22 October 2007

We are rolling

I am a pretty shy guy by nature, not the type of guy to start a website dedicated to anything, but that’s a whole different story. Suffice it to say that when at Walt Disney World I do my best to avoid getting picked to be part of anything. I love watching Streetmosphere characters interact with guests, as long as they aren’t me, I don’t want to be part of the World Showcase Players, and I never tried out for Who Wants To Be A Million Play It! So it is a bit of a shock to anyone who knows me that I will make a fool of myself to get on stage at the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular.

It has to be the fact that I grew up idolizing Indiana Jones which, together with the Jedi and Ripley of Alien fame, occupied most of my daydreaming time throughout most of my youth. But, I’m sure I am not the only 20 to 40 year old male to fall into that category. I would have done anything to be alongside Indy on one of his adventures, and I couldn’t believe this was a possibility when Disney-MGM Studios opened. I tried for years to become an extra, long before I would have legally been allowed to participate, as I wasn’t yet eighteen.

M first break came a little more than a year ago when I was on a trip with my fiancée. I had explained my trials, how I had tried and tried with no luck, how I had even convinced friends of mine that were girls to pretend we were newlyweds to try and get picked, but that, sadly, I had never had any luck. The casting director came out then and said she was looking for extras and began scanning for volunteers. I stood up on my bench and, low and behold, I was the first one picked. It was bittersweet because, while I would be fulfilling a dream, I knew my fiancée was sitting in her seat think, “uh huh, real difficult to get picked, right?”

I got so wrapped up in the moments that followed, while still trying to take my queues from the casting director, that I forgot to cover my ears when they fire off the “handgun.” Just a word of advice to all of you who get chosen, when they tell you to cover your ears, they mean it. Boy, was that thing loud!

My second stint came just last month, both times I was picked in the first category of extras, the screamers. I was sitting in the exact same seat as the year before. I consider this seat very lucky, and I think it must be one of the places they look for extras, and no, I won’t tell you where it is. It is my own, my precious. Since I knew basically what was about to happen I wasn’t as prone to Indy-amnesia, and was actually able to take in more of the experience. I got into the fight scenes, pretending to cheer on Indy while throwing fake punches and telling him to uppercut the bad guys, I sheltered a girl extra, who had fallen into my shoulder, from the horrors before us as Indy and the ladder swayed to and fro, and I hit the deck with a vigor of man much younger than myself when the machine guns started to go off. It was fantastic!

So, here are a few little tidbits of trivia for those of you interested in signing on as an extra. Surprisingly, this experience does not constitute a Magical Moment, though anyone who has ever had the opportunity will tell you that it is, indeed, Magical. When they make the joke about signing the waiver, they mean it! You do have to sign stating that Disney is not at fault if you were to, say, try to jump on the exploding truck to save Marion. The costume that you wear over your regular clothing is extremely hot. You will sweat, and you will sweat a lot. You receive two things for being an extra in the Stunt Spectacular, an overwhelming joy about what you were just a part of (more on this one in a second) and all the free water you can drink from their water cooler.

I believe there was only one extra who enjoyed the experience more than I did last month. Another one of the screamers, the three of us were very “proud” of being picked for being loud and obnoxious, had his young daughter with him. As we were leaving I heard her asking him if he had just been in a movie, she was still a little too young to understand everything that had been happening. He told her that he had, and that he had helped Indiana Jones save the day. She beamed up at her dad as if he were a hero, bigger than any Jedi, any superhero, bigger than even Indiana Jones himself. Witnessing that moment was on of the moments in my extensive list of Disney memories that I will never forget.

As for my recurring role of extra, well, next time I get on stage I hope to be the guy who gets to act out his own horrible, terrible, excruciating death.


Unknown said...

Great post, Ryan!

My wife and I were both picked on different trips. Her highlight was getting to meet Indy...sigh...

I got to do the death scene.

Your fiancee took some great shots.

We need to start a Jedi/Indy/Disney fan club pretty soon. How do you feel about the Muppets?

Ryan P. Wilson said...

My fiancee says she tried to do her best, and thank you!

As for Muppets, they were also a cornerstone of my youth. Eespecially when Luke, Chewie, Artoo, and C-3P0 made their guest appearances. Count me in anytime for discussion invloving all of the above!

Unknown said...

I too am a shy person who goes out of his way to avoid being picked for anything when I'm at the parks. But, unlike you, I turned down the opportunity to go "onstage".

Instead of Indy it was the Backstage Tour I turned down.

My wife finds it annoying at times because she would love to do those kind of things but wants to do them with me.