American Idol ExperienceLAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – With all the thrills and suspense that have made it a television and pop culture phenomenon, “American Idol” comes to Walt Disney World Resort in a groundbreaking new attraction at Disney’s Hollywood Studios theme park.

“The American Idol Experience” captures the energy and excitement of the TV series, with some guests at Disney’s Hollywood Studios auditioning to take the spotlight onstage, while fellow guests cheer them on from the audience and vote for their favorite singer with instant results.

The attraction – grand opening Feb. 14, 2009 – was developed by Walt Disney Imagineering in conjunction with FremantleMedia Enterprises (FME) and 19 TV Ltd.  It is based on the smash-hit television show “American Idol” – produced by 19 TV Ltd. and FremantleMedia North America (FMNA) – and is designed to immerse park guests in the authentic feel of a live television production.

“Disney parks are all about making dreams come true, and that’s exactly what will happen at ‘The American Idol Experience,’ ” said Jay Rasulo, chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. “Whether they are onstage singing or in the audience cheering on their favorite performer, our guests will feel immersed in a world of instant stardom.”

Each show takes place in a 1,000-seat indoor theater that features the twirling neon signs and a multi-layered backdrop inspired by the actual “American Idol” set in California. Building on its hallmark of attention to detail, Walt Disney Imagineering worked with the Hollywood set designer who designed the actual TV show set for “American Idol.” The newly designed venue is the most technologically advanced theater found at Walt Disney World Resort.

Designed to reflect the best and brightest elements of the TV show, “The American Idol Experience” includes an audition process open to Disney’s Hollywood Studios guests 14 and older (audition slots are limited and interested guests are encouraged to arrive early).  These guests perform live in front of a Disney’s Hollywood Studios casting director for the opportunity to be cast in one of the preliminary theme park shows that same day.

If shown to have that special “star quality” during the multi-step audition process, it’s on to performance training, hair and makeup. Then, the lights come up and it’s showtime for the singers as they try to impress an audience of theme park guests – plus a panel of three expert judges.

Fellow park guests will be able to enjoy the performances just like at a live television taping. Then, audience members vote for their favorite performance using the armrest keypads, with their votes tallied to determine the top singer.

Performers with the highest votes during the preliminary shows will return for a high-energy grand finale show that same evening. After their encore performances, the big moment arrives. It’s a super-charged, eye-popping scene as audience votes are tallied, the other performers drop off, music builds and the spotlight shines down, amid a blizzard of confetti, on the day’s top singer. In addition to their new-found theme park fame, the top vote-getter 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. And every member of the audience can take a bow, too, because they had a role in deciding that day’s star.

“The American Idol Experience” is the newest attraction at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. The showbiz-inspired theme park immerses guests in the glamour of show business with thrilling attractions, Broadway-style shows, world-class atmosphere entertainment and interactive film, music, television and radio production facilities.

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Marie is the Managing Editor at the Osprey Observer. She covers news, transportation, education and likes to make a positive impact on the community and be 'in the know'!