LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – While guests are usually the ones to enjoy the attractions and shows at Walt Disney World Resort, “The American Idol Experience” places Disney’s Hollywood Studios guests in the spotlight, immersing them in the thrill of auditioning and performing or voting on their favorite musical performances.
Modeled after the famous “American Idol” television show, the Walt Disney World attraction – grand opening Feb. 14, 2009 – will make dreams come true by showcasing the talents of park guests age 14 and older who have aced the auditions (audition slots are limited and interested guests are encouraged to arrive early).
Like the television show, fans – not the onstage judges – have the final say on who is deemed the best of the best. With seating to accommodate 1,000 audience members, the high-tech theater features keypads at each seat so guests can vote for their favorite singer.
Performers who receive the most audience votes in the preliminary shows will return to star in that evening’s grand finale show. In addition to their new-found theme park fame, the top vote-getting guest in the finale show will receive “The American Idol Experience” Dream Ticket – which allows an eligible holder to schedule a front-of-the-line audition at a future regional audition for the “American Idol” television show.
Here’s a look at what Disney’s Hollywood Studios guests may experience at “The American Idol Experience” attraction, whether judging performances from the audience or belting out their favorite song through the audition process.
Performers: A Star is Born
- Guests age 14 or older are invited to obtain an assigned audition time after they enter Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
- When these guests arrive at “The American Idol Experience” attraction, they enter a special queue that leads to the audition rooms and backstage areas of the theater.
- Guests proceed to the backstage lobby area where they view a pre-audition video welcome. Individuals are then ushered into an audition room to perform an a cappella song for a Disney casting director. Each audition room is built to resemble the audition rooms featured on the television show. The casting director provides feedback and coaching on the performance, and then decides whether the performer moves to the next level.
- If the guest passes Audition Round One it’s on to Round Two – where the judging is even tougher.
- Singers making it to Audition Round Two are given an “American Idol Experience” pin-on number to wear (similar to the one seen on contestants during the “American Idol” television show regional auditions). They’re ushered into the Red Room where they select from a list of pre-approved songs to sing for the Disney producer. The Red Room is an upscale, backstage lounge where they can relax and prep for their next audition.
- When their names are called, guests proceed to the next audition room to perform in front of a Disney show producer. Similar to the scene played out thousands of times in the TV show’s regional auditions, guests sing their hearts out with hopes and dreams to make it to the next level. And while that next level on the television show is a trip to Hollywood for further competition, park guests passing this audition in the attraction will realize a dream – performing onstage at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in front of an audience.
- Guests chosen by the Disney producer then meet and train with a performance coach and receive the “Hollywood treatment” from professional hair and make-up designers.
- After their “look” is show ready, guests hit the main “American Idol Experience” stage for the first time. The Disney show director, stage manager and staging specialist conduct a dress rehearsal to provide final instructions.
- As the butterflies build, hopefuls wait backstage in the theater’s VIP Green Room while park guests file into their seats for the big show. The lights come up, the music begins pounding, and it’s showtime!
- In addition to the individual performances, the high-energy show features all the glitz and glamour of the TV show, including special montages from past “American Idol” winners and contestants, exclusive video clips and shout-outs from “American Idol” favorites.
- Three park guests sing their hearts out in each of up to seven 25-minute preliminary shows. The best performer (as chosen by an audience vote) of each preliminary show is invited back to the 45-minute grand finale show to perform once more with hopes of being voted the day’s top singer.
- In addition to their new-found theme park fame, the top vote-getting guest in the finale show will receive “The American Idol Experience” Dream Ticket – which allows an eligible holder to schedule a front-of-the-line audition to a future regional audition for the “American Idol” television show.
Audience Members:Every Vote Counts!
- Entering the theater near the neon glow of the Hollywood-style marquee, “The American Idol Experience” audience members first receive a show overview from a Disney emcee.
- While cheering on their favorite performer, some guests are videotaped for inclusion in the show.
- Attention in the pre-show area quickly turns to the video screens overhead for a feature hosted by “American Idol” Season One runner-up Justin Guarini. Guarini, who recorded the segment exclusively for the attraction, takes guests on a 20-minute journey through the pop culture phenomenon’s history in a unique “show-within-a-show” entitled “American Idol Today.”
- When the main theater doors open, guests enter the most technologically advanced theater at Walt Disney World Resort. Produced in similar fashion to a live television telecast, “The American Idol Experience” production technicians and camera operators move about the set during the show, capturing video of singers – and the audience – to feature on the theater’s giant video screens during special montage moments.
- Three expert judges are seated onstage to provide instant feedback to the performers. However, like the TV show, the judges do not have a deciding vote on which performer moves on to the next round – that responsibility rests solely in the hands of the audience.
- When the lights come up and the show begins, the performers – Disney’s Hollywood Studios theme park guests who successfully pass an audition with a Disney casting director and a Disney producer earlier that day – take the stage to belt out the best rendition of their chosen tune. (The song selection list includes tunes from a variety of musical genres, including a few Disney favorites.)
- In each preliminary show, three park guests perform for the audience, each singing a song they have individually selected, and are interviewed by the onstage host about how well they think they did.
- After all the performances, the focus turns to the audience. Every one of the theater’s 1,000 seats is equipped with a keypad, allowing each audience member to vote for their favorite performer. After the voting takes place, the suspense begins to build. Who will come out on top?
- While the results are being tallied, the audience is treated to a video exclusive from 2007 “American Idol” champion Jordin Sparks. Sparks worked with Walt Disney World Entertainment to re-record the classic disco hit, “I’ve Got the Music In Me.” As the classic pop song rocks the theater, shots from past “American Idol” champions and contestants – as well as audience members and attraction performers – will be edited into Sparks’ music video to create a high-energy backdrop to the big announcement.
- Sparks is just one of the famous faces that fans will recognize in the attraction. In addition to Sparks and Guarini, other “American Idol”-related stars – including Ryan Seacrest, David Cook, David Archuleta, Brooke White, Syesha Mercado and Jason Castro – make exclusive video appearances throughout the attraction.
- Guests can cheer for their favorite at the high-energy finale show. And the best part? They can take credit for their role in deciding that day’s star.