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Who Wants To Be A Winner?
Playing Tips for "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire-Play It!" at Walt Disney World
by Jennifer and Dave Marx, Authors of PassPorter Travel Guides

Here's your first question for 100 points:
Where will you find the Hot Seat at Walt Disney World?
A. Sitting on the curb on a sunny day
B. On Skippy at Alien Encounter
C. In Cosmic Ray's Starlight Cafe
D. In Soundstages 2 & 3 at Disney-MGM Studios

So you think it's D, huh? Oh, we're so sorry.... but that's CORRECT! You're only 14 tips away from learning how to get into the Hot Seat yourself!

"Who Wants To Be A Millionaire--Play It!" -- opened on April 7, 2001. During a week-long visit to Walt Disney World soon after the attraction's opening, we had the opportunity to play Millionaire several times, including one Millionaire Marathon day where we played it six times in a row. Our intent was to bring back lots of information on the attraction for you, our readers. We never imagined that we would actually get into the Hot Seat... but we did. In fact, Jennifer made it to the Hot Seat on her very first try. Two days later, Jennifer made it again, followed very shortly thereafter by Dave.

If you're not familiar with "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire--Play It", here's how it works. Disney's interactive trivia game show is very similar to the popular network version you've probably seen on TV. There are half-hour shows every hour (starting at a quarter past the hour) and the attraction is proving very popular, so you should arrive early or get a FASTPASS if you plan to go. Once inside every member of the studio audience plays along with the contestant in the Hot Seat, who is asked a series of 15 questions, each more difficult than the last

Millionaire Tip #1: If you're not familiar with the game, we highly recommend you watch the TV version of "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire." Learn more at http://www.millionairetv.com

As an aside, if you haven't been turned on by the TV show, don't brush aside this Disney attraction. Unlike the TV show where you watch contestants sweat it out from the comfort of your couch, the Disney attraction lets ALL audience members play along on keypads. There's always the chance that YOU could be the next to get into the Hot Seat. It's really much more engaging, interactive, and exciting than the TV show, speaking as two former Millionaire-snobs.

HOW TO GET INTO THE HOT SEAT
Everyone in the audience, except cast members, is eligible for the Hot Seat. Contestants for the hot seat are chosen from the audience by one of two methods -- Fastest Finger (least common) and highest audience member score. Getting into the Hot Seat is exciting, fun, and rewarding (you can win cool prizes!)

Millionaire Tip #2: As soon as you sit down, look for the number alongside the keypad in front of your seat -- this is your seat number. Memorize it for the duration of the show, as it will appear in the Top 10 (displayed overhead) if you answer quickly and correctly.

Fastest Finger occurs first thing in the morning and anytime there is no contestant returning from the previous show. Here's how Fastest Finger works: the host reads a question, usually asking you to put four things/people/places into order. Your job is to use the keypad in front of your seat to put the four items into order as correctly and quickly as you can. The seat numbers of the ten guests that correctly answered the question in the shortest time are displayed in their order of speed, from slowest to fastest. If you see your seat number at the top of the list of Top 10, you get to go to the Hot Seat!

Millionaire Tip #3: If you aren't confident of the order of the four items by the time the host finishes reading the question, GUESS FAST! Even with a random guess you have one chance in sixteen of being correct. If you have to spend a lot of time thinking, you can be sure some "random guesser" will beat you to the punch.

Audience Scores are the more common method of getting into the Hot Seat. If the contestant in the Hot Seat answers incorrectly, the member of the audience with the highest score moves into the Hot Seat. And how do they score each member of the audience? Speed, speed, speed, (and accuracy). For example, the first five questions of a game must be answered within 15 seconds. Of course, if you answer the 100 Point question correctly, you get 100 points. But you also get Bonus Points, based on how quickly you answer -- 1,000 points for every second remaining on the clock after you click in your answer! How does that work? Answer the 100 Point question correctly in one second, you get 14,100 points (14,000 bonus points, plus 100 for the correct answer). Answer in 9.5 seconds, and you get 5,600 points (5,500 bonus points for the 5.5 seconds remaining on the clock). Take all 15 seconds to answer, and you only get 100 points.

When the game reaches the 1,000 Point and 32,000 Point Question plateaus, the scores of the Top 10 audience members playing along are revealed on the Leaderboard overhead. Out of a possible 77,100 points at the end of the first round, the typical top scores are usually between 75,500 and 76,500. This means all the successful players are answering in around one-tenth of a second (often, the #1 and #10 players are only a couple of hundred points apart).

