The true Disney Trivia King won.
The semi-final and final rounds took place on the first day of the 2011 D23 Expo on Stage 23 at 6:00 p.m. True to form for the entire day, the event started late. Please note this is a recap based on the experiences of being a contestant, not as an audience member.
The twenty contestants, plus the eight alternates were asked to return to Stage 23 no later than 5:00 p.m. There was a chaotic atmosphere due to convention attendees starting to line up for the Dick Van Dyke and the Vantastiks concert which was to follow the Ultimate Disney Trivia Tournament on Stage 23. The friendly D23 Expo staff tried to navigate people, dealing with unhappy attendees and trying to keep two lines plus the trivia contestants corralled in different areas.
The contestants were led into Stage 23 and then out into a back hallway to be checked in by their wonderful handler, Graham. At that point two of the semi-finalists had not shown and since two of the alternates were there they were tentatively slotted in to replace them. The semi-finalists were given a cutoff of 5:45 p.m to arrive and still qualify to play. At the last minute one of the late contestants showed up and one of the alternates was replaced.
The contestants were ushered to a "backstage" area. This was the cavernous hallway behind the room. Divided into two groups of ten we waited for the show to begin. The Thespian was informed later that the show didn't begin until 6:20 p.m. so the proceedings ended up feeling rushed. Our host for the evening was Dan Roebuck, who appeared as Leslie Artz on Lost. (Dear Dan, The Thespian is sorry that when you asked her who played Leslie Artz during a lull in the show, she said Tim O'Day. She knew it was you...but forgot your name in the moment.)
The Thespian competed in the first group of semi-finalists. The semi-finalist round consisted of three parts. The first part was the Basil of Baker Street Round. Each contestant was asked 3 questions worth 1 point each. There was no penalty for a wrong answer. The second round was the Monsters Inc. Scare Floor round. There were twelve doors and each contestant picked a door and answered the question which was worth 2 points with no penalty for a wrong answer. This round was fun as there were video clues with Disney legends, costumes and props from the Disney Archives and musical clues scattered within. The third round was the Lightning McQueen round. This round was three minutes long. Contestants could buzz in with the answers which were worth 1 point. However this time there was a penalty of 1 point for a wrong answer. At the end of the round the top three competitors moved on to the finals. In the first semi-final there was a tie for third and those two contestants competed in a second one minute Off With Their Heads playoff. The second semi-final was a repeat with the remaining ten semi-finalists.
The final six competitors immediately started the tough Final round. It consisted of two parts. The first part was the Hasbro Trivial Pursuit round. There were two rounds of Trivial Pursuit questions. Each contestant chose a wedge category. This time answers were worth 2 points with no penalty for a wrong answer. They could not choose the same category during the second go around of questions. This was followed by a five minute Lightning McQueen round. Blowing away the field with a final score of 18 was John Kurowski, who qualified for the tournament by winning the mini-tournament at Destination D in Orlando, Florida in May 2011.
It was two days of fun with easy, medium, hard and fiendish questions. There was a lot of great friendships formed as the contestant pool dwindled. If they attempt this tournament again, some improvements are necessary. Obviously, start on time. Round 3 and the final rounds started late, even though contestants were told to arrive very early for them and there was a lot of waiting around. The Lightning McQueen round was slowed down by the host trying to say the correct answers when someone got it wrong. Eliminate that and move on. It might be fairer to not allow contestants to buzz in until the entire question is read, a la Jeopardy, but when it comes to that process, someone will always buzz in if they master the rhythm needed. And there was some confusion afterwords as a couple of the contestants left before receiving their prizes.
All semi-finalists and finalists received a copy of the new Hasbro Disney Trivial Pursuit and a very nice certificate signed by Steven Clark, the head of D23 and Dave Smith. director emeritus of the Disney Archives. The winner, John Kurowski, received a free cruise for four people on the Disney Fantasy.