Monday, September 5, 2011

Survivor LIVE @ Six Flags New England

This weekend, I had the privilege of heading to Six Flags New England with 4 mighty fine individuals. As we arrived and began checking out the park map and planning our day, I was suddenly overcome with joyous surprise.

Yes, Six Flags had a daily show dubbed Survivor LIVE. But show times were not indicated on the park map, so we headed to the spectacle location to find out when we could attend this un-missable event. 2:15pm, 5:00pm and 7:30.

I’ll spare you the details of how we ended up at which show we ended up, but sure enough, at 7:20pm, we were seated and ready to find out what this Survivor LIVE experience had in store for us.

Survivor trivia was been screened while we were waiting, and I set off to find out how I could be one of the four contestants picked to participate. The suggestions I received were to sit by the front or the aisles, and to be very loud and enthusiastic. Check and check.

As the show began, four tribal looking young folk began making odd sounds and shuffling around the audience. One lovely tribal lass came over to Marielle and started untying her shoelaces and other general silliness, at which point I said “Pick me!” When the selection began minutes later, my boldness was rewarded and Miss Shoelace picked me as a contestant!

I represented the Lopevi tribe, from Survivor: Vanuatu, the ninth season of the show. I unfortunately had not seen that season yet, so did not feel a huge connection with the tribe name, but I was so excited it really didn’t matter. Other tribes were Ulong (from Survivor: Palau), Mogo Mogo (from Survivor: All-Stars) and Kota (from Survivor: Gabon).

Looking around, I quickly realized I was far too old to be on the stage… The three other contestants were a very sweet and very young blonde Mogo Mogo, a maybe 16-17 year old Ulong and a 12-14 year old Kota. For once, I hoped I could pull off at least looking under 20… On the plus side, they were all girls so I didn’t totally feel out of place.

Once we were all seated and following some cool tribal dancing, a Jeff-lookalike came out and the challenges began. Challenge #1 was a totem pole puzzle. As my tribe representative, or avatar as I prefer to call her, explained the challenge to me, I realized that while this was going to be fun, it wasn’t exactly going to be very representative of the true Survivor experience. Indeed, each part of the totem pole was color coded, and my avatar told me one by one which color to go for while she put them together. It became a game of speed rather than speed + puzzle solving, and I only got to put in the final puzzle piece.

Regardless, I realized this was purely to keep the show under 30 minutes, and decided to give it my all either way. And I won the first challenge! This meant that the person who lost, 16-17 year old Ulong tribe member, Erica, was out, and merged with my tribe. I high-fived her, and waited for my reward, probably the best part of the evening: being given the immunity necklace.

What a feeling! It was heavy and imposing, sexy and commanding, just as I had always pictured it to be. And it was stripped away too soon, just as I am sure it would be on the actual show.

Next challenge, I had an advantage. The challenge was a memory game. Different items beneath numbered buckets. If you got one wrong, you had to carry six coconuts and not let them drop. If you got one right, you had six coconuts to distribute to the other contestants in any way you pleased. As the reigning challenge winner, my leg up was that I could give away six coconuts before the challenge began. My first instinct was to give six to one person and get that person out as soon as possible, but looking to my left and my right, I realized this would be too cruel. I think the 8-9 year old blonde Mogo Mogo made me realize this was NOT actually Survivor, and I couldn’t be that mean, so I split the coconuts evenly, three to each girl.

In this challenge, the audience got shown all the items while challenge participants turned their backs. So the guessing game basically became a trying-to-understand-what-the-audience-was-saying game when trying to match the items. Of course, people were also screaming wrong numbers intentionally, and I think that being the challenge winner, I did not quite have their favor. My first guess was wrong, and so I had to carry six coconuts. No big deal. Until my two rival tribes correctly matched their next guesses and decided to give me all their coconuts.

This was probably my hardest challenge the whole game, as I tried to balance 18 coconuts without letting one drop. I had some balancing on my shoulders and neck, and one nestled right on my face. I could barely make my next guess! Thankfully, it was correct! I gave six coconuts to the older Kota girl, who was the first to give me her six coconuts. That totaled 12 for her, and while I received an impressed nod from Jeff-alike, what needed to happen happened and Miss Kota dropped a coconut. Just like that, I moved on to the final two, and earned some respect from the audience for holding that many coconuts for that long.

Another dance later, we were on to the final challenge. Here is when the merged tribes came into play. The eliminated Kota member, who had joined Young Miss Mogo Mogo’s tribe, and my fellow Ulong, now a Lopevi tribe member, had to gather puzzle pieces from the audience which we had to put together and then pull up a tribe flag in order to win the final challenge.

This time again, my avatar basically directed my every move, which when trying to make a puzzle basically meant I wasn’t thinking at all about puzzle solving and just focusing on following my avatar’s directions. I was disappointed for the lack of neuron use, but I wanted to win. And I did! By a smidgeon, because I almost forgot to raise my flag, but I won!

Of course, true to Survivor rules, that did not ensure my ultimate victory. The jury, which consisted of tribe avatars, was to vote for a winner. But before, Jeff-alike asked the audience to cheer for their favorite. First up was cute Missy Mogo Mogo, who got many cheers and screams. But to my surprise, and my own personal best prize, the audience cheered most for me. I truly felt like I’d earned their support and it made me all warm and fuzzy inside.

When the avatars voted, I took one last look at my Mogo Mogo rival, and suddenly hoped that the avatars would vote for her over me. After all, all I wanted to do was play, and I got that opportunity even though clearly I was a little over the age limit. I felt that my price to pay for being selected was to graciously accept second place.

The votes came out: Mogo Mogo, Lopevi… and Mogo Mogo.

And she was so happy! It was actually heart melting. She was given a Survivor poncho, with flying bits of fabric and everything, and she literally threw her arms out and her head up and smiled so wide, it was all worth it. At one point, she turned to me and said “Sorry,” which was adorable but totally unnecessary. I told her not to worry and to just enjoy her moment, and felt completely serene and satisfied, which kind of felt unusual given my competitive nature…

As Erin, my Lopevi avatar, led me out, I thanked her, and met up with the folks: Nat, Marielle, Yashua and Himmat, who sat through this and were awesome in supporting my Survivor mania.

We went on for one last ride of Superman/Bizarro, in the dark, with the moon shining bright, and I gloriously continued to help my voice reach the low pitch it has maintained for the past two days.

What a great day!

And while I can’t yet be sure of how well I would do on the real Survivor, I’m certainly even more pumped for the show to start in 9 days! 

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