Transformers 3-D is better.
The Transformers ride, which opened June 20 at Universal Orlando (and more than a year ago at Universal Hollywood and Singapore) is also a battle between animated heroes and villains and is based on the same technology, including the 3-D glasses. Even though Spider-Man was updated just 18 months ago, it isn’t as technologically sophisticated as Transformers. Thierry Coup, senior VP for Universal’s Creative Studio, said the Transformers ride is “the next generation of Spider-Man.”
Based on the Transformers movies and voiced by the same actors, the ride “brings the characters to life in 3-D and places our guests right in the middle,” Coup said. “Being able to experience the great battles between the good robots and the bad robots is something that Transformers fans have dreamed about.”
Here’s the story: Autobots, the good-guy Transformers, are guarding a sliver of All-Spark, a source of energy Transformers need to turn from robots into vehicles and back. The Decepticons attack the warehouse where the All-Spark is stored. We riders, as green recruits, are the only humans available to defend the substance, along with a brash young Autobot named Evac, a character invented for this ride in collaboration with Hasbro toys.
Evac transforms into a troop evacuation vehicle that the riders board, then takes custody of the All-Spark in a massive fist that reaches out from the front of the vehicle. “Autobots, roll out,” commands Optimus Prime, leader of the Autobots, as he runs to fight the villainous Megatron, and the battle is on.
Transformers is faster paced than Spider-Man, more intense, more in-your-face — literally, what with all the crashes, villains, missiles and shrapnel coming at riders (or so it appears in the 3-D glasses). In one scene, our ride vehicle ripped through one of the top stories of a high-rise on the end of a tow chain, and most of us had our hands up, protecting our heads from the building collapsing around us.
The Transformers scenes are projected on enormous screens, up to 60 feet high, so that Optimus Prime, for example, towers over us at his full 28-foot height.
It’s helpful but not necessary to know the major Transformer characters. The encounters are abrupt and fleeting, and as soon as one Decepticon is dealt with, another jumps in with a terrifying crash of metal parts, and another Autobot steps in to save us.
At the end, we deliver the All-Spark, our heads still spinning, and the hulking Optimus Prime leans down to thank us in his booming voice: “Your bravery saved the planet. Well done, freedom fighters!”
Queasiness factor: moderate to moderately high.
Given Homer Simpson’s love of food and drink, it shouldn’t be a surprise that an expansion of the Simpsons’ world would focus on Fast Food Boulevard. “Springfield” at Universal Studios, where the popular Simpsons ride launched five years ago, is growing into its own land, with a second ride, a carnival midway, Duff Brewery, Moe’s Tavern, a fast food court and other landmarks from the TV show.
The food court, Moe’s Tavern and the midway have already opened. The rest won’t be completed until later this summer.
Following the successful launch of butterbeer, pumpkin juice, and the Three Broomsticks restaurant at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Universal has gone even farther in Springfield, combing through 24 years of television scripts for details to create a credible Springfield food court.