Theme Park Apprentice 7: Challenge 6

Edited: August 22, 2015, 2:34 PM

As a reminder, Challenge 5 is still going on and is due Saturday, August 22nd at midnight. Please do not forget to submit an entry in that challenge.

Before getting to this challenge, there is an announcement I must make. We have been very fortunate so far in this competition to have zero drops. Provided this streak continues (and I hope it does), we will have an excess of competitors. Only three are permitted to enter the final challenge, so this challenge will be a double elimination round. The lowest performing competitor in this challenge will be eliminated, and the competitor with the lowest cumulative score following this challenge will also be eliminated. If you want to make it to that final round, now is the time to pull out all the stops and earn your spot.

Challenge 6: What’s After Harry Potter?

The Challenge

When it was built, Universal’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter took the theme park world by storm. For the first time, a fully immersive themed land had been created based on a hugely popular media franchise, and the attendance and revenue increases indicate this is what the modern theme park visitor wants. However, with the end of the series the returns from additional investment into the franchise have been diminishing, so Universal is looking for the next property to turn into an immersive land. Universal has approached you to turn one of their franchises into the next immersive land. They have requested that you adhere to the following guidelines:

-The land may be designed for any Universal park currently in operation.
-The land should be based off of a property Universal owns or currently has theme park rights to.
-If you choose a property already represented as a single attraction at the chosen park/resort, you must build your land around that attraction and incorporate it into the new land. You may not use a property that already has multiple attractions at your selected park/resort.
-Your land should contain 4-5 attractions (including the pre-existing attraction, if applicable), 1-2 dining locations, and 1-2 shopping locations.
-At least one of your attractions should be some type of dark ride and at least one of your attractions should be some type of thrill ride. These two elements may be incorporated into the same attraction.
-You must include two new E-ticket level attractions, either rides or shows. If your land has a pre-existing attraction, that does not count as one of your new E-tickets.
-At least two of your attractions must be accessible to visitors of all ages (aka no minimum height requirement if accompanied).
-Your dining location(s) should be counter service restaurants, but they must be themed to fit in your land.

The Proposal

For this challenge, your proposal should be 7-10 pages (not including pictures) and should include the following:

-The name, theme, and location of your land
-An overview of your land, including the layout
-A list of all the attractions, dining locations, and shopping locations in your land
-A full description of the two new E-ticket attractions (2-3 pages each...similar to past proposals, though a little less detail is acceptable)
-A brief description of the other required elements of your land (1-2 paragraphs each)
-A description of any special elements in your land that help to improve the visitor experience
-Anything else you feel will benefit your proposal

The Advice

-Current properties are likely to produce better results than older properties, even if the property is well known. However, you may choose any property in the Universal library.
-Cloning major attractions from other Universal parks is not recommended. However, cloning a smaller ride (such as a spinner) is perfectly fine.
-Examples of E-tickets at Universal parks include Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts/Forbidden Journey, Hogwarts Express, Jurassic Park River Adventure, Revenge of the Mummy, The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man, The Incredible Hulk Coaster, The Simpsons Ride, and Transformers: The Ride 3D. Examples of attractions that would not be E-tickets include Doctor Doom's Fearfall, Dragon Challenge, Fear Factor Live, Hollywood Rip, Ride, Rockit, MEN IN BLACK Alien Attack, Poseidon's Fury, Shrek 4-D, and Terminator 2: 3-D. If in doubt, feel free to ask the judges.

The Deadline

All proposals must be submitted by midnight on Saturday, August 29th.

Replies (22)

August 22, 2015, 12:27 PM

A few questions rear their ugly heads:

When selecting an IP/property, certain promising possibilities have NO known theme park allegiance at this point (such as certain properties by Warner Bros. or etc.). Would those be explicitly off limits, highly discouraged, or embraced with open arms?

If we choose to expand based around a pre-existing attraction, does that count towards our attraction number or E-tickets?

And are pictures back to 5 plus a header and footer, or might there be more given the task's complexity?

August 22, 2015, 2:31 PM

When selecting an IP/property, certain promising possibilities have NO known theme park allegiance at this point (such as certain properties by Warner Bros. or etc.). Would those be explicitly off limits, highly discouraged, or embraced with open arms?

As the challenge states, you must use a property Universal owns or currently has the rights to. Therefore, you cannot have them acquire the rights to a property and use that for the land.

If we choose to expand based around a pre-existing attraction, does that count towards our attraction number or E-tickets?

Since a significant part of the challenge is the design of the E-ticket attractions, an existing attraction will not count as one of these. However, it will count toward the total attraction limit for the land. I have modified the original post to be more clear about this.

And are pictures back to 5 plus a header and footer, or might there be more given the task's complexity?

We'll stick with the same picture rules as the previous challenge: Maximum of 10 pictures (plus header and footer), but still only one video.

August 24, 2015, 6:37 AM

So, out of curiosity, would it be acceptable to use a public domain property?

August 24, 2015, 11:05 AM

As long as Universal wouldn't have to purchase the property you can use it, so a public domain property would be fine. However, be sure that it actually works with Universal and doesn't seem incongruous with their other attraction.

August 24, 2015, 3:43 PM

Yo, judges!

Can I get a ruling on that Fast & Furious ride Universal is rumored to be devising for Orlando? Does that in any way affect my Straight Outa Compton themed land?

August 24, 2015, 4:15 PM

Straight Outta Compton is not part of the Fast & Furious franchise, so no, it does not affect that. Regarding future developments in general, unless it is a 2016 project you may ignore it for this challenge.

August 26, 2015, 6:50 PM

I really felt the time crunch this week. The clock kept ticking endlessly. I was practically outta time. Good thing I chose a franchise which granted me access to a time machine!

Now if only I could travel to the future and see the results of this round…

Edited: August 26, 2015, 6:53 PM

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Go back in time at Universal Studios Japan, May 2018

A long time ago - October 21st, 2015 - a time traveler from the year 1985 named Doctor Emmett L. Brown visited the futuristic city of Hill Valley and witnessed flying cars, hoverboards and even a successful Cubs roster. In the years following his adventures, “Doc” Brown established several technological institutes as a means to monitor the space-time continuum. Even though financial situations forced the Doc to sell his two U.S. institutes to a clown, he remained at the Osaka institute. Regarding Japan, the Doc said “it’s the best way to see the future without using time travel.”

Once again 2015 is upon us. We have come back to the future, and the future ain’t what it used to be! Great Scott! None of the technological marvels the Doc predicted have come to be. Space and time are disrupted! Worse, the area surrounding the Institute of Future Technology has been encased in a “time bubble,” transforming it into Hill Valley circa 1955. The Doc has tried to counter this anomaly by erecting “Displacement Calibrators” throughout town. This has simply created more pockets, and more time periods. Jumping jigowatts! Now the Doc invites the world’s top scientific minds to take a break from touring Universal Studios Japan and help him research this phenomenon.

Hill Valley, California, is the quaint town at the center of the beloved Back to the Future trilogy. In Universal Studios Japan, “Back to the Future: The Ride” (the lone remaining installation of this Universal classic) forms the spine of a fully-themed Hill Valley land. The park’s San Francisco area is overcome by Hill Valley’s time bubble. Where the Institute of Future Technology once sat, the newly renovated “Back to the Future: The Ride” is now housed in the Hill Valley Courthouse before the bustling Courthouse Square.

Impact on the surrounding area is minimal. Most of the land replaces a formerly empty backlot, assorted shops, plus the outdated “Backdraft” attraction. (Fan favorite Minion Mart relocates towards the front gate.) Since The Simpsons is not especially popular in Japan, Hill Valley is a viable alternative to the Springfield lands which replaced “Back to the Future” in the United States.

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Traveling from New York in the east, Doc’s guests enter Hill Valley along Riverside Drive, a tree-lined suburban boulevard hugging the lagoon. The Doc’s own hilltop Brown Estate makes a grand entry statement. Main St. leads to a near-perfect replica of Courthouse Square circa 1955, possibly Universal’s single most iconic set. Centered around the plaza lawn are Hill Valley’s major E-tickets: the revitalized “Back to the Future: The Ride,” the thrilling “Hoverboard Run,” and the family-friendly “Carson Spur Limited” train ride. Heading west towards the Lyon Estates development, Doc’s wild “Loco Express” is seen speeding at 88 mph overhead along a highway overpass. Shops and restaurants, perfectly themed to 1955, round out the experience.

At least that is Hill Valley on opening day. Guests who come in later years will find it chronologically altered – no longer a nostalgic 50’s utopia, Hill Valley transforms to the untamed Wild West, the retro 1980’s, or a future-that-never-was.

For Universal Creative, Hill Valley is an experiment in immersion worthy of Doc Brown himself: the first themed land designed to change time periods regularly! The land’s infrastructure is devised around semi-regular alterations, to be done on a roughly annual basis. With only a week’s downtime (one year in Disney time), prefab facades switch out. A dusty blacksmith shop becomes a full-service Texaco station, which becomes a biofuel helipad. From the town sign to the trashcans, no detail is overlooked. While major attraction interiors remain the same – protected by the Doc’s Displacement Calibrators – everything else transforms. Long-form storytelling takes place across time periods, as families, buildings and businesses respond to the demands of history. Politics, naturally, remains stagnant.

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Hill Valley is designed around four central eras:

Septemter 3rd, 1885
It is the height of the Wild West, and a prospective young town rises from the dusty Californian sagebrush. The courthouse clock tower is yet to be completed, and the remainder of town is formed of ramshackle lean-tos. Horse-drawn stagecoaches pass. Outlaws and lawmen battle in the streets, to the delight of onlookers.

November 12th, 1955
Post War prosperity sees Hill Valley lively and vibrant. Nothing but hits play from the radios of passing Studebakers. The clock tower gleams, as do beautiful mid-century buildings. A surging teenage population, in poodle skirts and tweed jackets, cruises the streets looking to party.

October 26th, 1985
Urban blight leaves the city center aging and decrepit. The courthouse plaza is paved over, and the clock tower remains unfixed since being struck by lightning in 1955. Historical preservationists march. Still, this time saw the invention of time travel, so guests might glimpse a genuine DeLorean DMC-12 blasting “The Power of Love.”

October 21st, 2015
Now revitalized and techno-modernized, Hill Valley again bustles with activity. The courthouse is a mall, complete with lagoon. Flying cars hover just above the ground, and mechanized trashcans roam freely. Bionic street punks tussle with futuristically-equipped police, and holographic advertisements are everywhere.

In each era, guests feel total immersion. Cast members perform in character, oblivious to any time travel shenanigans. Food and merchandise, while somewhat consistent across 130 years, change with the times, so there are always exclusive specialties to enjoy. Universal Creative aims to make Hill Valley appealing in any era, so that guests feel completely satisfied on their first visit, yet still want to come back…to the future.


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A blast from the past!

Height requirement: 40”
Universal Express Pass is available

Universal’s beloved simulator ride forms the land’s centerpiece. It is fully overhauled. The twin IMAX domes receive top-of-the-line 3D Sony projectors, and an all-new ride experience is created with branching timelines. The exterior is redressed as Hill Valley’s iconic courthouse and clock tower. Regardless of era, signage at the courthouse entrance presents it as “Closed for a private function.” The Doc has borrowed this space for use in today’s experiment.

Assembled scientists (guests) pass through a Displacement Calibrator gateway, adorned with blinking lights, flux capacitors and the date “1955.” Similar gateways lead to the rest of Hill Valley’s attractions. These guarantee that, regardless of the time period outside, the inside era remains consistent.

The courthouse’s 1955 interior, unseen in Back to the Future, is familiar from To Kill a Mockingbird. Eighties-era camcorders, affixed to B&W 50’s-era TVs, play a queue video much like before. Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd), in his aged 2015 incarnation, outlines the ride’s (and land’s) premise (in Japanese, naturally). The problem is the same as ever: Biff Tannen (Thomas F. Murray, de-aged via digital effects) has again stolen a flying DeLorean time machine and is rampaging throughout history. The Doc calls on riders to board a similar DeLorean and give chase.

The 3D ride film, realized with a sophisticated fusion of live and CGI footage, features randomized time periods so that no two visits are exactly the same. Scientists pursue Biff in 1885, 1955, 2085, 1 billion A.D., 65 million B.C., and else-when!

At night the ride’s courthouse façade comes alive with projections and lights. Buildings straddling the courthouse become the canvas for a terrible thunder storm, which climaxes as lightning strikes the clock tower! A live stunt performer, in the role of Doc Brown, even scrambles across the burning frieze.

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“Roads? Where we’re going, we won’t need roads.”

Height requirement: 40” (equivalent to “Forbidden Journey” in Japan)
Universal Express Pass is available

Apart from time travel, everyone’s top Back to the Future fantasy is to ride a hoverboard. Now they can on “Hoverboard Run,” a fusion of dark ride and roller coaster. Outside, alternately Hill Valley Telegraph, Essex Theater or the Holomax Theater. Inside, a retro-futuristic vision of 2015. The queue begins in a movie theater lobby under a grand dome, with holographic posters for Max Spielberg’s Jaws 19 and other 2015 classics.

A door leads to Hill Valley Museum, a venue for artifacts from throughout the town’s timeline. TV screens play The Scenery Channel. Windows reveal a deserted downtown Hill Valley at night (a screen effect), bathed in neon. Traffic in the skyway overhead is bumper-to-bumper. Inside a glass case, a pink Mattel hoverboard levitates inches from the ground – a simple optical illusion.

A preshow continually plays for pulsing guests. Doc Brown appears projected in a Pepper’s Ghost holographic effect – a spoof of Leia’s hologram in Star Wars. He delivers piles of overheated exposition, although if you must have exposition, it really is best delivered by Doc Brown:

“We are now standing in an alternate version of the year 2015, laughably different from the one you knew. But there is hope to fix our future! If only we can retrieve certain technologies from this time, we can introduce them to our own…Help me, assorted people! You’re my only hope!”

Doc outlines the mission. From specially-equipped hoverboards, guests will explore the futuristic Hill Valley while their boards automatically zap preselected gadgets with a Collection Ray. The Doc makes one final warning about angering Biff Tannen’s cybernetic psycho grandson Griff, then sends guests on their way.

This is followed by a safety spiel from a malfunctioning robotic Ronald Reagan. (Universal Creative like making fun of “Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln.”)

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The unmatched sensation of hoverboarding is accomplished through the very latest in ride vehicle technology. A RoboCoaster G3 System by Dynamic Structures – the next generation of the G2 System used on “Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey” – puts guests aboard a KUKA arm multi-axis manipulator which serves in both dark ride and roller coaster capacities. Trains are assembled of four KUKA arms, each holding four passengers at once (hourly capacity is around 1,920). These trains follow a simple roller coaster track, as KUKA arms provided extra sensation. Seating is modified to suggest hoverboards, without sacrificing comfort or safety.

“All aboard hoverboards!” Guests load within the museum’s storage room, packed to the gills with hovering wood crates. A buzzing magenta glow intrudes, like in a futuristic noir. Once loaded, guests glide forward on their hoverboards, which waver slightly before stabilizing. The Doc appears in another hologram to apologize for not activating the boards’ magnetic repulsion systems earlier. “Now, hover safely.”

Boards exit into the nighttime and sail up a skyway onramp, the lift hill. Holo-ads flicker to life on all sides with ubiquitous future commercials. A floating Weather Service billboard counts down to the “Next Storm,” about three minutes out.

(Note that throughout “Hoverboard Run,” Collection Rays will automatically amass gizmos, freeing riders to focus on the wild ride which is in store.)

The coaster begins high up in the skyway, amidst a morass of flying cars! As a coaster, the G3 System is limited to simple banked turns. The fun comes from incorporating KUKA movement. Quick(ish) speeds in physical space are the next step beyond “Forbidden Journey,” more viscerally real. Hoverboards spin this way and that to avoid myriad oncoming hovercars, themselves both practical and filmed. Screen effects on “Hoverboard Run” are accomplished with large projection domes, as seen in planetariums. The effect is like an improved version of the evil quasar from the “Space Mountain” Ghost Galaxy overlay, which chases coaster cars throughout the ride. Projected images react to the hoverboards by dodging, swerving and pursuing.

Hoverboards dive for safety into an alleyway. They bump off the roof of a modified orange BMW 633CSi, disturbing an elderly Biff Tannen as he waxes it. Hoverboards slow for a dark ride portion, as their rays zap items in a storefront. Lights come on in a warehouse. Griff Tannen inside hollers: “You low-res scum! You dinged my car! Get ‘em, guys!” Griff’s punk subordinates – Data, Spike and Whitey – emerge on their own hoverboards, ready for a chase. Riders launch upwards magnetically, back in coaster mode!

The chase leads along the facades of Courthouse Square. As punks circle in the skies, riders spiral the exterior of the Holomax dome. They crash inside!

Riders continue to spiral through the interior lobby, as seen in the queue. All seems safe until a ridiculous holographic Jaws 19 shark bursts from the room’s central kiosk! This is a Pepper’s Ghost upon a spherical reflective surface, made to purposefully appear chintzy. Hoverboards swerve for an interior mall.

Riders slow past another Weather Service countdown, and a “No Hoverboarding” sign. Spotlights capture them. “Freeze, zipheads! You’re under arrest for misuse of Class C hoverboards.” Around another spiral, this time counterclockwise, riders circle a police hovercar. Cops fire non-lethal plasma shots, which hoverboards barely dodge as they flee to the plaza.

