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Thursday, February 12, 2009

American Idol Experience: the Grand Premiere

With the largest-ever gathering of “American Idol” winners joining in the celebration, Walt Disney World Resort Thursday night raised the curtain on “The American Idol Experience,” a new attraction capturing the energy and excitement of the hit TV show.

Thursday’s grand premiere, at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, was attended by all seven winners of the series, from season-one winner Kelly Clarkson to season-seven champion David Cook. Joining Cook and Clarkson were Jordin Sparks (season six), Taylor Hicks (five), Carrie Underwood (four), Fantasia Barrino (three) and Ruben Studdard (two).

More than two dozen Idol stars – winners and finalists from the first seven seasons – plus judge Paula Abdul (shown above) and TV show host Ryan Seacrest arrived by celebrity motorcade, rolling down Hollywood Boulevard to the cheers, applause and snapping cameras of Disney’s Hollywood Studios guests. Thursday’s gala had all the glamour of a Hollywood opening. Cook treated the supercharged audience with a performance of his popular hit, “Light On,” and after Underwood performed her hit, “All-American Girl,” the pair brought down the house by teaming up for a first-ever duet, singing “Go Your Own Way,” the Fleetwood Mac hit. The premiere even had a “red carpet” -- except the carpet was appropriately blue in celebration of the “American Idol” color scheme.

That color scheme and, in fact, the look of the attraction is similar to the actual TV show set. “The American Idol Experience” was developed by Walt Disney Imagineering in conjunction with FremantleMedia Enterprises (FME) and 19 TV Ltd. and is based on the smash-hit television show “American Idol.” The 1,000-seat indoor theater features twirling neon signs and a multi-layered backdrop inspired by the actual “American Idol” set in California. The attraction is designed to immerse park guests in the authentic feel of a live television production, with some guests 14 or older auditioning to take the spotlight onstage, while fellow guests cheer them on from the audience and vote for their favorite singer with instant results. Audition slots are limited and interested guests are encouraged to arrive early.

Performers with the highest votes during preliminary shows return for a high-energy grand finale show that same evening. After their encore performances, one is voted the day’s top singer.

In addition to their new-found theme park fame, the top vote-getter at the finale show receives “The American Idol Experience” Dream Ticket, which allows an eligible holder to schedule a front-of-the-line audition to a future regional audition for the “American Idol” television show. Feb. 14 is the grand opening of the attraction.

With the grand premiere, Disney launched an all-new Web site for the American Idol Experience. This new site has several features, most important of which is a new online registration system for those wishing to audition for the show.

That morning, Idol season 7 winner David Cook was at DHS this morning for a live performance on ABC's Good Morning America. You can watch Cook's interview here, and Cook's performance here.
Here's even more video from Disney:

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