Theme Park of the Day: Disney's Animal Kingdom

Vote of the week: Would you try out for Disney's American Idol Experience?

February 20, 2009, 10:48 AM · Let's talk about The American Idol Experience. The show officially debuted at Disney's Hollywood Studios in Walt Disney World earlier this month, though it has been in soft opening since last month.

American Idol Experience at Walt Disney World

Never before in theme parks, that I can recall at least, has a show been so dependent upon audience participation. Theme parks, especially Universal, for years have been using audience volunteers. But they've typically been glorified props, brought on stage to follow specific instructions, doing little, if anything, of their own initiative.

American Idol uses park visitors very differently. Here, the visitors are not props; they are the show. If Disney doesn't get some good singers to volunteer, the show fails. (A fact that's prompted rumors that Disney's hired cast ringers to fill out shows where too few competent singers step up.)

Would you step up for American Idol? That's our vote of the week:

Tell us your thoughts about the show, in the comments.

Replies (24)

February 20, 2009 at 10:59 AM · actaully i remember paramount carowinds,when i was a child, had a karokee stage and performance thing.
February 20, 2009 at 11:47 AM · I would love to! Just for the "experience"...however, I cannot even audition because I'm a Cast Member :(
February 20, 2009 at 2:38 PM · There are only two good things about the American Idol Experience at DHS:

1) FremantleMedia (the company behind all the IDOL shows) foot the bill for upgrading the building used to stage the attraction. So for Disney this addition it is a huge win. They get the benefit of something new that is currently riding an unfathomable wave of popularity, and when the franchise dies in a few years, Disney will be in possession of a completely renovated and updated building which they can turn around and use for a better attraction.

2) Since AI is still fairly popular, I can expect it to pull quite a few people away from the good attractions leaving shorter lines for me.

I would rather ride the defunct Superstar Limo attraction 100 times in a row than participate in the American Idol Experience.

February 20, 2009 at 1:34 PM · I will be avoiding the American Idol experience and will be going to other attractions in the park. I have never watched an episode of American Idol and could care less about it.
February 20, 2009 at 2:23 PM · I was at the Studios on Tuesday and I chickened out of the try outs. I know I can sing but i'd rather just keep it to my church's audience, i dont do well in front of an audience thats too big. I get way too nautious. Maybe next month when I go back i'll work up the courage to try out and i'll definetely keep you guys posted if i do on how my experience went.
February 20, 2009 at 2:25 PM · I can't sing, so I will definitely avoid trying out for AIE. Nonetheless, I can't support anything related to this show that robs me of so much time with my wife (since she can't get enough of it). It's bad enough that the show seems like it is on every night of the week, but now it has to invade my vacation as well? My touring plan will go well around this attraction.
February 20, 2009 at 8:23 PM · I have lost so much in my life due to this show -- my wife, my teenage daughter, Firefly. The only thing I have learned from my involuntary experience with the show is that those who should NOT be singing in public often are in front of the entire nation. For a majority of an hour while I hide in the kitchen eating away my loss of quality TV time, I hear what can only be the equivalency of dying animals emanating from the TV speakers upstairs. Now Disney has let this beast into my "happy place". Where will I hide from the bombardment of tone-deaf aspirations? Hollywood Tower of Terror, take me away! Take me away!
February 20, 2009 at 2:45 PM · I agree with some of the comments above in that the best thing coming out of the American Idol Experience is that this show will take away people from the better attractions at the park. Like the Who Wants to be a Millionaire attraction previously at DCA and DHS and the Fear Factor show in USH, attractions based on television shows don't last very long and get old very quickly. After this show loses its luster after this year or next, hopefully Disney can come up with a better use for this now renovated building.
February 20, 2009 at 4:25 PM · Unlike a lot of the people that go to try out for American Idol, I know I can't sing. People say I can, but screw 'em, I've watched enough AI to know that people take that stuff to heart and go make a complete and total fool of themselves.

So, no. In fact, I won't even bother going.

And, I'm not surprised they've hired singers to sing in case there aren't enough people.

