American Idol Experience
Opened: February 14, 2009
Location: Echo Lake
Extra Magic Hours: No
FastPass+: Yes, lowest priority
Type: Live theater show
Similar To: A condensed version of the American Idol television show
Scary Factor: Zero.
When To Go: The last show is the finale and the best show as far as talent and excitement are concerned. Otherwise, attend whenever it is convenient. Outside the theater, you can watch the finale show on the large monitor. The first show typically begins between 12:30pm and 1:30pm with the finale show at 7pm.
Expect to Wait: You should be able to get a good seat if you arrive about 10 minutes prior to show time during most days for any show other than the finale. Earlier shows are much less popular than the finale, which usually fills to capacity about 10 minutes before it begins. Arrive 15 minutes prior to the start of the last show of the day to guarantee seats.
Length: 25 minutes
What to Expect: The American Idol Experience is similar to the American Idol television show. The stage is huge and everything about the lighting and atmosphere are just like it looks on television. As an audience member, you will sit in the theater and watch as three contestants sing their song followed by judge critiques. At the conclusion of the show, you’ll have the opportunity to vote for your favorite contestant and that contestant will proceed to the finale at the end of the day. The final show crowns the winner, who will receive a front-of-the-line type ticket to audition for the next American Idol regional audition without having to wait in the line.
How to be Selected for the Show: In order to be chosen as a contestant, you will need to audition for the show. Please read Disney’s 15-page FAQ for all of the details if you’re interested at http://wdw1.wdpromedia.com/media/wdw_nextgen/Site/WDWContent/Media/InternetMediaType/Attraction/AmericanIdolMiniSite/pdf/AI_FAQs.pdf
It isn’t usually necessary to audition for the show first thing in the morning and it’s not at all uncommon for Disney to be looking for contestants as late as 4pm. If you want to be assured that there is space available and it’s your only opportunity to try out, then I still recommend heading to the audition area as early as possible. The audition area is located across from ABC Commissary on the opposite side of the main entrance to the theater. You can visit a cast member at the front of the theater that will direct you to the audition.
First, you’ll sing any song you want a cappella to a show representative that will decide if you move on to the second audition. If you are selected for the second audition, then you choose several songs from a list that’s available here. You will be given an IPOD with the various songs that are available, along with their arrangements. Be aware that many of the arrangements are not the same as the originals you’ll hear on the radio or original record. You will then be led into a room with other potential contestants where you have the opportunity to practice and listen to the various songs. The second audition is in front of the show’s “producer” who will select the contestants that will compete in front of the audience throughout the day.
If chosen for a show, you will receive a brief lesson with a vocal instructor, get your hair and makeup refreshed, and have an opportunity to practice in the empty theater prior to the show. Charisma usually trumps raw talent.
Where to Sit: Cast members are usually strict about seating, guiding people into seats row after row with no empty seats in between different parties. This assures as many people as possible are able to enter the theater. It also means you won’t have as easy of a time choosing your location. I recommend holding back and letting a lot of people in front of you. This assures your group that you won’t be seated in the first few rows, where it may be more difficult to see the entire stage. Once it looks like enough people to fill up half of a higher row have entered, head in yourself to be seated around the center. Really, there aren’t any bad seats though.
Exit: As you’re facing the stage, the exit is located in the back left corner of the theater. It’s usually a pretty orderly exit that only takes a minute or two.
Commentary: The American Idol Experience is housed in one of the more comfortable, air-conditioned theaters at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. This makes it an excellent destination in the afternoon heat to relax and take a break. The show is fun to watch most of the time, but the talent of the singers isn’t always amazing. Like in the original American Idol, one of the judges is particularly “honest,” which sometimes equates to some cringing negative comments. Be sure to “boo” that judge liberally throughout the show. If possible, attend the final show of the day, which will feature the six or seven best singers from the previous shows. All in all, this is a fun attraction for any fan of the show and most guests enjoy it, even those who don’t necessarily love American Idol.