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Toeth's Game Show Insights
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Tim's WWTBAM Play It! Review

Timothy Sternberg

Timothy Sternberg's Play It! Review 6/7/02

Hi all,

I want to first preface this by saying I did not make the HS. I tried over 15 shows and had no luck. I was dominated by Kids all weekend. Rob faired a little better but I will leave it to him to tell you all.

Play it! is an amazing attraction. For those who love WWTBAM it is a must see at DCA and MGM. At MGM they play clips and bloopers from the ABC show while you wait in the "Fast Pass" lobby. The clips include John Lemantia, Michael Shutterly's wife Margaret, Kevin Simcox and his brother Tim and more. It also includes bloopers like Regis' chair being too high and he not able to get in it and Toby Moore getting a papercut from the prop check.

The show itself is just like others have reported before me. Except they have Fastest Fingers at 19 out of 20 shows. One cast member stated they like to see the "kids" be able to play.

Play It!

While Rob Wilson was in the HS, I was writing down his questions for him and I was reprimanded for doing it. They stated that it is against the copyright. There were people on their walkie talkies like I had stole something. It was kinda funny. What I did get to do was to be a "Complete Stranger" and I also got a chance to sit in the ROF in Seats #1 and 7 (my seat on the real show).

Since I did not get in the HS, I think we may try to go again next week when MG is there.

Tim and Erika outside the attraction

It was great to meet Rob and his family. His kids are too cute and he and his wife are very kind people.

Also, there are souveniers that you can buy including a Mickey Mouse dressed up like Regis,

Tim brought me back this souvenir Regis Mickey. : )

pins that make noises (cash register, telephone), pens, t-shirts, hats, etc.

Tim :-)

(Rob Wilson won $64,000 and Timothy Sterberg won $16,000 on the actual show)

Tim's goes back to Play It! 6/20/02

Erika and I got to Orlando around 2PM so we checked into our hotel and headed over to Play it! Tiger Woods had made an appearance in the hotseat earlier that day so that messed up the entire fast pass system for the day (Tiger won the million, and Play It! donated $10,000 to his charity). They were actually out of fast passes. So we waited on a huge standby line and got into the show. No HS this time, We decided after the show to go back to our hotel because we had planned on meeting MarleysGh0st for dinner. I checked my messages and there was a message from him. He drove to our hotel and we ate in the hotel's restaurant. Catching up, we made our plans for the next day's adventure.

We met at the park when it opened and we made a b-line to the fast pass machine to get our passes for the first show. After we got our passes we went on over to Star Tours, The Great Movie Ride and the Drew Carey sound show. Before we knew it, the show time for Play it! had arrived. We handed in our passes and entered the studio.

Tim and his wife Erika in the "Ring of Fire" (Contestants circle on the stage floor).

After the first person left the HS on the question "What does Twiga mean in Swahili?" I knew I had it and was shaking when the scores were posted because I was in the top 10 when they posted them after the 1,000 point question. Sure enough my number was at the top of the leader board. Finally, I was getting my chance at hotseat redemption. I introduced myself as a former HS contestant on the network show and we proceeded to play the game. At the 300 point level I used my first lifeline. "What were the names of sidekicks in the Disney animated film "Hercules"? The choices I was confused between were "Pain and Panic" and "Crime and Punishment". The audience gave me the right answer of Pain and Panic. I thanked the audience and the host laughed and said, "they teach you that on that network show?" I just grinned and said yes. I breezed through questions 500-16,000 without using any lifelines then I came across the 32,000 point question of "Which State's motto is "The North Star State?" I took the 50/50 which left Alaska and Minnesota and leaving the Phone a Complete Stranger on the table I took Alaska. I was of course wrong. The correct answer is Minnesota. So it just became a case of Déjà vu. The host mentioned that I was still stuck at that 32,000 question, I just laughed and said "oh well".

I still won the hat, 5 pins, lanyard and I had a great time. Later in the day I qualified two more times and had to turn them down because of the 30-day rule. Marley also made it to the HS but I will leave his tale for him to tell. I will tell you he did answer the 32K level question correctly, unlike myself. Marley is a great guy and a great competitor, we subsequently were in the top 10 most of the next two days. Erika even made it to #2 once.

