Stephanie and I spent part of the weekend standing outside in the cold to get a chance to try out and become a contestant on Wheel of Fortune. Unfortunately, our names were not called (yet, there is still a small possibility that we will be randomly selected for call-backs ;-). Anyway, we pretty much had no idea what to expect, so I'll let you know what goes on during the Wheelmobile Contestant Search.

We attended three of the "shows", one on Saturday and two on Sunday. Getting in line early helps you get a better seat in the audience, but by no means helps you in anyway to become a contestant. Everyone fills out a little color coded application (one color for each of the daily shows) that gets passed out about an hour before the show starts. Once they start letting you inside, everyone drops off their application into a bin. From there, you find a seat and can take the time to fill out more forms from their national sponsors. Sony Card was there giving away Pat and Vanna talking minis and blink-y pens for people who sign up for the Wheel Watchers club (nothing to those of us already a member) or a Sony Card and Buick was there to raffle off V.I.P. tickets to the Navy Pier taping (which you don't find out who wins during the show). When the show starts, the traveling Pat (Marty) and traveling Vanna (Heidi) draw random applications out of a bin and call out people's names. There are five people playing a round and five people waiting to play the next round on stage at any time. There ends up being about 30 names that are called for each show. Once on stage Marty spins a prize wheel for the contestant to go home with (Wheel of Fortune T-Shirts, Hats, Mini-Packs, etc.), then the contestants talk with Marty, he asks the basic questions that Pat would on the show: "What is your name?", "What do you do?", "What do you like to do in your free time?", etc. This is the part of the show that really matters for a wannabe contestant, they are judging your personality and energy, looking for someone who would be good on TV. After going through the introduction drill with the five contestants, they move on to a Speed-Up Round, where you have 3 seconds to call out a letter and another 3 seconds to try and come up with the solution to the puzzle. When somebody solves the puzzle, they all walk off the stage, collecting their goodies and returning to their seats.

One thing to note, that they go over a few times, is that being called up on stage or solving the puzzle do not guarantee you a call-back for the final try-outs. You have to wait for a letter or email from the Wheel inviting you back. They also reserve a few seats in the final try-outs for people randomly selected from the pool of people who did not get called on stage, so by showing up you still have a shot (although slim) of getting a call-back letter.

So, we didn't get called on stage, but it was still a fun experience. Now here is hoping we get randomly selected for the final try-outs or family week :-)