Transformers: The Ride -

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Transformers: The Ride

We review the new attraction at Universal Studios Hollywood

By Rob Vaux     May 22, 2012

 Every theme park in Southern California must accept the fact that they will always play catch-up to Disneyland. The Happiest Place on Earth has a hammerlock on the market out here, with everyone else vying for second place. Universal Studios, which earned its spurs by establishing a unique identity separate from other parks, struggles with issues of size and relevance. It needs to add new, more exciting attractions, but has very little space to do so.  It has responded by betting big on 3D: virtual attractions that don’t take up a lot of territory. It’s proven a reliable formula, and when it works provides perhaps the most efficient outlet for 3D technology.

Their new Transformers ride makes the “shock and awe” potential of 3D manifest in a frankly terrific way. Set in the live action Michael Bay universe, it deftly dispenses with all of the superfluous baggage required for a motion picture and simply mainlines the adrenaline straight into our veins. In a lot of ways, it’s an infinitely more enjoyable experience than sitting through one of Bay’s relentless movies. More importantly, no other park in town has quite replicated it.

Guests enter a tram car that seats about twelve people, intended to be the “driver’s seat” of a heroic Autobot. The Decepticons are after the Allspark again and engage in a running battle with you and the other Autobots to get it. Basically, we play Shia LeBeouf in the midst of a typically Bay-esque action sequence. The car moves between a combination of practical elements and 3D screens to give the impression of zipping through streets, fighting across construction sites and helping Optimus Prime slug it out with Megatron.

It works incredibly well. Universal has designed the cars so that every seat provides an excellent view and the immersive nature of the ride means that everyone gets a good look at the effects. It also captures the best parts of the Bay movies, along with cleaner fight scenes and an effective means of combining the 3D images with practical effects like lighting and steam. The Universal staff members on hand all get into the spirit of things – dressed in fatigues and saluting visitors as “freedom fighters” helping to save the planet. The only downside is the comparatively short length, which might not justify the lengthy waits in line required to get there. (The line itself contains a lot of fun elements however: videos of an impending Decepticon attack and panicky officials informing us that we’re “the planet’s only hope.”)

The ride officially kicks off this May, providing what Unviersal hopes will be a big boost in ticket sales. It still can’t put them in the same league as Disneyland, but along with the parks other a-list attractions (such as Terminator 3-D) ensures that customers won’t leave the park disappointed. With the bloom off the 3D rose in theaters, the ride shows us where the technology can do the most good: stripped of its dramatic conceits and delivering a little slight of hand to put us face-first in a great experience. Well-played Universal. The films could have used a little more of your magic. 


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Mayhem101878 5/22/2012 6:29:07 AM

When I saw this I was kinda hoping that it was Universal Orlando since that one is much closer.

als72653@aol.com_home 5/22/2012 6:52:38 AM

the one in orlando might as well be called harry potter land now

halfbloodprincess 5/22/2012 8:44:00 AM

 The harry Potter part is not any bigger then any other section of Islands of adventure in orlando. It only has 3 rides. 

violator14 5/22/2012 8:47:41 AM

Sorry fellas. I'll check it out this summer and fill you in tho. Havne't gone to Universal Studios in like 15 years or something! I think it's time to go back! ROll out!!

hanso 5/22/2012 10:25:12 AM

 I love the butter beer in Harry Potter land.  So tasty, mmmmmmmmmm.

noahbody 5/22/2012 11:52:26 AM

Have you ever been to a theme park? Long lines for short ride are the norm. You talk like TFs the ride is something new Spider-Man in Orlando has been doing it for over a decade now.

Potter has one new ride, and took over two excisting, and will be getting a massive addition in the next few years... so when that happens they might as well call it Potter World

Mossy1221 5/22/2012 12:16:32 PM

 Too bad this is not Orlando..

The last time I went to Universal Studios it was exactly one month before the HP ride/s opened.  Too bad I missed it.  May be years before I can go back.  

Squid 5/22/2012 3:05:27 PM

I've always said that Mania/Cinescape could use a regular column covering theme parks, epsecially rides such as this bring various brands/IPs into theme parks.

There's a lot of crossover:

Star Wars

Indiana Jones


Marvel/DC superheroes



Men In Black

Harry Potter

That's just off the top of my head... all of which are in a theme park but not owned by the theme park company. 

karas1 5/22/2012 4:41:25 PM

We went to Universal Orlando over Christmas and it was SO crowded.  We toured around in Potter World but didn't go on the rides.  My mom was in a wheel chair so an employee guided us through the Hogwarts set up which you normally tour through while waiting to go on the roller coaster.  We didn't do  the coaster but enjoyed Hogwarts.  The gift shop was just too croweded to explore and the aisles were too tight to acomodate the wheel chair.  But we had fun.  And I introduced my family to churros with which they weren't familliar.  I offered to share my snack and ended up giving most of it away.  LOL

We did go on the Jurassic Park river raft ride which was lots of fun.  We also saw the animatronic triceretops and I bought a necklace with a genuine fossil on it.

The Dr Seuess world is also worth seeing.  It was so whimsical and they apparently will do Seuess makeup and hair on your toddler as I saw little girls sporting that look all over the park.



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