Moving forward, Griff appears on his supercharged Pitbull hoverboard, his three lieutenants in tow, wielding a Discombobulating Laser Bazooka. “Alright, you bojos! END OF THE LINE!” The final coaster chase is underway, past the Café 80’s and towards the courthouse. Griff launches energy balls; real explosions burst around riders!

Hoverboards pass a third Weather Service board as the countdown completes. A storm brews overhead. Lightning flashes on the domed ceiling. Griff and his gang close in, just as a bolt of lightning hurtles them straight into the clock tower! Winds whip the hoverboards helplessly. Riders escape through the museum’s skylight and crash down into the boxes below!

Hoverboards glide around a tube which holds every device their Collection Rays have zapped - Mr. Fusion, Mobile Hover Conversion Kit, Food Hydrator, etc. A final holographic Doc congratulates riders on a successful mission. Though it’s too late now, still he advises “Remember, be careful in the future.”

As guests exit, hover-televisions show footage of Griff and his gang in handcuffs.

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“It’s the future or bust!”

Universal Express Pass is available

“Carson Spur Limited” is an accurate recreation 19th Century train travel – during a holdup! This family-friendly simulator ride puts guests in the middle of Back to the Future Part III’s climax, as Marty McFly and the Doc hijack an 1885 Central Pacific locomotive to push their DeLorean. But the story has changed, and guests have come to correct past mistakes in the timeline.

From Hill Valley circa 1885, the ride’s entrance is quite simply a period train station. Later dates incongruously make it the Twin Pines Ranch, Twin Pines Mall, or Lone Pine Mall. Either way, the interior queue is pure 1885, the creaky Hill Valley Railroad Station complete with Wanted Ads for Bufford “Mad Dog” Tannen. A secret room to the side displays a Doc-made model of the Carson Spur, outlining his planned hijacking. The queue passes Locomotive 131 and sealed wooden doors (actually false façades to conceal the ride mechanism). The doors open upwards, revealing a passenger car ready for boarding.

“Carson Spur Limited” is a simulator hybrid of “Hogwarts Express” and “Fast & Furious: Supercharged.” Guests board a period-accurate passenger car,– modified simply to increase capacity. This car travels along a rail line. Wraparound screens on either side trail the car on a turntable, much like the screens on “Forbidden Journey,” while motion bases simulate lateral movement. In-car effects complete the illusion – that guests are aboard a runaway train hurtling towards a chasm! While it sounds – and is – thrilling, “Carson Spur Limited” is no more intense than the tram tour in Hollywood, making it appropriate for all ages.

(Train cars sit six rows of six very much like Hollywood’s trams, and leave every minute, for an hourly capacity of 2,160.)

The ride begins pleasantly enough, a simple journey through the sagebrush wilderness. The train vibrates slightly. Scents add immersion. Then the car’s front door opens, revealing an aged Doc Brown in cowboy getup – this is a Musion effect accomplished entirely within the ride vehicle. The Doc again exposits wildly:

“Ah, there you all are! We are presently aboard the same train my younger self once hijacked a long time ago a minute from now. Unfortunately, at that space-time I didn’t anticipate future repercussions. Because this train never reaches San Francisco, two young lovers never meet, and their descendants never invent hover technology.

“Fortunately, I have a plan. Once I’ve installed this Mobile Hover Conversion Kit, we can simply FLY this passenger car to San Francisco, all without disturbing my younger self! What could possibly go wrong all of a sudden?”

Like clockwork, the train passes the younger Doc Brown and Marty McFly riding on horseback. Our Doc comments on his former youthfulness, then rushes off. A moment later, footsteps echo from the car’s rooftop – young Doc and Marty running overhead towards the locomotive. Moments later, the entire train halts and the engineers leap into the dirt.

The passenger car moves again, over increasingly rough and rocky tracks. Fans help simulate speed. Our Doc returns.

“Great Scott! The locomotive didn’t uncouple! Must be an issue with the Hover Conversion I installed. My younger self is towing us straight for Shonash Ravine! Hopefully there’s nothing else I didn’t anticipate.”

Ka-boom! The car tilts back and rushes forward; Doc hits his face against the door frame.

“Of course, my homemade Presto Logs! Two more, and the boiler will explode!”

Doc flees to fix the problems. The train rushes ever faster down a hilly sidetrack. At a bend in the rails, riders can see the younger Doc scrambling over the locomotive towards his DeLorean, our Doc behind him pounding on the coupling with a shovel. Our Doc accidentally unlocks the coal car; giant lumps of coal pummel the passenger car!

Suddenly the door opens. Here stands outlaw Bufford Tannen. “Which one o’ you runts knows where Clint Eastwood got to?” Bufford fires his revolver at riders! Sparks burst within the train car. Our Doc rushes back, but Bufford catches him unaware.

“Mad Dog! I thought Strickland arrested you!”

“No lawman can hold me, blacksmith. I shot him down like a duck.”

“Now Bufford, isn’t –” (points) “What the Great Scott is that?!”

The Doc attempts a Marty-style diversion, but Bufford is unfazed. He has the Doc at rights when…the second Presto Log explodes, with yellow smoke. The Doc gains the upper hand and throws Bufford off the train, smack into a windmill!

“Jumping jigowatts! The windmill! We have less than a minute before the chasm!”

Doc again leaves. From the windows, passengers see the oncoming Shonash Ravine, with an unfinished railroad crossing. Outside, the younger Doc contends with his own catastrophes upon the cowcatcher. Our Doc reaches the coupling and shoots it out with Bufford’s pistol.

The third Presto Log! Red smoke! The boiler explodes! Flaming debris plummets! False fire bursts within the car!

The car flies off the unfinished bridge! It tilts vertically into Shonash Ravine!

Blue exhaust emits. The car hovers mere feet above the smashed loco! Doc reenters the car manning a remote control, ecstatic. He sails the hover-converted train car gracefully over the Western landscape, before setting it down back at Hill Valley Railroad Station where this all began.

“Excellent work, associates. Now I’ll leave you here while I fly this train to San Francisco myself. Hopefully not too many people see that. Happy trails!”

Alan Silvestri’s rousing score plays as guests usher out of the station. The final thing they see, in an exit hall window, is the train car flying Westward towards the sunset.

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“If my calculations are correct, when this baby hits 88 mph, you’re gonna see some serious s***.”

Height requirement: 52”
Universal Express Pass is available

Have you ever wanted to speed to 88 mph and travel through time?

Have you ever wanted to fly in a glistening steampunk locomotive?

You can do both at once aboard Doc Brown’s “Loco Express,” on Hill Valley’s distant west side where its visual impact is minimized. “Loco Express” is an Intamin hydraulically launched Rocket Coaster themed to the Doc’s unique Time Train. Guests enter underneath a freeway overpass/train trestle (era-dependent). Past the Displacement Calibrator is a 1925 speakeasy – intentionally set apart from any of Hill Valley’s other eras. This way, once the Time Train time travels outside, it is in a new period no matter what. This ride is pure exhibition. The Doc loves sharing his invention, and we would be remiss to omit a ride which actually goes 88 mph.

An indoors launch sequence gets the train up to the needed 88 mph! Trains pass through a plasma tunnel, outside, and straight into a top hat roll. From here, 210 feet up, the train tumbles vertically back towards earth and enters a series of overbanked turns. A brake run through another plasma tunnel returns the train to 1925. The entirety of “Loco Express” lasts about one minute (including load times), with an hourly capacity of 1,200.

Ride photos are available as Polaroids. Through a unique printing process, riders will slowly fade from the image…erased from existence. (Later, riders’ images return.) This is a distinct Back to the Future spin on a standard theme park souvenir!

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On the outside, a school, be it Hill Valley High School or Clara Clayton’s red schoolhouse circa 1885. On the inside, a high school homecoming dance straight out of 1955.

“Enchantment Under the Sea” is a venue for live musical performance and dance. Guests are free to come and go as they please. They may either sit in the bleachers and relax, or take to the dance floor with costumed “teens” and try their favorite 50’s dance moves. Courteous and experienced cast members even provide dance instruction. Be there or be square!

On stage, Marvin Berry & the Starlighters play golden oldies but…well, they’re oldies where we come from. Once an hour, a performer dressed as Marty McFly takes center stage for an epoch-making rendition of “Johnny B. Goode:”

Some of the other bands which occasionally play “Enchantment Under the Sea” will, incongruously, hail from different time periods. While Marty McFly struggles to correct this anachronistic farce, 50’s high school students merely chalk it up to “those lousy beatniks.”


(A note about all dining and retail options: Due to disturbances in the space-time continuum, different eras host different venues. Within reason, offerings remain similar across 130 years. Specialty items, from food to souvenirs, are only available in their respective epochs.)

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Throughout the Back to the Future saga, the diner on the corner of Main and Hill has served a central role. Though its name, décor and certain menu selections differ with time, it is always a great place to find good counter service American food at unbeatable prices. (Pricing forever remains contemporary.)

1885: Palace Saloon is a classic Old West honkytonk, complete with swinging corner doors, live piano music, and tense card games. In the interest of consistency, certain menu items are the same in every era’s diner: steaks, salads, meatloaf, mashed potatoes, and pie. Plates and utensils vary. Unique to 1885 are wild game such as braised rabbit or quail. Wash that down with a good Sioux City Sarsaparilla. A secret drink exists for foolhardy patrons: Wake Up Juice, a mixture of all known liquids, guaranteed to cure the even strongest hangover.

1955 - 1985: Lou’s Café is a teenaged malt shop and soda jerk, where the fully-functioning jukebox plays early rock ‘n’ roll. Unique menu items include 50’s favorites such as hamburger, BLT and milk (chocolate). Pepsi Cola comes in bottles. The milkshakes are exceptional, perfect either alone or shared with your best girl.

(Note that in the film series, in 1985 this location is an aerobics club. In the interest of guest satisfaction, Universal Creative has taken the liberty of maintaining it as Lou’s Café, updated with a “Wild Gunman” video cabinet and Tab Soda.)

2015: Café 80’s brings retro nostalgia to the future with a wildly exaggerated shrine to 80’s culture. Pastels dominate. Suspended video “waiters” greet patrons, though there are glitches with the Michael Jackson program. Pepsi Perfect comes in collectible plastic vials. Specialty dishes include the Gorbachev Goulash Rambo, the Liberace Fruit Salad, and the Hostage Special (a chicken pot pie).

The Dragon’s Pearl is a popular Chinese restaurant already on site. Japanese theme park patrons love Chinese food (exotic yet familiar), so The Dragon’s Pearl remains under assorted new names. The present menu stays unchanged, and classical Chinese interiors minimize the need for redecoration between years.

The various names are as follows: 1885: Chinese Laundry Eatery; 1955: The Dragon Restaurant; 1985: The Blue Dragon; 2015: The Dragon’s Pearl


Perpetually located next to the Corner Diner is a memorabilia shop, one of two in Hill Valley. This establishment changes its entire product line to fit the given year. Following the Harry Potter example, everything sold in Hill Valley fits the setting and aids in the immersive experience.

1885: Barber Shop (serves as a Western general store)
1955: Roy’s Records (records and 1950’s fashions)
1985: The Third Eye (a fortune teller’s and clothing shop)
2015: Blast from the Past (antiques from the 1980’s, plus futuristic goods)

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To aid the indecisive time-traveling consumer, Doc Brown has insulated his own estate at 1640 Riverside Drive within a wall of Displacement Calibrators. Past these barriers, is Brown Estate, a lovely Arts & Crafts mansion inspired by Pasadena’s Gamble House, permanently set in 1955. Through the Doc’s scientific knowhow, at Brown Mansion wares may be found from every period. Pick up a Clint Eastwood poncho alongside vintage Calvin Klein underpants. Universal expects the futuristic 2015 line to be especially popular, and offers up a wide selection of Nike self-lacing shoes, Mattel hoverboards, and Grays Sports Almanacs.

Nearby Brown Garage serves as the Doc’s laboratory. It is crammed to the gill with every clock and timepiece devised, many of which are for sale. At intervals throughout the day, a live Doc Brown appears to interact with guests, work on new experiments, and generally be manic.


In the coming months, Universal Studios Japan advertises the closing of “Back to the Future: The Ride.” Then, on October 21st, 2015, gathered before the Institute of Future Technology, is the big live announcement: Back to the Future will be back, in the future. Christopher Lloyd appears as Doc Brown to ramble breathlessly about the Parallel Paradox Problem concerning multiple 2015s:

“A paradox of this magnitude could rupture the very fabric of the space-time continuum! It must be addressed without the slightest delay! Reconvene here in 3 years.”

And then, in May of 2018, Hill Valley starts ticking again! On hand for the grand opening are celebrities such as Christopher Lloyd, Michael J. Fox, and Thomas F. Wilson. The two Bobs, Gale and Zemeckis (the series’ creators), read the official dedication. Universal demonstrates an actual working hoverboard (under development by Lexus). The Hill Valley clock is activated and raised to its central position over Courthouse Square. Cue the fireworks and DeLoreans!

August 26, 2015, 6:54 PM

Seems I found the length limit of a single post. Here's my conclusion!


Though Back to the Future is an older franchise, Japanese culture loves nostalgia and quaint mid-century Americana. And with history having caught up with the franchise’s distant 2015, interest in the saga surges. Back to the Future is, well, timeless. Hill Valley turns the hodgepodge San Francisco into a unified, engrossing setting. Universal Creative promises a product which is cutting-edge 2015, energetic 1985, classic 1955, and adventurous 1885.

Regarding international Universal Studios parks, Hill Valley resolves a noteworthy dilemma. “The Simpsons Ride” does not translate well outside of the United States. A modified “Back to the Future: The Ride” uses the same ride system in a way that is, dare we say it, more universal. Hill Valley improves things further with an entire themed land and astounding new E-tickets. Universal’s upcoming parks – South Korea, Dubai, Beijing, Moscow – can benefit from Universal’s unique work in Japan. By focusing on a property with a proven track record, Universal reduces their need to constantly chase the future. And with a land that easily travels through time on a yearly basis, Universal has once again redefined the limits of what a theme park can do!

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August 28, 2015, 4:01 AM

I'd pay money to go on those rides.

Edited: August 30, 2015, 3:48 AM

Coming Soon to Universal Studios Orlando…

Monty Python Presents…

A Silly Place

A new, fully immersive land at Universal Studios Orlando

Lovingly ripped off from Monty Python and the Holy Grail

First, a bit of history of The Rights to This Film. The film was originally distributed by EMI. EMI later sold its film (Thorn EMI Screen Entertainment), home video (Thorn EMI Video), and cinema (ABC Cinemas) operations to businessman Alan Bond in April 1986. Bond, in turn, sold it to The Cannon Group a week later. A year after the purchase, a cash-strapped Cannon sold the film library to Weintraub Entertainment Group.

The library ended up in the hands of several companies over the years and is now owned by StudioCanal, a sister company to Universal Music Group, owned by NBC/Universal. (Cite: Wikipedia)

I know, the film is old. But, the absolute ridiculousness of Python comedy, combined with the setting of Medieval England makes for a perfect theme park land.

The name is derived from the line of the film “Let us not go to Camelot, ‘tis a silly place”.

The land is located behind Men in Black and The Simpsons, in what seems to be an unused lot.

Guests know what they’re in for as soon as they reach the gate. A large, official-looking banner reads “Finland”. It has been crossed out, and beneath it is painted “England”. Another sign reads “Camelot”, underneath which is painted “A Silly Place”. On top of the castle wall stand two guard statues, and, combined with the audio, they appear to be shouting at guests in their signature French accents. They yell direct quotes from the movie, including (but not limited to), “Go Away!”, “You don't frighten us, English pig dogs. Go and boil your bottoms, you sons of a silly person. I blow my nose at you, so-called "Arthur King," you and all your silly English K-nig-hts”, and, of course, “Go away before I taunt you a second time!”

Once inside, guests are greeted by a multitude of visual gags and references. For example, on the left there is The Cheese Shop, referencing a skit performed on the Television show. There are signs nearly covering the shop advertising types of cheese, all of which have been crossed out with comments such as “All Out” or “Sold”. Guests may also notice a small European swallow (or is it African?) on top of a building, with a coconut next to it, or a parrot with a sign claiming that it speaks, but the bird doesn’t speak or move. It is an Ex-Parrot.

There are two distinct immersive areas within A Silly Place. The first is Camelot, the kingdom that is home of the Knights of the Round Table. This area hosts most of the shops and restaurants, along with the live performers. Memorable scenes such as “Not Dead Yet” and “The Witch” take place here. On the other side of The Bridge of Death lies The Dark and Very Expensive Forest. This area is home to most of the attractions. Here live The Black Knight, The Knights Who Say Ni, and the Rabbit of Caerbannog.

Street Performers are plentiful in A Silly Place. There are two main types: Interactive and skit.

Interactive performers are masters of Improv, and carry out completely ridiculous conversations with park guests. One of the favorites is “Robin’s Minstrels”. They go around the area asking people about themselves and making up songs about them. Skit performers are scheduled, but their shows last only a few minutes. They often work directly from the original screenplay. Their shows include “The Witch”, “Not Dead Yet”, “The King” (Well I didn’t vote for you), and “The Bridge of Death”.


Universal Express pass is available for Run Away!, The Quest for...A Shrubbery? and The Lumberjack.

E-Ticket Attractions

A Silly Place features two E-Ticket attractions: Run Away! and The Quest for... A Shrubbery?. The first of these is a rollercoaster following the disastrous failure of the Trojan Rabbit. The latter is a trackless dark ride searching for the shrubbery as demanded by the Knights Who Say Ni.

