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|Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix, editor|
|All My Children Stars Kick-Off First Super Soap Weekend|
|The first of the three inaugural
West Coast edition Super Soap Weekends was held April 6 and 7 at Disney's
California Adventure to an enthusiastic crowd of All My Children fans.
Event planners had no idea what to expect during the planning stagesone cast member quipped, "When was the last time you heard the words 'DCA' and 'sellout crowds' in the same planning meeting?"and although those overflow crowds, equally hoped for and feared by park managers, did not materialize, the event was well-received by the fans nonetheless.
Dedicated fans, eager to get some face time with their favorite All My Children stars, began arriving at the Disney's California Adventure gates as early as 5 AM Saturday morning. Wristbands were distributed to the first 130 people in line at 7 AM, making them eligible for an autograph from principle star Susan Lucci, who plays Erica Kane on the show.
A special edition of ABC Soaps In Depth was distributed at the main gate and provided a schedule and map of the venues around the park. An event information table located in the Sunshine Plaza helped direct visitors.
When the park opened at 8 AM, some fans immediately got in line for the first autograph sessions with their favorite stars while others explored the soap-theme offerings around the park. Reservations for the Soap Opera Bistro filled up in two hours, and Fastpass tickets for the special edition of "Who Wants to be a Millionaire Play It!" were gone shortly afterwards.
SoapNet, a Disney-owned cable network devoted entirely to soap operas, hosted a welcome booth (below). Fans could sign up for the SoapNet Web site, play a soap opera trivia game, and answer questions on an interactive computer kiosk to learn which soap star they most closely resembled. It appears I am most like Erica Kane as were about 90% of the women in attendance. [Methinks the game was rigged.]
The first celebrity "Millionaire" show of the day featured contestants Susan Lucci and Jack Scalia, who sat in matching hot seats and jointly answered the game questions. Instead of playing for their own prizes, the stars played to win prizes for the entire audience, including $5 merchandise certificates and tote bags. When asked if he ever watched the network version of the show, Scalia joked that it sometimes looked like "Who wants to be a knucklehead?" a comment he probably came to regret a few questions later when he turned to the audience for help in defining the word "potable."
Had he missed the question, I am sure he would have been given a second chance. It was clear that this game was designed to let the stars play as long as possible. Lucci and Scalia were allowed to answer after the countdown timer expired and change their "final answers" if they were incorrect. The game host gave broad hints as she read the possible answers, and the audience was eager to help out if it looked like the stars were stuck.
Of course, it was all in good fun and designed to let the audience enjoy the interaction between Erica Kane and her new beau. Alas, the game ended when the duo believed a shoutedbut incorrectanswer from an audience member. In later shows, two other all-star teams actually reached the million-point level, earning T-shirts for the entire audience.
Two of the Hollywood stores featured special Super Soap Weekends merchandise, from logo pins and T-shirts to reproductions of the jewelry worn on the shows (see above). Shoppers were delighted to find actual costume pieces on sale for as little as $5, including ties, T-shirts, and suits, worn by their favorite stars. A beaded evening gown, worn by Susan Lucci, fetched a reasonable $200.
The most entertaining event was the "Casting Call," hosted by All My Children star Walt Willey. Three audience members were selected to come on stage and "act" out a scene with Willey (below). After all three had their chance, the audience voted for the best actress. That winner went on to perform another scene with another of the soap opera hunks.
As often happens in real life, the actresses had no time to review their lines before their big scene. They had to do their best to read their lines from a teleprompter, while trying not to faint from sheer joy into the arms of their leading man. This was easier for some than others, and the performances ranged from pained to nearly professional. The winning actress was presented with a videotape of her performances, signed by both stars, while the runners-up walked away with signed mugs and memories to treasure forever.
Autograph sessions are a big part of every Super Soap Weekend, and fans waited for hours to meet their favorite stars. (That's Susan Lucci above, with an excited fan cell-phoning the news to a friend.) Each autograph location was clearly numbered and identified. When a line was deemed to be too long, a sign was placed at the end of the queue announcing that the session was full, and the line for the next session was started. The guest control crews did a fantastic job of keeping everything and everyone running smoothly; no easy task when dealing with so many devoted fans.
Fans also got a chance to meet the stars up close and personal at special appearances inside the Soap Opera Bistro. The actors mingled through the rooms, posing for photos and autographs with the diners. (That's actress Terri Ivens above, chatting with diners.) In order to allow as many people as possible experience the restaurant and meet the stars, customers were held to a $15 per person food minimum, and limited to no more than an hour in the Bistro. Fans who booked the special hotel and event package enjoyed Sunday brunch buffet at the Bistro and met even more stars, including Susan Lucci.
The one low point of the day was the Cavalcade of Stars down the DCA performance corridor, which replaced a scheduled Cast Photo Shoot. The cavalcade, just two parade units long (shown above and below), flew down the route so fast it was difficult to snap a photo of more than one star.
Fans who waited as long as an hour to see the parade, left asking, "Was that it? Is there more?" It would have been much nicer to place each star, or group or related characters, in individual vehicles for the short trip. (It's California Adventure right? A fleet of new shiny convertibles, sporting one or two stars each, would have been a real Hollywood touch.)
The most popular session appeared to be the "Pine Valley Live" question-and-answer forum hosted by Linda Dano. Fans attended multiple shows; some even went to all four sessions. Audience members were encouraged to ask questions of the stars, and the answers were sometimes surprising. For example, actress Terri Ivens landed her first entertainment job right across the way at Disneyland, playing one of Cinderella's mice in the Main Street Electrical Parade. She even remembered the dance steps and demonstrated them for the delighted audience. A number of fans had the same question for actor Vincent Irizarry: "May I have a hug?" He was gracious enough to grant every wish.
Despite a few minor glitches here and there, this event was extremely well-executed, and every detail seemed to be geared towards making the fans happy.
If you are planning to attend either of the next two events, here are some hints:
Remember that the events last two days, so pace yourself. You may not get to see everyone you want to, but take time to have fun too!
One Life to Live
General Hospital and
The names of the cast from "Port Charles" over this same weekend will be announced at a later date due to a confidential breaking storyline.
Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix is the super-shopper behind MouseShoppe, your personal and unofficial shopping service for the Disneyland Resort, and the owner of CharmingShoppe, a Disney collectibles store located in Anaheim.
In addition to scouring the park to find you the latest and greatest merchandise, she keeps you updated on all of the merchandise events happening in the parks.
If you want to talk to her about this column, merchandise, or events, contact her here.
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