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Transformers soft-opens in Orlando; Simpsons next, this weekend

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Published: May 31, 2013 at 9:09 AM

Transformers: The Ride 3D soft-opened to park visitors at Universal Studios Florida, in Orlando, for the first time last night. A Theme Park Insider reader who got on the ride right after it opened emailed his observations:

Optimus Prime in Orlando

The Orlando version is similar to the Hollywood version. If my eyes did not deceive me, this version also uses an elevator system similar to the one California's version uses. I believe that the lift occurs in the 3rd room where you first encounter Optimus Prime. Top notch graphics, incredibly realistic. Everyone that I observed coming off the ride seemed impressed. I'm just impressed that they built such a great ride in about a one year's time.

In terms of differences, there was a slightly different line queue layout and an Optimus Prime figure on top of the line queue entrance. I did not see any in-ride differences. That being said, it has been a year since I went on the California version so I might not of noticed the in-ride differences.

My one critique, which I think has been mentioned before by others, is that the ride building sticks out like a sore thumb. However it bears saying that one has to prefer the amazing E-ticket ride that doesn't quite fit in with the surrounding theme, over an empty Xena & Hercules building.

Like I said in my earlier email, all the screens seemed to work perfectly and the ride ran flawlessly while I was in line and on the ride. Transformers was fast paced and fun, just like the California version. A welcome and much needed addition to Universal Studios Florida. In my opinion, it is an equal to the Forbidden Journey next door. The perfect appetizer before theme park goers get a taste of the new Harry Potter Expansion next summer.

Transformers from the air
The Orlando Transformers building

To confirm, the Orlando version of the ride uses the same ride system and layout, down to the same blueprints, as the first two Transformers rides, in Singapore and Hollywood. Since Universal had built this identical ride twice before in the past few years, that certainly helped speed the construction cycle in Orlando, where Universal went from project green light to completed ride in just about one year. But let's not discount that accomplishment -- that development schedule for an attraction of this magnitude is just insane in today's business. Universal threw big coin at making this happen -- fast -- and now its visitors will get to enjoy the result this summer.

If you're looking for more detail about the ride, Universal Creative ride designer Thierry Coup first talked abut Transformers in-depth with us in Singapore in December 2011. (Warning about that link if you haven't ridden: Spoilers abound!) In addition, we reviewed the Transformers ride when it first opened in Singapore, too.

Transformers Orlando opens officially on June 20, and we're planning to have someone there to cover the festivities in the park that morning. In the meantime, though, Transformers isn't the only soft-opening happening this weekend at Universal Studios Florida.

Universal team members have been telling park visitors that the Simpsons-themed restaurants in the park's new Springfield land will open this weekend, as well. So if you are in the park this weekend and get your hands on a Krusty Burger, Duff Beer, or other Simpsons-themed food or drink, please submit a comment below, or drop us an email (themeparkinsider@gmail.com) describing it. Your fellow readers thank you for the report.

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Readers' Opinions

From Robert Niles on May 31, 2013 at 9:54 AM
So Orlando gets Optimus Prime above the marquee. Singapore gets Bumblebee. And Hollywood gets... a painting? Sigh.
From Rob Pastor on May 31, 2013 at 12:08 PM
The heroic stance of Optimus Prime looks fantastic. Will see it & Springfield in person in a few months. Ride reviews for Transformers during yesterday's cast & softs have been strongly positive.
From N B on May 31, 2013 at 10:49 AM
I was thinking the same thing, Robert.
From TH Creative on May 31, 2013 at 1:52 PM
When will Robert and NB email me to arrange time to meet for an ice cold beer? I would LOVE THAT!
From Phil B. on May 31, 2013 at 4:33 PM
I don't know, I need more proof this is going to be a Transformers ride, with Spiderman being over at IOA. Everybody knows Disney and Universal never duplicate a ride system within the same park or any other park on the same resort property for that matter. I read it on the web, so it has to be the truth.
From N B on May 31, 2013 at 4:43 PM
I'll be at UOR from July 24th to the 29th..... how about a Pat O'Briens hurricane or three?
From 24.94.26.118 on May 31, 2013 at 5:34 PM
Don't forget - the ride systems at The Cat in the Hat, the ride inside & M.I.B alien attack are also the same ride system, although they look very different on the surface.
From Anthony Murphy on June 1, 2013 at 8:20 AM
"Universal went from project green light to completed ride in just about one year. But let's not discount that accomplishment -- that development schedule for an attraction of this magnitude is just insane in today's business."

While it is a nice accomplishment, I am tired of seeing Universal consistently throwing out this talking point. We get it, New Fantasyland is being built slower. Make a good ride, not a ride you can build fast.

I also think the building is in a horrible bottlenecking spot.

From James Trexen on June 1, 2013 at 9:04 AM
"Make a good ride, not a ride you can build fast."

Why not do both? Transformers won the title of best new attraction last year over Radiator Springs Racers. I'm sure that accounts for a decent quality.

From David Brown on June 1, 2013 at 10:19 AM
"Make a good ride, not a ride you can build fast."

"Why not do both? Transformers won the title of best new attraction last year over Radiator Springs Racers. I'm sure that accounts for a decent quality"

These votes are always something of a strange affair as the two attractions in question couldn't be more different. They are aimed at a different demographic, deliver totally different ride experiences and offer totally different environmental experiences. Transformers is a 'smack 'em between the eyes' 5 minute blast inside a soulless building. Whilst you are on the ride it's totally immersive and delivered with cutting-edge technology. Radiator Springs Racers is a much gentler affair and can't really be seen out of the context of the whole of Cars Land - the whole area is designed to immerse you in characters and landscape and details and to be experienced slowly and in depth. Both attractions have their strengths but comparisons and especially grading against each other are kind of pointless.

I'm happy to see both models exist side by side. Disney traditionally take longer over construction but tend to deliver high-quality immersive lands when finished. It appeals to a different mind-set, and that's fine. Whether Mr Potter's fast-tracking will give them cause to reconsider their construction schedules remains to be seen....

From Rob Pastor on June 1, 2013 at 1:45 PM
From riders and readers comments Transformers is not just a good ride, its a great ride, and it was built fast. To snidely suggest that it's not a good ride is absurd.

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