Run Away

Run Away! is a launch start coaster that is partially indoors. The ride can be seen from the outside. The ride merges dark ride and roller coaster elements. Run Away! features a total of 6 inversions, and has a 54” minimum height requirement

Facade and Queue

This ride is located in The Dark and Very Expensive Forest area, at a castle facade. Outside the castle stands The Trojan Rabbit. Upon entering, guests are in The French Castle. Here, they wind through several rooms, and live performers are keeping the guests well entertained.

Eventually, guests arrive in a room marked “The Garage (900 years early)”. Here guests board the ride vehicles. They are trains seating two across. The front of them are designed as a wooden rabbit face.

The Ride: Part I

The Dark Ride

The guests move forward at a slow speed, around a curve where they see animatronic knights discussing what to do with their new rabbit (the same one as was seen outside).

The next scene involves the Frenchmen taking in the rabbit, and one of the knights on the audio saying, “This is when we all jump out of the rabbit using the element of surprise to...oh.”

In the next scene, still moving slowly, it appears that the Frenchies are throwing anything they can find at us. One of the knights says “OK, but if we made a large wooden badger…” The sentence is interrupted when a cow comes over the castle wall, we hear the knights shouting “Run Away!”

The Ride Part II

The Roller Coaster

At this point, the ride launches forward at 60 MPH, away from the castle and towards the forest. The ride immediately goes into a loop. It then curves at 90 degrees to the right, before doubling back, turning right again, and heading towards the forest.

When the ride reaches the forest, it zig zags between trees. Then, It spirals around one tree before beginning to slow down. King Arthur’s voice is heard saying “I think we’ve lost them!”, when, through the wonders of modern screen technology, guests see that the Trojan Rabbit is being thrown back at them, instituting another launch.

Guests make a sharp left turn before going into two consecutive corkscrews. The coaster enters a short tunnel before emerging and entering a giant loop. The ride then does a hair pin turn to the right and does three short, consecutive dips.

The ride goes into a loop designed such that the car stays inverted for several seconds before coming back down. The ride comes out of the forest and goes back towards the castle, as though it has forgotten it is running away. The ride seems to remember when it makes a hairpin turn upon the throwing of many rotten tomatoes.

The ride briefly goes past a twelve-foot man with short arms and antlers, but has passed him shortly, giving him just enough time to say “Ni!” The ride goes into another corkscrew and enters a tunnel. Wind is blowing towards the riders, making the ride seem to be moving faster than it is. Riders hear Robin’s Minstrels singing about how afraid “Brave Sir Robin” is of the dark.

The ride leaves the tunnel and begins its ascent up a lift hill. The hill is small, but when riders spiral down it, it certainly provides enough speed to get them through the rest of the ride.

After this spiral, guests go up and down and up and down and up and down again, before entering a zigzag, and finally returning to the loading area.

Overall, Run Away! is a roller coaster to be remembered. Even if it is (more than) a little ridiculous.

Quest for...A Shrubbery?

Quest for...A Shrubbery? is a groundbreaking E-ticket Dark ride. It uses a trackless ride system to provide a variety of experiences, giving it complete re-rideability. The ride uses 3-D Screens and Audio Animatronics to provide a lifelike experience. Note that any deaths throughout the ride are done in a comical way, keeping this a family friendly ride.

Facade and Queue

The Queue of this ride begins on the edge of the forest. It goes inside, and slowly the forest grows thicker and thicker. Signs reminiscent of those belonging to The Wicked Witch of the West, reading “Turn Back Now”, “Leave While You Can”, and one that just says “Ni!”

Eventually as part of the wall murals we begin to see eyes or antlers sticking out of the grass, implying that guests have entered the domain of the Knights Who Say Ni!

Upon boarding, guests enter cars holding two rows of three people. Each car is equipped with a waist-up AA of King Arthur, that moves only at the neck and jaw.

The Ride

The ride consists of 6 rooms, arranged in a 2x3 box. There is a shared room between each row of two. Each ride will go through one room of each row. Therefore, I will describe each room, headed “Room 1A”, “Room 2B”, etc.

The beginning, however, is encountered by all guests. The Knights who say Ni, and their leader addresses you and Arthur. The conversation goes as follows:

Knights of Ni: Ni! Ni! Ni! Ni! Ni! Ni!
Arthur: Who are you?
Knight of Ni: We are the Knights who say..... "Ni"!
Arthur: (horrified) No! Not the Knights who say "Ni"!
Knight of Ni: The same.
Knight of Ni: The knights who say "Ni" demand..... a sacrifice!
Arthur: Knights of Ni, we are but simple travelers who seek the Holy Grail!
Knights of Ni: Ni! Ni! Ni! Ni!
Arthur: No! Noooo! Aaaugh! No!
Knight of Ni: We shall say "Ni" to you... if you do not appease us.
Arthur: Well what is it you want?
Knight of Ni: We want.....

(pregnant pause)

(dramatic minor chord)

Arthur: A *WHAT*?
Knights of Ni: Ni! Ni!! Ni! Ni!
Arthur; No! No! Please, please, no more! We will find you a shrubbery.
Knight of Ni: You must return here with a shrubbery... or else you will never pass through this wood... alive.
Arthur: O Knights of Ni, you are just and fair, and we will return with a shrubbery.
Knight of Ni: One that looks nice.
Arthur: Of course!
Knight of Ni: And not *too* expensive.
Arthur; Yes!
Knight of Ni: Noowwwww.... GO!

Room 1A

The Three Headed Giant

In Room 1A, guests encounter the famous three headed Giant. It demands that they shall not pass, however, it’s heads begin arguing with each other about the proper use of the world “shall” as opposed to the word “will”. As they are arguing, Arthur suggests you run away, and so you do, as you move into the next scene.

Room 1B

The Black Knight

In this scene, Guests encounter The Black Knight (on a screen), who has no arms or legs. He says that none shall pass. King Arthur threatens to fight him, before remembering that he is unable to move. Eventually, after a bit of ridiculous bickering back and forth, Sir Lancelot appears on the screen, causing the Black Knight to hop away in fear.

Room 2A

Rabbit of Caerbannog

The first option of row two is the Rabbit of Caerbannog. Here, what appears to be a harmless AA rabbit is suddenly revealed to be an evil man-eating monster. Robin’s minstrels appear, and one of them is subsequently eaten. Afterwards, the minstrels use The Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch to destroy it (only after counting to three of course).

Room 2B

The Black Beast of Aaaaarrrrrrggghhh

Also an option is to enter The Cave, and encounter The Black Beast of Aaaaarrrrrrggghhh. The Monks appear, and Brother Maynard is devoured by the beast. Then, all of a sudden, the screen cuts to an image of the Animator, who suddenly dies of a heart attack. The screen cuts back to an empty forest, and the ride continues.

Room 3A

The Bridge of Death

Room 3A Brings guests to the Bridge of Death, where they meet the AA troll. This troll asks three questions, which are answered by our own personal King Arthur.

Troll: “What Is Your Name?”

Arthur: I am Arthur, King of the Britons

Troll: What Is Your Quest?

Arthur: Well, currently, I seek a shrubbery, but, eventually The Holy Grail

Troll: What is the average air speed velocity of an unladen swallow?

Arthur: African or European Swallow?

Troll: I don’t know!

Suddenly, there is a puff of smoke, and the room goes dark. The AA descends into a trap door and when the lights come up, he is gone, and a shrubbery has been left in his place. Arthur says “Works every time”

Room 3B

Castle Aaargh

Guests come upon a castle, where those silly little french dudes yell at you again. Arthur insists that he only wants a shrubbery, and if necessary, he will have to take it by force. The 360 degree screens show an army gathering behind the guests, including Sir Not-Appearing-On-This-Ride, who is quickly shooed. The frenchmen surrender and give you a shrubbery.

Final Scene

The guests return to the Forest of Ni. The Knights ask for the shrubbery, but then inform them that they are no longer the Knights Who Say Ni. They are now the Knights who say…(there are several different hilariously long words used here, randomly selected each ride). Arthur continues to address them as “The Knights formerly known as The Knights Who Say Ni”. They tell Arthur and the guests they must find the tallest tree in the forest and cut it down with a herring. Arthur replies that this is completely ridiculous and the guests should simply leave, which they do.

On the way out Artur tells them that they will still need their help later to find the grail (“Perhaps that could be the sequel!”)

Guests exit back into the Dark and Very Expensive Forest

Other Attractions

There are three other main attractions in A Very Silly Place: The Lumberjack, None Shall Pass, and King Arthur’s Coconut Steed.

None Shall Pass

This attraction is an interactive show, taking place in the forest.

At the start of the show, King arthur comes out into the audience and chooses four of the less experienced fighters, (younger guests) and takes them onstage. First, Arthur teaches these kids how to ride a horse, providing them each their very own mini coconut. He teaches them to run and gallop around clicking the coconut halves together.

Then, King Arthur teaches them to swordfight, beginning with the attacks. Swipe left, swipe right, lunge, and the overhead attack, while also doing a bit of improv comedy.

At this time the Black Knight comes onto the stage. He says three words, “None shall pass.” And king Arthur replies, “We need to get off the stage, I just taught them how to swordfight. The show ended like 30 seconds ago. You missed it.” To which the Black Knight responds “Have the young ones fight me then.”

King arthur instructs the first trainee to fight the black night. As the trainee swings his sword, it appears that one of the black Knight’s arms has been cut off, and replaced with a flow of red streamers. The second trainee does the same, and the other arm is cut off. King arthur calls to the Black Knight, “May we pass now?” To which the Black Knight responds, “‘Tis but a scratch.”

King Arthur calls, “You haven’t got any arms left!”

“I can still fight.” Replies the Black Knight.

The third trainee appears to have cut off the Black knight’s leg, And then the Fourth cuts off the other. King Arthur applauds his trainees, and “gallops” offstage, using his coconuts for a horse sound. The Black Knight calls back, “It is merely a flesh wound!” But Arthur and his trainees don’t respond.

This interactive show is a fun addition to A Silly Place, and is something all families can participate in.

The Lumberjack

The Lumberjack is a flume/dark ride inside the fantasy world of King Arthur’s knights. It ends in a watery splashdown. It features state of the art audio animatronics to represent all the human characters. It has a 40” minimum height requirement.

Queue and Facade

The Lumberjack is located in The Dark and Very Expensive Forest. From the outside, guests can see both the loading area and the splashdown including the much smaller castle on the swamp., as well as the Mill where some of the ride takes place.

The Queue is not interactive. It simply winds round and round (and round and round and round) until finally reaching the log-shaped boats.

The Ride

Once on the ride, guests are brought in front of the mill, where they find Prince Herbert sitting there. “Oh, hello” he says, “I didn’t know anyone was coming here. I’m sure you’re wondering why I’m here” Of course, nobody answers, so he says, “I guess not. Okay, I see how it is.”

There is a crack and thunder sound effect, and a brilliant flash of light. A large cloud of smoke appears. The thunderous voice of God booms down from above. “Tell them Herbert” he says, in a scolding tone.

“Alright, fine Mr. God sir” Herbert replies, sounding a bit frightened. “I never wanted to be a knight” he tells the people in the boat. “I’ve always wanted to be...A Lumberjack! Leaping from tree to tree!”

The boat moves on to the next scene where we see Prince Herbert and several lumberjacks singing the chorus of the lumberjack song, on repeat, as we start to be pulled up a hill, relatively quickly for a log flume ride.

In the next scene we see Prince Herbert as a boy, telling his father he doesn’t want to be king, and then running away from his father, and out of the scene.

Herbert: Do I have to be king Daddy?

Father: Over my dead body, literally.

Herbert: But I don’t want to.

Father: Of course you don’t want to kill me.

Herbert: I want to be a lumberjack! Singing while I leap between the mighty larch and the redwood! The Scotch Pine!

And we move out of the scene and see Herbert as a boy singing the lumberjack song with several lumberjacks. (The lyrics have been cleaned up a bit.)

In the next room we see a montage of Herbert, cutting down trees, appearing to be having fun with the other lumberjacks while on break, and sitting around a campfire.

It is now that we see Herbert and the lumberjacks hauling their wood into a mill to be processed by the millers when a group of knights see Herbert and speak to him. We hear the knights tell Herbert he must return to the castle. As we hear this, we begin to chug up the hill, and see Herbert saying goodbye to the lumberjacks, when we hear a knight telling Hebert to get on with the ride, we’ve got to send the guests down into the castle on the swamp.

“No! No! PLEASE Don’t throw them into that castle on the swamp!” Prince Herbert cries.

When we reach the crest of the hill we are sent down, where halfway down we enter a building themed to be the castle on the swamp, making it dark. At the bottom, we come shooting out of the castle, and into the splashdown.

The guests turn a corner, and seem to go back up another hill, about half the size of the first.

At the top we see the lumberjacks trying to enter the castle to retrieve Herbert.

At this point the boat leaves the water and goes onto a track, with wheels on your log continuing the journey smoothly, but picking up speed and intensity. We enter a dark tunnel, and hear shouts of “Retreat!” As the track swoops down, back up again, and spirals down into a second splashdown. We see Prince Herbert out behind the mill, and he says to us, “So that’s the story of Prince Herbert the Lumberjack, not very impressive, but you liked it because it had me in it.” Guests exit at the same platform they entered into the ride from.

As we exit the ride, the cleaned up version of the lumberjack song plays in the background.

Guests exit through the gift shop, selling T-shirts and other merchandise reading, “I’m a lumberjack and I’m OK!” along with wood carvings of nearly every bit of Monty Python imaginable.

King Arthur’s Coconut Steeds

This is a fun little teacup ride. The catch? The teacups, rather than being, well, teacups, are halves of coconuts. They are controlled by guests, making it as intense or as mild as they want. This ride is a kiddie ride that can be equally appreciated by adults.


There are two main merchandise locations. The first, The Mill, is at the end of The Lumberjack. It sells mostly lumberjack related merchandise, as was stated before.

The other is Ye Olde Souvenir Shoppe. It has all sorts of ridiculousness, including half coconuts, coconut themed castanets, Monty Python t-shirts, Antlers in the style of The Knights Who Say Ni, Monty Python books, Monty Python DVDs, and pretty much everything else Monty Python. It is located in Camelot


There are two counter service restaurants in A Silly Place. The first is called The Holy Ale. It is a pub featuring several original brews. These include The Holy Hand Grenade, The Zooooooom Boing Ni!, and, of course, The Holy Ale. The food is standard pub food, such as burgers, nachos, wings, waffle fries, sliders and chili. It also sells “Spamburgers” and Spam Sandwiches, as a reference to the song. It also serves breakfast, with standard american fare, along with the classic “Spam, eggs, bacon, spam, sausage, and spam”. It is priced $5-15

The second is Hands On. This counter service restaurant does not provide any silverware, hence the name. There is only one meal option, and it includes roast chicken, corn on the cob, roasted potatoes, garlic bread, and a pastry. Every hour on the hour, the in-house cast comes out and performs an original skit filled with hilarious hijinx!

When exiting the land, guests see a sign reading "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life!", a reference to the end of Monty Python's Life of Brian


As a whole, A Silly Place is a new, hilarious land based on a beloved film. Even though this film is old, I stand by my thinking that this would be a major draw for Universal Orlando, allowing guests to enter the World of Monty Python as never before. It features 5 quality attractions, groundbreaking technologies, and a healthy helping of silliness, which is exactly what one can expect when entering a quality theme park land based on any comedy. Especially if the movie happens to be Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

August 28, 2015, 8:43 PM

Quick question: how loose are we defining "thrill ride"? Is a family thrill ride acceptable, or are we looking for serious thrills?

August 28, 2015, 9:22 PM

For defining thrill rides, we'll go with what Universal would typically define them as. Major roller coasters (ex: Revenge of the Mummy), intense simulators (ex: The Simpsons Ride), motion-based dark rides (ex: Transformers, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey), and water rides (ex: Jurassic Park River Adventure) would all count as thrill rides for this challenge. A tame simulator (ex: Despicable Me) or a family roller coaster (ex: Flight of the Hippogriff) would not count as a thrill ride.

Edited: August 30, 2015, 12:08 AM

Monster Lands
Universal Studios Orlando, Florida

Universal's Monsters are an iconic collection of horror film characters that were first made popular in the 1930s, 40s, and 50s. The timeless characters of Frankenstein, Dracula, The Wolf Man, The Invisible Man, the Creature from the Black Lagoon, and the Bride of Frankenstein have embedded themselves in our social consciousness with their creepy performances and memorable films. Their stories are well-known and their settings are richly detailed. And the appeal of Universal's Monsters continues today with even more films of the horror characters scheduled by Universal Pictures beginning in 2017.
Universal Studios Orlando will soon be home to Monster Lands, a new immersive environment built in the northeast corner of the studios park in the large, undeveloped plot of land next to MIB: Alien Attack and Springfield, USA. The new land will be divided into four sections-Transylvania, Frankenstein village, the English countryside, and the Black Lagoon. Separated by a fork in the road, the entrance of the new land will split into two roads, one leading to Transylvania and the other leading to Frankenstein village. The two roads will be separated by Universal Monsters: Shop of Horrors, the quintessential Monsters store at the Universal Orlando Resort. The shop will be accessible from both Transylvania and Frankenstein village with entrances on either sides of the store. At the end of each road are the two iconic structures of Monster Lands, the brooding Castle Dracula and the 180-foot tall Frankenstein Tower. To the left of Castle Dracula is a small English town on the edge of an eerie forest that has been terrorized by The Wolf Man. Across from the English town is an exotic temple covered by tropical foliage that leads to the Creature from the Black Lagoon.

