Deja Vu All Over Again As Transformers: The Ride 3D Gets Official Opening Date

Posted by Kate W on Thursday, June 6th, 2013

Universal Studios in Orlando has been making a real push lately to stay relevant by creating big-name attractions that capitalize on iconic pop culture properties: these efforts include the much-hyped Harry Potter expansion project and the newly announced themed-area based on The Simpsons. Their journey to step into the  21st-century continues with the upcoming launch of Transformers the Ride: 3D which will officially open on June 20, 2013.

Giant robots in front of the Transformers: The Ride 3D attraction at  Universal Studios

Universal Orlando is certainly enthusiastic about this 3-D experience, which is already being billed as “Florida’s Best New Attraction”. They worked incredibly quickly on finishing construction, and managed to fast-track it to completion in under a year: they’ve actually been holding unannounced preview rides since mid-May. Of course, they had a pretty good blueprint. Universal Studios Hollywood already opened a Transformers ride over a year ago: in fact, that iteration was one of our rides to look forward to in 2012. And according to insiders who have gotten a sneak peek at Orlando’s new version, the two rides are virtually identical.

Scenes from the Transformers: The Ride 3D attraction at  Universal Studios

This isn’t necessarily a criticism. By most accounts, the Universal Hollywood Transformers ride is an event worthy of emulating. Fans have called it a sophisticated, satisfying, immersive, in-your-face experience. Last year, the L.A. Times ranked it among the top theme park attractions in the world. Frankly, the ride has gotten better reviews than the series of recent Transformers films it is based on.

External view of Transformers: The Ride 3D and a giant robot

Recreating this particular ride makes sense for Universal Orlando as it looks towards modernizing. It has shut down dated attractions like the beloved but stagnant Jaws ride to make room for enticing new thrill rides, but it is still home to attractions based on outdated pop culture properties like Twister and Terminator 2. Even nostalgic rides like E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial may come across as quaint (if not downright stale). While the Transformers franchise may not be favored by critics, it is an unqualified financial success and should be around to stay. The new Transformers the Ride: 3D will undoubtedly add something fresh to the Universal Orlando line-up that will remain current for at least the foreseeable future.

Scene from Transformers: The Ride 3D

Will the Orlando version offer a more innovative experience than the first? Not really, since it is essentially a carbon copy. Then, again it isn’t uncommon in the theme park industry for sister parks to replicate attractions. The Six Flags Over Texas theme park recently made the news when its 400-foot high Texas SkyScreamer was declared the world’s highest swing ride by the Guinness Book of World Record team. This is certainly an amazing feat, even though this isn’t the only SkyScreamer attraction: at least six more can be found in Six Flags parks throughout the country. This one just happened to push the feats of engineering a little bit more to become a record-setting attraction.

Folks looking for a new spin on a one-of-a-kind experience won’t find that when Transformers the Ride: 3D opens at Universal Orlando in a few weeks, but they will find a tried-and-true good time. Fans of the original ride praise its creative use of technology and meta narrative element that makes visitors part of the story. Both the original Transformers ride and the new one in Orlando feature an inventive combination of state-of-the-art 3D projection and motion simulation for a ride experience that is thoroughly engaging. Even waiting in line is entertaining: the queue takes you through elaborately-themed rooms that introduce guests to important characters and sets up the storyline of the ride. When done well, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and by most accounts, this attraction is an excellent imitation of the well-loved original.

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