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Who Wants To Be A Millionaire - Play It!

Friday, July 01, 2011

One of my absolute favorite attractions in the history of Hollywood Studios is Who Wants To Be A Millionaire - Play It!.  I know it's not going to win any arguments in terms of it being better than the Tower of Terror or Star Tours but I just loved the thrill of trying to compete and get into the hot seat and get my shot at winning a trip to New York (and later a Disney Cruise).

Who Wants To Be A Millionaire - Play It! is based on the hit television show, Who Wants To Be A Millionaire.  It opened on April 7, 2001 and its goal was to replicate the experience one might have if they were on the television show.  Situated on Mickey Avenue (now Pixar Place) in the same sound stage that Toy Story Midway Mania now resides, it was a FASTPASS attraction with a seating capacity of 647.

The game was fairly similar to the game show with a few exceptions

  • Players played for points, not dollars
  • Audience members had their own A, B, C, D keypads that allowed them to play along.  During a game, the host would routinely check the top 10 guests and their scores.
  • Contestants were picked from the audience based on a fastest finger question round.  The audience member who got the question correct in the quickest amount of time was picked to be the next contestant.
  • The three lifelines were 50:50, Ask the Audience, or Phone a Complete Stranger.  Phone a Complete Stranger (replacing the TV lifeline of phone a friend) allowed the contestant to phone a guest that was picked from walking around Mickey Avenue to see if they could assist).

The prizes for the winners were as follows

  • 1,000 points
    • "Play It!" lanyard
    • 100 - 1,000 point pins
    • 1,000 point baseball cap
  • 32,000 points
    • 1,000 point level prizes and 
    • 2,000 - 32,000 point pins
    • 32,000 point embroidered shirt
      • In first few years of the attraction, contestants would also win Who Wants to Be a Millionaire CD-ROM game
  • 1,000,000 points
    • 1,000 and 32,000 point level prizes and
    • 64,000 - 1,000,000 point pins
    • 1,000,000 point leather jacket
    • Disney Cruise Line vacation for four
      • When Who Wants To Be A Millionaire was in its original television run, contestants could win a trip for two to New York to see a taping of the game show

In addition to the regular game show, Disney would create special editions of the attraction based on events in the park.  For example, during Star Wars Weekends there would be Star Wars trivia based games that featured Star Wars characters in the show.  Likewise, during ESPN the Weekend, there would be sports trivia based shows.

There were also occassions when ABC would tape a few episodes of the Who Wants To Be A Millionaire show from the Disney-MGM Studios and these tapings were highly contested by guests who tried to get in for these shows.  For these taped shows, the game would revert back to the original show rules and contestants would be playing for money.

During the show, audience hinting or "helping" was discouraged except for the 100 to 1,000 point questions.  Given how easy these questions were, the host would "overlook" an occasional helpful cough, gasp or clap from the audience.  Once it got beyond this level, things got serious and the host would remind the audience regularly not to give any help.

As the years passed by, the television show lost its mega ratings and changed formats a few times including a change from primetime to daytime.  Disney decided to close Who Wants To Be A Millionaire - Play It! on August 19, 2006 to make way for a brand new family dark ride, Toy Story Midway Mania.  

Here is video of the preshow from the final showing of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire - Play It!.