Four new ride experiences will be apart of Monster Lands - Frankenstein Lives!, a drop tower dark ride, Dracula, an atmospheric dark ride, The Wolf Man, an indoor roller coaster, and Creature from the Black Lagoon, a dark ride/water coaster hybrid.

Frankenstein Lives!
Drop Tower Dark Ride
Based on one of the most definitive monster/horror films of all time, Frankenstein Lives! is a nightmarish tale about Dr. Henry Frankenstein, an obsessed "mad scientist" that labors away in a watchtower and practices unusual experiments in his attempt to create artificial life. To prove his sanity to the scientific world, Dr. Frankenstein has asked impartial individuals to his laboratory to bare witness to the fantastic discoveries he has made in the regeneration of life. Never mind that he has been accused of being a grave robber, Dr. Frankenstein wants to convince the world that he has found the path from death to life.

From inside the Gothic corridors of Frankenstein Tower, guests enter a darkened room that offers a prologue to the attraction, delivered by a tuxedoed gentleman who appears out from a closed curtain, very similar to the well-known prologue of the original 1931 Frankenstein film. The gentleman states:

"How do you do? The doctor feels it would be a little unkind to present this without just a friendly word of warning: We are about to unfold the story of Frankenstein, a man of science who sought to create a man after his own image without reckoning upon God. It is one of the strangest tales ever told. It deals with the two great mysteries of creation; life and death. I think it will thrill you. It may shock you. It might even horrify you. So, if any of you feel that you do not care to subject your nerves to such a strain, now's your chance to uh, well, ––we warned you!"

As the gentleman retreats behind the curtain, the guests are directed out of the room and escorted by a couple of assistants into one of the four ride chambers with a seating area similar to that of a medical amphitheater with the audience seated in raised rows for an unobstructed view of the operating table. The seating area is split into four sections, which in turn act as the four ride vehicles of the attraction, with three rows per section, able to accommodate four guests per row. Seat belts secure the guests in their seats. A wide, black curtain obscures the guests' view of the eventual horrors they are about to witness in the chamber. With the stage now set, the curtain drops to reveal the unusual setting of Dr. Frankenstein's laboratory within the tall semi-circular chamber 40 feet high with the seating area/ride vehicles against the flat wall of the room. Centered in the middle of the chamber is Frankenstein's elaborate equipment setup of electrical wires, globes, rings of steel, banks of gauges, dials, and switches and a single operating table with a covered up body secured on the table.
Dr. Frankenstein, represented by a highly accentuated audio-animatronic with precision movements and the ability to express intense facial gestures, greets his guests:
"Welcome. You may be wondering what I am about to show you. Well, these experiments that I have been conducting and that you may have heard about are REAL, not imaginary. You will be the first to witness the greatest of all discoveries, the ability of man to instill life back into the dead body of another human being. They say that I am crazy, but tonight, I will prove that I am not crazy...that I can created LIFE! And that I can do it again and again and again." Frankenstein then turns to Fritz, his audio-animatronic assistant stationed next to the electrical equipment, and says, "Fritz, throw the switches!"

Fritz ignites the electrical equipment as instructed. Dr. Frankenstein's electrical equipment kicks on, followed by small plumes of smoke, and the two tall electrical towers in the laboratory suddenly display bright white and blue streams of electricity that run continuously up from the bottom of the towers to the top. The lightning storm outside of the tower is visible from a small opening at the top of the chamber and catches the eye of Dr. Frankenstein. "Fritz, raise the table!" Fritz replies, "Yes, master." Fritz releases a lever and the operating table as well as the audience of guests begins to rise together in unison to the top of the tower. Dr. Frankenstein exclaims, "PREPARE YOURSELVES! You will witness firsthand...THE CREATION OF LIFE!" The lightning outside becomes more frequent as the storm overtakes Frankenstein Tower. The guests' slow ascent to the top of the tower precedes the eminent danger from the violent electrical storm and the uncertainty of the experiment's safety and the doctor's sanity.

When the top of the tower is reached, the operating table, with the lifeless form, and the seating audience comes to a definitive halt. The swirling winds increase and the overly-active night skies light up with the crackles of electricity that stem from the low-lying clouds just overhead. The night sky represented in the upper portions of the ride chamber looks expansive as the top of the ride structure is not visible to the audience, due to the height of the chamber, 170-feet overall, and the use of special effects and projections simulating the lightning storm. After a couple of intense seconds exposed to the storm, a huge lightning bolt strikes the seating audience, crashing the ride vehicles back to the floor of the laboratory. Unconcerning to the happenings of the audience, Dr. Frankenstein continues to watch the storm and the operating table at the top of the tower as all hell begins to break loose. "Master," Fritz says, "what of your audience?" "Send them back up!" the doctor replies. As the ride vehicles quickly ascend back to the top of the tower, Dr. Frankenstein continues. "The storm is magnificent! All the electrical secrets of Heaven. And again, we're ready, eh Fritz?"

Just as the ride vehicles lock in again at the top of the tower, another large lightning bolt strikes both the audience and the dead body, darkening the entirety of the tower and illuminating Frankenstein's creature from underneath its wrappings. The ride vehicles suddenly catapult 120 feet straight up into the sky, to the very top of the enclosed ride structure, due to the violent lightning strike and the sudden "jolt of life" given to the audience from Frankenstein's equipment. The audience soon becomes aware that they have been transported to a strange place; a place between life and death. The lightning storm has disappeared and abstract images from within the mind appear, with the use of HD projections and various special effects. The ride vehicles randomly drop down, stop, and accelerate back up again in the audience's moments lost from reality. Suddenly, another large lightning bolt strikes again and brings the audience back to Frankenstein Tower in an accelerated descent back down to the darkened laboratory, finished by a noticeable "thump".

As the lights begin to illuminate the laboratory once again and the audience begins to calm down, the operating table is seen positioned back in the laboratory, propped up with the once covered body on the table now uncovered. Dr. Frankenstein is anxious with his results. Towering behind him is Frankenstein's monster who became the doctor's first successful but flawed attempt at regenerating life. Rising off of the operating table is Dr. Frankenstein's second attempt and most successful result yet, the Bride of Frankenstein. "She's ALIVE!" he excitedly exclaims, "ALIVE!" The curtains come up as the ride ends. As the audience proceeds towards the exit of Frankenstein Tower, they pass by a scene of Frankenstein's monster and the Bride of Frankenstein, represented as animatronics, being introduced to each other.
Audio-animatronics of the Bride of Frankenstein and Frankenstein's monster.

Dark Ride
The legendary creature of the night, the vampire known as Count Dracula, feeds on the blood of the living in his native land of Transylvania. Dracula's supernatural powers of hypnosis and metamorphosis aid him in search of his next victim. The people of Transylvania warn others-when night falls stay indoors and never go near Castle Dracula. Guests to Transylvania, you have been warned!
The Dracula dark ride is an atmospheric encounter with Dracula and his "Creatures of the Night". The scenes of the ride take place in his castle and the nearby surroundings of Transylvania. After touring the cobwebbed queue in the great hall of Castle Dracula, guests board the coffin inspired ride vehicles in their descent into the catacombs of the castle. The Victorian-era details enhance the brooding atmosphere of the experience.

The first encounter on the ride with Dracula, a 500 year-old vampire, is shocking. He stands upright next to his coffin, wrapped tightly in an all-enveloping black cape. His ashen face has a piercing, unmoving, cold fixed gaze that is illuminated with an unholy glow from the twilight. Rats scurry about and wolves howl. Nearby, Dracula's two undead brides glide silently along.
An audio-animatronic scene of Count Dracula in his castle.

In the next ride scene, a large bat is seen flying across the terrain of Transylvania. Through an open window, the bat enters the bedroom of a young maiden. Dracula then transforms from the bat into his vampire form and with hypnosis, he lures the maiden back to his castle. The unconscious maiden lays in waiting in one of the castle's bedrooms as Dracula's zombie-like wives wolfishly move toward the body. The Count, skilled at metamorphosis, emerges from the mist and enters from the bedroom's balcony. With a silent sweeping gesture, he commands his wives to move off and they back up into the shadows. Dracula approaches and then crouches down at the maiden's neck, enveloping her in his cloak.

The ride continues as an elaborate haunt with Dracula and his now three vampire wives seeking more blood of unsuspecting victims. With various scenes meant to scare the faint of heart, the ride truly excels with outstanding special effects and fantastic audio-animatronics that bring a realism to the ride.

The Wolf Man
Indoor Roller Coaster
The hunt is on for The Wolf Man! Horrified towns people are on the lookout for a gruesome creature that has been terrorizing the English countryside, ravaging anyone who dares cross its path. And there has been speculation that it is in fact a man who tragically transforms into a hideous beast under the full moonlight. It was an almost forgotten legend that has reared its ugly head once again. So be weary, for The Wolf Man has returned. Remember, as the town's folklore says:

Even a man who is pure in heart
And says his prayers by night,
May become a wolf when the wolfbane blooms
And the autumn moon is bright.

The Wolf Man attraction takes place in an eerie forested town in the English countryside. Inside one of the town pubs, with the use of a projection screen, an old legend is being discussed of a horrible and menacing beast, half man and half wolf, that seems to be on the prowl once again. The towns people have banded together to hunt down The Wolf Man and free their town from its fearful grip. "We must end this tonight, at all costs, with whatever it takes!" exclaims one of the town folk.

As the "hunters" exit the pub, they are led through the attraction's indoor queue to the edge of town out by a foggy forest, were the werewolf was last seen. There, at the gates of town, they are loaded into large wooden carts, acting as ride vehicles, with six seats across per row and three rows per cart. The hunters are secured in their carts with lap bars approved for rides that feature inversions. As the carts depart the load platform, the ride attendants offer a stern reminder, "Keep your eyes open and your charms over your hearts..."
An audio-animatronic scene of The Wolf Man in the forest.

The ride vehicles slowly enter the thick, dark forest as the sounds of an owl and crickets are heard throughout the foggy scene. As the carts turn the corner and stop at a clearing in the forest, a man is seen warning the hunters to keep away. The man, seen as Larry Talbot, is represented by an extraordinary audio-animatronic that can seamlessly transform into The Wolf Man. Overhead, the full moon clears from the overcast night sky and illuminates Larry Talbot in the clearing. Just then, the animatronic slowly changes from man to beast, assisted with lighting effects that aid in the believability of the transformation, right in front of the hunters' eyes. With the metamorphosis now complete, The Wolf Man howls at the moon and sneers as it peers over at the hunters. Out of fear from the realization of the danger that the hunters find themselves in, the ride vehicles suddenly accelerate away from the clearing and are launched into the deepest parts of the forest. The hunters are on the run from The Wolf Man!
The ride vehicles accelerate from 0-60 mph down a long, forested tunnel into the first of three inversions of the indoor roller coaster, an Immelmann loop. Out of the loop, the hunters encounter The Wolf Man several more times during the ride experience through various high speed maneuvers, as it swipes at the hunters at close range as the ride vehicles pass by. The ride continues as the hunters come barreling out of the forest through a scene of Gypsies scurrying away from their camp with The Wolf Man close by, into the town's creepy cemetery, and through the the streets of the town itself. The towns people left behind from the hunt are seen screaming in terror as The Wolf Man has been led to their homes. As the ride vehicles approach the final brake section of the roller coaster, gunshots are heard. At the brake section, a man/animatronic from the town informs the hunters that he has ended the reign of The Wolf Man with a silver bullet to the heart, though he grunts in discomfort as he was attacked by The Wolf Man just before he shot him. "Don't concern yourselves with me," he says, "it's nothing to worry about, just a small bite." When ride vehicles reach the unload platform, separate from the load platform, the howling of a wolf can be heard in the distance.

Creature from the Black Lagoon
Dark Ride/Water Coaster Hybrid
Curious explorers looking for excitement and thrills can travel on an expedition to the mysterious Amazon region where it is said that a strange creature lurks underwater, a monster that may be a possible link between land and water animals. Fossils of the its ancestors have recently been discovered and it is believed, based on various accounts, that one of the creatures may still exist. Very little is known about the creature or the Amazon region as a whole. There is plenty to discover in the search of the aptly named Gill-Man, otherwise known as the Creature from the Black Lagoon.
The Creature from the Black Lagoon attraction takes place in a secluded corner of The Monster Lands. Guests enter a hidden temple overgrown with tropical vines through a small opening punctuated with fiery torches that lead guests into the darkness of the ride building. The narrow hallways of the queue within the temple empties out into a lush re-creation of the Amazon Rainforest. Further along the queue, guests pass by the camp where a fossil of the creature's hand was found. The abandoned camp looks as though it had been attacked by a vicious animal. Guests soon come upon a river village in the rainforest and enter the ride boats from one of its docks. The boats, with a capacity of twenty guests seated in five rows with four guests in each row, secures each guest with a lap bar and departs on the adventure.

From the misty Amazon River, explorers can spot creatures of all sorts in the rainforest, including jaguars, crocodiles, pythons, and various tropical birds and insects. In a small section of the river, a stream of bubbles comes up from the river bottom, which could mark where the Creature may be hiding underwater. Upon closer inspection, the Creature's presence cannot be verified in the murky waters.

As the boat approaches a bend in the river, a tramp steamer is spotted anchored close to the river's shores. It is the Rita, a boat that has gone missing in search of the Creature. As the boat circles the Rita, a strange creature rises up from out of the water. But just as the boat draws closer to where the Creature was at, it suddenly disappears. Out from the forest, voices can be heard and soon reveals three of the scientists from the Rita, represented as audio-animatronics. The scientists beg the explorers to go no further and immediately turn back to the village. They confirm that the Creature is real and that it attacked most of the Rita's crew. But before they can continue, one of the scientists suddenly disappears as he is pulled into the brush and begins to scream as the foliage which he has been pulled under begins to violently shake. The other two scientists scream and run away from the attack. As the boats continue down the river, two more distant screams of horror are heard from the forest.

The boat of nervous explorers heads into a very dark section of the river and begins to ride up a lift hill. Halfway up the lift hill on either side of the boat, three more scientists and one of the scientist's girlfriend in a white one-piece bathing suit, appear and warn the guests that the Creature is just up ahead and to veer off of the river when they can. Suddenly, the Creature, standing seven and a half feet tall, looms over the explorers, and just as it takes a swipe at them, the boat accelerates down a 60 foot roller coaster drop. During the roller coaster portion of the ride, the scenes take place from underneath the water.
Audio-animatronic of The Creature from the Black Lagoon.

In the underwater scenes, the Creature swims after two divers armed with spear guns that are unable to outrun the larger, more agile beast. In conjunction with the action taking place, the boat performs multiple roller coaster type elements, such as a 40-foot high 90-degree banked turn, two negative-g hills, and a final large splashdown drop. After the splashdown, the boats pass by two iconic scenes of the Creature and the captured girlfriend, a beauty and the beast type moment, one with the Creature holding her unconscious body and the other with the Creature reaching towards her in a hidden cave. The boats proceed up a second lift hill and discover that the two divers from before, thought to have been lost at the hands of the Creature, reappear and help the captured girlfriend escape. The Creature retreats back into the water as one of the divers attempts to shoot it with his spear gun. The girlfriend screams in fear. "Don't worry," the one rescuer tells the woman, "we rigged depth charges down below in the water." Seconds later he screams, "Get down!" Just after his warning, the water lights up as the explosions from the charges goes off and the water around the boat shoots up into the air.

The final scene of the ride is with the three survivors on the Rita. "Do you think you got him?" the girlfriend asks. "Nothing could have survived those explosions," her boyfriend responds. Down in the water next to the haul of the Rita, a stream of bubbles begins to come up from underneath the water. Just before the boat reaches a second splashdown drop, the Creature jumps out of the water with full force and hisses at the explorers. After the second drop, the boat quickly approaches the river village and docks to unload its explorers.

Monster Lands will also include a merchandise store, a full service restaurant, a counter service restaurant, a specialty food stand, and a sweets shop.

Universal Monsters: Shop of Horrors
The most comprehensive collection of merchandise featuring Frankenstein, Dracula, The Wolf Man, The Invisible Man, the Creature from the Black Lagoon, and the Bride of Frankenstein will be sold in the expansive storefront separating the Transylvania and Frankenstein village areas of the new land. Specialty items such as masks, costumes, hats, t-shirts, pins, and toys will be available for purchase.

Frankenstein Village Tavern & Pub
The full service restaurant in Frankenstein village will feature hearty Bavarian fare such as bratwurst, weisswurst, schnitzel, spaetzle, schweinshaxe, spaetzle, sauerkraut, strudel, gingerbread, and of course, German beer. Guests will enjoy the warmth and hospitality at the authentic Bavarian eatery, complete with Oom-pah band.

Huge burgers and frankfurters with all the fixings are the specialties at the counter service restaurant next to Frankenstein Tower. Put the two foods together in a "Double Feature" to make the ultimate monster food, The Frankenburger. "It's alive! ALIVE!"

Monster Pretzels
The Bavarian specialty food will be larger than life at Monster Pretzels. Various types of flavored pretzels and accompanying dipping sauces will be featured at the small eatery located next to Universal Monsters: Shop of Horrors facing Frankenstein Tower.

Transylvania Treats
Various treats and desserts including candies, cakes, and cookies will be offered at the creepy yet delicious sweets shop across from Universal Monsters: Shop of Horrors. Featured foods will be the vampire blood (cherry) filled turnovers, donuts, and chocolates.

