Reflecting upon Made With Magic following a recent visit to Disneyland

Hacked MWM in World of Disney store The Disneyland/California Adventure duo is home to the largest assortment of Made With Magic products that I'm aware of.  Right now, they're the only locations where Chernabog and the World of Color Sipper cups have been available and, due to the recent performance of Paint the Night, they still have Paintbrushes, too.  Of course, they also have been a source for the more common items such as: Ear Hats, Headbands, Wands and Gloves.  So it's always interesting to check out the status of Made With Magic merchandise when visiting the SoCal Parks. 

Luckily, I just got back from a short visit so I now have some observations I can share.

World of Disney Store window

Made With Magic merchandise is often featured in one of the display windows of the World of Disney Store and I was delighted to see it there again.  The stars of the current display are the new Ear Hat and the new Headband.  The other available MWM products were relegated to shelves back in the store and were, no doubt, sulking over the snub.   Not everyone got to be part of the show.  Sniff.

The lower part of the display was populated with the actual merchandise.  But higher up, Disney pulled off a hack of their own devices.  In the photo above, you can easily see that those aren't real Ear Hats.  The illusion consists of a rather large black power supply and a non-enclosed LED-containing circuit board.  The LEDs seemed to be surface mounted on the familiar white PCB and, curiously, were mostly pointing upwards instead of directly at the fake "ear".  Couldn't really see much more than that.  But it was interesting that they decided to go with a hack instead of simply using more hats.

On the carts

I like to see what they load on the carts, especially the ones closest to World of Color.  Kind of gives and idea of what they may be promoting at any given time. What I found on the carts this time were Ear Hats, Headbands and Paintbrushes!  The Paintbrushes were a bit of a surprise as Paint the Night has been over for a while now,  yet the Paintbrushes seemed to be everywhere.  Flushing out remaining stock? 

Conspicuously, absent were the Wand and Glove.  I mentioned to the cast member, who was manning the cart in front of the hordes assembling for WOC, that I didn't see the Wand or Glove and asked if those normally were included on the cart.  She simply replied that I might be able to find those in "a store" and that was the end of that conversation.  Still looking forward to the day when I encounter a MWM vendor who is also a MWM evangelist.  Strange that those two never seem to coincide.

On the people

The other thing I like to check out is how other people are customizing their MWM gear.  On this trip, the theme for hacks I was able to recognize skewed towards that of Pirates.  There were some others I saw, but don't quite know how to describe.  Unfortunately, I don't have pics of any of these.  I'll do my best to approximate what I saw.

Pirate hatBack to the pirate theme.  The first guy I saw had taken a typical red bandana and wrapped it around a MWM Ear Hat, in a manner similar to the hat pictured to the left, with the knot and 'tails' hanging down on the right side.  The fabric completely covered the original hat fabric such that it wasn't possible to tell which version of the Hat he'd customized.  Looked like a nice, easy hack to get the desired effect.  Alternatively, the fabric from the pictured Ear Hat could be removed and used to wrap a stock MWM Ear Hat, but there isn't enough fabric to completely cover the whole MWM hat so some of the stock pattern would be visible.

another pirate ear hat Another pirate themed hack I saw looked something like the composite picture on the right.  I did a search on the Internet to see if I could find a hat that looked something like what might have been the starting point for this customization and the closest I could find was this one.  That's the way I remember it looking.  If true, the pirate theme for this hack may be courtesy of a Beistle Printed Pirate Hat - made out of cardstock material that will set you back less than $2!  Can't beat that price.

There were non-pirate themed hacks, too.  Most involved taking the felt dome from a non-MWM hat and somehow using that to cover the stock MWM Ear Hat dome.  One person added glitter and costume jewelry to the top edges of her MWM ears.  Another guy, not sure what he put over his Ear Hat.  It was kind of an amorphous, dark gray something.  He seemed happy with it.

Chernabog still in exile

not chernabogConstruction continues around the Rivers of America.  Bad news for Chernabog.  No sign of him anywhere.  I asked cast members in the kiosks about his possible return.  The ones I spoke with didn't seem to know what I was talking about. 

I read that Fantasmic is scheduled to return in summer 2017.  Maybe Chernabog Sipper cups will return then, too.  Let's hope.  They are great Halloween decorating accessories.  It would be a shame if they disappeared for good.

World of Color Sipper Cup goes high class

Why, I remember the good ol' days when just about any regular fella could wander into the Wharf Cafe, plunk down $25 and order up a World of Color Sipper Cup with a splash of soda water thrown in.  Good times.  But those days apparently are over.

Dessert party infoNowadays, you want one, you're gonna need a reservation for the WOC Dessert Party.  Check out those particulars.  Yikes!   The consensus from talking to cast members around the lagoon is that these babies are no longer available for sale anywhere else in the park.  They're now simply a party souvenir.  Bad news for those who don't want to/can't shell out for the party.  I checked for reservations during my stay.  None available.  So there was no way to get one of these even if I had been willing to shell out $79.  Hmmm.  Time to revise a few web pages.

The bright side of this development is that I now see more people toting a WOC sipper cup home from the park than I ever used to see.  The folks in the Dessert Party section also seem to be the ones most likely to be wearing MWM Ear Hats or Headbands and toting Wands or Paintbrushes.  Now I'm thinking that if there is gonna to be a MWM "section" at WOC, I'd say it is likely to become the Dessert Party section.  Could be a good thing.  If folks in the surrounding peanut galleries see a group of people glowing along with the show, they may get the urge to join in.  Maybe more MWM merchandise will fly off the shelves.  That would be good.

Dreaming of an even more Interactive MWM experience

I was waiting outside the Ghiradelli store in CA when this strong wish arose that there might be targets for my MWM Wand to interact with around the wharf while waiting for the Mrs to finish her shopping. Something like bullsyes or maybe fake seagulls that would start flapping if you aimed just right.  Something fun to play with.

I remembered a video I'd seen about interactive artwork at the Hong Kong Park.  Check out the video to see what I'm talking about.  The Wands and Paintbrushes could be used for much more than simply changing someone else's Ear effects.

In a post from 2009, the authors wrote:

"Currently Disney patrons wait in line for hours to be able to go on rides, without any interaction with one another. This detracts from the magical Disney experience. Using our wands, Disney park go-ers will be able to collaboratively doodle and play games, along with voting for park events and participating in surveys. Once our project is implemented it should greatly improve the Disney experience by creating an environment of collaboration and interactivity, instead of a solitary park-going experience. "

Agreed.  Given that the tech and the implementations already exist, it's curious that they haven't yet materialized on this side of the ocean. 

While powerless to affect what happens in the parks, we CAN do some interesting things in our own homes.  Wouldn't it be fun if the kids could point their Wand/Paintbrush at a household lamp and be able to turn it off and on with a click of the button?  Now THAT would feel more like magic!  Let's start working our way towards being able to make stuff like that happen.  A couple microprocessors, a sensor or two, some zwave and a little home automation will do it.  Stay tuned.