It was fantastic to meet Marley.

Oh and yes, I am going back when my 30 days is up! ;-)

Tim :-)
Read Timothy Sternberg's Interview when he appeared on the actual show.


Marley's take on Play It!
Tim has told you his part of our Play It! adventure at Disney MGM Studios last Wednesday and Thursday. Now it's time for the rest of the story.

First off, a general observation. To make it to the Play It! Hot Seat, you only need two things: 1) You need to know the answers. 2) You need to enter your answers fast enough to top the leader board.
Part 2, Place your thumb over the A button. If A is the right answer, start pressing the button as fast as possible. Otherwise, move your thumb to the B button and repeat. If you get to C and it's still not the right answer, immediately begin pressing the D button, as fast as possible. There's still some random variability with this technique (you don't know exactly when the lights go on to activate the buttons during your repetitive button pressing), but it does minimize the delay, and absolutely beats anyone who sits back and then leans forward to enter their answer.

Tim gave us a great example of the power of the Technique. As he's previously reported, without it, he attended a dozen shows a couple weeks ago but failed to make the Hot Seat. With the technique, not only did he make it during Wednesday's first show, but he topped the leader board two more times that day and had to turn down the Hot Seat because of Disney's 30 day rule.

Beware the Sapphire Earthworms of Minnesota!

Tim has posted about his Hot Seat experience, and how he missed the 32,000 point question about Minnesota being the North Star state. Playing along from the audience, I made the same mistake. It's a hazard of having to answer immediately: preconceptions can trip you up. I immediately thought of Alaska, so even as Minnesota appeared as the first answer and alarms started going off in my head, it was too late to stop myself from going with my initial hunch. The lesson to be learned: Consider every answer, don't just wait for what you expect to be the right answer!

For the next couple of games, I saw my number in the middle of the leader board, and I could sense that I had made it to the top during the mid-range questions (expecting that the random guessers were all being eliminated along the way), only to be eliminated by a difficult question at 32K.

The first one: How many hearts does an earthworm have? A) 1 B) 3 C) 5 D) 7

I was clueless on this, and went with the obvious answer of 1, when the correct answer was 5. I should have known not to go with the obvious at this level, but the strategy rules were all going out the window under the time pressure.

During the next game, I again got shot down at 32K: What is the traditional 45th anniversary gift? A) emerald B) sapphire C) something D) something

I went with emerald, but the correct answer was sapphire. Too bad I didn't have any reference lists to study at the time, because this topic would come back to haunt me!

Opportunity comes with a carry-over contestant!

Because the FF is generally won by a guessing kid (or a guessing grown-up), the first Hot Seater usually doesn't get too far in the stack, which makes it hard to eliminate the random guessers from competition. Through the first five shows we attended (skipping only one for lunch) there was no carry-over contestant.

Finally, the sixth show finally ended with a woman at the 32K level, who seemed to be smart enough to go further. This was the opportunity I'd been waiting for. (Not that I wasn't hopeful in each of the previous shows.) She starts the next show, but misses the second question! At that point, I thought there would still be too many random guessers to win, but they apparently had slowed down for the tougher questions, while I hadn't. The leader board lights up, and Seat 93 is #1! Woo Hoo!

Back in the Hot Seat again!

I go down to the Hot Seat, and since I'm wearing my DCA Play It! polo shirt, I talk with Dennis, the host, about that experience. No trouble with the early questions, although I can't remember all of them now. Some examples:

Which of these Disney characters is NOT a villain? A) something B) something C) something D) Mickey

Well, if Mickey's a villain, it changes the whole mood of the park, doesn't it? :-)

Which prefix, added to a word, means "Backwards"? A) something B) something C) Retro D) something

No problem there. But then, around the 4K level, I almost make a huge mistake.