So what's the trick to answering the questions quickly? Several, really. Of course, being right is critical. In the early rounds, only one incorrect answer is enough to destroy your chances. However, if the contestant in the Hot Seat goes beyond the 32,000 point plateau, you may be able to erase an early error by answering the high-point questions flawlessly. The first five or so questions are often Disney-based, while those later on in the game tend to be more general and similar to those you'll find in the network
TV show.

Millionaire Tip #4: If you're serious about getting into the Hot Seat, practice at home before you go to Walt Disney World. Both the Millionaire board game and the CD-ROM game offer good practice (and lots of fun)! Playing along with the show on TV is good practice, as is boning up on your Disney trivia.

The second trick to getting into the Hot Seat is speed. After playing along in the audience and getting all our answers right, we were dismayed to see we weren't often in the Top 10 scores. So it was clear that speed, and perhaps chance, had a lot to do with who got in the Top 10. We experimented with different methods of entering our answers, hoping for a faster way. In the end, the method we found that worked the best was what we call the "video game method" -- as soon as you know the answer (even before all four choices have been read aloud). While nobody's scores are counted until the lights go on above each button, you
won't be disqualified if press the buttons a bit early. Rapidly and continually press the correct button until the button lights come on and only the light over your answer remains lit. This seems to be the fastest way to get your answer in. Once we started using this method, we saw our seat numbers appear in the Top 10 consistently, and shortly thereafter we were both chosen for the Hot Seat!

Millionaire Tip #5: If you don't know an answer to a question, guess or ask another member of your party (if they're not too distracted). You've got a 1 in 4 chance of getting it correct if you guess, which is better than not answering at all (no points are deducted if you guess wrong). Just remember to punch your answer in as quickly as possible.

HOW TO WIN AT MILLIONAIRE
If you're fast enough to get into the Hot Seat, congratulations! Now take a deep breath and smile, because you're the new star of the show. It's normal to be nervous, but don't worry -- the audience is very supportive. They'll be cheering you on the entire time. Just stand up, walk down the stairs to the stage, and sit down in the Hot Seat opposite the host. You'll be asked for your name and hometown, and then the game will begin.

Games always begin with the 100 Point Question, which is usually a very easy question. Unlike playing along in the audience from the safety of your seat, those easy questions may start to seem a little harder. You can't turn to your companion and say "It's D, right?" and you can feel everyone's eyes upon you. The best thing to do is remind yourself that this is just a game and just for fun -- you're not playing for big bucks like the folks on TV, and if you miss your question, you can still brag about getting into the Hot Seat. So breathe deeply and have as much fun as you can! (Jennifer, who is VERY shy, writes this from experience -- if she can do it, so can you!)

Millionaire Tip #6: Questions are read aloud for you as well as displayed on your personal monitor and on the overhead display. Read the monitor or overhead display as the question is read -- spelling and grammar may give you important clues that point to the answer.

If you know the answer to a question, speak it loudly and clearly. It helps to give the letter, the answer, and then say "Final Answer" (assuming it is your final answer). For example, "D. Mickey Mouse, Final Answer." If you don't know the answer, keep in mind that you have a time limit, which is displayed for you on your monitor and the overhead display -- watch it carefully! If you exceed your time limit, you forfeit your answer and "lose" the game.

Help is at hand if you're not sure of the correct answer -- use your "lifelines." Lifelines are a set of three "cheats" you can use during the game. The lifelines are Ask the Audience (poll the audience), 50/50 (take away two possible answers), and Phone a Complete Stranger (ask an unknown guest outside the theater). We recommend you use them in the order we just presented them -- Ask the Audience is best used first and works well on easier questions and/or popular culture questions. Use 50/50 when you can throw out at least two possible answers. Phone a Complete Stranger should be used as a last chance effort, as it isn't often very helpful. If you're lucky you'll get an adult, but you could also get a child who is unable to answer or even take a reasonable guess.

Millionaire Tip #7: If you're not at least 80% sure of your answer, use a lifeline. Too often contestants take a complete guess and answer incorrectly. There is no penalty for using your lifelines, with the possible exception of not having them to use later for the harder questions (if you even make it that far).

