Diana Vick

Published: August 10, 2011 at 12:07 PM

While I think that the Harry Potter area is fantastic, although it really needed more space, I absolutely hate the ride. It utterly fails to tell a story and that is it's biggest problem. It is chaotic and incomprehensible. Considering how well Universal has done so many other things, I was shocked at how bad that ride is. It makes me sick to my stomach and does not entertain me in the least. I am so disappointed.

Published: August 10, 2011 at 3:00 PM

I'd have to say that the biggest let down for me was The Mummy... despite it having a smooth ride on the track, the abrupt stops make it a pain for some people. The "spirits" that are revealed while going in reverse aren't A+ quality... more like something you'd see in a City/ State Fair. Not to mention, Hollywood's version is missing the faux loading station.

And to top it off, the ending is extremely anti-climactic regardless if it's your first time riding or fifteenth. So disappointed in that ride.

Brandon Mendoza

Published: August 10, 2011 at 3:08 PM

Oops... forgot to log in! The Mummy is my biggest disappointment. I have yet to visit since the addition of King Kong 3D. I'm torn about Transformers as I dislike the movies, but the ideas are very cool. I hope it's like how the Water World movie is terrible, but the attraction is fantastic!
Caroline Davis

Published: August 10, 2011 at 4:06 PM

Meh, I've never understood the amount of love Revenge of the Mummy has. It's a half-assed roller coaster and a half-assed dark ride. Not a combination of the best parts of the two, like some people say it is. I think it was the biggest disappointment when I went to Orlando last year.

I've only ridden Forbidden Journey once (add it as number one to a list of regrets in my life) and IMHO the amount of detail is the great thing about it. It really just overloads the senses. In this day and age what else is capable of doing that? I am a huge fan of the Potter series though, so maybe I'm glorifying the ride.

Jeffrey H

Published: August 10, 2011 at 6:53 PM

Thank you Mark Woodbury (and Thierry Coup) and all the other awesome people at Universal Creative that bring us immersive, thrilling rides using the latest technology! Ignore the trolls. They can go sit on Omni-Mover rides all day. Meanwhile, I'll go enjoy another round on Revenge of the Mummy and Forbidden Journey.
Anthony Murphy

Published: August 10, 2011 at 7:59 PM

Great Interview! This is a BIG find!
Anthony J

Published: August 10, 2011 at 8:19 PM

Great interview, Robert! I'd love to the pick the brains of lots of Universal Creative. Now, where did I miss the question asking "So, what Universal attraction are you most disappointed by?" lol

Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey is fantastic and that only excites me even more about Transformers. Keep pushing the limits, Universal.

m johnson

Published: August 10, 2011 at 9:08 PM

Robert where is the one question I wanted to hear. When is Harry coming to the west coast.
Brandon Mendoza

Published: August 10, 2011 at 9:27 PM

Well considering Mr. Woodbury said "You can shoot someone in the air in a roller coaster and that's a great experience - you go upside down and you create some really great Gs and you do all that stuff - but to find the right fit of that visceral experience to a story, or vice versa - a story that you're trying to find the right technology to - that's really a tricky piece of business."

That opens things up for us to say "Well, The Mummy and Incredible Hulk just do that... bad attempt at a story"

Caroline Davis

Published: August 11, 2011 at 5:41 AM

I'm trying to picture the Transformers attraction, what do they mean by a 'silo'? A 28-ft robot sounds pretty impressive, even if I don't like the franchise.
Robert Niles

Published: August 11, 2011 at 6:44 AM

Let's remember that Mark is an executive, as well as a designer. You've got to read between the lines to find anything negative about a Universal attraction. He won't explicitly criticize his own stuff on the record.

Reading in between the lines of his comments about visceral experiences and story working together, I think it is clear that he's more proud of rides like Potter than, oh, say, Rip, Ride, Rockit.

And I did ask about Potter coming to other theme parks, and he declined to answer the question. Universal's PR rep would say only that SEC documents state Universal has in its contract with Warner Bros and Rowling an opportunity to expand its use of Potter. Again, reading between the lines of what Mark said, Universal Creative has thought a lot about doing more with Potter - but UC people blue sky a lot of things, too.

As for a media silo, the best example of a vertical media silo I can think of is the vertical lift on Journey to Atlantis at SeaWorld San Diego. As your boat goes straight up that elevator shaft, images of dolphins are seen on the silo walls around you. That's not exactly what Mark's talking about for Transformers, but it's an example of what you can do with media in a vertical environment.

FWIW, I'm kicking myself for not moving the interview along faster so that I could have asked about Madagascar in Singapore, and what went wrong there to hold up that ride for a year. But I am working on scheduling an interview with Thierry Coup at some point, so I will be talking more with the people at Universal Creative for the site.

Which brings up the question: Who else would like me to interview for Theme Park Insider? I welcome suggestions!