In "The Muppet Movie" what hopeful song does Kermit sing? A) Being Green B) something C) something D) Rainbow Connection

As soon as Being Green is revealed, I fixate on that, and mentally choose that without ever considering the other answers, or thinking about that fact that it's not really a hopeful song. I start saying "Well, Kermit sung 'Being Green' so I'll say A..." and the audience lets out a big "Ohhhhhhh". A wave of embarrassment washes over me as I realize what I've done, the host asks "Is that your final answer?" and in my shame I'm almost ready to stick with my mistake instead of accepting the gift from the crowd...

But I don't. :-)

"No, I think I'll change my answer to D, Rainbow Connection, final answer!"

And, with a little warning from the host to the audience, I'm able to go on.

What the audience giveth, the audience taketh away?

At 16K, the impact of my near-disaster exacts its price.

The game Tetris is played with pieces consisting of how many blocks? A) 2 B) 3 C) 4 D) 5

It's been a few years since I've played the game. My initial impression is four, but I hear a kid shout out "five!" Still being mentally shaken, I start to doubt myself, and feel more guilty about hearing this extra "help" again. So I say that "It's either four or five. Let's ATA." The result confirms my original hunch (though not by an overwhelming margin). That's one wasted lifeline to pay for the "extra" one. (And in retrospect, I should have remembered that along with pieces in the form of straight lines, T's and L's, there are also squares, which can only be formed by four blocks. Oh well, I only had 30 seconds!)

Saved by a Complete Stranger!

The 32K question is easy for me. Who was the only divorced President? Ronald Reagan! Now I'm guaranteed another polo shirt. But the 64K question is about which British band that I've never heard of wrote some song that I never heard of. [Help me out here if you remember the specifics, Tim!] I regret using my ATA on the Tetris question, and I know I don't have a chance, but I use the PAS. Who should pick up the phone, but a guy from London! He knows the answer is "That's It" without a doubt! I'm not certain I heard his answer clearly, so when the host starts bantering with him, I have to interject to confirm, "You said C, right?" But he did, and I'm on to the 125K question.

Strategy? What Strategy?

For 125K, I'm hit with the anniversary theme again.

What is the traditional 35th anniversary gift? A) china B) crystal C) coral D) platinum

After all the discussion of lifeline strategy, sitting in the Hot Seat, even if it's only the Play It! version, drives it all right out of my mind. I don't know the answer, so I use my 50/50, which leaves B and C. I go with crystal, which should have stood out as the obvious distractor. Coral was right. :-(

So, it's time to walk off-stage and collect my ten pin set, along with another baseball hat and polo shirt. A fair effort, but one question poorer than in September at DCA. If Play It! is meant to be simulator training for the real show (which it is, in my book), I guess I'm still not ready for prime time.

A comparison of the DCA and MGM polo shirts!

I'm the only BB to sit in the Play It! Hot Seat at both DCA and MGM Studios. So, a quick comparison of the polo shirts is in order. You'd think they'd be the same, except for the park name on the left sleeve, but they're not. DCA's shirt is a light gray, mesh weave, made in Jordan. MGM's is a slightly darker shade of gray, with a herringbone pattern fabric, made in Pakistan. There's also a slight difference in the embroidered Play It! logo. Stylistically, I'd have to vote for the MGM shirt, although DCA still has sentimental value as my first. :-)

Back for fun on Thursday! (Curse the 30-day rule!)

We returned to MGM on Thursday, and, thanks to pouring rain in the afternoon, ended up back at Play It! for more shows that we'd planned. We still hoped that Erika would make the Hot Seat, but it wasn't to be. Her closest finish was #2 on the board, after somebody llamaed the 100 point question with all his lifelines on the table! There couldn't have been more than a few milliseconds separating her time and the winning one.

But while Erika was competing for real, Tim and I were going for bragging rights; he'd already turned down the Hot Seat twice on Wednesday, after getting his turn. Well, he must have peaked too early. After the first guessing kid is through, I'm #1 and get to turn it down.

We leave to take the Backlot tour, then come back to Play It! just after a show has started. I decide it's time to pay it forward for my PAS luck, so we tell the staffer by the Fast Pass machines that I want to take a phone call. Tim and Erika are nearby, in case I need help with a pop culture question.

