One of my favorite things about visiting the Walt Disney World Resort is the magical memories that you experience on each trip. There are so many things that the Cast Members do to make every day magical. While I’ve been to the parks about twenty times, one experience in particular really stands out in my mind as a “magical moment.”
Anyone who knows me well knows that I love game shows and, specifically, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. It’s true – I’ve auditioned for the show more than 28 times in person and over the phone through the primetime hotline. It is a personal goal of mine although, after five years of trying, I’m still going to need a lot of luck to get into that contestant pool.
Anyway, I’m sure by this point you can tell where this story is going. Remember the attraction at the then-Disney-MGM Studios Who Wants to be a Millionaire – Play it!? I absolutely loved it. I would literally go to back to back shows all day just for the opportunity to be in the hot seat. In fact, at the time, I wasn’t even old enough to audition for the actual show so the attraction was the perfect substitute.
It was my high school senior class trip. I encouraged a few friends to come to the attraction, and I instructed them about the best way to earn points. Any frequent guest at Who Wants to be a Millionaire – Play it! will have noticed the constant clicking of the keypads by the other guests. The key was to furiously push the answer as quickly as possible so that the answer would register as soon as the host was done reading the question. The score was measured to what I think was a thousandth of a second so it was crucial to get your answer in as quickly as possible. One wrong answer and you’ve lost your chance at the hot seat.
After the long spiel by the host of each show, it was time for the fastest finger. We had already decided to each try a different unique random combination of the four answers rather than even listening to the question. This was the only way to get the answers in fast enough and there are only sixteen possible combinations. Unfortunately, none of us had the right answer so a different audience member went to the hot seat. It wasn’t her first time in the hot seat – a lot of contestants were repeat contestants because they understood how to get in the hot seat.
Fortunately, the first questions of the game are incredibly easy. Playing along at the start of show really just depended on how fast you were to answer the questions; I knew I wouldn’t get any of these wrong. I breezed through the first five questions,and the contestant got stuck at her question. This was my opportunity! If she got this wrong, I might have the high score.
Her question: “What is 10% of 100?” While the audience seemed a little eager to help her, she had already used her Ask the Audience lifeline. After trying to figure out the answer, she took an incorrect guess, and I anxiously waited for the high scores to show on the giant screen above the audience. I looked at the top ten and found myself in second place. So close! But wait… the winning contestant wasn’t walking up to the hot seat… There was some discussion down towards the front of the stage, and then they announced that the high score was earned by a Cast Member! Apparently this meant that I was the highest scoring eligible guest! Woohoo!
I nervously made my way down to the hot seat while about five hundred guests watched me. I was so nervous that I struggled on the first question. “If you are very fit, one might say that you are fit as a what?” Unfortunately, I had never heard the phrase. I didn’t want to guess on the first question – although, of course, the answer was logically fiddle – so I asked the audience.
After getting through the first question, I made it pretty smoothly to the 32,000 point question. “…Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of… what?” I still had two lifelines left: 50/50 and phone a complete stranger. Since I’d never seen Monty Python and the Holy Grail, I was so clueless that I used both lifelines. Unfortunately, the complete stranger had no idea of the answer either. I had to guess and got the answer wrong, pushing me back down to the 1,000 point prize level – a set of pins and a 1,000 point hat, which I still proudly own.
It was a truly memorable experience and one that I hope to repeat on the actual TV show someday. Until then, I’ll keep studying trivia to prepare! I still, however, haven’t watched Monty Python and the Holy Grail. I better get on that.
What are your favorite memories at the parks? Did any other readers get to be in the hot seat on Who Wants to be a Millionaire – Play It!?