Remember the awesome 90’s game show on Nickelodeon called Legends of the Hidden Temple? Well I was on it when I was 11.
Though I currently live in California’s San Francisco Bay Area, I grew up in a very small town in Florida. There was not much to do locally but all of the major theme parks were about 45 minutes away, including Universal Studios Orlando. The studio was a home to movie and game show sets where filming took place during the 90’s including Nickelodeon shows.
A casting call was put out in our local newspaper for kids between 10-14 to audition to be a contestant on Legends of the Hidden Temple. Ecstatic my older sister and I begged my mom to take us because we loved the show so much. The audition was 2 parts, physical fitness and a written test. The test was easy, basically it was history facts and geography questions. For example which side won the civil war, who was the first president and where on this map is China, etc.
The physical test was a series of “games”. There was a relay race where you had to grab rubber chickens from a basket then put them into another basket while they timed you, another was climbing a rope with no knots. The hardest was a huge wooden wheel that was at an angle that you had to hold onto while they spun it trying to knock you off.
About a week later my mom got a call for my sister saying she was invited to appear on the show and a recording date, she was going to be a green monkey, I was so jealous she got called and I hadn’t, and she got the team I wanted to be on most. I was sad for 3 days when my mom finally got another call telling her I was also cast on the show, as a red jaguar.
The night before the filming I could hardly sleep, I was so tired that morning, we were up at 4 am to get ready and be in Orlando by 6 am. As an 11 year old getting to go on the back lot of Universal was so cool, if we had smart phones back then I would have so many photos. I did get to meet 2 of the cast members from a show called Sea-quest. Do you remember that show? It was basically an underwater Enterprise captained by the guy that killed JAWS.
I got 2 meet Don Franklin and Stephanie Beacham they were in set suits getting ready to film a water scene, it was thrilling meeting my first celebrities. We also got to say hi to Olemec and the host Kirk Fogg, who was very charming in person.
Waiting for the filming of the show was boring, but I had butterflies that I could not shake. There was one room for each team color/animal, in each room was about 10 teams of 2 kids partnered up, always one boy and one girl. My partner was Cody, he was a nice kid and we awkwardly made 11 year old conversation. We had a small TV where we could watch the other groups filming. They filmed 10 episodes a day and you had to sit and wait for your turn while your parents sat as the audience for all of the episodes. When it was our turn we were given our infamous tee shirts, mouth guards, knee and wrist pads, water shoes, khaki shorts and a helmet and they took us on the set. That's me below fixing my helmet as Cody banged on it for good luck.
Once lined up in front of “the moat” we waited as the camera panned us and called our team colors, we were told to cheer and scream when they said our color. Then the fun began. My task was to run and slide along a huge rubber slip-n-slide to get to the other side. To all of us that watched at home and screamed at those kids for failing miserably... it is so much harder than it looks. (and yes these are pictures of the TV, there were no smartphones or YouTube back then and cameras were not allowed)
My partner made it across on his 2nd try if memory serves. I could not get over, no matter how hard I tried. If you touched the sides, even a little, you were sent back. If you lost momentum and tried to scoot the last few inches you were sent back. Being sent back meant falling into the 4 foot water below which was highly chlorinated and burned, it also had a thick layer of dry ice on top that was awful to inhale and made you choke. After about a dozen tries, having to pull myself in and out of the water over and over, soaking wet, freezing cold and choking, it was finally over. In my defense it took almost 40 minutes for enough teams to get across to move the game forward. When they aired the show they made it look like it took 2 minutes, not even close.
Sad and wet I slumped back to the holding area. We gathered the change of clothes we were supposed to bring and were taken to boys and girls locker rooms to change. I came out dressed in my clothes and turned in my gear and was told I got to keep my shirt, I was happy about that. We met up with our partners to say goodbye and I started to cry, and apologized to Cody for making us lose. (seriously Cody wherever you are I still feel bad) He gave me a hug and said it was ok and I told him thank you and we parted ways.
I met up with my mom and went home. My sister also did not get past the moat on her filming day the week before. The show was hard, way harder than it looks on TV, but the overall experience was a blast. I got a $50 savings bond for my prize later in the mail, which I made my mom cash and got a whopping $18 from. I would not trade the experience for anything, and I still have my shirt! Legends of the Hidden temple will always hold a special place in my heart. #TeamRedJaguar
Click below to watch me fail miserably.
Click Here to watch me on the show.
I did find my sister's episode linked below. Watch as she crashes onto her partner's head, poor kid. They are the green monkeys.
Click Here to see my sister
Also did you know the show got a movie in 2016?
There better be a moat crossing that almost kills someone...
The original voice for Olemec will be in it as well. Let's hope the kids in the movie do better than those of us on the show!