I'm a Complete Stranger!

A few minutes later, I get the call, and smile as I realize it's a category I can handle.

For 8K: What is the stock symbol of the Disney Corporation? A) DIS B) WDW C) something D) something

"It's DIS, and I'm 95% sure!" Some applause, and the host asks, "Why are you 95% sure?" "Because I follow the stock market," I say. I don't mention the fact that I've been following the stock market since the 4th grade. :-)

The contestant takes my advice, and it's right. During the next show, I learn that he later missed one at the 32K level.

Seat 1 is #1!

Another show, then lunch at the Sci-Fi Drive-In (where your table is inside little "cars" and you watch clips from campy 50's sci-fi movies while you eat--very cool!), then dodging the rain for more Play It! And this time, I'm really on a roll, ending up at the top of the leader board on three shows in a row. For the last one, Tim, Erika and I get to sit in the ROF (no real difference in being able to play, but the seats are more comfortable and it's very cool to be there). Sure enough, the FF winner finishes up, and I'm #1 for the fourth time of the day! The host turns around and sees me, wearing my Play It! hat and polo shirt, shaking my head again. What a perfect finale for the overall Play It! immersion experience!

Well, not quite perfect. I'm still lusting for a certain leather jacket, and I've got 24 more days before I'm eligible to try again...

Other Fun Moments

In between our own competition, and impatiently waiting for the intro shtick to be repeated before every show, there were some other fun moments worth mentioning, to end this report.

The Great Flowers/Gift Basket Mystery!

At the start of every show, we see someone carry flowers onto the set, then take them offstage, then we see Regis "in his dressing room" receiving them. So, on the second show on Wednesday, we were surprised to see, instead of the usual flowers, a large gift basket! Oddly enough, though, Regis still received the same old flowers. Hmmmmm. It was at that moment that I began to suspect that Regis really wasn't backstage! Our best guess is that Tiger Woods sent the basket, as thanks for his being on the show on Tuesday. And, yes, I do suspect that he got a "celebrity" stack of questions!

More guessing Kids

Rob Wilson told us about his 8-year-old son getting into the Hot Seat earlier this month. On Wednesday, we saw a 6-year-old girl win the FF! It was funny to see the lights focus on her seat and not noticing anyone there. Even with her mom to help her, she was awfully shy about coming down to play the game.

On the other hand, Thursday saw another 8-year-old boy win an FF, and (with some whispered help from dad) he did a terrific job of answering his questions loud and clear. The best part, though, was with his 16K question:

What is an angle more than 90 degrees and less than 180 degrees called? A) obtuse B) acute C) right D) something else

Dad tells him something, he says "A, final answer!"

The host tells him he's right, and then says, "Wait, I heard your dad. He said C!"


Caught by another preconception

While we were in the audience, we also ran into this question.

What device do you point an click?

[Tim and I both immediately "knew" the answer was a mouse.]

A) something B) camera C) something [Still not right, so we madly start pushing the D button.] D) something else that wasn't a mouse

[Uh oh. Ummmm, you do point and click with a camera, don't you.]

The lesson was driven home again. Even when you think you "know" an answer, read and consider each alternate answer before you reject it!

A controversial question!

One more that we saw would have been lawsuit material on the real show.

The holiday Cinco de Mayo celebrates what event? A) Napoleon's defeat B) something C) something D) Mexican independence day

The contestant was eliminated after they said the "right" answer was A, but that's certainly NOT right. As we've discussed here before, May 5, 1862 was the Battle of Puebla, where Mexicans defeated French troops sent by Napoleon III, but that's a big stretch to call it "Napoleon's defeat". It certainly wasn't Waterloo!

Too bad we couldn't catch that contestant to tell him to lodge a protest! :-)

And that's enough for this trip report. Questions, anyone?

Once again, thanks to Tim and Erika for driving up to share the adventure. It's certainly more fun than standing out as the only absolute show fanatic. Seeing all three of our seat numbers appear consistently on the leader board, we were getting a few suspicious/jealous stares from other audience members, though! :-)

And thank you all for reading!

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