A family friendly extension of Monster Lands will be built next to Frankenstein Tower and will include:
Beetlejuice Coaster
Family Coaster
Ride a Sandworm through Adam and Barbara Maitland's town model where Beetlejuice has been hiding out, featuring representations of Beetlejuice's Graveyard, Dante's House of Girls, the Maitland's hilltop home, and various characterizations of Beetlejuice himself, such as Hombre Beetlejuice, Cowboy Beetlejuice, Amusement Beetlejuice, Red Groom Beetlejuice, and Shrunken Head Beetlejuice. Just repeat his name three times, "Beetlelejuice, Beetlejuice, BEETLEJUICE!" and off you go!

ParaNorman: Zombie and Ghost Shuffle
Spinning Flat Ride
Spin wildly with Norman and his zombie and ghost friends from Blithe Hollow's past on a fun, though a little creepy, family ride.

Edited: August 29, 2015, 11:56 PM

Back to the Future is no longer the future, it is the present. In less than 2 months, the future will become the past. As you can see, the future was for October 21, 2015 and the future portrayed in the film is laughable even though they did get a couple of things right.

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But 30 years is a long time to hold out on a franchise that, while cute and lovable in its day, is not as near and dear to our hearts as nearly every other franchise in the Universal Studios Japan Theme Park, in fact it is ranked nowhere near the top of the IMDB highest rated movies list, rated at 84th. In average box office per movie of a franchise, it is ranked 48th, to the point that all of the Back to the Future movies put together made less than Mrs. Doubtfire…and that speaks volumes for a 30 year old film.

It also kills us to know that while the land in Universal Studios Japan that they are sitting in is themed to San Francisco, Back to the Future and Backdraft actually have nothing to do with San Francisco. While at least Back to the Future takes place in a California town, Backdraft takes place in Chicago. Why the park decided that these two attractions needed to be relocated to San Francisco is anyone’s guess, considering the only thing that this land has to do with San Francisco is a couple of restaurants that are eating up prime real estate in the park and pretending to be a type of fisherman’s wharf. So it has been decided that we are going to dump this oddly themed and horribly dated part of the park.

But don’t consider it a loss…since we are planning on replacing it with a franchise that has done over a billion dollars in video game sales, and only slightly less than a billion dollars with the exact characters that are going to be in the actual park. These characters will take over the land currently inhabited by Back to the Future and Backdraft, while the Minions’ small games will be moved to a different location inside the park.

It was not lost on the management of the park that Biohazard – The Real (Resident Evil in the USA) and Monster Hunter – The Real, both based on video game franchises were wildly popular attractions among Universal Studios Japan Theme Park patrons. And it was not lost on management that cute cartoon characters are insanely popular in the park, particularly in the form of Hello Kitty.

With all of that in mind, we are proud and excited to announce that the San Francisco land in Universal Studios Japan will be replaced by NintendoLand!

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NintendoLand will knock out everything in the San Francisco land, except for the Back to the Future building, and reclaim several back of the house buildings, as well as most of the lagoon that used to host the long closed Peter Pan’s Neverland lagoon show. This new land will take up more square footage than the newly opened Wizarding World of Harry Potter, but with so many more characters to host, it was a requirement. But we are making sure we have plenty of room to expand with other popular characters we couldn’t possibly build all in one year.

Mario Kart XL
The first attraction we should talk about is the replacement of Back to the Future, called Mario Kart XL. The DeLoreans will be pulled out and the motion bases will be modified to allow the rider’s vehicles to lunge forward, backward, to either side, and spin 360 degrees. The vehicle bodies will be built in many different styles all themed around the different characters in the game, although they will retain that 2 rows by 4 seats configuration.

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The outside of the building will lose the gardens while the façade of the building will be made to look like the outside of a Karting arena, and every so often, noises should emanate from the arena that will sound like a large crowd cheering for something exciting going on in the arena.

The ride film will be non-stop action as you are propelled right into the middle of a very intense Kart race with the different characters racing all around you and firing off a variety of projectiles in every direction. The key to this ride is to take the concepts of a Mario Kart race and immerse the riders into an extremely intense and chaotic situation. As the Simpsons ride shows, the more intense and chaotic, the better. There will be some interaction with the images that appear on the dome, the person in the driver’s seat has the ability move the kart in such a way as to avoid certain projectiles. While in the waiting area before the ride, a video will tell the 8 guests to choose who the best driver is going to be and who the best weapons specialist is going to be. The driver will have the ability to twist the steering wheel and make the kart that the guests are riding in lunge to the sides, backwards, and forward. The weapons person will actually be a defensive position that will protect the kart if a stray projectile looks like it is going to get through. If the kart is hit, the vehicle will spin around 180 degrees and face to the back wall for 3 seconds before spinning back around and joining back into the race…the video, which is played on a dome for all riders at the same time will continue to play regardless of what the vehicles are doing. This movement is similar to what takes place in the video game this is based on. The ride film will last around the same amount of time as the Simpsons and Back to the Future rides, so the throughput on the ride should be similar. There is a large list of characters that will appear in this ride, everyone from Bowser to Yoshi, but the bad guys will be the only characters firing projectiles at the riders. There will be a loose story line of the need to beat Bowser and his friends otherwise Bowser could claim the Kart Arena as his own and kick all of the good guys out.

Donkey Kong Country Wild Mine Ride
This ride will take over quite a bit of land that is behind the current Back to the Future ride in backstage areas. This is a mine train roller coaster themed to the Donkey Kong Country franchise.

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The roller coaster will be around 100ft tall, will be themed to a jungle mountain, and portions of it will be indoors, not unlike Thunder Mountain. That is about where the similarities end, however. If we were to equate it to a Disney ride, we would also need to equate the interior more to Splash Mountain than Thunder Mountain. There will be little vignettes set up from time to time along the roller coaster track. The main idea of this ride is that the Kremlings have again stolen the sacred hoard of bananas and the riders are needed to assist Donkey Kong and Diddy Kong in their quest to get the bananas back. Most of the vignettes will be done in a humorous (instead of violent) style while advancing the progress of the adventure.

The roller coaster will use the B&M coaster car that you typically see on their drop coasters with three rows and 8 people in each row. While it is using similar hardware, this will not be a drop coaster, nor will there be any inversions.

Super Mario Rescue

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Taking over what looks like a maintenance shop for the no longer in existence lagoon show, will be a brand new dark ride called Super Mario Rescue. This ride will be a mashup of Toy Story Mania, Voyage to the Iron Reef, Buzz Lightyear Astroblasters, and Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. The vehicles will be conga line style with each car closely attached to the one in front of and behind it. The game is a shooter ride where the items that are hit will react in some way. The ride will use a combination of real effects and projected effects to create its story. Kuka robotic arms will be used to push in and out of the various set pieces, allowing for a much more exciting ride than a simple electric car on a track. When paired with the shooting mechanism, and a more intense movement of the robotic arm, there will be few comparisons between the two rides in the park that use robotic arms. The seats will have 2 rows of four seats to allow more throughput of the ride. The back row will be loaded first and will be several feet higher up than the front row in your typical stadium seating. There will be a few stairs along the sides of the vehicle to allow access to the back row.

The story of the ride is that Mario and Luigi left a while ago on a quest to stop some sinister plot they had uncovered perpetrated by Bowser and his friends…and they haven’t been heard of since. After a while, Princess Peach, Princess Daisy, Rosalina, Toad, and Yoshi all went looking for them, but they haven’t returned either. Professor E. Gad is now very concerned that all of the missing people might be in grave danger. Since another rescue party is in order, he has developed a weapon that will enable guests of the park to assist with the rescue effort. The new weapon was built to hone in on bad people, tweak their brains and turn them into good people…but…you have to hit them directly in the eyes in order for the weapon to work. The Professor has many diagrams of propeller hats around him that he apparently invented for Mario and Luigi, but he claims that while he was originally going to give everyone a propeller hat, he overheard some people in the park – oddly wearing bathrobes – discussing how cool a floating bench was, and he then scrapped the propeller hat idea. The 7 rainbow colored Sprixies have agreed to assist in the effort and will be providing warps to the areas where each missing person was last known to be.

The ride is relatively slow, allowing plenty of time to take in the different environments and do plenty of shooting, the scoring will be each brain conversion is one point. With eight people shooting at the same objects at the same time, there will be an abundance of things to shoot at. At the end of each section, a boss is defeated and the good guy is found, tumbling out into an area where the riders can see them. The Sprixies then warp the good guy back to safety. Mario is the last person who is found, but instead of warping out of there, he jumps into the fray and assist the riders in taking out the final boss, Bowser. As with the previous bosses, even if the killing blow is not made, he will still act as if he has been defeated, because after disembarking from the ride there is…

Mario Party

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This is an area near the exit of Super Mario Rescue that contains a meet and greet with all of the characters in a party atmosphere with DJ music and dancing characters. Since we have just made all of the bad guys good, this is a great place to meet all of the bad guys in a non-threatening environment as well as getting up close and personal with all of the good guys. There is also a store here where you can find all of your needed Nintendo merchandise. In addition to the characters from the ride, there will also be appearances from all of the other Nintendo characters, including characters that will have to wait until phase two before they will have their own ride, like Metroid and Star Fox.

Pokémon Tournament

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The building formerly housing the Backdraft ride will be gutted and turned into Pokémon Tournament. As the name implies, this is a place to bring your own Pokémon and do battle with an opponent (another park guest) of the same skill level. There will be 10-15 different battle stations placed throughout the facility for different skill levels. There will also be places for people to play the Pokémon trading card game in addition to plenty of retail space directly relating to Pokémon. When people enter the facility, they will be asked to register at several kiosks. Using their own personal Nintendo 3DS, or using a special website that allows them to upload their battle Pokémon, players will be ranked and put into a ladder battle arrangement. Each player will get to fight their Pokémon as often as they wish, but in the case of whoever is at the top of the leaderboard, a phone number will be taken and the park will call that contestant, who either reports to the Pokémon Tournament building within 90 minutes, or they give up their top spot on the leaderboard. Whoever is at the top of the leaderboard at the end of the day will receive a special exclusive to Universal Studios Pokémon that the player can download via the special website that we previously mentioned you can upload your Pokémon to. Each player can only win once per month, although they can participate as often as they like. Anyone who has won will receive a special notation next to their name in the Pokémon Tournament building as well as the website. Once every quarter and once every year, there will be tournaments to decide exactly who is the best Pokémon trainer. The facility will also be a proving ground for new Pokémon games, and will quickly embrace the newest version of the game, potentially forcing players to convert to the latest game in order to competitively participate. The retail part of this facility will occasionally put rare and exclusive items on sale, thus making a visit a necessity for all of those that are hooked on the game.

The Legend of Zelda Stunt Show

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Backing up to the Spiderman building is an indoor arena where magic and adventure collide in a special effects extravaganza. The Legend of Zelda Stunt Show features a wide variety of perilous looking stunts showing the character of Link trying to use his sword to cut his way into a castle and rescue Princess Zelda. There will be a variety of industrial grade magic tricks that will allow the rapid changing of the person playing Link in order to fairly seamlessly transfer between the different stunts while keeping up a breakneck pace to the show. The stage will be custom made with many hydraulic lifts and trapdoors to enable any number of quick changes. The climax of the show will be a battle with Ganondorf and then Ganon, the beast form of the same bad guy. Many different special effects will be used including simulated lightning effects and explosions. This will be a high speed sword fighting show, something similar to a Bruce Lee or Jackie Chan movie, but with the artisticness of the sword fight from Princess Bride and the rapid-fire stunting of the CGI Jedi fights of the 3 prequel Star Wars films.

Mario’s Italian Bistro
Well…Mario is Italian…why not a restaurant that specializes in his own ethnic food? Great care will be taken to do a Japanese version of Italian food that most local guests will like. Just like his Italian-American roots, the restaurant will feature pizza, spaghetti, lasagna, ragu bolognese, eggplant parmesan, baccala, calzone, stromboli, cioppino, pasta fasule, followed by tiramiu and cannoli.

Kirby’s Buffet

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The other restaurant in the area is themed to Kirby. Kirby has a voracious appetite and never appears to tire from eating. In fact, Kirby can just expand to the size of the food he is eating and keep going. It is therefore very appropriate that it would take an entire buffet to attain the approval of Kirby. In this restaurant, there will be a number of different types of food, but it will stick primarily with the types of food that the Japanese guests like to eat.

The Rest of the Land

In between all of these rides will be displays of how far Universal Studios is willing to go in order to gain immersion into their properties. There will be topiaries designed to look like the various Nintendo characters, while the backs and sides of buildings will be hidden through murals that looks like you could jump right into a video game. Sightlines will be interrupted to hide the rest of the park from view, so once you are in NintendoLand, there is nothing that will break into the theme. Even the paths will be redone to mimic how they look in a video game. The signposts will all be done in styles that have their origins in Nintendo video games. Since the latest land to open was the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, while NintendoLand could prove to be twice as popular, attention to detail is going to be the key to pulling this off in the same grand manner.

Nintendo is the hometown hero in Japan, loved for its many varied and ultimately globally popular characters. With game sales for most Nintendo games particularly high in Japan, it is a great first location to put in a NintendoLand.

But for now, exclusive to Universal Studios Japan, please help me welcome Mario and his Nintendo pals to Universal Studios.

Edited: August 30, 2015, 12:12 AM

Play your park.

Why Nintendo?
For years, Universal Studios has captivated guests with otherworldly experiences, giving the streets and alleys previously only accessible by imagination a tangible place to call home. The world’s best theme parks, of which Universal Studios is undoubtedly one, transport guests and directly involves in the story.

Many of Universal’s blockbuster franchises are based in the real world in recognizable locations; Fast and Furious, Transformers, and E.T. are among them. While creating an entire land based on an existing location can and is done with success, nothing compares to the incredible sensation of exploring a world solely accessible through stories or movies or, in this case, video games.

As the world’s leading game manufacturer, Nintendo has a plethora of extensively detailed worlds and a zealous fanbase anxiously waiting for the opportunity to explore them. Fortunately for them and theme park lovers alike, Universal Studios will soon allow guests the chance to race karts with Mario, explore forbidden forests with Link, and meet Kirby in person.

Furthermore, a land themed exclusively to video games captures an elusive target audience that’s been left untapped by the theme park industry: gamers. When Nintendo announced that Universal had acquired their theme park rights, commentators regarded the decision as ingenious, as fans of the $70 billion video game industry would finally have a place to turn many of their fantasies into a dazzling reality. NintendoLand will redefine the theme park experience.

NintendoLand will open in Universal Studios Osaka. As the birthplace as Nintendo and, of course, one of its largest markets, Japan is a perfect cultural fit for the land. Furthermore, the Japanese love cute stuffed animals and the like, and the selling power of plush Mario and friends is an immense corporate appeal.

A mockup of the land’s location in the park.

The Land
Guests enter by passing between hills themed to the lands surrounding the Mario franchise. Inside, cartoon buildings, mushrooms, and characters create a comical, fun environment.
NintendoLand truly immerses guests in a video game world. Nothing alludes to the outside world, as every last element contributes to telling the story. For example, flushing toilets in the bathroom plays an amusing gurgling sound. At night, lights in the drinking fountains give the impression of colored water. Characters wander the street, never the one to back down from a photo with guests.
An artist's rendition of NintendoLand.


Mario Kart Racers
Join Mario and the gang as you drive your go-kart in a thrilling race to the finish line! With 16 possible courses, tons of power-ups, and countless interactive elements, no two races are ever alike.

While riders can control their speed and the steering wheel, the ride vehicles’ position are linked to a computer using a continuous GPS connection. If a cart is ever significantly lagging behind the group or completely turning in the wrong direction, it will autocorrect and speed up to rejoin the crowd. Sensors on the carts detect if the cart is approaching an obstacle or a fellow rider, and the vehicle will slow itself. This avoids any direct collision between riders, creating a fun and safe interactive environment. Although unlikely, if the connection between the vehicles and the operating computer is ever interrupted, the vehicles slow to a stop as a safety precaution.

To achieve the multiplicity of race courses, Microsoft Hololens are used. When worn, these show augmented reality images superimposed over the real world. This lets riders that are dispatched at the same time experience the same world and interact with the same ride elements, such as power-ups. While the physical track/road does not change, the Hololens lets every ride be a completely unique experience. Furthermore, since the Hololenses have depth of field in their vision, they aren’t nearly as strenuous on the eyes when compared to virtual reality headsets, truly letting the ride be an experience for the entire family.

Ride Vehicles
The vehicles are themed to those in the Mario Kart games. There are 8 different styles, as 8 carts are dispatched at a time. Each cart can hold up to 2 people.

The front of each cart has small vents to provide wind effects throughout the ride. There are also small holes that can lightly squirt water at guests, as well as speakers for on-board audio.

Mario Kart Racers is accessible for the entire family. If riders fall short of the 32’’ height requirement, they can ride with another guest that’s 54’’ or taller.

Mario Kart Racers features two separate tracks, each with their own twists and turns. Because most of the effects are generated virtually, the track can pass over and under itself to minimize the attraction footprint. When the two tracks are coupled with the numerous course possibilities of the Hololens, the ride is immensely engaging and repeatable.

Ride Capacity
The ride has a theoretical maximum capacity of 2,560 riders an hour. However, since many may choose to ride individually as opposed to with another, the ride realistically sees 1,800 guests an hour.

