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July 7, 2012

‘Despicable Me’ ride opens at Universal

Universal Studios opened its newest ride last week: Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem, a motion simulator ride that, like the Simpsons ride at the same park, doesn’t go anywhere but might make you feel like you did.

Universal Studios opened its newest ride last week: Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem, a motion simulator ride that, like the Simpsons ride at the same park, doesn’t go anywhere but might make you feel like you did.

The storyline picks up where the 2010 Universal movie leaves off, with the same actors voicing the same characters. Gru is seeking to claim credentials as the world’s greatest super-villain. For his latest evil deed, however, he needs more minions — cute yellow 3-feet-tall creatures in overalls and goggles that Mike West, the attraction’s executive producer calls “Twinkies with legs.”

The human riders are recruited, don goggles for the 3-D animation, get scanned for germs and turned into minions, then take seats on benches with lap bars.

From there, it’s a wild ride to nowhere, the seats shaking and jerking in sync with the animation that shows a lot of ups and downs. Signs at the entrance warn that people prone to motion sickness shouldn’t take the ride, and the combination of movement and the 3-D pictures could indeed induce nausea. There are some stationary benches for people who have disabilities or who want to see the animation without the motion.

The ride has a warm and fuzzy ending, with Gru recreating the movie’s theme park, Super Silly Fun Land (and riders feel like they’re zooming along its roller coaster) to celebrate the anniversary of the day he adopted his daughters, Margo, Agnes and Edith; he is a better person now.

A stray rocket hits the minion ray gun and turns the riders back into humans. The riders walk into the next room for a short disco dance party with minions who have boogie fever.

The ride is cute — cute minions, cute daughters, cute concept. The attraction uses the new Infitec 3-D projection system, which produces excellent animation.

The whole experience, not including time waiting in line, takes about 12 minutes with a pre-ride video and post-ride dance party; the ride itself is four to five minutes.

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