Travel Finds: Disney World's 'American Idol Experience'

Chrissie Long

As you're slumped on the couch, maybe your thoughts have been tinged with envy as you watch "American Idol." Perhaps you've already chosen the song you'd perform if you ever had a shot at the bright lights.

Now, the only thing standing between you and the experience is a trip to Orlando.

Latching onto the popularity of the television show, Walt Disney World has opened "The American Idol Experience" at its Hollywood Studios in Florida.

Every detail at the attraction - from the backstage audition rooms to neon-lit stage - has been designed to replicate the real "American Idol" taped in California.

Casting directors and Disney producers greet a crowd of Idol hopefuls at the entrance of the studio each morning. Working to whittle down the crowd they walk contestants through the steps once trod by Idol stars including Kelly Clarkson, Jordan Sparks and David Cook.

From the heart-pounding first a cappella tryout to the roar of an audience in the final moments, the most successful candidates in the daily lineup of seven shows are given a front-of-the-line pass to a real audition.

"Disney parks are all about making dreams come true, and that's exactly what will happen at 'The American Idol Experience,'" said Jay Rasulo, chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, who recently welcomed past idols and media to the grand opening of the attraction. "Whether they are onstage singing or in the audience cheering on their favorite performer, our guests will feel immersed in a world of instant stardom."

How "The American Idol Experience" works:

* Upon arrival, you view a short welcome video. You're then asked to perform a song a cappella for a Disney casting director, in a room designed to resemble the audition rooms featured on the show.

* The casting director provides feedback and coaching, and then decides whether you move on to the next level.

* If you make it to Round Two, you are taken to the Red Room to relax and select from a list of pre-approved songs to perform in front of a Disney producer.

* Make it past this level, and you've made it onstage at Disney World. You're given celebrity treatment including hair and makeup.

* The best performers are invited to return for a daily finale show and the top-vote-getters receive a front-of-the-line tryout for a future regional audition of the real "American Idol" television show.

For more information, visit www.disneyworld.com/idol.

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