Review: Transformers: The Ride - 3D at Universal Studios FloridaBy Amy Ziese, Sunday, July 7, 2013 09:00
After much anticipation, Transformers: The Ride 3D officially opened at Universal Studios Florida this June.
On June 20, several very fast, very loud jet planes flew over the Universal Orlando Resort in celebration of the official grand opening of Transformers: The Ride 3D. After weeks of “Technical Rehearsals,” everyone who was willing was able to join up with NEST and fight the Decepticons in an effort to recover the missing AllSpark. Thousands of guests volunteered and left NEST HQ satisfied, despite waiting upwards of 90 minutes at some points during the day, in a line that wrapped around the large gray building and fed into seemingly endless rows of chains in the nearby street.
The building itself is an intimidating structure, designed to look as though it could easily house a small army of Autobots with room to spare. Adorned with military insignia that makes it clear that the facility belongs to NEST, the gigantic building towers above most of the other structures in the area, save for the Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit up the block. Adding to the intimidation level is the giant Optimus Prime standing above the entry, keeping watch over the NEST volunteers.
Spoiler warning: The following review contains some minor plot spoilers for Transformers: The Ride - 3D.
As the volunteers enter the building, they are greeted with the ride's storyline: the AllSpark, the device that allows the Transformers to live inside everyday electronic devices, is housed in the building and the Decepticons have returned to Earth in an effort to steal it. We meet the key players, including the NEST commanding officers and the ever-important EVAC, an Autobot designed to get civilian volunteers in and out of the battle zone. We also meet the rest of the Transformers that we’ll encounter on the ride; many will be instantly recognizable to those who have seen the movies that inspired the attraction.
As you approach the loading area, you’re handed a pair of 3D glasses and hear the real catch to the mission you’re about to embark on: you’re not expected to return. Apparently, the NEST higher ups have no faith in the coming battle, and to them losing a handful of untrained tourists is nothing. Luckily, EVAC is on your side, and he’s willing to do whatever it takes to get you home alive.
The ride vehicle itself is a duplicate of the SPYDR vehicles used on the Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man at Islands of Adventure. In fact, there are parts of the ride track that seem to be copied and pasted right from the Spider-Man ride. The most noticeable is right after your vehicle is dispatched from the loading station. You make an immediate left turn, and then a right, which brings you face-to-face with Optimus Prime. On the Adventures of Spider-Man, you make the same immediate left turn, and then a right, which brings you face-to-face with Spider-Man.
While the comparisons of the two attractions could go on all day, Transformers: The Ride 3D stands up fine on its own, boasting a ride circuit vastly different in places than the Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man. As you make your way through the attraction, the action makes its way up into the air. Throughout the ride, the animation is so crisp and clear that many times you feel as if you’re actually on a city street. The aforementioned scene of flying into the air is no exception.
The neat thing about this is that you actually are ascending. At this location, the vehicle enters an elevator shaft covered with movie screens that keep the action moving upward along with the vehicle. Basically, it feels real because it is real. The same principal takes place toward the end of the ride, where your vehicle descends back to the ground floor. The neatest thing about the elevators is that the visual action is so seamless and perfect, and the elevator just slow and smooth enough, that you don’t even realize that you’re actually moving.
As far as the audio and visual presentation is concerned, as mentioned before, the film is perfect. This ride features ride projections that are at the height of technology. The computer-generated city streets are rendered so perfectly that they look like prop scenery at first glance. The buildings look like they are façades with screens in between them. In actuality, most everything you see is a digital projection on a large screen. On the flip side, the audio leaves a little to be desired. The voices of the characters are hard to hear due to their gravelly nature and the immensely loud sound effects.
In most scenes the sound effects are all you hear, while other scenes aren’t as lucky. In the scenes lacking loud explosions, there is excruciating quiet. The ride has no background soundtrack. No music, just silence. It almost feels as if the ride isn’t finished yet. This stands in sharp contrast to the movies where there’s a constant soundtrack btehind the action. In fact, for those who still use a CD player, the movie soundtracks are available for purchase in the exit gift shop.
Overall, the ride is worth a second go around if you have the time. It’s an exciting, high-tech thrill ride that will undoubtedly attract thousands of more people every day to Universal Studios Florida. However, while the theming is original, the ride system is not. Nor is most of the ride track. Transformers: The Ride 3D is a new take on an old concept, but still offers a sure win for fans of the franchise. Don’t miss the fresh new lines of merchandise in the gift shop as you exit, and make sure you stop by the meet and greet area beside the attraction to get your picture taken with the living, moving Optimus Prime, Bumblebee, or Megatron. The Transformers have effectively taken over Universal this summer and are giving guests a great reason to stop in now and check out the action.