Who Want's To Be A Millionaire Play It!: Disney Parks History

Who Wants To Be A Millionaire Play It Disney Parks History

Disney rarely brings in modern television shows to the Disney Parks in any significant way, unless they are a timeless classic like Twilight Zone, or the gigantic modern hit they don't have the appeal to support an attraction. But there are exceptions when a show makes enough of an impact in a short amount of time to warrant an attraction and that's exactly what happened in two Disney Parks with Who Want's To Be A Millionaire.

Welcome to Disney Parks History, where we explore the stories behind classic Disney shows, rides, and attractions. Be sure to check out the rest of the series here. Today we are taking you through the history of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? Play It! at Disney's California Adventure and Disney MGM Studios.

Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? was an international smash in the 1990s and early 2000s, with the US version hosted by Regis Philbin being a smash success, consistently ranking as the number one show in its timeslot as the first million-dollar TV game show in the US.

It was so popular plans would be made for a version of the game show to come to both of Disney's US theme park resorts, Disneyland and Disney World.

The attraction would first open on April 7th, 2001 at Disney MGM Studios replacing one of the underutilized sound stages in the park.

It would open later the same year on September 14th, 2001 as one of the first major expansions of the park in an attempt to bring in recognizable entertainment properties to the park in as fast a way as possible to increase attendance.

Who Wants to Be a Millionaire Play It Disney's Hollywood Studios

Both versions were nearly identical, featuring copies of the set of the show and playing a slightly altered version of the original format of the show, although with significantly more Disney Parks questions than the regular show.

Contestants would be chosen through the ride's Fastpass system to actually play the game, or they could ask to fill any extra seats not filled by Fastpass holders.

A fastest finger round would be held to select the first player who would then sit in the hot seat with a Regis style host.

Unlike the original TV version of the show, there was a time limit for answering questions. You would get more time for each question as you continued up the rounds, from fifteen seconds at the beginning to fifty-five seconds for the million question. You even had access to three lifelines during the game.

You would not win money in this game, but instead a variety of prizes, from pins for each question, to hats, to DVDs, to shirts, to vacations.

If you won you would be subject to a time limit before you would be allowed to play again.

At Disney World, there would be a few special versions of this show over the years, a sports-themed ESPN special edition, and a Star Wars version during the Star Wars Weekends celebrations.

The Disney California Adventure version would be the shortest-lived version, closing in 2004 to be replaced with nothing. The building remains underutilized to this day, only used for occasional limited-time promotional offerings.

The Disney MGM Studios version would last until 2008, following the decline in popularity of the show it was based on. Its location would sit empty for years before being turned into a temporary location for Frozen Summer Fun. It would later be converted into an additional track for Toy Story Mania, which it remains as to this day.

The props from this attraction would later be sold off at an auction.

This show gave you the chance to reenact one of the most popular game shows of all time in front of a live audience in as close as you could get to the real thing as possible. The real set, real questions, real host, and a real audience, with only lower stakes.

This show outlasted the actual television show in both locations, making it less relevant with each passing year, which is the main problem with TV-based attractions, especially based on current television offerings. They got lucky Who Wants To Be A Millionaire had as much of a staying impact as it did, even being revived as recently as this year. It remains a fun show, and one of few television shows to ever have an elaborate attraction in the Disney Parks.