April 2001 Trip Report

April 2001 Trip Report: Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge and "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire--Play It!"

Dates: April 16-23, 2001


  • Jennifer Watson: 32, Disney veteran and co-author of PassPorter Walt Disney World, on her umpteenth trip to Disney (from Ann Arbor, MI)
  • Dave Marx, 46, Disney veteran and co-author of PassPorter (from Ann Arbor, MI)

Transportation: Southwest Airlines (from Detroit Metro Airport) and Tiffany Town Car

Resort: Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge Resort

Parks: Disney's Animal Kingdom, Epcot, Disney-MGM Studios, Magic Kingdom, Pleasure Island

Restaurants/Eateries: Jiko, Boma, more to come later

Other: This is a research trip to check out the new resort and new attraction. Most of our time will be spent researching in great detail and thus will go outside the realm of the typical vacationer experience. Thus, this resort may not make for scintillating reading, but it should be full of great observations, facts, and information.

Updated 04/20/01

Copyright 1999-2001
PassPorter Travel Press, an imprint of MediaMarx, Inc.
Questions? Problems? E-Mail Us!

  Day Four: April 19, 2001

Today is a good day for the inside dope. We've got a few hard-won tips for the newest attraction at Disney-MGM Studios, "Who Wants to be a Millionaire - Play It!"

You know, we really didn't spend enough time playing "Millionaire" last Tuesday. After all, we have very high research standards for PassPorter. So we were up again bright and early today (Thursday) so we could Play It! at Disney-MGM Studios as often as necessary. We arrived at Studios just moments after rope drop (9:04am), hustled back to Mickey Avenue, obtained FASTPASSes for the 11:15am Millionaire, and jumped into the queue for the first game of Millionaire with just moments to spare. Many moments, as it turned out, since they were having a few technical difficulties. So Dave made the first of many cell phone calls, in our quest to get the PassPorter online store back into operation (see yesterday's report for more details).

Finally, 30 minutes after the show was planned to start, the doors opened and we streamed into the studio. And here comes Millionaire tip #1:

As you may recall from Tuesday's trip report, the first Fastest Finger round of the day last Tuesday went to Jennifer, in something like 5.3 seconds. In other words, the entire audience may have taken the time to ponder and answer the Fastest Finger quiz. Today's first Fastest Finger round went to a very young boy (maybe 8) from the UK, in about 1.2 seconds. The only way he could have been that fast (and correct) was if he simply pushed the four buttons in a (correct) random sequence. In other words, luck and speed beat accuracy during today's Fastest Finger round. Our tip? Select a random Fastest Finger letter sequence (such as DCBA) prior to the game. If you don't know the correct Fastest Finger answer instantly, just key-in your random sequence as quickly as possible. Who knows, maybe the laws of probability will work to your advantage.

Question: How do you get to Carnegie Hall?
Answer: Practice, practice, practice!

Question: How do you get to the Hot Seat?
Answer (after much research): Speed, speed, speed!

As you may know if you've been following the reports about "Who Wants to be a Millionaire - Play It!", every member of the studio audience plays along with the contestent in the Hot Seat, and a computer keeps track of everyone's score. If the contestant in the Hot Seat answers incorrectly, the member of the audience with the highest score moves into the Hot Seat. This is really the most important part of the game for the audience, as the only time they play a Fastest Finger round is if there's nobody in the Hot Seat when a show begins. That means there's only one or a few Fastest Finger rounds all day long -- at the start of the first show of the day, or if there isn't a contestant returning from the previous show (and there usually is).

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 plateau they reveal the scores of the top ten audience members playing along. Out of a possible 77,100 points at the end of that 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 that 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 contestent 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.

Second 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, rapidly and continually press the correct button until the button lights come on and your answer is selected. This seems to be the fastest way to get your answer in.

If you're lucky enough to get into the hot seat, as both of us did today, remember to smile for the audience! When we return from our trip, we'll give you pointers on how to rack up the points when you're in the hot seat, as well as share our experiences with it.

Until tomorrow....

P.S. After much work, we got the PassPorter.com online store up and working, and everything appears to be just fine now. Thanks all for your patience!

Next Report: Day Five

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