Guests crisscross in a switchback queue before entering a show building, themed to a giant Mario Kart stadium. Inside the hallowed halls of racing champions, paintings are hung on the walls, showcasing previous winners. Princess Peach, Luigi, and Toad are among the most decorated victors. As guests move through the halls towards the boarding area, they pass by several humorous scenes. In the middle of one hall lies a bathroom door with a frosted window. The shadows of some of Mario’s friends are visible as they childishly scuffle. Through their garbled gaggle, guests can discern that they’re trying to eliminate fellow competitors! Cartoon effects, like birds and stars circling heads to emulate dizziness, can be seen through the window. In small vignettes such as this, guests are further exposed to the world of Mario.

There are two boarding platforms, loading 8 carts per track for a total of 16 ride vehicles. While taxiing into the boarding platforms, the computer that controls the cart’s position overrides guests’ input, automatically steering the vehicles to their designated docking station. This significantly reduces the cart turnover time leading to a higher hourly rider capacity.

Ride Experience
Once boarded, guests are prompted to put on their racing goggles (the Hololenses), and the carts disembark from the station. To start, the computer controls the vehicles’ movement so that all the carts are properly aligned in their starting places. The road that they’re driving on has no rails or track, as the vehicles maintain spacing between themselves via sensors throughout the ride.

The 8 carts line up at the starting line, flanked by a spectator stand on either side. These are two of the few physical props in the ride, as the rest are generated by the Hololens. As guests approach the starting banner, the Mario theme music builds in anticipation of the race, and spectators cheer in the stands. Suddenly, a countdown appears in the middle of the guests’ vision.


And they’re off! The carts immediately accelerate forward and begin their race through the course. While guests can steer and control their carts’ speed of up to 20 mph, the computer ultimately has the final say of where the carts go; if two vehicles are too close to one another or too near the edge of the track, the computer will override guests’ controls and steer them safely. This is also used to prevent carts from falling too far behind.

The course has a few sharp turns and banked corners, but nothing that’s truly dangerous for a trackless ride. This keeps the emphasis on the interactive ride experience. Power-ups can be found hovering above the track, and guests can collect them by driving through them. By pressing a button on their steering wheel, the power-up activates and the subsequent action occurs. Using a combination of acceleration, deceleration, wind, and water effects, guests are completely immersed in the attraction.

An artist's rendition of Mario Kart Racers using the Hololenses.

Guests’ vie for first place during the 2:30 minute ride length, before passing across the finish line in a glorious shower of confetti and fireworks. The vehicles drive themselves back into the boarding/disembarking station and park. Guests exit through a gift shop selling Yoshi plushies, Mario Kart models, and other fun trinkets.

Heroes of Hyrule
An immensely detailed dark ride with physical props rather than digital screens, Heroes of Hyrule combines collaborative and interactive elements with an unparalleled story to deliver a truly immersive experience.

Ganondorf, the Prince of Darkness, has returned to the Hyrule kingdom with a single mission: to become the supreme leader of the land. To do this, he has his sight set on possessing the Triforce of Power, an ancient relic that gives the yielder near immortality and incomparable strength. To stop him before he achieves this dastardly task, Princess Zelda and Link need the help of everyone throughout the land to find the broken shards of the complete Triforce, which consists of the Triforce of Power as well as the Triforces of Wisdom and Courage. Only then can Ganondorf finally be vanquished once and for all.

The Hyrule emblem, feature the three triangles that make up the Triforce.

Who will save the kingdom and become the next hero of Hyrule?

Why Zelda?
The Legend of Zelda, one of the largest video game franchises of all time, has a unique and rich mythology that’s pervaded pop culture for decades. Its devoted fanbase would love the opportunity to explore Hyrule and the surrounding areas, and Heroes of Hyrule provides them with just that. Furthermore, the world of Zelda has several alternative timelines, each with different twists on the original story. For this reason, an attraction that enters the Zelda world and doesn’t merely retell a single story but creates a brand new one would be a natural extension of the franchise. In addition, the rudimentary premise of good versus evil makes the story understandable to everyone, even those unfamiliar with the characters of Link and Zelda.

Ride Vehicles
Guests board into a train, called a Spirit Train, a common mode of transportation in the game series. Three carts are linked together to form a train, and each cart can seat 2 guests. Carts spin individually to face guests towards certain features of a scene. In front of each passenger’s seat is a torch that’s attached to the cart itself. This works like a flashlight, illuminating the area it’s pointed at. Each cart also has the Triforce symbol, situated between the two torch holders. As shards of the Triforce are discovered, it slowly lights up until it’s full.

Heroes of Hyrule has a maximum capacity of 1,440 riders an hour.

Guests enter the attraction through Hyrule castle. They pass across the drawbridge and over a moat, entering the ominous castle. Inside, the Hyrule banners are proudly hung, yet the castle looks messy and disorganized. Passing through the dinner hall, guests see plates, glasses, and other dining utensils strewn around the room. The castle inhabitants obviously left in a hurry, although their reason remains a mystery.

As guests continue through the queue, they come face-to-face with an audio-animatronic Princess Zelda standing in a castle courtyard. Using the face recognition technology from Universal’s Escape from Gringotts queue, Zelda makes eye contact with guests and thanks them for coming.

“Welcome to Hyrule Castle. I am Princess Zelda, overseer of this illustrious kingdom - or so it was. An evil lord by the name of Ganondorf threatens our very existence. We need your help, brave adventurers, to unite the shards of the Triforce scattered all throughout the kingdom and defeat Ganondorf once and for all. Will you be our heroes?”

As she mentions the word “Triforce”, the three triangles that make up the relic briefly form above her head via a glass projection before fading away but a few moments later. Guests unfamiliar with the franchise are exposed to this important story component and can recognize it throughout the ride.

Once Princess Zelda stops talking, she continues to look at guests, nodding her head gently and waving them onward. During her dialogue, guests continue to move through the line and on their way to the boarding platform. This prevents guests from being forced into a designated pre-show; rather, they continue to progress through the line while the background information is being presented.

Guests then exit to a boarding station, themed to an outdoor courtyard with a train track meandering through. The room itself is completely enclosed.

Boarding commences on two sides of the platform. The two trains will merge onto the same track, but they are loaded separately to accelerate the process.

Ride Experience
Once guests have boarded their Spirit Train, they disembark from the station. As soon as both tracks merge into one, they see an audio-animatronic Link. In his hand is a torch, identical to the ones that guests have in front of them.

“Welcome eager adventurers! Use your torches and illuminate the Hyrule emblem to look for shards of the Triforce. We must assemble the Triforce in its entirety and defeat Ganondorf once and for all!”

During this informational spiel, he uses the torch in his hand to light up a Hyrule emblem emblazoned on the wall. The bricks of the wall quiver a bit, and projecting mapping makes the Triforce image glint and glow, with sparks flying in a glorious fervor. As this happens, the very bottom of the Triforce symbol in the carts lights up, signaling that part of the relic has been found.

Guests’ trains leave the station one at a time. From here, they enter a marketplace in the courtyard of a castle, specifically the North Palace. As the location where Link begins his first quest in the Legends of Zelda series, this serves as an important landmark for fans.

Guests immediately see the Hyrule emblem on everything from pots and pans to bales of hay. When the torches shine on it, the object either moves or reveals some sort of hidden feature behind it. As the trains pass through the market, guests fervently shine their torches around the room in the hopes of finding pieces of the Triforce. For every train on every ride, the location of the shards is randomized, making each ride unique. When a shard is found, projection mapping showers sparks in the area and noticeable sound effects reaffirm all the guests on the train that they’ve discovered a piece. This truly is a collaborative effort; riders are not pitted against one another, but encouraged to work together.

As guests leave the hustle and bustle of the market, they enter a desert village. Out of the sand dunes rises humble abodes, clothes hanging out to dry in the desert heat. The Hyrule emblem is inscribed throughout the sandstones, clothing articles, and house doors. When the emblems on the door are lit by a torch, small animatronic children open the door and peer curiously at the adventures passing through their town.

Next, the trains take guests to Oberon’s Fairy Spring. Steam churns the hot springs and faeries glint around the air.

Guests then enter the Lost Woods. Here, trees stretch to the skies, the sun peaks through the canopy, and forest animals wander aimlessly about.

Suddenly, the sky turns an ominous grey and the trains arrive at the Old King’s Tomb. Before them lies a massive graveyard. As an easter egg, the tombstones are inscribed with odes to some of the most famous Nintendo characters; Bowser, Luigi, and Princess Peach all call this place a (final) home. This dark scene begins to build the anticipation for the final confrontation with Ganondorf himself.

The trains head between doors embellished with the face of Ganondorf and enter what seems to be the dungeons of a castle. Chains and shackles hang on the walls, and the shuffling of feet and guttural growling can be heard emanating from unlit corners.

As they take a turn, guests are plunged into total darkness. By now, they are close to discovering all the Triforce shards, but they have yet to completely unify the relic. Suddenly, torches on the walls light up the long room, with a massive empty throne at the far end. Link stands in the middle, urging guests to “Hurry up and find the remaining pieces! Ganondorf will be back soon!” The Hyrule emblem is all over the room, and guests make a final valiant effort to find the remaining pieces. As long as guests have been participating throughout the attraction, the Triforce is finally completed in this stage, although narrowly.

A massive cloud of smoke erupts over the throne, and Ganondorf seems to appear out of thin air (in reality, the throne seat moved and he was raised up). His voice thunders through the hall.

“How dare you interrupt me? I shall destroy you!”

Thunder echoes through the room, and lightning streaks on the walls, even indoors. The entire room shakes, and a glowing light appears high in the air. Slowly, the light becomes a radiating beacon, and the Triforce in all its glory glows. Ganondorf’s eyes widen, and light beams from the Triforce into all corners of the room.

Ganondorf is struck by a light ray and utters a deafening scream. His scaly skin seems to glow from within, before he explodes in a blinding burst of light. In reality, the combination of sound effects and a bright light create the illusion of an explosion. Before the scene’s inner workings are exposed, trains move to the boarding/unboarding station.

On the speakers, Princess Zelda’s voice can be heard congratulating the new heroes of Hyrule.

Pipe Peril
While the rest of NintendoLand’s attractions are family-friendly and interactive, this one is a true, white-knuckle ride, with the focus on the thrills. Completely indoor, guests board one of two trains and zip past some of the most memorable Mario moments. Although the room stays pitch black, cleverly lit blocks and other objects are suspended from the ceiling, perfect to briefly focus guests’ attention on without overwhelming their senses as they whip through the ride. Twice throughout the ride (at the beginning and end), the trains pass through a classic Mario-esque pipe. Rainbow lights spiral on the pipe’s inside, effectively “warping” guests into and out of the ride.

Krazy Koopas
Climb into a Koopa (turtle) shell and spin, spin, spin! This teacup flat ride may be family-friendly, but it’s sure to induce dizziness. [Disclaimer: No Koopas were harmed in the making of attraction.]

No Pokémon?
Although it’s undoubtedly a beloved franchise, Pokémon is not officially owned by Nintendo. While it is an affiliate, assuming that Nintendo also purchased the rights to Pokémon independently is inaccurate.


Hunger Gaming
At Hunger Gaming, not only can you grab a bite of good ol’ American comfort food, but while you wait for your food play a classic Nintendo game on one of the retro Gameboys on tabletops restaurant-wide.

Toadstool Eatery
Get all your fruits and veggies here! Serving natural foods and traditional Japanese snacks, this is a great outdoor eatery location.


Nintendo Store
At this massive store that flanks both side of the main entrance (it’s connected underground!), not only can guests get the latest and greatest tourist items, but they can stock up on classic games and new hits alike.

Hyrule Marketplace
The stores that make up both sides of the street leading up to the Hyrule Castle sell Legend of Zelda-specific merchandise as well as Nintendo items.

Once again, Universal Studios has demonstrated its ingenuity by bringing to life many of the world’s most beloved gaming franchises that hundreds of millions have enjoyed playing. NintendoLand is truly a park for play.

August 30, 2015, 4:51 AM

Douglas Hindley - Back to the Future

I am a big back to the future fan, and one of my regrets is not being able to get to Universal studios before the ride closed. However, I do have concerns about the “age” of the property… I don’t think BTTF has proven to be an “evergreen” property except to a hard core group of fans which I don’t think is quite big enough to justify a whole land, much less multiple copies of it as you seem to be proposing; although Telltale did produce those awesome games the other year, unless there is a new movie on the horizon I think this would be a tough sell to the board.

That aside… I’m torn about this retheming thing. On one hand, do it at the right pace and you have a good way to bring locals back to the park, they’ll come for each of the time periods if you cycle within a year (so that would suggest to me your cycle period is too short - once a year isn’t enough) and the park will always seem new and vibrant… However there is the risk of disappointment for long-distance guests if they come during the “Wrong” time - if Timmy really wanted to visit the West, and ends up in 1985, I can see him being hard to console. Its a big risk, but I think its a risk worth taking.

I do like that you have kept BTTF the ride, it is a beloved attraction and any removal to build a BTTF land would surely generate an outcry. On Hoverboard run, I think you scripted the Doc well, I can see Christopher Lloyd saying those lines… and the robotic Ronald Regan seems like a good way to poke fun at Disney… the ride itself seems brilliant, I really really want to ride it now…

Going “Into” the movies, as Carson Spur does is brilliant, the only problem I potentially have is the continuity issue - we saw that train crash into the ravene, and we saw the passenger car be decoupled… Would Doc and Marty really have continued if they couldnt decouple the car (it would affect their ability to reach 88 MPH)? Wouldn’t they have at least ensured that the car was empty? I think you’ve got a good idea here, but the continuity freaks are going to object to the story - I think it needs to be reworked a bit…

Loco Express to me seems to be another top thrill dragster/stealth style ride. Not original, but your theming and your souvenir is. Whilst I’d like to see these paired to something a bit more unique, they very much are a star performance.

Of the retail outlets, maybe its just me, but only the futuristic ones excite me, but keeping them immersive is a really good idea.

Your announcement is perfect, and is the perfect ending to an amazing entry.

DPCC - Monty Python and the holy grail - a silly place

Good research on the Python link. I didn’t realise disgraced Australian former businessman Alan Bond owned it for a while (As an Australian I am familiar with part of his story)… I knew Skase owned MGM for a while…

I think Python has proved itself to be an evergreen property - the O2 being packed out for weeks for the “farewell” performances decades after they broke up proves that… It was an amazing show (even if my seat was so far away I was basically watching it on TV)… So I have no problem with thinking its viable. Spamalot doing well (except maybe in Vegas) I think also shows it can attract a US Audience, but I can’t help but think this might do better at Paramount in London - presuming that happens of course.

I think by focusing on a specific part of the Python back catalogue you are better off at creating an immersive experience a la harry potter than trying to squeeze in a mini grail land, mini Brian land, mini crimson permanent assurance land, etc, but salt and peppering with things like the “cheese shop” is a welcome addition too. Skit and Street performers help turn this from a theme park land to an immersive experience, so needless to say, I’m very impressed.

Run Away I think is a great way to put people into the movie/stage show, and introduce a younger audience who has not yet had the chance to experience the ridiculousness of python to one of the most treasured elements of the series, and including elements they’ll find elsewhere.

Shrubbery the only thing I don’t like is that I cant experience all the ride in one run-through, I’m left to hope my second run through goes through the rooms I missed… If I didn’t know they were there I might miss them completely.

None shall pass, I’m not sure if that will work.. I guess it depends on how you arrange for the limbs to fall - I’m concerned about what happens if the guests miss. The effect in Spamalot of the legs being removed is done by pinning to the scenery and then taking off both legs at once… I think that might be a better, more spectacular, way for it to finish, but Arthur would have to strike that blow.

Lumberjack isn’t strictly in Grail, but having Herbert sing the song kinda seems appropriate… I think Eric Idle missed a trick by not doing this in Spamalot. I guess its not often one can say this, but I think you out pythoned the pythons.

Your teacups ride however kinda seems forced… like you needed something to make up the quota. Its almost as if when you got to that part of the proposal some Colonel barged into your room and demanded you stop, as it was getting too silly.

Holy Ale in a Holy Grail seems like a brilliant “Butterbeer” for the land, and selling spam of course is a must.

I think Universal need to get on this right away… but I’ll leave this review with “Wenn ist das Nunstück git und Slotermeyer? Ja! Beiherhund das Oder die Flipperwaldt gersput!”

I think this is your best work yet, and in a different league to what you’re written before.


Keith Schneider - Monster Lands

Monster Lands, instead of focusing on a single IP, allows you to be a bit more flexible in what you do, and keep the park “fresh”. However, I think this comes at the expenseof Immersion - What HP the Universal parks get right is putting you in one place in the HP universe at a time, and making that a completley immersive experience. With a more general “Monsters of the Golden Age of Cinema” theme, I’m not sure you can pull off the same effect.

However, as you point out, the stories are well known and passed into legend. You don’t have seen the 1931 Frankenstein movie to know the basic plot. I didn’t follow how this ride worked as a drop tower at first, but on second reading I think I get it… its ascending to the afterlife, and then falling back down. Clever, but given the “action” going on centre stage, I’m not sure how well it works.

Dracula doesn’t seem that scary to me, whilst the tale you have for the ride is interesting, I can’t help but wonder if you’d be better served by something a little more basic and timeless.. having dracula pursue and try and catch the guests rather than try and tell the story of the maiden…

Wolfman I think with the right lighting effects can be a spectaclar ride, and Creature from the Black Lagoon reminds me a lot of Jaws, I think this ride is one that needs to be made, somewhere, somehow.

A very good submission, but I’m just not sure if its on the Harry Potter level of immersion.

