Simply put the FL/East Coast market is going to go koo-koo for Cocoa Puffs over this attraction. Millions will see it plugged during Idol shows. It will be a headliner attraction at Disney's Hollywood Studios when it opens, and may be for quite some time in the future.
A lot of that will come to be because the people on the East Coast have no idea what going to a TV taping of anything is like! This Idol Experience attraction gives them the look and feel of being at the real show with the lighting, music, and CM role players performing the roles of the judges. Not only that but you have video soundbytes from Idol champions and noteable names of the past to put the ribbon the package.
In regards to worrying about the talent level, or lack thereof, of the performers. There is no need to worry about that. I've talked to the casting directors and the ones in charge of picking who makes it on stage, and they have very suitable backgrounds from which to make the judgment calls based on a sound system of indicators. Simply put, hundreds if not thousands audition all day, and the top 7% or less will actually make it on the stage. Out of that, one winner per day will receive the golden ticket. There will always be really good looking, and good sounding contestants coming out of a pool that size. Very little reason to have a concern over talent, unless they have to lower their standards due to a shallow contestant pool, but they are not expecting that to even be a potential issue for years to come. Given what I believe the response to this attraction will be, they're pretty much dead on in that forecast.
This show is a winner.
Now here are some raw, non-flash photos of the American Idol Experience that I took a couple weeks ago:
The American Idol Experience found at the Superstar Television Theatre to the left of the main Hub area.
The pre-show area has a very similar feel to Captain EO/HISTA. Tons of flat screens with various forms of eye candy as the next show's batch of guests wait patiently to enter the theatre.
Before the cold open, the warm up guy does a decent job. Not the best I've ever seen, but compared to real Hollywood TV taping warm up guys I've seen, he didn't do a bad job.
During the performance, Disney goes full bore with the stage lighting and visuals. The cynic in me says since contestants have to pick songs from a list, Disney has a pre-programmed lighting/effects package for each song. Performers also wear special chips on their person so the stage lights follow them whereever they go.
Afterwards, the contestant faces the 3 judge panel, just like on the show. (My camera did not like all the movement in the set. Lights move & props spin almost constantly!)
The trio of not quite Randy, Paula & Simon...
At the end of the show, after having seen 3 performers, guests in the audience vote for who they thought gave the best performance. That winner moves on to the last show of the night (7pm) to compete against the winners of the other shows. The winner of that show receives the golden ticket to the front of the line at any American Idol TV Show audition. At the end of each show, the winner receives a note of congratulations from a previous Idol champion on the large video monitors on set. Here the host is presenting this video montage.
Then everyone says goodbye! The audience walks out to the the TV Show's end credits theme.
Like I said, overall the show is a winner. It has some minor flaws that still need to be worked out, but they are very minor. The show runs like a well-oiled machine, and that's quite impressive given what all came about in the design process for this show. If you're a big American Idol fan, you'll really enjoy this show. If you're like me and change the channel anytime Idol comes on, there's still much to enjoy about this show. When stripped away of its trademarks, at its core it's still a theme park show. When judged even on that plane, this show is still a winner. IMO it's better than the Indiana Jones Stunt Show across the way. I would even place it above the old Snow White musical at Disneyland, and the Beauty & the Beast stage show in Hollywood Studios. It's enjoyable and worth watching whether you're a fan of Idol or not. If thats the impression I get, then this show is very likely going to get a very warm response from general WDW guests.
This show grows the day's experience at Hollywood Studios. Overall, American Idol Experience gets 2 thumbs up from me. :thumbsup: