am with 14 Comments

There’s a song in the WDW Finding Nemo Musical which seems apropos to the current situation: “just go with the flow”, Crush might belt out, and he might as well be singing about the new Glow With the Show light-up Mickey ears on the East coast. These technological marvels are a few months behind the West Coast debut, but they do stack up over here, and I suspect our evening entertainment has changed forever.


You don’t get “sea changes” that often in the theme park world. But this might be an honest to goodness one. The ability for people to “play along” from the ringside seat has been a bit of a Holy Grail for amusement industry types for decades, even centuries, and we may finally have arrived at a technological moment when it actually happens.

Mind you, this technology isn’t new. It’s been many months since this debuted on the West Coast, in the form of the World of Color Glow show at Disney California Adventure. I wasn’t there for that premiere, but I understand it was pretty awesome, with essentially every patron in the theater displaying the new ears that glowed along with the show.


This past Tuesday, they debuted the glowing ears at Fantasmic at DHS, and to make sure that the video from the ParksBlog looked great, they distributed a few hundred (thousand?) glowing ears even to those who didn’t buy the devices. Result: it looked great!! Here’s a view from a friend who was there:

Then, this past Saturday, it was time for the castle projections and the fireworks show Wishes to be part of the lineup. It was a qualified success. On the one hand, the technology worked, for the most part. When they wanted all the ears to be pink, they were indeed pink.



When they wanted a variety of colors to inject excitement into the crowd, they got that too.

I have heard conflicting reports about how popular the glowing ears are on the West coast. But I have a prediction to share with you regarding the East Coast: I think they will do OK. There’s a healthy contingent of folks here who buy glow merchandise anyway (they ARE on vacation, you remember). And the number of folks I saw with glow ears on Saturday, the Wishes premiere, was encouraging. Unlike Fantasmic, on this weekend they did NOT give out free ears at the Magic Kingdom. Still, you saw enough ears in the field of vision that it made a difference, and my read on the tourist mindset is that we’ll get enough sales of merch such as this that the shows have been changed forever.


That’s not meant to be a negative analysis, mind you. The parks really AREN’T museums, in my opinion, and it’s entirely appropriate for the designers to be thinking of ways to capture today’s audience. I would be doing exactly the same thing in their shoes, and the Glow Ears are a perfectly acceptable way of capturing their attention. And, tellingly, their wallets.

Image courtesy of BigFatPanda.com

Image courtesy of BigFatPanda.com

Today’s WDW visitor is likely to be entranced by the magic, for want of a better word, and they won’t look too cynically upon a chance to buy some indelible memories (and perhaps a few souvenir photos) for a few dollars. It’s an insidious thing, really, but that’s the nature of the beast. And I think it’s here to stay in WDW, so we’d better get used to the idea.


The truth is, it’s not a hard thing to get used to. Seeing several dozen glow ears on the premiere night, even when they WEREN’T being handed out for free, gave me hope that it will now be a permanent thing for folks to have their glow ears with them.


On balance, the glow ears are a good thing. But people, please: turn them off in the Haunted Mansion and the Tiki Room (and so on). They don’t add to the show there.


WDW Clicks

And now, a confession. For almost two years, I’ve been chronicling my weekly escapades and Orlando wandering from another website, where I’ve been uploading a slideshow video of my activities and the updates around the park. I’m moving on from that now, and launching my own show: WDW Clicks! (#wdwclicks for those of you on twitter)

Here’s my first show. Please feel free to chime in and/or to leave comments. You’ll see a moment in there where I challenge you to answer a trivia question – have at it either here or at YouTube directly!

(By the way, I know there is a volume issue here. The ‘slideshow’ part is too quiet and the intro/conclusion part with music is too loud. I’ll normalize that in the coming shows, but wanted to launch right now before too much time went by).

Thanks for your support and your viewership over the years. You guys make it worthwhile. Enjoy my “tour” around the parks!






About Kevin Yee

Kevin Yee is an author and blogger writing about travel, tourism, and theme parks in Central Florida.

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  • Malificent2000

    You asked that people turn them off on the rides… did WDW not install a off sensor on the rides? I know when at Disneyland and DCA, every time I go on a dark ride, they automatically turn off just after the load zone of the ride, and turn back on when you are walking through the exit. The Little Mermaid, Radiator Springs Racers, and Mike and Sully to the Rescue at DCA do this, and Indy Jones, Haunted Mansion, and many other rides at Disneyland do it. While I do not know the logistics, for all I know they shut off cuz they are no longer receiving a signal, but I do enjoy knowing that I do not have to be constantly turning them off myself. Maybe WDW needs to add this to the rides. I do find that the price seems to be a issue with many people. At roughly $25 a pair, it is kind of steep but I must agree that WDW guest are a little more glow friendly. I am excited to know that now I can bring my glow ears with me to parks around the world and they will work. Its about time WDW joins California and Paris with this inventive product.

    • Freddie Freelance

      They use an Infra-Red sensor in the ears, so there is a little IR LED spotlight in the ride entrance sending an off message to the ears.

    • Marko50

      No, they don’t turn off because they’re not receiving a signal. I usually wear mine on the bus back to Toy Story parking lot – at least if there are kids on the bus – and they stay on.

  • danyoung

    I think the ears are another show element that can be used well or used poorly. From that example of the F! show, I agreed with some of the light triggers and disagreed with some of them. During the parts of the show where attention needs to be focused on a specific element (like Mickey appearing on top of the mountain), they need to be off. But during the more chaotic parts (like the boat passing by), use ‘em like crazy!

    • Marko50

      Check again. They WERE off when Mickey appeared at the top of the mountain. Unless I’VE also got “some imagination”.

  • BradyNBradleysMom

    Oooh! Kevin Yee is one my favorite writers and now he is going to be one of my favorite YouTube stars! I love being a Kevin Yee fan because he is always up to something great. I love this new WDW Clicks show!!!

  • Timchat2

    It’s good to know that I’m not the only one who sings “Just go with the floooowww…” to himself at any mention of “Glow with the Show”.

  • Ju-osh

    My friends already think I’m part of some creepy, Disney cult. This footage will only confirm their fears.

  • Marko50

    I’ve gotta admit, Glow Ears seem pretty scarce at DLR. I take mine every time (I remember) when I go. I’ve been called the Ear Man more than once. (But not near as much as Santa Claus ;-) ).

  • pianojohn

    When I saw World of Color in April, I counted maybe 5-6 pair of ears total. I think they only look amazing when the majority of people are wearing them. And that only happens when they are handed out for free. $25 is pretty steep for a pair of ears.

    • ralfrick

      Even when DL had an ears only section for Magical one week in May, there were only a few people with them, no more than 50. Marko50, the signal mentioned turns the ears Off on dark rides, so they will work on a bus (or at home, etc).

  • AaroniusPolonius

    $25 dollars for ears that cost Disney probably less than $3 to make in China is absurd. ABSURD. There’s making money and then there’s fleecing for money, and $25 is mos def the latter.

    If anything, they should price them at break-even just to get people to wear them all day, and to tie the ears into their interactive push at the parks.

    • skubersky

      Actually, I know the folks who developed this, and you’d be surprised how expensive these are when you factor in R&D, electronics manufacturing, shipping, etc. They are still making a profit, but they don’t cost “$3″.

  • JediPrincess

    My mom and I thought they were cool, but at $25 bucks a pop not so much. There is a huge market out there for them if they would only lower the price. I’d pay $10 for them but not $25. Judging by the few people I see wearing them at Disneyland, I’d say they should reevaluate their price point if they actually want them to become popular.