Last night, Shelsy and I got the chance to attend a taping of two Wheel of Fortune episodes. It was a lot of fun and we got a pretty cool behind the scenes look at how the show is filmed. If you'd like to read about all the geeky details of cameras, lighting, etc. check out my post over at The Dastardly Report.
We arrived at SeaWorld early and wandered the park for a little while before heading over to where the show was going to be filmed (Bayside stadium, if you're curious). We arrived an hour before the doors were supposed to open and the line of people waiting was already wrapping through the parking lot. We dutifully took a place in line.
I fully expected there to be a number of senior citizens at the taping, but I honestly was surprised by how many there were. Shelsy and I were definitely in the minority.
Anyway, the line eventually began moving. After passing through the metal detectors and bag check area, we were funneled into a large waiting area. This is where the problems started. Becuase of the very heavy rain earlier in the day, most of the equipment had to be taken down and covered. So when the rain stopped, it took the crew several hours to reset things, which delayed everything. We were supposed to go into the stadium at 4:15...we didn't end up entering until closer to 5:30.
And let me tell you...the crowd was very unhappy about this delay. They were shouting at passing employees, standing on chairs to get a better view, and very loudly complaining to anyone who would hear. And when the employees began letting people into the theater out of order...oh man, you should have heard the roar.
Shelsy and I had been in the stadium before and we knew that there literally aren't any bad seats, so we didn't care. But lots of other people did. Quite a few people even turned and left after waiting for over two hours because they were so angry.
So, after that, we were finally ushered into the theater itself. There were tired looking employees standing trying their best to direct people to seats in an orderly fashion, but the crowd was having none of it and were literally pushing past the employees to get the seats they wanted.
Shelsy and I dutifully followed direction and were among very few who did. When we got to the bottom of the steps, the guy directing people asked how many were in our party. He then said, "follow me" and lead us down to stage level and to the dead center of the stadium. There, he gave us seats in a slightly elevated box of no more than 15 seats. I seriously think we had some of the best seats in the house. The guy explained that these were the most camera prominent seats. So we could get a lot of screen time when these two episodes air. :-)
Anyway, after some brief direction by the stage manager ("don't shout out the answers!"), it was time for the show to begin. The intro video played, the applause signs lit up, and out came Pat and Vanna. Everyone cheered, and the game was underway!
It was very cool to be able to watch the game live. Crew members running around, cameras swinging overhead, and Pat cracking jokes. It was a great time!
After the first episode was done, the stage manager came out and encouraged everyone to stay because they were filming a second one. But the impatient crowd was mostly uninterested and well over half of the seats were empty by the time the second episode started.
We really had a great time, though! Nobody won the million dollars, unfortunately, but it was still exciting to cheer the contestants on and have them be right in front of us instead of on the TV screen.
If Wheel of Fortune ever films an episode near where you live, I highly encourage you to get free tickets and go!
And if you're interested in watching the episodes we were there for, the SeaWorld set of episodes will air beginning March 2nd. We were actually there for the first two episodes, but they told us that we may be in random audience shots for the whole three week period. I'll likely record the episodes in hopes to catch a glimpse of us in the crowd. :-)