Published: August 11, 2011 at 8:12 AM

This is a really nice article. Did Mark hint at upcoming attractions for Universal's U.S. parks -- other than the Transformers ride at Universal Studios Hollywood? There have been rumors mentioned at other prominent theme park web sites that Universal is planning to expand Harry Potter land at Islands of Adventure, taking over the rest of the Lost Continent section. Any hints from Mark about this or other new rides or shows?

Also, to offer a suggestion for other theme park people to interview, it would be great if you could do an article about the folks who work at Sea World Parks & Entertainment (or whatever the former Busch Creative people call themselves these days). They're on a bit of a creative roll, these days, with the well-received Cheetah Hunt coaster at Busch Gardens Tampa. In the pipeline: A mystery project at Busch Gardens Williamsburg in 2012, rumored to be a highly-themed coaster with a German Autobahn motif. And, further down the road, a highly themed dark ride at Sea World Orlando.

- Brian

Melissa Donahue

Published: August 11, 2011 at 8:27 AM

Robert - How about interviewing Cedar Fair's new president and soon-to-be chief executive, Matt Oiumet, after he's had some time to settle into his new position? I'd love to know what he has in store for this amusement park chain.

Nice job with Mark's interview, by the way!

Published: August 11, 2011 at 9:09 AM

Universal Creative has been on a roll lately. HP and the Forbidden Journey was absolutely wonderful and worth the wait and hype. Waited 9 hours to experience that ride on opening day and it was worth it, I can't wait to get on it again. King Kong 360: 3-D was beyond my expectations. It's just so much fun. Thats the reason why I'm super excited for Transformers, and anticipating it more than any other ride that has opened.
Dominick D

Published: August 11, 2011 at 10:08 AM

You should have asked about Despicable Me. Im aching for details now the one of my favorite rides closes in 7 days. RIP Jimmy Neutrons nicktoon Black. :'(
Brandon Mendoza

Published: August 11, 2011 at 10:33 AM

Just hearing that there will be a 28 foot robot in the building is mind blowing! Considering how Sea World's Atlantis has that silo (which unfortunately is starting to show its age due to wear and tear and lack of maintenance), the effect is very startling and will put a smile on your face if it's the first time you experience it!

Maybe the next interview can be with the person who decides on what new coaster gets introduced in a Six Flags Park? Or maybe who decides on the merch available in a park and why they decide on certain things? I'm not sure how much you'd get out of the Disney ones, but it'd be interesting to see how Universal handles souvenirs versus Sea World.

Manny Barron

Published: August 11, 2011 at 2:07 PM

Universal rocks. Great interview and looking forward to the Transformers ride.
Robert Niles

Published: August 11, 2011 at 2:28 PM

I only had half an hour, and obviously, Mark's not just going to volunteer spoilers on every new ride they've got going. But I was excited to hear some of those details about Transformers. Couple that with the leaked queue and attraction art we have (click the Singapore link), I we're beginning to get a sense of what the ride might be like. It's not simply a Spider-Man clone.

Published: August 12, 2011 at 2:25 AM

Wow, I don't get the cofusion over the Forbidden Journey.... You are on an enchanted bench traviling via Floo Powder all over Hogwarts and through the Forbidden Forest... I understood the story the first time I rode it.

The Mummy is a bit rough, but a really fun ride. I guess having children and sharing the ride with them is different. My youngest daughter loves the Mummy, so I took just her to Unversal while mom and my oldest went back to the hotel for a swim and food at the Beach bar.

We rode it six times in a row (thanks Express Pass) and she still couldn't get enough.... she knows every line by heart. I think some people are never happy or just like to complain about everything. FJ is one of the most advanced rides in the world with the best queue theming I have ever seen.

I thought it was amazing...

Adam Dodds

Published: August 12, 2011 at 8:37 PM

I agree that the story behind the Forbidden Journey is spotty at best. Die hard fans of HP will tell you why. Why are the main characters away from teh Quiditch match? Why are we Muggles there, and why are we sneaking out of a lecture? What are the odds that dementors, a dragon, the giant spiders and a quiditch match happening at the same time? Why is this journey so forbidden?

My main complaint is that half the ride feels like nothing more that a simulator. All those video segments are lack luster, especially the way Spider-Man videos segments blend in with physical scenery and effects.

The dementors look like balloons covered in fabric. They don't suck anyone's souls anymore.

Did I mention that most of the ride seems like a simulator?

Sylvain Comeau

Published: August 15, 2011 at 2:41 PM

I'll never understand this fixation on story in theme park attractions. The "story" is just a loose framework for various ride experiences. The experience is what it's all about, because rides are too short for a strong, coherent story, and immersive theming lends itself far more to visceral responses.

The story in Forbidden Journey or Mummy take a back seat to the experience, which is to their credit. It shows that Universal has their priorities straight.

Doug Jenkins

Published: August 15, 2011 at 5:21 PM

Any news on a Transformers ride coming to Orlando Universal?