The robots are no longer in disguise. Tonight in front of an audience of thousands, Universal Orlando finally announced the long-rumored Transformers ride, set to make its debut in time for summer 2013. Currently under construction 24-hours a day, 7-days a week, Universal has fast tracked the opening of this new 3D ride after its success in both their Hollywood and Singapore theme parks.
The announcement of Transformers: The Ride 3D coming to Universal Studios Florida took place on its central lagoon, home to Universal’s Cinematic Spectacular each night. But this evening’s presentation of the lagoon show was interrupted by Decepticons, promising to wreak havoc on the park next year. Naturally, that won’t happen as long as the Autobots, led by Optimus Prime, are there to stop them.
Video: Transformers: The Ride 3D announcement on the Universal Orlando lagoon
At the nearby construction site for the ride, even the workers were excited to watch the show – and finally be able to speak about what they’ve ben toiling over 24/7 for the past five or so months:
On hand after the announcement straight from Cybertron in front of the Universal Orlando globe were Optimus Prime and Bumblebee, walking around and posing for pictures:
Personelle from N.E.S.T. were also keeping close guard nearby:
Transformers: The Ride 3D puts theme park guests inside a Transformer for the first time, riding with Evac, a character created exclusively for the ride. The battle is straight out of the Michael Bay-directed film series, a fight to defend the earth against Megatron, Starscream, and fellow evildoers while preventing them from gaining control of the Allspark. Riders find themselves immersed in the world of “Transformers” while riding through real and virtual 3-D environments projected on larger-than-life screens, enabling Universal to bring the robots to life in full scale, just feet from passengers’ faces.
The Transformers attraction first opened at Universal Studios Singapore in December 2011. Universal Studios Hollywood celebrated the grand opening of their version of the ride in May 2012.
Two of the creative minds behind Transformers: The Ride 3D, Thierry Coup and Mark Woodbury, spoke to the press following the announcement of the attraction.
Here is the full press conference, beginning with information about the ride, followed by a Q&A portion (in which I asked two questions):
Orlando’s version of the ride will be nearly identical to that of Hollywood and Singapore on the inside, but the exterior of the building will be different, attracting visitors from all sides of the building. Coup said that like the other two versions, Orlando’s Transformers ride will have no large animatronics figures because no 30-40 foot tall real robot could possibly move well enough to achieve the level motion needed for believability. Woodbury said the reason for constructing this elaborate ride so quickly, start to finish in less than a year’s time, is because of its popularity in Hollywood and Singapore.
Hollywood’s red carpet grand opening included the ride’s creators, voice actors, and the Autobots themselves saving the day in an epic opening moment.
Below are a few highlights from the grand opening of Transformers: The Ride 3D at Universal Studios Hollywood, including interviews, character meet-and-greets, and a spoiler-heavy trip through the queue and the ride itself.
Video – Grand opening of Transformers: The Ride 3D at Universal Studios Hollywood
Video – Optimus Prime and Bumblebee as vehicles and robots at Universal Studios Hollywood
Video – Transformers: The Ride 3D experience in Universal Studios Hollywood – Full Queue and Ride
Video – Interviews: Voice actors of Transformers: The Ride 3D
Video – Interviews: Creators of Transformers: The Ride 3D
Rumors of the Transformers ride coming to Orlando began to quickly surface when Universal Studios Florida unexpectedly demolished Soundstage 44 in June 2012, the former home of the “Murder She Wrote” and “Hercules and Xena” shows. Construction has progressed rapidly, with workers and vehicles present on site at all hours, even throughout Halloween Horror Nights.
While the ride will be new to Orlando, the technology behind Transformers: The Ride 3D should be familiar to those who frequent Universal’s Florida parks. The Transformers ride closely mirrors that of The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man, a popular (and recently enhanced) attraction at the Islands of Adventure theme park since it opened. Both attractions feature similar ride vehicles, dodging and spinning from 3-D screen to 3-D screen while immersing guests in virtual worlds. Likewise, Harry Potter and the Forbbiden Journey in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter also features a blend of real sets with virtual ones, though with a heavier emphasis on real scenes and no 3-D projections.
The extreme popularity of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter can be credited for the additions to Universal Orlando, bringing in a steady flow of new visitors and money for the park to reinvest into creating more and better experiences. Universal Orlando is also planning a Wizarding World expansion, though details of that project have not yet been announced. (Rumors strongly suggest the former Jaws location as the future home of more Potter attractions.)
More photos from the announcement of Transformers: The Ride 3D at Universal Orlando: