Disney getting 'Idol' theme park


UPDATED 3:18 p.m. PT Feb. 7

EW YORK -- Even though Simon, Paula, Randy and Ryan won't be there to judge, host or bicker, "American Idol" is making its way to Walt Disney World's Hollywood Studios in Florida with a new theme park attraction in late 2008.

Disney and Fremantle said the "Idol" attraction will follow the model of the smash TV hit, with Disney guests able to audition, perform on stage in competition, get judged by theme park producers and vote for their favorite performers in a "live interactive entertainment setting with all the glitz and glamour of the distinctive 'American Idol' set."

Guest performers with the highest number of votes during several shows throughout the day will compete in an end-of-day grand finale show, and the "Idol" winner for that day will receive a guaranteed reservation for a future regional stadium audition for the TV show -- to ensure no waiting in long lines. But they will have no advantage over other contestants in auditions.

"One of the most remarkable elements about 'American Idol' is that for a brief moment each week, we can provide TV viewers the opportunity to imagine life as America's next superstar," said 19 Entertainment CEO Simon Fuller.

"Disney's new attraction perfectly captures what we at 'American Idol' feel is the heart and soul of this brand, real people getting a shot to make their dream a reality."

Keith Hindle, executive vp of FremantleMedia Enterprises, said the Disney attraction is a way to draw an even bigger audience for "Idol" and extend it into a year-round property. The show airs on Fox from January through May.

Hindle said Disney will be producing the Hollywood Studios show and building the attraction, but with many stages of approval from Fremantle and 19 Entertainment to ensure it has the look and feel of the TV show. He declined to say how much Disney was paying to license "Idol" as an attraction but noted that Fremantle will also share in other revenue streams, such as "Idol" merchandise sold at the park.