Orlando Resort turned reality TV into its latest theme park
attraction with the June 3 opening of Fear Factor Live, based on
the hit NBC show Fear Factor. Contributing editor Felicity Long was
on hand for a preview -- and got more than she bargained for. Her
ORLANDO -- They
wont put me in a coffin full of rats or anything, will they? I
asked the Universal Studios staffer who had approached me about
participating in a Fear Factor Live stunt.
Tell her no, my
husband whispered to me, as the staffer continued with her pitch,
which seemed to center around petting a live eel.
OK, but no
rodents, and Im not drinking eel juice, I said, and the deal was
It was only then
that I noticed the expressions on the faces of my lunch companions
-- my husband of 18 years, who had been prevailed upon to be my
reluctant partner and was looking at me now with a jaundiced eye --
and our three children, ages 12, 13 and 15, whose gaze seemed to
reflect both astonishment and a newfound respect.
Its just petting
an eel, I said, my self-assurance draining away. How bad can it
Soon after, we
found ourselves on the set of the new attraction in front of
bleachers filled with enthusiastic audience members.
The host engaged
us in friendly patter and explained the rules. It was
Our job was to
plunge our right hands and arms, which had previously been examined
by a medic for cuts and wounds, into a clear tank full of slimy
eels in search of a beanbag emblazoned with the words Fear Factor
One beanbag had
the words imprinted on it while the other was blank. The winner who
drew the printed beanbag would be invited to continue on with other
husband drew the blank beanbag while I, nearsighted without my
glasses, rummaged amongst the eels and found the correct one
Before long, I
found myself being strapped into a wooden chair with swim goggles
over my eyes, a plastic face protector over my nose and mouth and a
rubber collar around my neck.
As an acrylic box
was lowered over my head, my husband spun the Wheel of Fear to see
which kinds of creatures would share my heads new home.
Are you OK? the
shows host asked, and leaned over to catch my muffled
I dont know what
the wheel said, I squeaked, at which point I was told that
scorpions were to be my next and final trial.
A box of large and crusty-looking scorpions
was duly produced, and its residents were placed inside the box on
my head one by one, where they landed in my hair and began
As I felt them
crawl, I could see one in my peripheral vision crawling down the
left side of my face. Grateful for the eye, nose and mouth
protection that kept him from proceeding up my nostril, I waited
for dread to set in.
In fact, the
experience was fun from start to finish, combining the eww! element
that some of us never outgrow with a suspension of fear, not unlike
when you strap yourself into a roller-coaster.
Your brain tells
you the ride could kill you, but somehow you know it wont. And when
its over, the relief is indescribable.
Best of all, you
dont have to participate in the stunt to enjoy it, judging from the
reactions of family, friends and colleagues; and audience members
can also shoot air and water at contestants and otherwise get
involved in the thrills without having to be it.
included in the Universal Studios park ticket, priced at $59.75 for
one day at one park; $99.95 for two days at both parks: Universal
Studios and Islands of Adventure.
A number of area
hotel packages also are available that include admission to both
parks. For additional information, check out www.universalorlando.com. Fear Factor Live also opened at Universal Studios Hollywood
on June 18.
reporter Felicity Long, send e-mail to[email protected].