Who Wants to Be a Millionaire - Play It! was an attraction at Disney's Hollywood Studios (formerly Disney-MGM Studios) at Walt Disney World in Lake Buena Vista, Florida and Disney California Adventure at Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California. It was a modified version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, an international television game show franchise that originated in the United Kingdom in 1998, and premiered in the United States in 1999.
The attraction's theater was a replica of the television show's set. Sessions of the game ran several times a day; each was 25 minutes long (but did wait until the current contestant vacated the hot seat to stop) and seated 647 park guests. The multiple hosts that were used for the attraction were various Disney cast members who tried to emulate U.S. primetime host Regis Philbin's hosting style, including his mannerisms.
The Disney park version of the game differed from the television version in several ways:
- Contestants competed for points, not dollars. A contestant won a Disney collector's pin for each point level he or she passed (minus any down to the previous milestone if he or she got a question wrong). A prize table can be found below.
- Every audience member had his or her own A/B/C/D keypad. The ten contestant row seats were not special in any way (other than a video display of the camera work). Access to these seats were chosen in a number of different ways before the show, including random selection, quizzing of guests waiting in queue, and special "Magic Moment" coupons dispensed from the attraction's "Fastpass" dispensers telling the bearer to present theirs to an attraction cast member for special seating. There were several times where just asking before the show began would grant you access to one of these seats if they were still available for the next show.
- To begin a session, a fastest finger question was asked, and as stated above the ten contestant row seats were not used for these questions. However, the questions were played the same was as the show, and the audience member who got the correct answer in the shortest time got the hot seat.
- The hot seat contestant had only fifteen seconds to answer each of the first five questions (100-1,000 points), thirty seconds per question for the next five questions (2,000-32,000 points), forty-five seconds for the next four questions (64,000-500,000 points), and fifty-five seconds for the final million-point question.
- Each audience member could answer a question on his or her keypad at the same time as the hot seat contestant did. Contestants won points by pressing the correct button quickly; at the 1,000 and 32,000-point levels the game was paused briefly to show the top ten scores. If the hot seat contestant got a question wrong or decided to walk away, instead of additional fastest finger questions, the top scorer in the audience took his or her place, as long as there was time remaining. (Usually, only two full games were played.) The player with the highest score on the last game only won congratulations from the host, if that.
- The three lifelines were 50:50, Ask the Audience, or Phone a Complete Stranger. Ask the Audience is immediate; their answers can be instantly polled, because they already had a chance to enter them. Phone a Complete Stranger connected the contestant to a Cast Member outside the theater who found a guest to help.
- Disney Cast Members were not permitted to participate.
- Park guests playing as hot-seat contestants were required to sign a waiver after completing their game. This declared the "Fair Market Value" of all prizes received (in Walt Disney World by regulations set by the Florida Gaming Commission) and an agreement that the guest would be ineligible to participate as a hot seat game player for a pre-determined amount of time. (100-500,000 point winners had a 30 day blackout. 1,000,000 point winners also had the 30-day blackout, but were also prohibited from winning the million-point prize again for 365 days)
- Questions based on Disney parks and films often appeared at any point during the game.
- Usually, because the fastest finger first could be won by a younger audience member randomly selecting the correct one of the 24 possible orders and inputting it in a ridiculously small amount of time, the first five questions were usually easy enough that any audience member could answer them correctly.
Upon correctly answering each question, the player received a collectible lapel pin with the attraction's logo and question point value. Various other prizes were awarded at milestone questions. The chart below references all the prizes obtained by achieving each milestone. No cash prize was awarded.
|5||1,000 Points||"Play It!" lanyard|
100-1,000 point pins
1,000 point baseball cap
|10||32,000 Points||"Play It!" lanyard|
100-32,000 point pins
1,000 point baseball cap
32,000 point embroidered shirt
|15||1,000,000 Points||"Play It!" lanyard|
100-1,000,000 point pins
1,000 point baseball cap
32,000 point embroidered shirt
1 million point leather jacket
1,000,000 point medallion
Disney Cruise Line vacation for four
In the early days of the attractions, contestants would also receive a copy of the Who Wants to Be a Millionaire CD-ROM game upon correctly answering the 32,000 point question.
During the original primetime television run, contestants would receive a trip for two to New York City to see a taping of the show when correctly answering the million point question, in lieu of a Disney Cruise vacation.
During Disney's Hollywood Studios' Star Wars Weekends, the first two games of the day featured questions based on the Star Wars films and universe and began with Greedo in the hot seat, answering questions in the alien language Rodanese. The lifelines in the "Star Wars Weekends" version of the game worked exactly like the regular game but were named 50:50, Ask the Jedi Council, and Phone a Stormtrooper.
During ESPN The Weekend, also based at Disney's Hollywood Studios, the game consisted of sports trivia questions; contestants got to "team up" with ESPN personalities and sports figures, according to the official ESPN The Weekend website. For this edition of the game, the Phone A Complete Stranger lifeline was replaced with a chance to ask an ESPN expert (either Howie Schwab or the Sklar Twins) for assistance.
Both Disney's Hollywood Studios and Disney California Adventure's versions of the attraction offered Fastpass. Fastpass at Disney's California Adventure's version was available for the whole run, while the Disney's Hollywood Studios version was taken out when the Moteurs... Action! Stunt Show Spectacular arrived.
The attraction's former soundstages at Disney's Hollywood Studios are now the site of the interactive Toy Story Midway Mania! attraction.
The soundstage and attraction at Disney California Adventure were built as a quick fix to the initial criticisms and low attendance the park faced upon its opening in February 2001. Though the building has been unused since the attraction closed in 2004, it was rumored to be used as the park's temporary main entrance while the permanent one undergoes a major renovation project. Now the temporary entrance will be next to Soarin' over California.
- The rights to the Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? franchise worldwide were originally owned by British production company Celador, which created the show's original format in 1998. In 2006, Celador was acquired by Dutch company 2waytraffic, which was in turn acquired by Sony Pictures Entertainment in 2008. Rights to the show worldwide are currently distributed by Sony Pictures Television, except in the United States, where it is distributed by The Walt Disney Company, via its in-home sales and content distribution firm, Disney-ABC Domestic Television, due to Celador originally licensing the show to Disney back when the U.S. version of the show premiered on ABC back in 1999; the show aired in syndication until its cancellation in 2019; however, ABC recently announced that they would be bringing back Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? to primetime for a special 20th anniversary celebration, with late night talk show comedian Jimmy Kimmel, host of ABC's Jimmy Kimmel Live!, as the new host. Kimmel was also previously a celebrity contestant during the original primetime era back in 2001, winning $125,000 for charity.
- From 2008 to 2010, the real game show decided to adopt the time limit system used in the former Play It! attractions, featuring 15-second time limits for questions 1-5, 30-second time limits for questions 6-10, 45-second time limits for questions 11-14, and for the 15th and final question, the contestant would receive 45 seconds plus all of the unused time accumulated over the previous 14 questions, which was accumulated into a "time bank". The clock would temporarily stop whenever a lifeline was used, and then resume from where it left off when the duration of the lifeline was over. Combined with the preliminary Fastest Finger rounds from the original primetime era, this was the format used for the 10th anniversary celebration in 2009.
- More information on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? can be found at the Who Wants to Be a Millionaire Wikia.
- Official domestic Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? website
- Official international Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? website
- "Jimmy Kimmel to host Who Wants to Be a Millionaire for 20th anniversary special run" (January 8, 2020).