Jeff Eliot - Nintendoland (1)

I think you’re flying a bit close to the sun with the rubbishing of BTTF Given a previous submission focused on it… It can read as criticism of that idea…But I’ll presume its a coincidence.

I think Nintendoland has the same sort of problem that general “Horror from Screen” has, except I think its more pronounced here. For a Harry-Potter level of immersion, I think you’d be better focusing on one nintendo IP - say “Mushroom Kingdom”, rather than trying to go for “Nintendo’s greatest hits”. Hogsmede is just hogsmede, it isn’t trying to be the Quidddich World Cup as well…

Mario Kart XL looks like a great replacement for BTTF… I’m just concerned that only one will drive, and one will use weapons. I’d suggest to get everyone there make something in the course make them switch between guests at certain points.

Donkey Kong seems like a good family ride, and good first coaster for the kids… I have some concerns about Super Mario rescue… Do we want to be teaching kids to shoot people in the eyes (even if there is no violence, I think it sets a questionable precedent)

A theme park seems like the natural home for a video game tournament…. Or maybe I’ve just seen The Wizard too many times…. Problably the latter. I am concerned about this “report within 90 minutes” rule… I don’t want to have to be standing around 90 minutes for the other guy to show up… A good idea, but needs to be reworked.

A Zelda stunt show is a good idea, but I can’t help but feel that your land would have been better had you instead focused on the Mario/Donkey Kong Universe and made this perhaps a modern version of the Super Mario Super Show, or a slapstick comedy show with the Kongs.

Good ideas, but this to me seems the start of a pitch of an extra gate, rather than an immersive Harry-Potter style land.

Andy Teoh - Nintendoland (2)

I think your crituque really needs to be read with Jeff’s, as all the stuff about mixing Nintendo IP still applies.

Your Mario Kart idea seems like a great one - of the two mario kart rides, I think this is better - a must ride, presuming that the anti-collision technology is good enough to match it. I would ensure though that Double-riders have a double-dash style experience, rather than just being along for the ride.

Zelda sems like a good blaster ride, the only question I have is what happens if we don’t shoot anything and assemble the Triforce? I’d suggest an “outcome” based on the score, from “Marginal victory” to “Total Victory”.

With Pipe Peril, if I’m zooming along at a thrilling rate, I wonder if I’ll have time to really observe those “memorable moments”, but the warp effect is very well done.

As for Pokemon, fair point, but given that the Pokemon Company is partially owned by Nintendo, I think it fair to put them within Nintendoland. However, they are big enough to warrant their own land

August 30, 2015, 5:29 AM

TPA7 challenge 6

Douglas Hindley Hill Valley

Two "thematic" things impressed me most about this proposal. 1) you took a major IP that has been discarded in America but still exists in a limited way in Japan and breathed new life into it. You breathed enough new life into it that I feel that it could easily be reintroduced back into the American parks, and frankly the Simpsons areas would pale in comparison. 2) Your concept of a yearly retheming of an entire land in rotation is thinking outside the box in a way that- how can I say this- a fellow competitor would be proud of. We've seen entire lands created and maintained, and sometimes altered over the years, but I can't remember ever hearing of a plan to retheme one yearly. I have only seen this done one other place, and that is in a science museum in Columbus, Ohio called COSI (don't ask). They have a small town street in the late 1890s, then when you turn the corner it is the same street in the mid 1960s. The changes with time were fascinating, and I completely understand how this would be a visually thrilling sight for visitors. It would almost demand yearly return visits for anyone able to do so. A brilliant concept, well thought through.

You harvested a near-perfect combination of rides, attractions and concessions from the BTTF films. You proposed reinvigorating BTTF:TR using modern technology not available when it was first conceived, making revisits also nearly long as you can get rid of the motion sickness that the original ride caused (me). Hoverboard Run is a terrific blend of modern technology with an exciting storyline that is easy enough for those not familiar with the film to follow- but I think that this ride, along with the entire land you have created, would inspire many to watch or rewatch the films to get every inside joke and subtle reference you have infused through out this land. Loco Express is perhaps reaching a bit for a theme tie-in, but the thrill it would offer is worth it. Your location of it at the edge of the land would minimize the incongruous tower it would require. Enchantment Under the Sea is a great choice for an entertainment option, but I question if having it as an on-going dance party as compared to a regular show would work. Perhaps set show times for the live performances on stage by the bands (with guest star Marty) and having the teen dancers on the dance floor dancing with guest in between time (using recorded music) would work better, keeping the audience entertained who come in to get a good seat for the show. You couldn't expect a band to play continually all day. Your dining and retail choices were practically handed to you by the films, and you wisely took them and used them. They would be expected by anyone even remotely familiar with the films. I especially liked your use of the Brown Estate and garage.

You've probably noticed that I skipped Carson Spur Limited, not because I didn't like it, but because I'm having trouble understanding the technical aspects of it. This is one time when I wish you had included one of your usual remarkable graphics, to demonstrate how this ride would physically work. I'm unclear how riders would be able to see through the train windows all of the action taking place outside of the train, especially the sections around the engine. I haven't ridden the tram tour, Hogwarts Express or Fast & Furious, so I was unclear how this would work. The story and ride sounds thrilling, exciting, all the things that would be expected, but I had trouble wrapping my head around the physical visual experience. I would also cut the shooting in the train- "Bufford fires his revolver at riders"??!!- filmed or not, some people would be quite upset at this, especially with all of the crazies around with guns nowadays.

I don't want to leave this critique on a down note. I read this proposal and thought that it was a brilliant concept, taking a perfect theme park IP that was (imho) foolishly discarded in America and recreating it in a unique way. This proposal perfectly met the criteria of the challenge, and would be a great next generation of theme land for Universal Studios everywhere.

DPCC inc A Silly Place

I had no idea that the rights to this film had gone through so many convoluted twists and turns, but I was delighted that you found it to be acceptable for this challenge. I've always been a big fan of Monty Python in all of its forms, and having a themed land of its own would be a major treat!

I think we've said this in the past, if not to you then to someone else- never say anything in a proposal that is not 100% enthusiastic or complimentary. "I know, the film is old" undermines everything that you are trying to do. Universal Execs are not going for "old"- they are going for something young, exciting, youthful and fun, and that is exactly what your proposal offers if you don't start it out with a dark cloud over it. Your following line, starting with "But..." is too late. Damage done. You want to use words like "classic", "timeless". One other thing to consider is that your proposal is not based on one "old" movie, but on an entire franchise, one obviously rich in potential source material. At this level of competition, you can't give your opponents any edge.

Now assuming that you edited out that line before I read it, I think that your entrance to A Silly Place is wonderful, fun, outrageous, and even if you aren't familiar with Monty Python and all of its bits, schtict, you would know that this really is going to be a silly place, a fun place full of fun attractions. Either you are a major Python fan or you really did your homework, because you included so many of the wonderful silly bits into this entire land. Having the land divided into two sections, Camelot and The Dark and Very Expensive Forest was also a good choice, keeping the many diverse elements in this land from become to....silly (I was going to say confusing, but that seemed rather...uh...silly).

Your use of live performers and live skits would make this land especially entertaining for visitors. You were smart to say that most of the skits and dialogue would come directly from the scripts, since so many people are so familiar with them that they would immediately know if the performers were going to deviate from the original material. Visitors would come here to see Monty Python, not something "inspired by Monty Python".

I mean that concerning the live street performers. Your rides by necessity are inspired by the Pythons, and I think you did a great job of finding the right mix of ride and inspiration for the ride. Run Away would be a fun, thrilling ride, but I'm not sure how easy it would be to explain the premise of the Trojan Rabbit to the unPythoned riders in the dark ride portion of the ride- or even it would really be that necessary. If they were a little bit confused about what they were seeing, so what? The coaster part of the ride would still be entertaining, but I would probably have edited out much of the physical description of the ride itself (up then down then up...etc.) as it really was not all that relevant.

Quest for...a shrubbery? would be a great dark ride, but I have a problem with riders not seeing the entire ride. They will probably have already waited a good long time to get to ride this- I would expect it to be extremely popular- so expecting them to wait in line again, with a chance of seeing the "A" side again and never seeing the "B" side, would make for some very unhappy Pythons. Each scene is good enough that every rider should see every scene in one ride-through. If they want to wait in line to see it again- and again- and again- let them. It would be worth it.

None Shall Pass would be a fun show to watch and participate in, but it would be a rather short show, and teaching kids to cut off arms and legs seems a bit...ISIS teaching children to kill and maim people is too much in the news, and even though this show is based on a very silly scene from a very silly movie, it still came to my mind. There is no way to totally block the present world from intruding into a theme park, try as hard as you like. Sometimes you have to look at the bigger picture, and if you have to put too many disclaimers in before a show ("This show is strictly a fun, playful recreation of a silly scene from a silly movie, and is not intended to encourage your children or anyone else to maim, mutilate or kill anyone, intentionally or accidentally. Please use swords, pointed sticks or pieces of fruit responsibly.")- that will make sense to Pythons, but having to say anything like that probably means that the show is more work and worry than it's worth.

The rest of your rides are appropriate and would round out your selection of attractions very well. I loved the visual of riding coconuts- Universal does love to spoof Disney, doesn't it?!

"The Holy Ale" would be a great place to eat, but standard pub food in Britain and standard pub food in America is not the same. The addition of Spam options was inspired, though, and would potentially be extremely popular considering the theme of the entire land. "Hands On" - I do medieval reenacting, and live for renaissance festival season, so I understand the hands on eating thing , but not everyone is in love with the idea. Have other options, or at least utensils available.

A Silly Place could be a Monty Python fan's Nirvana- to be totally immersed in all things Python would be great fun, and I think you created a wonderfully immersive land with dozens of Python references that would give fans so much to see and do. A bit of editing of your descriptions and perhaps some rethinking of a few areas would make this proposal outstanding. Great work with a great theme!

Keith Schneider Monster Lands

Monster Lands is a great way to bring these film classics to USO. While Disney has never seemed to either know how to do so or chose not to, you have created a land dedicated to monsters, evil creatures and all-around nasties that would be both fun and at times scary. I feel that your attractions caught the period feeling of these attractions, which when they were made were considered terrifying to many. Now we look back on them as quaint, rather silly, but you didn't fall into the trap of going campy in your treatment of them, but treated them with the respect that these films have earned over the years.

Your description of the layout of the land was easy to follow and understand. This was one time when a visual map was really not needed, although I missed where the English countryside came into your proposal, and the "family friendly extension" probably should have been included in your description before its appearance at the end.

The four monsters your chose as the focus of your land were excellent choices- they are the four most classic horror creatures, and you chose rides that were appropriate for each monster yet were each totally different from each other. The four different rides provided an excellent variety of experiences for visitors.

Frankenstein Lives!- this was a really inspired fusion of story and thrill ride. I won't comment on the feasibility of animatronics to do what you describe them doing in this and the other attractions, since what they have been shown to be able to do already is remarkable. I will assume that what you describe is possible, or at least will be soon. Having the riders be able to watch the other three groups of riders during their drops would be a great visual. I especially liked the surprise at the end, when we were all expecting to see the original monster being reanimated and instead it was the bride! Nice ending to a really great ride experience.
Dracula is a rather predictable dark ride, but there is nothing wrong with a dark ride about the darkest of Universal monsters if done well. If presented properly and the technology is available, this could be one of the top dark rides anywhere. As you said, it is an atmospheric experience, not one driven by a storyline. Some purists or at least those knowledgeable of the Dracula stories might be frustrated by this lack of storyline, but the majority of riders would just go along and enjoy this experience.
The Wolf Man- an indoor coaster based on the chase for Wolf Man is a great decision. Universal has extensive experience in creating these story-telling indoor coasters, and this one would compare favorable with the rest of them. The story of Wolf Man is probably one of the lesser-known stories to modern audiences, so it would be important to be sure that the story line is clearly explained. I think you did that well with the early scenes before the coasters scenes.
Creature From the Black Lagoon- once again, one of the lesser known monster stories for modern audiences, but a water ride based on it is the obvious and appropriate choice. However, I had problems following the action as the ride shifted between being a coaster and a water ride. "During the roller coaster portion of the ride, the scenes take place from underneath the water" didn't make a lot of sense to me- are the scenes actually under water and we're looking at them from above? - and a water ride with a 40ft high, 90 degree banked turn? At first I thought it was a boat-type water ride, but it sounds like it is a tracked coaster that goes through water. Your other rides were very well explained, so this seemed confused in comparison.

After the descriptions of the four marquee rides in Monsters Lands, your proposal suddenly got- I'm trying to find the right description- jerky. I almost got the feeling that you suddenly realized that it was getting late, you had a bunch of other ideas you wanted to include, and you tacked them onto what was- up to this point- mostly a really well composed proposal. There should have been some sort of a heading separating/introducing the parts of the proposal between the four big rides and the section with the shops, restaurants, etc. other than the one sentence that starts "Monster Lands will also include..." It was almost jarring how the proposal suddenly switched in tone and organization. Your additional shops, restaurants, etc. are all well conceived and would be great additions to the land, making it a complete experience.

The family friendly attractions seemed almost an afterthought- they would be nice enough additions, but not really necessary.

And suddenly your proposal stopped. No conclusion, no final image (and you used so many really good images earlier!), nothing to bring it to a great finish. Even something as simple as a one sentence inspiring wrap-up of the proposal would have made all the difference.

Jeff Elliott NintendoLand

It was almost inevitable that a Nintendo-themed land would appear in this challenge, and I was wondering how and where it would appear. I think that USJ is a wise choice for location, considering the popularity of the franchise in Japan, and I think your introduction established why 1) this are of USJ needs to be replaced with something, and 2) why Nintendo is a good choice as a replacement.

Mario Kart XL is a good reuse of the BTTF facility, although I almost wonder if the level of movement of the Mario Karts is going to be almost too intensive. Motion sickness has always been mentioned as an issue on BTTF and the Simpsons rides, and the added lateral and spinning of the Mario Karts could lead to considerable down time due to "protein spills". I'm also unclear how the technology of shooting at a huge screen and having the huge screen shooting back at you can be achieved with any sort of legitimate scoring. It seems that if it was actually tracking the hits of each shooter in multiple karts at the same time the technology would be enormously complicated. It almost makes more sense to have the scoring generated randomly, so that the riders are (unknowingly perhaps) firing "blanks", and the karts are hit and spin randomly. It would be a wild ride, one perhaps too intense for many, but visually remarkable. Perhaps some "vertigo-friendly" karts could be made available, similar to the non-moving seats in some motion simulator films.
Donkey Kong Country Wild Mine Ride is an obvious choice for a coaster theme that would be conspicuous if it were absent. Keeping it humorous compared to violent was an excellent choice. I disagree with your choice of using the B&M 8x3 passenger configuration if you are not going to use it as a dive coaster with no inversions. This configuration of seats will separate the riders in the center from most of the action- they will have so many people between themselves and the vignettes that they won't be able to see them, cheating them out of the visuals that are such an integral part of this ride. Having riders sitting 2 across and longer trains would imho be a much more rider-friendly arrangement.
Super Mario Rescue is the OMGIHAVETORIDETHISRIDE! ride in NintendoLand. What an amazing fusion of the best of several popular attractions! This could be incredibly popular- I hope you have a lone queue space reserved and the best load technicians for maximum loading efficiency.
Mario Party Good to have a meet and greet with these characters, and a merchandising tie-in is appropriate here.
Pokeman Tournament This is an interesting opportunity for fans to play their favorite game against the best in the heart while being surrounded by Nintendo theming. For the true fan, this would be Nirvana, although I wonder how popular it would be with their families if they are constantly getting called to get out of line for something to come and play Pokeman. As a test site for new games this would be a great opportunity for the designers to study prototypes, find flaws and get the opinion of their biggest fans and toughest critics. I wonder just how popular it would be, though. I would suggest that this space be kept conservative, and be able to be expanded if popularity demands it.
The Legend of Zelda Stunt Show adds a live-action show into a land that is by necessity mostly graphic. The high-tech facilities would keep the show moving at a fast enough pace to keep everyone entertained. Good addition and a good way to include this popular character into NintendoLand.

The restaurants are appropriate to the land, and it was good to mention that they are sensitive to Japanese palates, although I'm not really sure what a Japanese version of lasagna or cannoli would be.

Your attention to details such as sight lines and decoration of the pathways was an excellent decision. Total immersion into the Nintendo universe requires looking at every detail, and it sounds like your proposal makes every effort to keep the outside world, especially anything involving wands or wizards, out of NintendoLand. This was a well-crafted, well-organized proposal and a worthy concept for USJ.

Andy Teoh NintendoLand

First of all, I love the slogan "Play Your Park"! I thought that your introductory section was very well composed (with a few awkward sentences) and established the rational for adding NintendoLand to USJ. The map where you showed its location in the park was a good decision, but I question whether the space you proposed for it could hold the attractions you are proposing. The artwork you included in the proposal was a fun addition, totally appropriate to the proposal.

