A first look at Universal Florida's 'Disaster!'
Written by Gareth H
Today I managed to get in the first soft opening of the all new replacement to Earthquake at Universal Studios Florida: "Disaster! A Major Motion Picture Ride."Tweet
Now prepare for the spoiler.
The closely kept secret is that the host and main star to this attraction is none other than Christopher Walken.
You start in the main room, as before. But instead of learning that Singing in the Rain was actually filmed singing in the milk, and that the budget was so low they swept the leaves up after each shoot, you are treated to the humiliation of guests (Always fun) while the overly camp Assistant to the Director picks out the stars for the show. This time I counted six stars, not including yourself of course.
The next room, where you normally shout out ET, Grinch & U571 and have a video presentation by the gun toting Chalton Heston, has now been replaced by 2 screens and a stage. On stage the overly camp assistant introduces the director, who is none other than Christopher Walken.
Now this room is very clever, as Christopher Walken is not on the screens as you'd think. He's actually a 3D projected hologram, intereacted with the Camp Assistant. There are a few clever interactive situations here that I'll not spoil for you. But so far a very clever highlight to the new show.
On to the next room. The oh-so-boring U571 set up has thankfully been relaced with green screens, backdrops and moveable props. The stairwell is still there but plays no real role as it did before. This was okay, much better than what was previously done on Earthquake.
Now onto the ride itself. I was looking forward to the changes. After hearing about the truck being removed, then brought back in again I was interested to see what had changed.
We got loaded onto the train. The only noticable difference was the addition of about 4 flat screen TV's on each carriage. These screens displayed the safety warnings associated with the ride. My gorgeous wife and I were seated next to a Universal Exec, making notes (Actually, he was next to us the whole time.)
The train started, but this time, we were given a brief of what to do by the Director on the screen.We rolled into the station and I had a good look around. So far, exactly the same. To be honest I was disappointed here. The only change I noted was a smoke effect added by the turnstiles. Everything else was exactly the same. That was very disappointing.
There was one change. The Director who normally jumps out of the room was nowhere to be seen. Instead the video screen turned back on and we were told by Christopher Walken that now we'd see the film, including footage filmed on the final room, and footage taken on the train. (The train footage part may have been stock footage.) This was a great addition. We were able to see everything taken in the final room, mingled in with footage of Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. This was really a great addition and very funny. You'll also note that the return journey to the station was slowed down to allow you to view the entire video.
All in all it was a great re-work of an existing attraction. I was gutted they didn't change any aspect of the earthquake effects on the train, but the highlights were the return video and the Christopher Walken room. Very funny. For anyone going in January, when it is opening, definatley check it out.
I also want to mention that an insider notified me last week that once this & the Simpsons opens, the next attraction to close will be "Terminator". You heard it here first.
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