/ Wednesday, January 18th, 2012

by Happy Keller

Since the new Season of American Idol starts up this week, and I have a few minutes between Ironman training sessions & answering your questions about running for the WDW Radio Running Team at an upcoming Disney Endurance Event, I thought I would share a story about Disney World’s attraction / show connected to Idol –> “The American Idol Experience” located at Disney’s Hollywood Studios Theme Park.

During my recent trip to Walt Disney World with my brother and his family, one of my nieces stated that she wanted to audition for The American Idol Experience.  As a lark, and because I get reasonably high scores playing “Rock Band 3″ on my PlayStation 3 as a singer, I decided that I would try to audition too.  We checked-in near the front turnstiles to the Studios with a “Recruiting Agent” who asked us some standard questions, gave us an “American Idol Experience” pin, and directed us to the area where we would be able to audition.  If you are under the age of 18, you will need a parent or guardian to go with you for the entire audition process.

We, nervously, headed directly for the Audition Entrance.  For those of you who do not know where the Audition Entrance is, it is located across from the entrance to the Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater Restaurant.

After answering some more questions, we performed our “Preliminary Audition”.  The Preliminary can be any song of your choosing (even “Happy Birthday”, if you want to)…they just want to see if you can carry a tune at all.  If the Auditioner likes what they heard, they will have you take a quick try at some of the songs on their playlist and make some suggestions to you as to what song(s) you might try at your “Final Audition”.

After both my niece and I passed the Preliminary, we were directed to a lounge area with a number of iPods with headphones.  Here we were able to practice the song(s) suggested by the Auditoner (or choose another one) in relative privacy.  All of the songs have their lyrics printed out for you as the tune goes along, karaoke-style, on the iPod screen.  When you feel you’ve practiced enough, you inform the American Idol Experience Cast Members that you are ready for your Final Audition.

At the Final Audition, the Audition Manager hands you a microphone and lets you “go for it”. After you run through your song(s), he/she may make some other suggestions prior to either granting you an American Idol Experience “Golden Ticket” or not.  Bottom Line – both my niece and I received a “Golden Ticket” and were slated to perform during the same show.

My niece won our preliminary show, and performed brilliantly during that day’s Final, but did not win the “Dream Ticket” which allows you instant entry to the real American Idol auditions in any city they go to.  I, on the other hand, “performed” the Bob Seger tune “Old Time Rock & Roll” in front of hundreds of strangers and had an absolute BLAST doing it (I don’t know what the audience’s reaction was)!

There are many other surprises that await you during your American Idol Experience Audition and (potentially) Show, but I don’t want to spoil them for you.  I will leave you with some tips though:

1) You have their song list – practice some songs to find one that you like, and that fits your voice.

2) Go to audition as early in your day as possible.  The auditions open at rope-drop (after Extra-Magic Hours if Hollywood Studios has them that morning), and you will find a “Recruiting Agent” near the entrance turnstiles.  There are many advantages to going early – less of a line to audition, more songs to choose from if you get through, etc.

3) Understand that, if you make it to the Show, you are going to be spending most/all of your day at Hollywood Studios. You’ll be assigned a show time, and you’ll need to be there long beforehand for hair & make-up (and a quick run-through of your song with a voice coach).

Don’t cheat yourself!  Go for it (especially if you are an adult)!  Don’t let the teenage girls have all the fun!


Happy is a life-long Disney enthusiast who is also an endurance “athlete”.  He has completed 4 Goofy Challenges, and 12 Disney Endurance events so far (in addition to other Half / Full Marathons).  He has successfully coached hundreds of Half / Full Marathoners to a successful completion of their event.  Currently Happy is training for Ironman New Zealand which takes place on March 3, 2012.  When he isn’t training, Happy is surrounded by his wife, Pattie, two Golden Retrievers (Mocha & Kona), and his Disney watch + medal collection.  He can be reached for all running questions at wdwradiorun@gmail.com.

One Response to "Inside Report: The American Idol Experience"

  1. Happy says:

    I wish you could record the shows…Caitlin (my niece) was AWESOME!…(and count yourself lucky, by the same token, that you can’t hear what I did)…

    Hap!

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