Special Edition: Fear Factor Live!

Trip Start Sep 07, 2012
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Flag of United States  , Florida
Sunday, December 16, 2012

[VIDEO LINKS: We caught a lot of this on video, especially Game 1. Our camera battery died during Game 2, but Wren caught my moment of victory on my phone's video camera.]

Highlights from Game 1: http://youtu.be/pPETh9NwL08
End of Game 2: http://youtu.be/BnUmwwoX6Xk

Story

Fear Factor Live! is a live attraction/show that takes place in front of a live audience at Universal Studios Orlando, where six contestants compete for wondrous fame and glory (well, first place gets a champion t-shirt, and second place gets a Universal Studios hat).

It was our last day at Universal, and the Fear Factor attraction had been closed on all of the other days. This was my last chance to try it out. Little did I know what fun and adventure this would provide!

I would actually play the game twice. The first time, I ran into some trouble with bad equipment and would finish second and win a hat. The second time, I won the game and was awarded the champion's t-shirt! Read on for all the details...

The Casting Process

About an hour before the show, they have a casting process where you line up and they assign you a number and ask you to fill out a questionnaire. You basically have to lie and say you've never had a medical problem or any stress, hardship in life, etc. If you mark anything they don't like, they cut you.

The first time I played, 18 people auditioned, and I was one of the lucky six chosen. I think they were looking for a wide demographic, and having an old man in the competition filled a quota for them. In fact, they stereotype everyone, and the host and other players kept referring to me as 'the old man'. Whatever...I kicked your asses!

The second time I played, casting took place during the Christmas parade, so there were only five entrants. So, I was automatically in, even though they don't normally let you play more than once.

The Competition

All of my opponents in both games were in their 20s, and included two sets of  boyfriend/girlfriend, a Marine, a very religious dude, and a couple other random youngsters. The game I won happened to be against the toughest group, including the Marine!

Preparation

About an hour before the show, they escort you back to a little room where you fill out an exhaustive medical questionnaire. Again, if you mark anything "wrong", you are out. So, after you lie (LOL), they have you shoot a five second video intro that they will show the crowd.

Mine was "I'm Chad, from Seattle, and I drove 10,000 miles to be here, so I have to win!".

After the video shoot, they provide you with a complete set of clothes, including a spandex top and shorts, and plastic underwear! You are not allowed to wear anything you brought with you. Then they strap you into a vest with many buckles, that later they will attach to the harness so you can fly...

They go on to briefly explain the three stunts you will be doing, and they are...

Stunt 1: The Bar Hang

For this one, all six competitors are led to the roof of the stadium, walked out onto a catwalk, and then they hook your harness to a safety line and walk you out to a platform with a yellow bar hanging over it. The stunt involves grabbing the bar and hanging onto it as long as possible after they drop the platform out from under you. You are hanging 40ft in the air. The first two people to drop are disqualified and take the walk of shame. The other four move on to Stunt 2.

I was driven or determined enough, that I won this stunt both times, outlasting everyone, including the 20-year-old Marine! I was pretty proud of myself. Truth is, I could have hung onto the bar for maybe 10 minutes or more, but both times, everyone dropped out within 30-45  seconds. They do spray you with cold air, but it didn't bother me.

Stunt 2: The Eel Tank Relay and Octopus Toss

The four remaining contestants move on to a two-part challenge, the first part being the eel tank relay. For this one, they pair you into two teams. On each team, one of you is hung from a cable and swung like a pendulum, with a bucket in your hands. The other person runs to a tank full of eels and grabs beanbags out of the tank and tosses them to you. For part two, the person swinging on the cable tosses gross dead octopus corpses to the person on the ground (now they are holding the bucket). The total of all thrown objects (beanbags and octopuses) is then calculated, and the team with more catches wins, eliminating the other team. After that, the two remaining players face off in the final stunt.

The first time I played, I was hung on the line to catch beanbags, while my partner reached into the eel tank for them. We didn't drop any bags. Then I tossed the octopus carcasses while swinging on the line, and again, we were perfect. The other team, not so much, and they were
eliminated.

The second time I played, I chose to do the eel tank instead, so that I could try both activities. We dropped one beanbag, and it came down to a tie-breaker. Whichever team had the member who had won the bar hang challenge moved on. It was me! So we moved on.

There was a bit of strategy here. If you win the bar hang challenge, you get to choose your partner for the second stunt. BUT...your teammate will become your competition if you make it to the finale. The first time, I chose a strong guy for my teammate, and though we won the second stunt, he beat me in the finale (more on that shortly). The second time, I chose a bigger guy that looked a little slower, and we squeaked by in round two, and I was able to beat him in the finale.

Stunt 3: The Wall Climb, Suspended Car Crawl, and Rocket Launcher

The final stunt is comprised of a climb up a slippery wall to pull flags while they shoot water cannons at you, a slide down a fireman's pole, a trip suspended in a car 40ft in the air, where you have to crawl out onto the roof of the car and pull three more flags off, and then you grab a rocket launcher from the back seat and "blow up" a target to win the game.

This was definitely the most challenging stunt of the three, and required a lot of effort and persistence. The first time I played, I fell off the climbing wall repeatedly while they shot me with water. I'm blaming it on the gloves they gave me. The fingers had holes, and I couldn't grip the wall. My opponent shot the target while I was still trying to climb the wall. I think I was also trying to go too fast and should have been more slow and steady.

In my second game, I had no trouble gripping the wall (I checked my gloves this time), and took a slower, steadier pace. I managed to blow up the target before my opponent, and the "old man" was victorious and proudly posted a picture of himself in his champion's t-shirt for all Facebook followers to see.

Conclusion

This was a great experience, not only because I won, but because I proved that with a little determination, you can do just about anything. I was able to beat a bunch of 20-somethings in a physical game, and exploited the fact that they underestimated me. I guess I had the right mix of courage, stupidity and determination to win this thing!

Stay tuned for our next blog entry, with a report from the Florida Panhandle and the lovely Suwanee River.
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