There are a couple websites out there talking about what the guest experience will be like for those in the audience at the American Idol Experience, which is currently in soft-opening phase (which means not guaranteed to be open on any particular day and no golden tickets awarded) at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. But I’ve been given a few details from a couple first hand accounts of what the audition and show performance is like from those guests lucky(?) enough to pass the muster.
So if you’re considering auditioning. Heads up. Here’s your first look at what you’ll need to be prepared for.
If you want to be in the show on any particular day, you’ll have to get to the park early. Auditions are currently scheduled to start at 9, although that may change. The AIE shows happen in the old ABC Theater, but you’ll want to head to the audition queue. Currently that’s located around the back of the building, across from the Sci-Fi Dine-In theater/restaurant.
Show technicians will need to interview about 400 people to get the 21 candidates for the 7 ‘voting’ shows. So the line may be long. A cast member with a microphone and another with a video camera will come out and do some queue interviews for use in the days shows later on.
Inside the air conditioned audition building a cast member will meet with guests three at a time. There are four audition rooms total, so the line moves moves pretty fast. The initial audition is about 30 seconds of a song of your choice, a capella, in front of one guy with a computer in a very small room. This is where you want to be high energy and very friendly so you’ll get chosen to be sent on to the next level.
If selected, just down the hall, in red and black Coca-Cola themed room, you will choose a song to sing for a producer. You will get a list of songs, a release to sign, and a number to pin to your shirt. Next pick a chair with an iPod (locked with an impressive looking protection system) and start listening. You will pick two songs to impress the producer with. I understand the list is very broad, includes lots of Disney, but may not have all the songs you’re thinking of.
Make sure you pick a song that is in the right key for you and something you’ll be very comfortable performing. For instance, only pick a slower song if you can really belt it out; only pick a high energy song if you don’t look like a rag doll when performing on the stage, etc.
You meet the producer in an audition room. There’s a microphone, a karaoke track, and the lyrics on a screen. You get to warm up and then you audition. It’s pretty quick. At this point you’re given the thumbs up or thumbs down. But they do it in a pretty neat way. I’m not going to spoil it for you.
If you’re chosen you’ll be assigned a show and a time to report back. There are 7 of these shows throughout the day. If you win your show you’ll also be performing at the last show of the day. The “finale” show. They hand you a special yellow “American Idol Experience contestant” lanyard which you can wear around the park and get people to vote for you at the final show. You’ll also get some VIP tickets for your family to get priority seating at your show. You may also be scheduled as an alternate for a second show so Disney can make sure each show is full of performers.
When you report backstage for your show, you will get hair and makeup, some vocal coaching, and time to sit with another iPod and go over your song. You’ll get a walk-through of the show and then they open the house to guests. Those are the guests who will be voting on who gets into the final round, so try to wow them. You’ll also get feedback from Disney’s judges. It’s Disney, so they won’t be too harsh.
If you make it to the finale show, everything kicks up a notch. There will be seven of you this time. Rehearsal is a bit more involved and the production value is also much improved. They’ll help you out with some reverb, echo, and other tricks that the professionals get.
During the ‘finale’ you’ll be backstage when not performing. They have a nice flat screen TV and some couches back there so you can watch the show. Everyone is introduced together, then you perform one at a time. The audience responds and the judges comment again. Most judges are former Adventurers Club and Comedy Warehouse performers, if that gives you an idea what to expect. However, there is a suggested script with suggested comments to choose from too.
Once all seven performers sing, everyone is brought out for the elimination. It’s just like television where they build the suspense and bring out groups, some of whom stay and some of whom go. When they announce the winner there is huge amounts of confetti and everyone comes out to congratulate them.
There’s a little post-show breakdown where you get to meet the judges and collect your stuff and then you can try and enjoy the rest of the evening in Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
If you’re planning to audition, I hope this helps you out a bit. Please do report back with your experience at The American Idol Experience, I can’t wait to read what happens.