'American Idol' attraction coming to Walt Disney World Thu 07 Feb 2008 Byline: By Scott Powers, The Orlando Sentinel, Fla. A theme park version of American Idol is coming to Walt Disney World. Walt Disney Parks and Resorts and the hit television show's producers announced a deal this afternoon that will have Disney create a theme-park version of the show in an old sound-stage theater at Disney's Hollywood Studios by the end of this year. The Fox network TV show -- a singing contest that taps into America's cultural fascination with creating stars -- is the most-watched series currently on TV and has been almost since it premiered. The Disney version will largely follow the format of the Fox-TV phenomenon, though of course with different judges than the famous Fox trio of Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson. The TV show is co-produced by 19 Entertainment and FremantleMedia, and they will help produce the Disney show. Disney World visitors will be able to audition for the show at various locations, then perform and compete in front of studio audiences in a new American Idol sound stage that Disney will develop. The daily winners will be invited to try out for the TV show. The American Idol soundstage will be carved out of the old, vacant Superstar Television attraction, which is next door to Sounds Dangerous. Jay Rasulo, chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, called the American Idol TV show a pop-culture phenomenon -- just the type of thing that Disney wants for its renamed and re-themed Disney's Hollywood Studios theme park. "As soon as you're talking about pop culture icons these days, you're talking about American Idol," Rasulo said. "Our goal, along with 19 Entertainment and FremantleMedia, is to see if we could reproduce some of the excitement. The people who no doubt watch on TV, there's got to millions of people who dream of being one of those kids up on that stage." Rasulo is confident that enough entertaining people will try out each day to sustain the show. The theme park, which was known as Disney-MGM Studios until last month, draws more than 9 million people a year. The judges for the theme-park version have not been selected. For that matter, the judging system is still being worked out. It will be some sort of combination of studio-audience participation and a judging panel, Rasulo said. The TV show originally was developed in Great Britain, as Pop Idol, then transplanted to American television in 2002. "This partnership brings the No. 1 show on television, watched in over 100 countries, to the No. 1 theme-park destination in the world. It's a perfect combination," Keith Hindle, executive vice president of licensing for FremantleMedia Enterprises, stated in a news release.