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Vote of the week: Being the audience volunteer in a show

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Published: May 2, 2008 at 8:22 AM

One of my earliest theme park memories was being picked to be the freckle-faced kid on a cable car during a faux "Rice-A-Roni" commercial that was "filmed" on the Studio Tour at Universal Studios in Hollywood back in the early 1970s.

Apparently, I have a knack for getting picked for on-stage roles in Universal shows. Almost everytime I went to the old Alfred Hitchcock show at Universal Studios Florida, I got picked to play the role of "Mother." It got to the point where, one time, an employee was telling me where to stand and I burst out laughing. "I'm sorry," I told her. "But I've played this part four times already!"

I was expecting the Universal Police to swoop in a throw me out for the crime of multiple "Mother"-hood, but instead the employee just smiled, left me alone and split for a quick break.

So, that brings us to this week's vote:

If you answered 'yes,' please tell us your story, in the comments.

Readers' Opinions

From Brandon Mendoza on May 2, 2008 at 9:27 AM
The only time I was a volunteer was at the Studio Backlot Tour back when it was MGM Studios in Disney World. I was picked to be in the boat where they drench you in water. This was about 11 years ago, and looking back at it, I should have had more fun with it! Being suited up in an all yellow raincoat & hat was goofy, but back then I was "too cool for school" and always tried to act tough. If I saw myself now, I'd say "DUDE, you're at DISNEY WORLD... how tough can you be??? SMILE!!!"

I'd definitely love to be a volunteer subjected to a Lake's worth of water at any theme park again!

From Nigel Smith on May 2, 2008 at 9:39 AM
I was picked for a show at Warner Bros Movie World in Australia to be an extra in a blue screen show. This just didn't happen once - it happened to me on both visits a few years apart!

I was wearing a red shirt both visits and stuck out in the groups. My advice, if you don't want to be picked, then make sure you wear a color shirt that wont stand out in the crowd!

From Bradley Robertson on May 2, 2008 at 9:40 AM
I've never been picked and I'm not so sure I would ever want to be. I enjoy watching others making fools of themselves too much :-P
From vg fernandez on May 2, 2008 at 11:35 AM
i was picked the first half hour of my first trip to usf ever,in my life.
i was so excited i was in the earthbrake ride and the host just pick up somebody for doing a weather reporter fall, i was very nervous because i cant speak english very well, but it was ok, and very funny. My husband recorded all the stunt for me and i know i make a fool of myself but this experience was PRICELESS. :D
From Dan Rosenberg on May 2, 2008 at 12:08 PM
I am sort of shy so when they say they need volounteers I slouch down in the seat so they can't see me.
From Barry Wallace on May 2, 2008 at 12:13 PM
Ha! That's funny, I was also one of the raincoat-wearing, submarine-driving volunteers at the Backlot Tour at Disney-MGM, but this was w-a-a-a-y back in 1990. I was just out of college, trying to impress a female friend I went with to the park with - she took a picture and I can tell I wasn't very impressive ;)

I was picked for the bird show at Animal Kingdom back in 2004, which was very cool because i was using my video camera, and got a great action shot onstage of a great big owl swooping down straight at me!

Finally, I was one of the folks picked out of the audience last fall at the Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor, which was great because someone was calling my wife on the cell the same time they were "interviewing" me live on the big screen...

It's a hoot to do these, because I'm a natural ham and also an improv-type actor, which lends itself to these kinds of things. I would assume the cast members prefer the audience members who can interact more than the ones that just stand there and laugh, or don't react at all.

From Olivier Sanguy on May 2, 2008 at 12:18 PM
In December 2006, my wife's brother and I were selected to "act" during the special effect explanation part of the Studio Backlot Tour. Luckily, this "Pearl Harbour set" does not ask for great talent... ;-) Lots of water however but we were well covered and, just before the show, castmembers wisely told us to remove any water sensible things (watch, cell phone, ect).
That was fun and one more proof that being "ridicule" never killed anybody! ;-) I wrote "ridicule" this way because in fact they made fun for the audience with us but I never felt they were making fun of or against us. And I do think this is the line they try not to cross in such theme parks, otherwise volunteered guests could have a bitter feeling about the experience.
From Claudine Deshaies on May 2, 2008 at 4:15 PM
I slouch down in my seat, too, and usually try to not sit near the aisles. I'd rather watch other people get goofed on.
From Scottland Jacobson on May 2, 2008 at 7:16 PM
I think I have the Niles-effect as I'm always picked.

Do you know I've never seen the Earthquake OR Disaster show at USF from the audience? I've always been in the show - either on the sub in the old version, or as one of the evil corporate-types in the new version

I've also never seen the "special effects" show from the audience at USH. I was always chosen to be Doc Brown on the clock in the old version, and now an Egyptian slave in the new version (again, on the spinning wall). It's fun to come out in the second part with the revolving wall and then have my arm "cut off."

I used to always be one of the "on lookers" in the Indiana Jones stunt show and I've been picked for the bird show at AK which is way cool.

The best was being chosen for Fear Factor Live! at USF. Wow! What an experience! Waivers! Harnesses! Disposable underwear! The first stunt was to hang 40 feet above the stage as long as I could while a powerful fan blew on me. Unforutnately I was up against some firefighters, a Navy man and a very determined mother and I was the first to be eliminated and do the walk of shame.

From Stephen Tuday on May 2, 2008 at 9:24 PM
Every year at Six Flags over Georgia, they have a show titled Dr Fright's Dead Man's party, which runs during their Halloween celebration, Fright Fest. I have to say I have been selected at least FIVE times to sit in the 'hot seat' for this very same show! All the volunteer has to do is allow the 'zombie' cast to escort them to an on stage rolling cage during a particular segment of this high-energy show and just sit there as the cast sings and dances their hearts out all around - no acting needed! This show has enjoyed a good run from its 1994 Fright Fest debut up until last year. With the Six Flags' chain switching over to video based shows for the regular season, it remains to be seen whether or not the live action shows will still run during the Halloween season.
From Dan Babbitt on May 3, 2008 at 10:30 AM
I got to do "Pearl Harbor Attack" before the Backlot Tour. My two other brothers got to do it too! It was great.
From Gareth H on May 3, 2008 at 10:41 AM
First time ever at the old EarthQuake ride, I was picked to pull the rope which collapsed the pillar.
I was asked to eat the nasty food at Fear factor, but declined, as I would have puked!
Just recently I was picked on (lol) by the staff member in Poseidon. Throughout the whole show I was talked to, asked to do stuff, etc, that was funny.

That tends t happen a lot more as I'm very tall (6ft5in) so I stand out, I try and stay at the back of the room/ride/show for this reason but sometimes you just canm't help but stick out.

From Chris Walton on May 4, 2008 at 3:41 PM
I was the "mechanic" and my wife was the "captain" on the Backlot Tour/Catastrophe Canyon at Disney's Hollywood Studios. My wife was also chosen as the "scare victim" for the Gory, Gruesome Horror Make-up Show at USF...
From Bob Rex on May 5, 2008 at 9:57 AM
I was also picked to do the boat attack scene on the Backlot Tour. I ended up being the one swabbing the deck on the PT boat, so I figured I'd make the most of it. During the strafing run I was jumping and running around trying to dodge the bullets, and when the torpedo came, I hit the deck so fast that I dumped my glasses.

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