The American Idol Experience

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American Idol Experience
The American Idol Experience.png
American Idol Experience.JPG
Attraction entrance
Disney's Hollywood Studios
Area Echo Lake
Status Operating
Opening date February 14, 2009
Closing date August 30, 2014
Replaced Doug Live!, 1999-2001; Theater vacant from 2001-2008
General statistics
Attraction type Live singing auditions
Designer Walt Disney Imagineering
Theme American Idol
Handicapped/disabled access Wheelchair accessible

The American Idol Experience is a theme park attraction at Disney's Hollywood Studios at the Walt Disney World Resort. Inspired by the popular American television series American Idol, the attraction invites park guests to audition in front of live audiences who will vote for their favorite singers.


The attraction was announced on February 7, 2008, although specifics were not made public at that time. American Idol season six winner Jordin Sparks unveiled its official name and projected opening date during the American Idol season seven finale on May 21, 2008.

Disney licensed the show's logos and set design from American Idol's production companies, 19 Entertainment and FremantleMedia. The attraction is located in the "Superstar Television Theater" (formerly the "ABC TV Theater"), which originally was home to Superstar Television, one of the first attractions to open at the park in 1989. The show took place of Doug Live!, which ran from 1999 to 2001.

The attraction's grand opening took place on February 14, 2009, with occasional preview performances in the weeks leading up to the official opening. A press event just prior to the official opening featured many "Idol" celebrities, including all seven winners, numerous finalists, host Ryan Seacrest, judge Paula Abdul and "American Idol" creator Simon Fuller.[1]

The American Idol Experience has been promoted by winners of the American Idol from Season seven onwards by appearing in commercials and announcing "I'm going to Disney World!".[2][3][4]

In June 2014, Disney announced that the show would close in January 2015,[5] then two months later they moved up the closure date to the end of August 2014.[6]


American Idol Experience stage


Park guests age 14 and older audition before a Disney "casting director" who judge singers based on their ability to sing and perform in front of an audience. As with the auditions for the television show, initial auditions are a cappella. Selected singers advance to a second round for an audition with a "producer", where they select from a song list (see photo right) provided by the producers which include pop, country, rock, Latin, R&B as well as Disney songs and then audition again, this time with pre-recorded music; to ensure that guests hear a wider variety of songs, singers may only select songs that have not previously been chosen that day. Those who pass the second audition will be scheduled into one of the preliminary shows each operating day. Guests may only enter the competition twice in a seven-day period and if they win the dream ticket not again for a year.

Preliminary shows[edit]

The attraction features usually five shows each day. Three guests perform in these shows. The five guests who won each show go on to the final. At each preliminary show, guests perform before a live audience inside the attraction's main theater, designed to resemble the television show's stage. Each act also gets a separate introduction based on what you might see on the television show. For example the second guest has a small video dedicated to them and the third guest participates in a small interview. Using electronic keypads at their seats, the audience votes for their favorite singer, who will return for the final show of the day.

Finale show and "Dream Ticket"[edit]

The last show of each operating day features the winners of that day's preliminary shows. Again, the live audience votes for the performer they like the best. During the show, the audience is prompted to encourage the contestants and heckle the judges.[7] Each day's final winner receives a "Dream Ticket" that will allow him or her to bypass the queue at one of the regional American Idol auditions for the television show, provided he or she meets the show's age and residency requirements. If the winner is not eligible, he or she will be allowed a "one-time" transfer of the "Dream Ticket" to another person, or can save the ticket until the age limit is met.


Each day there are three judges. They have credible backgrounds in the music industry usually having performed on Broadway, West End or similar. The last judge most frequently gives negative feedback, but has been known to make kind comments for exceptionally strong performances.


As of May 2010, one "Dream Ticket" winner, Aaron Kelly, had advanced to the American Idol finals. Kelly finished fifth in the 2010 season. Another winner was Nolan Sotillo, who sang " What Hurts The Most " by Rascal Flatts. Sotillo is notable for starring in Disney's Prom. A previous "Dream Ticket" Winner from South Africa Mark Haze was runner-up in the seventh season of Idols South Africa. Scottish singer Jai McDowall got through the audition stage whilst on holiday in 2009, he later reached the bootcamp stage of the 2010 The X Factor UK and then won the 2011 Britain's Got Talent winning a contract to Simon Cowell's Syco label.

Thirteenth season finalists Majesty Rose, Ben Briley and Emily Piriz all won Dream Tickets at the attraction.


  1. ^ Dewayne Bevil (February 13, 2009). "Recapping the premiere of American Idol Experience at Disney World". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved February 15, 2009. 
  2. ^ David Cook - "I'm Going To Disney World!" Commercial
  3. ^ Kris Allen is... "Going to Disney World!"
  4. ^ ‘American Idol’ Champion Lee DeWyze ‘Going to Disney World’ on Monday
  5. ^ Bevil, Dewayne (June 16, 2014). "Hollywood Studios: American Idol Experience closing". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved June 18, 2014. 
  6. ^ Dewayne Bevil (August 15, 2014). "Closing time: Disney moves up end date for American Idol Experience". Tribune Newspapers. Retrieved August 15, 2014. 
  7. ^ Travis Reed, AP. "Become an American Idol, Ride the Mantas and More at New Theme Park Attractions". Travel, MSN. Retrieved May 24, 2009. [dead link]

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 28°21′23.45″N 81°33′34.59″W / 28.3565139°N 81.5596083°W / 28.3565139; -81.5596083