(Photos by Mason Aschenbrenner)
It’s America’s Game… coming to a city near you. For nearly fifty years, the iconic gameshow has spun its way into our hearts. No matter if it taught you your ABCs or improve your crossword puzzle skills, the game is as American as apple pie. Now entering its sophomore year, Wheel of Fortune LIVE! brings the fun and excitement the popular gameshow to venues across the country. For the sold out here tonight at the Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races in Charles Town WV – this is the first stop many will never forget.
Last year, I had the privilege to attend the first iteration of the newly minted Wheel of Fortune Live at Capital One Hall in Tysons VA and it was amazing to see. Many Wheel Watchers descending to the venue for a chance to play the game live and in person. After witnessing a new live gameshow, I hoped that the Wheel Live would spin again for another year. The fans answered the call of the clicks of the famous wheel and the producers have brought it back to new cities. While WOF Live did not make it to the DMV area this fall, the closest I can see the show was West Virginia, a state I have never ventured to… until now.
When it comes to a live gameshow, you need a wonderful team to make Hollywood magic come to your town seem like child’s play. Returning to host Wheel of Fortune Live is game show veteran Mark L. Walberg. Wahlberg is no stranger to the live gameshows. In the past, he has hosted other live games including The Price is Right Live which I first met him way back in 2005! To see him a live gameshow is always such a treat.
When you have a gameshow that’s Wheel touring the country, you must have a Letter Activator who plays the role of Vanna White on the road – for this go around, we have model Daisy Wang! She is a model originally from Australia and has grown up watching the Aussie version of Wheel and does an amazing job interacting with the host Mark L. Walberg and cheering on the players from the puzzle board. Also, you have a great announcer who can keep the audience entertain in-between breaks and the honor goes to comedian Cody Dove! Throughout the show, Cody is truly a godsend when it comes to meeting people and making them laugh, cheer and have their moments in the sun. In fact, he greeted a couple of people who were in their nineties. I loved his enthusiasm and his jokes. The trio makes the Wheel work brilliantly!
For the sophomore year, the gameplay of Wheel of Fortune Live has changed a bit but kept the soul of the game is still alive & well. This time out, three members of the studio audience are randomly selected to be the three players to go up on stage and play “Wheel”. To be selected, hopeful contestants must register to play thru their app online. Each regular game consists of a single toss-up to determine who will spin first and then a few rounds of gameplay soon follows.
The contestants are playing for points not dollars during the main game. The top point value of the wheel for the first two games of Wheel is 1,500. Like the real Wheel, there are prize wedges and gift tags on the wheel that contestants could win including a “Surprise” wedge which will be revealed if a contestant wins the round.
New to WoF Live! this year, they added the “Express” wedge to the wheel in which when landed – the contestant called the right letter wins 1000 points and is given a critical choice, to either hop on the Express – continue to call out consonants for additional one thousand points each but one wrong letter and its BANKRUPT!
At tonight’s game, a local contestant Stephanie could have been described as the perfect Wheel contestant. She answered every puzzle correctly shutting out her competition completely in the first game. She took no prisoners. While in the second game, Kaitlyn won her game, but it was an elder gentleman named Nelson who captured the attention of the crown.
He was known for his long pauses to call out a letter during the game and calling a “Z” when it was not in the puzzle. We all know that he is having fun playing the game and the people in the audience were cheering him. For winning either of the first two games, the winning player won $250, and a randomly selected audience member won $100 just by being there. The third player in the upcoming championship game was randomly selected from the audience to play against the first two WoF Live! champions and that honor belong to Mark. Mark ended up defeating the two players spectacularly. In during one of the rounds, he landed on a prize wedge for a trip to Las Vegas and by winning one of the rounds, he is going to have his own Vegas vacation!
Mark won his way to the Bonus Round which is filled with cash amounts ranging from $500 to the top prize of $5,000. Among the prizes in the bonus wheel included a trip to the City of Lights…. Paris! Mark picked the category of “Around the House” for his final round. With the right letters, he filled it all but one letter to claim victory is true dramatic gameshow fashion. After the dust settled, he and a fellow audience member won $750!
Wheel of Fortune Live continues to deliver the fun, excitement, and the thrills of America’s game to Charlestown Saturday night. People have traveled from North Carolina, Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania and all over to get a taste of game show magic. When this live gameshow comes to your city and you are deciding on to go or not, do yourself a favor and GO! You will have a wonderful time playing along to a live game show and feel that you are in the midst of Hollywood game show magic!
To see if Wheel of Fortune Live! is coming to your town, go to wheeloffortunelive.com and depending on where the shop stops, you can either see Mark L. Wahlberg or Wheel of Fortune veteran Bob Goen hosting!
FINAL GRADE: A+