Report: Who Wants To Be a Millionaire - Play It! 1,000,000 Point Winner
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Josh Benton and some of his loot
The Millionaire Experience-Part One
By Josh Benton
Its 6:00 p.m. on a Wednesday night at the Disney-MGM Studios. We are all waiting patiently for the next round of Who Wants to be a Millionaire? Play it! to start up. This would be my second time, as I was able to attend the very first running at the Grand Opening (and become the first guest to get 64,000 points). Just as we were getting tired of the sun beating down on us in the outdoor queue area, the doors opened and we were ushered into the 649-seat studio.
The Hot Seat
We were seated, and a quick sound and light check was run by the floor manager. The first seats to be filled were the now-famous floor seats, designed almost exactly like their ABC Studios counterparts, with both screen and keypad. These seats, for the most part, are filled by children or others who dont look as if they can make the hotseat to give as many people as possible the experience of being on the TV show. If youve never been to see Play it!, youre probably wondering what the point to that is. After the sound/light check, and a cheesy (but somewhat entertaining) opening video starring Regis Philbin, this is explained to attraction-goers. Everyone in the audience, using the audience poll keypads, is in the game during every round, from fastest finger until the sound of the game-ending buzzer. Its done this way so that everyone has a shot at the prizes, but also because Disney didnt want audiences doing the same thing Russian audiences do-screwing up on purpose on the audience poll. Then were told that hotseat contestants will be playing for points which translate to pins and prizes, and not cash (cue gigantic "Awwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww!" from audience).
1,000,000 Point Leather Jacket
Finally, the game begins. A cute female Regis stand-in starts out with a fastest finger; Put NFL teams in order alphabetically by city. I answered correctly, but not quickly enough to beat a woman from Nova Scotia who was first in the hotseat for that game. We were then told that from that point on, rather than fastest finger, the hotseat contestant would be determined by the best audience score for the current game. We were to play along with the woman from NS on our keypads. Not only did correct answers count, but speed would factor into the equation as well. Sadly, our Canadian friend could not answer the 2,000-point question. After she left, everyone looked at one of the three large screens around the studio to see if their seat number was at the top of the high score list. As it turned out, I had beaten over 600 other people to get into the hotseat.
Many of the adults seem shocked that they had been beaten by an eighteen-year-old, even more so when I told the hostess of my Tourettes Syndrome. After a few quick questions and an explanation of the rules, the lights went down (though not enough that you couldnt see members of the audience) and we started again. I paid a little more attention to the rules this time, as I hadnt been in the hotseat in almost a month. I was reminded that unlike the TV show, I would have a time limit on each answer, similar to the CD-ROM and Playstation video games, and that my lifelines would be slightly different. Id still have 50/50 and Ask the Audience, but I wouldnt have anyone at home to call for help. This made for my favourite amendment to the game, the Phone a Complete Stranger lifeline. If needed, somebody on a cell phone outside the studio would flag down a passing guest to help on the question. You might get a rocket scientist, you might get a two-year-old, or you might get someone who doesnt even speak English (anyone who is asked and agrees to be a complete stranger, whether theyre right or wrong, gets a small prize...so far my complete strangers have been more help than my audience polls).
The Millionaire Lanyard and 100 Point Pin