Universal to open "Fear Factor" theme park attractions

Monday, January 10th 2005, 10:50 am
By: News On 6

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Apparently fear is not a factor when it comes to melding a TV reality show with a theme park attraction.

An audience-participation show based on the NBC show ``Fear Factor'' will open in May at the Universal Studios theme parks in Hollywood and Orlando, Fla., the company said.

The ``Fear Factor Live'' show is an example of the kind of corporate ``synergy'' resulting from NBC's purchase of Universal in 2003. The deal combined the television network with Universal's movie studio, cable channels and theme parks.

``We've always looked at 'Fear Factor' as kind of a theme park ride on television,'' NBC Universal Television Group chief Jeff Zucker said. ``It made sense to extend that brand into the theme parks.''

The attraction will pit theme park guests against each other in a series of extreme stunts that will replicate the physical and culinary challenges seen on the TV series, the company said.

The exact nature of the stunts has not been disclosed, although participants could be hung from harnesses and even challenged to eat unappetizing concoctions, the company said. But contestants will not eat live bugs, as they do on TV.

``We worked closely with the producers of the TV show to come up with a slate of stunts and challenges,'' said Scott Trowbridge, executive vice president of creative development at Universal Parks and Resorts.

``We are going to put our guests in situations where they will come face to face with nasty, weird stuff,'' he said. ``Are we going to go as gross as the show? No. But you don't have to resort to live bugs to test people's limits.''

The attraction will be held in a theater that holds about 1,800 people. Six people will be chosen to compete while other audience members will be given roles, such as shooting water or air at contestants or controlling some of the obstacles on stage.

Several shows will be held throughout the day, including shows featuring entire families, couples, twins, and other combinations. Winners will receive prizes and some contestants may be given the chance to appear in the NBC show, Trowbridge said.

Morphing a TV show into a theme park ride has been done before. The Walt Disney Co. turned the ABC quiz show ``Who Wants to be a Millionaire'' into a live audience participation show at some of its parks.

And Universal has led the way when it comes to turning movies such as ``Backdraft'' and ``Shrek'' into theme park attractions.

So far, NBC has no plans to turn any of its other shows into theme park attractions, although all options are open.

``If this one works, maybe someone will be saying 'You're Fired' at a theme park,'' Zucker joked, referring to the Donald Trump show ``The Apprentice.''