February 20, 2009 at 4:48 PM · I'm surprised at all the negativity towards AIE..but whether or not you like the show, you have to admit it is a huge move for Disney to have an attraction based on THE most popular "thing" in pop culture over the last 7 years, and there are tens of millions who watch the show and will either want to audition or at least feel what its like to be at an American Idol show, since I hear and can see that the stage is recreated extremely well...I am one of those people
February 20, 2009 at 8:35 PM · I agree with James. My little sister will enjoy trying out for the show. However, to me, this is another flash in the pan attraction like "Millionaire". The actual show has been slowly losing its' popularity and is down some 13% in the ratings from previous seasons. It will suck-up some of the crowds and, hopefully, make the line for Midway Mania bearable. Then, in five years, we will get a better attraction using the new building.
February 20, 2009 at 9:08 PM · I can't stand American Idol. As a musician, I think that this show represents everything that's wrong with the industry. It's nothing but a big machine that produces a pop star with a life span of about 15 minutes...which is long enough for Simon Cowell, the maestro of the whole thing, to make his money off of them with a crap management contract and a crap recording deal. The contestants are overexposed and undertalented, the voting is rigged, and notice how the few who have had talent have been voted off every year, only to sign multimillion dollar recording contracts. The show is a complete farce, a fad that's gone horribly wrong and lasted way too long. The day that this show finally ends for good should be celebrated as a national holiday for years to come.
February 20, 2009 at 9:31 PM · Sometimes, American Idol winners do have 15 minute life spans like Taylor Hicks or Fantasia or Rueben Studdard, but AI winners have been quite successful too...Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood have had a quite a lot more than 15 minutes of fame...they are 2 of the biggest artists in the industry..and Jordin Sparks and David Cook are heading towards that kind of sustained stardom....and look how the show has propelled the amazing careers of non-winners such as Chris Daughtry, Katherine McPhee, and Jennifer don't knock the show just because you dont like accomplishes its goal more often than not, and draws outrageous ratings year after year...and who knows, the next Carrie Underwood or Kelly Clarkson could have launched their singing careers at Hollywood Studios
February 20, 2009 at 9:40 PM · If you want to clear the room, then I will sing!

Anyway, I can't do it due to my part time Disney Store job.

February 20, 2009 at 9:57 PM · American Idol is just a flashy, less funny version of the Gong Show. And while it is the highest rated show on TV right now, its viewership has been shrinking every year. AI's best days are in the past, and just like Millionaire, Wheel of Fortune, and the Pet Rock, the AI fad is coming to an end. Disney may have jumped on this ship a little late in the game, but at least they are getting some publicity and a renovated building out of the deal!

I have no problem with Disney milking AI for every ounce of cash they can get, I just don't plan on going anywhere near the "attraction", and I cannot wait until that building is used for something that feels more...well..Disney-like.

February 20, 2009 at 10:02 PM · Coming in 2010... the "Gong Show Experience" at Disney's Hollywood Studios. Now *that's* an idea I can support! (FYI: I have not yet decided if I'm being sarcastic. I might really like this idea.)
February 21, 2009 at 6:39 AM · Even at almost 80 years old, you've gotta get Chuck Barris to emcee....if the CIA will let him, that is!

And the "gong" has to have a big picture of Simon Cowell's smarmy face on it...however, if you did that, people might just periodically hit the gong out of spite! Personally, I wouldn't be able to stop hitting it! ;)

February 21, 2009 at 11:24 AM · spoken like a true superfan...

I know the business side of the whole thing, and trust me, the show ain't about music.

February 21, 2009 at 1:39 PM · I don't watch it now -- why would I waste time watching it live in a park I paid big bucks to enter?
February 22, 2009 at 6:02 PM · "If someone talked me into it" meaning "if someone got me drunk enough".
February 22, 2009 at 11:57 PM · I think someone said this is the same place they had Who Wants To Be A Millionarie SP? I went into that show while It was Who Wants To Be A Millionarie

And while I liked it I can't not see anyone going to AIE why waste time at a Theme Park to get put down because you can't sing

Besides what would you win if you could A Season Pass? maybe oh that's great if your from out of state

February 23, 2009 at 6:40 AM · American Idol is for the most part a "Hate it" or "Love it" show. It drives me nuts but I have come to enjoy it now and then only because of the rediculous nature of it. It provides some pretty good laughs.

But to be honest it's not a show about music, it's a show about entertainment. I think the winners have been entertainers and the runner ups that have gone on to do well have better "musical" talents. Although I do think Carrie Underwood is amazing and I don't even like country.

We all know this attraction was built to entertain the 12-16 year old female demographic. Bring in the teens and sell merchandise. It probably is a really good marketing move while the pan is still hot for AI. Love it or hate it.

February 23, 2009 at 8:01 AM · Yes, the show was geared toward the tween crowd, as DHS has been somewhat dubbed the tween park of WDW...between AIE and High School Musical 3 and Star Tours, even Beauty and the Beast and Voyage of the Little Mermaid to some extent, there is definatley a lot apppealing to the 10-16 year old crowd...which is why I wouldnt be surprised to see Rockin Rollercoaster starring the Jonas Brothers soon lol

And Joseph, the prize you win is a "Dream Ticket" to get to the front of the line at an actual American Idol audition of your choice, which is a sensible prize, and if youre a good singer, a coveted one...the "ultimate fast pass" as they call it in the show

February 26, 2009 at 4:30 AM · It might be worth checking out...once. But mostly, I agree with the poster who said that it will hopefully draw people away from the real cool stuff in the park, like Toy Story Mania, TOT, etc.

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