Lifelines get used up quickly -- there are only three and you can use each one just once. Here are some other ideas for determining the correct answer even when you're unsure:
- Narrow down your choices by discarding obviously wrong answers.
- Talk through your answers out loud -- sometimes your host will give you subtle hints.
- Listen to the audience -- occasionally an audience member speaks the answer loudly enough to hear (but if you can hear it, so can your host, and the host will remind the audience to be quiet).
- Go with your instinct -- often your first guess is the correct one.
- Boil the question down to its core components -- sometimes questions include extra information intended to distract or confuse you.

Millionaire Tip #8: You can change your answer at anytime before you tell the host that it is your final answer and before your time is up. Time limits change during the game, too -- you've got 15 seconds to answer each of the first five questions, 30 to answer each of the next five, 45 for the next four, and 55 seconds for the Million Point Question.

If you really don't know a question, you've used up your lifelines, and you can't make an educated guess, consider "walking." After the 1000 Point Question, you always have the option to stop playing, which means you get to keep your winnings. If you're at the 2000 Point Question or the 64,000 Point Question, we recommend you take a wild guess rather than walk, however, as you'll get to keep your winnings regardless.

So what about prizes? Here's a prize chart for questions answered correctly:

  • 100-500 Point Questions - Collectible pin for each question answered correctly
  • 1000 Point Question - Pin lanyard and baseball cap
  • 2000-16000 Point Questions - Collectible pin for each question answered correctly
  • 32,000 Point Question - "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire" CD-ROM game and polo shirt
  • 64,000-500,000 Point Questions - Collectible pin for each question answered correctly
  • 1,000,000 Point Question - A collectible pin, leather jacket, gold medallion, and a trip for up to four on a 3-night Disney Cruise!

Note: Prizes are cumulative, so if you answer the 64,000 Point Question correctly, you get ten pins, the lanyard, the baseball cap, the CD-ROM game, and the polo shirt.

Millionaire Tip #9: If you've reached the 32,000 Point Plateau, your lifelines are used up, and don't think you have a good chance at winning the 1,000,000 Point Question, we recommend you walk away. The 64,000-500,000 Point pins are very rare, as most people try for the cruise (and very, very few reach it). Jennifer walked on her 125,000 Point Question and got two rare collectible pins. Dave tried to answer the 500,000 Point Question but failed, and didn't get as many pins as Jennifer even though he answered more questions correctly.

As a prize winner, you are escorted backstage where you are asked for your mailing address and your "autograph" on a disclaimer/waiver form. You'll get to see your prizes and take them home with you right away (unless, of course, you win the big NYC trip!) You will then be directed how to return to your seat in the audience or instructed to wait until the show ends to exit.

If the show ends while you're still in the Hot Seat, you'll be invited back for the next show and your game will resume at that time. Neither you nor your family/party will need to wait in line -- the cast members will show you a special place to wait for the next show and your companions get to sit in a front row seat behind you during the show.

A few final tips:

Millionaire Tip #10: If you want to have your own Millionaire Marathon, plan to arrive at rope drop time (park opening) and attend the first show, grabbing a FASTPASS on your way in. You can then alternate between FASTPASS and standby, getting in most if not all shows.

Millionaire Tip #11: There's no good or bad place to sit in the audience. All the keypads function the same and the view is excellent from all seats thanks to the huge overhead screens. Note that the seats on the stage level are usually open to anyone, unlike the network TV show -- sitting in these "Ring of Fire" seats does not offer anything other than a cool monitor to look at.

Millionaire Tip #12: To learn more about the attraction at Walt Disney World, we recommend Destination WDW's "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire" FAQ at http://wdwbook.cjb.net/ (click the FAQs link in the menu)

Millionaire Tip #13: To play the game online with Disney-only questions (good practice for all those Disney questions you'll get), visit Joanne's Disney Site at http://www.wdisneyw.co.uk

Millionaire Tip #14: You can pick up a complete set of game rules at Guest Relations at Disney-MGM Studios. Don't worry -- we reviewed them and there are no surprises.

>Things To Do: If you do make it to the Hot Seat, we'd love to hear about it! Please e-mail us at reports@passporter.com. And if you get the Million Point Question correct and win the cruise, we'll announce your name on this page for all to see!

>Notes: As the game matures, rules could change and game tips could change. Please keep this in mind when you consider throwing virtual tomatoes our way if you don't make it to the Hot Seat.

>Update: In May 2002, Dave got into the Hot Seat and successfully answered the million-point question, winning us a Disney cruise! His adventures are detailed in "Winning at Millionaire."

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Updated 12/29/06 



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