The Backdraft and Special Effects Soundstages attractions at Universal Studios Hollywood are to close on April 11, to allow construction of a new ride based on the Transformers movies.
The Special Effects show is set to be moved to the Castle Theater, the former home of the recently closed Creature from the Black Lagoon musical show. However, there will be no reprieve for Backdraft which will close permanently some 18 years after first opening.
Based on the 1991 movie about Chicago firefighters starring Kurt Russell, William Baldwin and Robert de Niro, Backdraft features what at the time were groundbreaking pyrotechnic effects for a theme park attraction. It has proved to be an enduring favorite at Universal Studios Hollywood, but was an obvious target for replacement in the space-restricted Lower Lot.
The Transformers attraction was originally scheduled to open in 2011, although recent rumors have suggested a 2012 completion date. It will mix 3D, high-definition video footage with robotics and a moving vehicle, which suggests it will reuse technology from the Spiderman attraction at Universal's Islands of Adventure.
Riders will be placed in the middle of the movies' war between the human-friendly Autobots and their Decepticon enemies. As in the films (and the earlier toys and cartoons), the robots will "transform" into cars, planes, tanks and other vehicles.
A version of the Transformers attraction will open at Universal Studios Singapore in 2011, meaning that visitors to the Asian park may be able to experience the ride ahead of their U.S. counterparts.
No opening date has been given for the revised version of the Special Effects show, though Universal is likely to be targeting the peak summer season given that the closure of the existing show and Backdraft will leave it without two significant attractions.
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