I liked how you presented important details about your major rides, such as ride capacity, accessibility, etc.
Mario Kart Racers This would be a really fun ride, and the use of computer controls to maintain safety along with the hololens technology to add to the visual experience makes this a not-to-be-missed ride. I was really confused, however, how you came up with your ride capacity. Unless I totally missed something, I figured that you have two tracks, each capable of carrying 8 karts at a time with a total of 16 riders at once. At 2:30/ride, which allows 24 runs/hour, I figured that the maximum capacity/hr is 768, assuming every seat is filled (16 riders x 2 tracks x 24 runs/hour). Did I miss something?
Heroes of Hyrule This is a major dark ride, and I commend you for making a ride that involves a major character that some might not be familiar with and a "mythology" unknown to many and making it easy to understand. Visually this would be a memorable experience, fun to ride and play, and even if you didn't want to shoot at things and just wanted to look around and watch, the ride is so rich in visual sights that everyone could enjoy it.
Pipe Peril This needed to be explained a bit more. I get the feeling that this is an indoor coaster ala Rockin' Roller coaster, but it wasn't made clear in the description. I got the feeling that this was a last-minute addition and you were running out of time- too bad, because it sounds like a great addition to the Land.
Krazy Koopas fun addition, nice way to make a complete collection of attractions.

Interesting note about Pokeman. I did wonder. I think that the Nintendo collection of characters is deep enough for NintendoLand to exist just fine without Pokeman, at least until rights are obtained.

Your dining locations are appropriate for this land. I would love to eat at Hunger Gaming- I remember well the table-top games at restaurants.

Good, simple conclusion.

I did get the feeling that you were running out of time, and wanted to get something down and submitted before the clock ran out. The earlier portions were detailed and compete, the ending portions were a bit Spartan. It's tough, and I understand that you were a bit busy this week starting a new adventure in your life. Taking that into consideration, I think you did a really great job on this proposal.

August 30, 2015, 9:45 AM

Would it be wrong of me to alter my proposal once judging has finished? In all honesty, I did run out of time and the closing paragraph to my proposal did get left out.

August 30, 2015, 11:04 AM

Once the last crituque is up, I think its okay as it can't effect the ranking at that point

August 30, 2015, 3:25 PM

Once again, great job everybody. This was a bit difficult since all of you had such great ideas that there wasn't really a clear winner or loser for me. Even if it sounds bad, I did like all of these lands. Okay, here we go...

Douglas (Hill Valley): As one of Universal's older franchises, Back to the Future is not the safest choice for a new land. However, you have done a phenomenal job in creating something that would appeal to fans of the films. The back-story behind the land is clever, and I'm glad that you referenced the closing of Back to the Future attractions at the two US parks. The size of your land is appropriate and it has a very good layout. Your idea of changing the facades throughout the land on a regular basis is a very bold one that works well on paper but may be difficult to implement and could confuse visitors if done at infrequent intervals. That said, in the world of movies a set is often redressed and used numerous times, so the idea does fit well with Universal. I would just suggest cycling through the themes more rapidly (perhaps on a seasonal schedule instead of annual) so visitors know what to expect. Using Displacement Calibrators as a way to explain why the actual attractions don't change is a good solution to that problem.

Hoverboard Run is likely to be the most popular attraction in this area. While the similarities to Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey are obvious, you have done a good job of creating a new attraction that will offer a different ride experience. The queue line is great and I love the spoofs in the pre-show. The ride itself sounds very thrilling yet not too scary, making it perfect for all members of the family. However, it would have been nice to modify the ride vehicles so that riders are standing on hoverboards rather than sitting in seats. Carson Spur Limited takes a scene directly out of the films and puts guests in the middle of the action. The ride system you have devised for this attraction is very family friendly and the storyline fits well with the original film. Considering the use of a drive-on motion base (which requires a static vehicle), you'll have much lower capacity than predicted here unless you use trains of cars instead of individual cars in the attraction, so perhaps you could have two or three trains of four cars instead (which, depending on the ride time, could give you even higher capacity than you predict). For your other attractions, upgrading Back to the Future: The Ride to use new scenes chosen randomly is an excellent move. By now, the original film is looking very dated so if the ride is to remain it needs an upgrade. Loco Express is a great D-ticket roller coaster that would definitely thrill anyone who rides it. Polaroid pictures are a nice touch. While an important scene from the first film, Enchantment Under the Sea just doesn't work as an attraction and I'm not sure the Japanese would get it. If this attraction were to be built, it would need to be a standard show with set times and not something that plays all day long. Your dining locations both sound like good places to eat and I like the concept of the diner changing to keep up with the theme. The shops are great as well, with one changing merchandise and the other keeping a permanent collection.

Overall, this is a very good land that does justice to the Back to the Future trilogy. You've got attractions for people searching for all thrill levels as well as some good dining and retail options. You also have a very clever concept of having the land change. However, I question whether Universal Studios Japan is the right place for this land. True, they still have Back to the Future: The Ride, but is Back to the Future a popular enough franchise to be beneficial there. In the United States (especially at Universal Studios Hollywood), this land would be second only to Harry Potter for the biggest new attraction at a Universal park. I'm just not sure it would have the same impact in Japan. Other than that, outstanding work!

DPCC (A Silly Place): I can think of at least dozen franchises that were likely picks for this challenge. Monty Python is not one of them. However, as the rights belong to Universal it is within the rules. Your land is unlike most theme park lands, as nothing is meant to be taken seriously and the entire area is satirical. I don't know what the Finland banner is supposed to reference, but having the French guards as animatronics at the entrance of the area is a nice touch. Your land is full of visual gags, just how a Monty Python land should be. Adding street performers is also a good way to add to the immersive feel of the area and pulling skits directly from the film is great. While the location of the land within the park works, I don't really like the layout you went with. Having two sub-areas in the land is not a problem, but separating the attractions from the other elements of the area could cause major problems with traffic and crowding.

Your first E-ticket, Run Away, sounds like a pretty good roller coaster/dark ride hybrid. The queue and station are great for this attraction, though I cannot tell exactly what type of roller coaster you're using (the picture indicates Eurofighter, but you mention 2-across trains, not individual cars). The dark ride portion doesn't make a whole lot of sense...if we're in the castle, why are we seeing things thrown over the castle wall? If guests are supposed to exit the castle via the garage, make that clear. The coaster section sounds great, with enough intensity for thrill seekers yet not too much for the average rider (I'm guessing this would fall between Dragon Challenge and Incredible Hulk in intensity). I do like the mid-ride pause so the rabbit can be catapulted, but I'm thinking the lift hill and last section of the ride could probably be omitted. The other E-ticket, Quest for...A Shrubbery? is likely to be the more popular of the two. A trackless ride with various pathway options is clever and encourages multiple rides. The queue for this ride is very appropriate and fits the atmosphere perfectly. The storyline of the ride is great and you have done a good job incorporating various memorable scenes from the film. The only issue I have is with the Black Beast of Aaaaarrrrrggghhh, as the sudden cut to the animator takes riders out of the ride. Maybe change this to just a sound effect followed by the monster fading away and a comment from King Arthur. The ride is perhaps a little short, but other than that it's a solid dark ride. The concept of None Shall Pass works well, but having only 4 volunteers and very little substance would make this a boring show. Perhaps each of the knights on the quest could train their own group of less experienced fighters and then several adversaries could arrive to be dealt with. Also make sure that you don't offend audience members...limb chopping, as cheesy as it looks, could be problematic. The Lumberjack is really more of a third E-ticket than a D-ticket (in fact, I'd say this is more E-ticket than Run Away). The ride seems like a good water ride, but I can't tell if it's meant to be a standard log flume or a water coaster (think Journey to Atlantis). Given Dudley Do-Right at the other park, the latter seems like a better fit. King Arthur's Coconut Steeds is little more than a filler ride but it is a good way to keep smaller children entertained. Your merchandise locations sound good with some interesting souvenirs available for purchase (especially at Ye Olde Souvenir Shoppe). The Holy Ale sounds like a good quick service restaurant, but I'm not sure how well Hands On would go over in a theme park environment. I also hope that the Knights of the Round Table perform here (it is Camelot after all).

Overall, A Silly Place is a good tribute to Monty Python, or at least Monty Python and the Holy Grail. You have represented most of the classic scenes from the film and have created a land that could be as hilarious to experience as the film itself is. However, I have one big issue with this land...while it would really appeal to fans of the film, I could see a lot of non-fans simply going "WTF?" upon entering and not really caring about the area's contents. While including gags for fans of the property is important, you must make sure that attractions still appeal to those who have little to no prior knowledge of the property. From what I've heard, this is one of the big criticisms of Forbidden Journey and a lot of your attractions just don't work if you haven't seen Monty Python and the Holy Grail. You chose a very risky property and you did an excellent job with it, and if you made some tweaks to ensure the area resonates with non-fans you would definitely have a winner.

Keith (Monster Lands): The classic Universal monsters are such a staple of the company it is a little surprising more hasn't been done with them in the parks. The idea of creating a land themed to these characters is great since even modern audiences have some knowledge of them. You have placed the area appropriately in your park and you have a very good layout for the land. While having four sub-lands does ruin the immersive aspect a bit, as long as everything is highly detailed it still works. Frankenstein, Dracula, and Wolfman are obvious choices for attractions, but Creature from the Black Lagoon is a bit of an outlier.

Frankenstein Lives sounds like Universal's answer to the Tower of Terror and is probably the best attraction in this area. The queue and preshow for the attraction are excellent and the setting for the ride is almost straight out of the film. I'm not sure four ride chambers are necessary...two would probably be enough for all but the most crowded days. The ride itself is quite thrilling and utilizing a random drop sequence ensures that no two rides are alike. I love the twist at the end as well. Dracula is a good dark ride that can accommodate everyone, but at the same time it may be too scary for younger family members. While not specified, I'm assuming this is an omnimover or similar. The scenes are great, but I'd like to see a little more than what appears to be a series of jump scenes. With Revenge of the Mummy and Escape from Gringotts across the park, another indoor roller coaster seems like a questionable choice, but The Wolf Man still sounds like a good ride. The queue and preshow are a great set-up and the ride sounds like a great high intensity roller coaster (though probably lower intensity than IOA's B&Ms). I question the choice of 6-across seating as that is rarely used on coasters, but other than that this is a great ride. The last attraction, Creature from the Black Lagoon, has a decent storyline and some excellent scenes, but putting a big boat on a roller coaster track is impractical. There's a reason smaller boats are typically used on water coasters (usually 2-across and at most 4 rows). Your shop is great and your dining locations are good, but 4 locations in a land seems excessive. Lastly, your two family rides are nice additions but seem like a bit of an afterthought and don't really fit too well with the rest of the land.

Overall, you have created a pretty good land that would appeal to horror film fans and be especially popular during the annual Halloween Horror Nights. I like all four of the main attractions and the way you have incorporated completely different stories into the same themed land. However, your land has given me a dilemma. The rules of the challenge stated 4-5 attractions (2 of which are new E-tickets) and 1-2 dining locations (which should be counter service). I count 6 attractions in your land, 3-4 of which would be considered E-ticket attractions, as well as 4 dining locations (including a full service restaurant). I do like your land a lot even though it isn't quite as immersive as others, but part of the challenge is to follow the guidelines. I'm not one to automatically downvote something because it bent the rules a little, but in my mind your land has strayed far enough outside the challenge specifications that I have to reflect that in my vote. As a blue sky land, this is very good, but for this particular challenge it isn't really the best fit.

Jeff (Nintendo Land): I would have been shocked if someone didn't do a Nintendo Land, though I will admit I didn't think it would be you. Your idea of replacing the whole San Francisco area is smart since Back to the Future, while an excellent ride, is horribly dated and Backdraft isn't much of a loss. Nintendo Land will likely be the largest area in the park, a smart move given the number of characters represented. I would have appreciated an overall layout for the land instead of simply placing each attraction, but I can somewhat piece together the land in my head.

Mario Kart XL is the signature attraction of the land and reusing the Back to the Future attraction is a great cost saving measure. However, as you intend this to be an interactive attraction I have serious doubts that it is really a good option. The ride only has one giant screen, so it would be very difficult for a dozen different carts to have their own individual experience. I also dislike that only two guests get to participate and the rest are just along for the ride. You either need a more standard motion simulator or a custom Mario Kart attraction. In my opinion, Donkey Kong Country is a great concept with poor execution. If the ride is 100 ft. tall, reasonable speeds should be achieved and it may make seeing the vignettes difficult. I also see no benefit to using the wide dive coaster cars when this is not a dive coaster. Just go with a Vekoma mine train or similar, as that would be a much better fit for this attraction. Super Mario Rescue is probably my favorite of your attractions. You have done a great job combining the unique ride system of Forbidden Journey with interactive elements. The storyline is easy to follow and this ride can be enjoyed by both gamers and non-gamers alike. I like the little jab at Harry Potter, but I do have to play the engineer card and say that two rows on an arm would have more problems than it would be worth. As much as I hate to say it, Pokemon Tournament sounds like a fail to me. Having an attraction that requires guests to bring a valuable object from home or pre-plan to participate just doesn't work, and forcing people to be tied to it for extended periods could ruin their day. If I'm at a park, I want to do an attraction and then go do other stuff, not be tied to one thing for a good part of the day. The last attraction, The Legend of Zelda Stunt Show, is great and will fill the void of Waterworld once it eventually closes. Seeing a high-speed sword fight live is likely to impress most visitors. Your dining locations are excellent fits for the area, though you have given very little description on the required retail locations.

Overall, Nintendo Land is likely to exist at a Universal park by the end of the decade and you have some great concepts for potential attractions. However, the execution of several of them just doesn't work and could end up driving guests away. At best, it is a missed opportunity, and at worst, a recipe for disaster. A properly executed Mario Kart or Donkey Kong Country attraction could have a ton of drawing power, but the versions you presented would likely get the ride once and forget about it response. With proper execution, this would be a winning proposal, but unfortunately a Nintendo Land like this would not be something I'd find appealing.

Andy (Nintendo Land): When two competitors do the same thing, it often works out well for one and horribly for the other. I am glad to see that you have offered a fairly different take on the property than Jeff did. While there are some similarities, the two lands are very different. While the location of your land doesn't require any attraction removal, you are losing parking space that could be needed to deal with increased crowds. Make sure you could replace the lost parking before deciding to use it. The design of your land is great and sounds very immersive. Even if different properties are represented, having a single overall theme is the best way to go when immersion is required.

Mario Kart Racers is clearly the signature attraction of your land and is likely to be popular with guests of all ages. As Microsoft Hololens is augmented reality instead of virtual reality, the technology would probably be safe to use while driving in a controlled environment, especially with all the additional safety systems of the attraction. I like the decision to allow for two riders per kart to accommodate smaller children, but that capacity number seems way high for this best I calculate 768, far too low for an attraction at this park. The queue is excellent and the ride is outstanding, you just need to double the capacity. Heroes of Hyrule is an excellent interactive dark ride that is suitable for all ages. The queue for this attraction is fantastic and the ride itself is a nice contrast to typical shooting dark rides. Hiding the Triforce pieces randomly increases the re-ride value as guests still have to search and can't just shine the light on one specific area. I would appreciate a little more description of Pipe Peril as all I can tell is that it is a lightly themed indoor roller coaster. Does it need to be indoor, or could it be an outdoor coaster with some theming? Krazy Koopas is a filler ride, but still something enjoyable for the kids. Your dining and shopping locations sound like great fits for the area.

Overall, this is an excellent version of Nintendo Land and one I would love to see in reality. You've got a couple more thrilling rides mixed in with an excellent family dark ride and have maintained the immersive aspect by focusing on Mushroom Kingdom. While you do have a Zelda attraction, castles are not a foreign concept to that world and it fits in your land. My biggest concern here is that you may have some capacity issues with your attractions (particularly Mario Kart Racers), but other than that I really like this. Well done!

August 30, 2015, 11:37 PM


First off, I would like to apologize for the delays in getting results for this challenge. Upon all the judges casting votes, we were presented with an unanticipated outcome that jeopardized the integrity of the planned elimination method. As stated in the rules for a double elimination challenge, the plan for this challenge was to eliminate the competitor who scored the lowest in this challenge AND the competitor with the lowest cumulative score following this challenge. However, these are the results...

1st: Douglas Hindley - 28 points
2nd: DPCC inc. - 24 points
3rd: Andy Teoh - 14 points
4th: Tie...Jeff Elliott and Keith Schneider - 12 points

The cumulative standings are:

1st: Douglas Hindley - 139.9 points
2nd: Keith Schneider - 123.3 points
3rd: Jeff Elliott - 119.9 points
4th: Andy Teoh - 92.5 points
5th: DPCC inc. - 72.5 points

According to the rules set at the beginning of the competition, ties are to be broken based on cumulative score. In this case, Jeff had a lower score than Keith. However, since this a double elimination challenge, a dilemma arose between who the second eliminated competitor should be. Should Keith be eliminated because he also finished last, or should DPCC be eliminated as stated in the rules? A very valid argument could be made for either option. Should we eliminate only one competitor and have four finalists? Should we have this be non-elimination and allow everyone into the final round? Or, instead of a standard elimination, should we change the elimination method to deal with this unanticipated situation? Ultimately, after much deliberation we have decided on the latter. Here is what is going to happen:

-Andy and Douglas, congratulations! You have both made it to the final round. Now you two must complete the best proposal you can for Challenge 7 in order to claim the title of Theme Park Apprentice.

-DPCC, Jeff, and Keith, the three of you will compete in a "last chance" challenge. The winner of this challenge will claim the third spot in the finals. Please see the appropriate challenge thread for details on your task and get to work immediately. Time is of the essence and you've got just a few days to complete this challenge.

If anyone feels this is an unfair resolution to the problem, feel free to bring your complaint forward. Otherwise, we will proceed. This season was meant to be somewhat experimental and every time there is a snag it gives us an idea of what needs to be modified. I assure everyone that if a cumulative point system is used again in the future we will have an official procedure in place to deal with this type of issue.

For any further discussion of this challenge, please use the Chatter thread as this thread will not be regularly monitored beyond this point.

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