May 15, 2008
The Simpsons Ride opens officially at Universal OrlandoORLANDO, Fla. - Universal Orlando cut the ribbon Thursday on The Simpsons Ride, declaring the attraction, which had been in 'soft opening' for weeks, officially open to the public.
Universal Orlando president Bill Davis cuts the ribbon to open The Simpsons Ride. And yes, those are Marge Simpson hair hats.
Simpsons characters celebrate the opening of their ride at Universal Studios Florida.
Inside, visitors will find the building structure and ride mechanism the same as it was as Back to the Future, which closed last year. Only the ride film and interior and exterior decor have changed.
The IMAX-style film retains the same spirit of abandon that made Back to the Future a fan favorite, though The Simpsons Ride adds a massive dose of irreverence. The show plays off its theme park setting to elevate the TV series' characteristic irony to an even higher level. It's a deconstructionist's dream (or nightmare): a theme park attraction that simulates... a theme park attraction.
What else would you expect from The Simpsons?
This might be the most script-heavy theme park attraction ever built, with a gag-filled storyline that begins on video screens in the queue and continues on to the massive IMAX-style dome at the attraction's heart. Every word in the attraction's script was written by Gracie Films (the production company behind The Simpsons TV show), said Mike West, Executive Producer of The Simpsons Ride for Universal Creative.
All the animation and voices for the attraction are original, performed by the original voice cast. The animation in the queue is traditional, 2D animation, while on the dome screen The Simpsons are the more 3D-looking, computer-animated versions. That show is digital video, not film, West said, processed at a ridiculous speed of 8 GB a second.
On-ride image from the beginning of The Simpsons Ride, as Sideshow Bob prepares to send the Simpsons to their doom. Oh, and you, too. (Image courtesy Universal.)
"It was a daunting challenge for the tech guys," West said. The ride also features the first 360 rollover in a simulator ride, he added. (Don't worry, riders don't actually go upside down.)
Pay close attention and try to catch all the references to other major theme park attractions during the ride. Following the ride's roller coaster opening, you'll see homages to Pirates of the Caribbean, Indiana Jones Adventure, Jurassic Park River Adventure, the Waterworld show at Universal Hollywood, Revenge of the Mummy, SeaWorld's Shamu, and more.
But what I wanted to know at the end was... whatever happened to Maggie?
The Simpsons Ride also opens to the public at Universal Studio Hollywood on Monday, with a press opening there this weekend.
Overall, The Simpsons Ride hits all the right notes, satisfying both fans of the show and theme park junkies. There high "repeat ride" value here, too, as you'll need multiple viewings to catch all the references.
Universal Creative's Mike West talks about the challenges of and inspiration for The Simpsons Ride:
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