Introduced in 2012 at the Disneyland Resort, Glow with the Show was a technology that allowed guests to interact with their favorite nighttime spectaculars or fireworks displays via special headwear and accessories that would light up, perfectly timed to the show. A year later the technology came to Walt Disney World, and a year after that the line of accessories expanded and came with a brand new name: Made with Magic. Now that same technology, for the first time ever, will be accessible on your smartphone, during The Wonderful World of Disney: Disneyland 60 special airing this Sunday on ABC.
To explain: During select musical numbers, your cell phone will light up, choreographed to the performance. You’ll see people with those easily identifiable Made with Magic ears, which strobe in concert with the performance. You can touch your smartphone and activate fireworks, or glide your finger around the screen and unleash a rain of sparkles. All you need is the Applause app from Disney and your childlike sense of wonder. (When the app is less active, there will be a clock counting down to the next Made with Magic part of the special.)
“Made with Magic started way back in 2011 as an idea that came out of Imagineering Research & Development. We pitched it and it was so well-received that we got the green light to go immediately. It started an unprecedented collaboration between Imagineering, theme park merchandise, and entertainment,” Pehr Hovey, an Imagineer in Research and Development, explained. “The key thing about the technology is that we take merchandise like the Mickey ears and put some lights in it, but the magic part if you come to one of our nighttime spectaculars, is that we coordinate the colors across the entire audience.”
Hovey went on to explain how the Made with Magic second screen experience will work at home: “You’ll see plenty of ears on ABC. They’ll be in action on screen. Our partners at ABC really wanted to bring the magic into your living room. We added the same technology as Made with Magic but now it’s inside your phone. Instead of synchronizing to a nighttime spectacular, your phone will sync to the spectacular on screen. You’ll see ears on your screen doing the same color scheme. We’re taking the show that was originally just at Disneyland and bring it nationwide to thousands of people’s homes, all at the exact same time.”
And like all Imagineering projects, this experience is designed to elicit an emotional response as much as an intellectual one, so you’ll oooh and awww equally. “Maybe you’ve been to Disneyland and you’re reminiscing, or maybe you’ve never been and wish you could go,” Hovey said.
“What the app is going to do is allow people to to experience something both iconic and classic, and totally modern and innovative all at the same time,” Tracie Alt, the Merchandiser responsible for the Made with Magic ears and accessories told us. “They’ll see the ears—the first time it appeared was in the Mickey Mouse Club—but with this technology it really modernized it in an amazing way. So even if they aren’t in the park themselves, they’ll be able to see that. With this app, we’re finally being able to get that experience to the guests who haven’t been able to experience it themselves.”
This is the most immersive second screen television experience to date, according to Hovey, instead of just being the kind of straightforward swapping of information or elaboration of events (or even more overtly marketing-related content). “This is an unprecedented form factor,” Hovey said. “It’s so new, we don’t even know how people will experience it. We’re hoping it will be a complementary experience. It’s a completely custom, artistic experience and a groundbreaking way to co-experience television on your phone.” Hovey also hinted that the way that people experience the app will dictate what new ways they can use similar technology in the future, so while you watch and play you’ll also be pioneers on the forefront of a potential revolution. Not bad, right?