Thousands swarm Universal Orlando for One Direction
One Direction on the "Today" show at Universal Orlandon on Monday, Nov. 16, 2014. Video by Jennifer Sangalang.
ORLANDO — Forget Monday, "Today" show host Matt Lauer dubbed Nov. 17 as "One Direction Day." That's the day 15,000 screaming fans camped out at Universal Orlando CityWalk for a coveted glimpse of the mega popular boy band.
In town to tape NBC's "Today" show with fellow host and weatherman Al Roker, Lauer talked shop with Harry Styles, Niall Horan, Liam Payne and Louis Tomlinson aka 1D. The band arrived by boat shortly after 7 a.m. to a chorus of ear-piercing screams. Noticeably absent from the "Today" show taping was band member Zayn Malik.
Fans sounded off on social media with their speculations, which Lauer brought up when the four sat down for an interview on stage.
"Is it something more serious than just a minor illness?" he asked. "There have been rumors of substance abuse. What's going on?"
The cheering screams soon turned into boos and thumbs-down from the crowd.
"No, he's just got a stomach bug. He's OK. He just needs to rest," Liam said.
Lauer later laughed off the fan support for Zayn.
"My job is to actually do news, and even though they're a pop culture phenomenon, people do have questions about that sort of thing, and I don't mind a couple of boos, I really don't," he said.
It was a reunion of sorts for the "Today" show hosts and 1D. The band last performed for the morning news show in 2012 at their New York City set.
Roker, who's fresh from setting a Guinness World Record last week for reporting the weather for 34 straight hours — dubbed #Rokerthon — joked about the boy band hysterics from Universal Orlando. He called it a "1Dathon!"
"When they started in our concert stage two years ago, not that many people knew who they were," he added. "And now they're performing in stadiums, selling out stadiums, 40,000, 50,000 people a night. That's pretty amazing."
The band, which released its new album "Four" on Monday, performed "Story of My Life," "Best Song Ever," and "What Makes You Beautiful," to name a few.
Each one donned a pair of skin-tight black skinny jeans. Even though the weather was sunny and comfortable, Liam rocked out in a black leather jacket and white T-shirt. Niall sported a red flannel button-shirt, Louis had on a transparent black T-shirt, and Harry sported a loose button-up short-sleeved dress shirt that was red plaid on the back and brown, gold and black in the front. A few times, Niall wowed the crowd — and the "Today" show anchors back in New York — with his American accent and "weather man voice," trying to impress Roker.
"A little One Direction at Universal Orlando, which is not your typical day for us," Lauer said. While the longtime "Today" show co-anchor didn't sport black skinny jeans, he did wear slim khaki dress slacks, a navy blue sport coat and a checked shirt. "We got to be surrounded by 15,000 screaming fans, which is always fun."
His co-hort, Roker, wore his trademark glasses, a checked shirt and jeans. One sign read: "One Direction???? I'm here for Al Roker! #1DRoker"
"They're fun for us, it's fun for me to come down and do this," he joked. "The power of their music. I think they're really talented guys, and that's what set them apart. We were happy to be there at the beginning."
The band will tape a primetime TV special at Universal Orlando on Tuesday night for a crowd of 2,000. That concert is not open to the public and will air Dec. 23 on NBC.
Contact Sangalang at 321-242-3630 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Jennifer on Twitter: @byjensangalang