Today Universal Orlando gave the order to send in the recruits to assist the Autobots as the doors to Transformers: The Ride 3D were opened to the public for the first time. The ride doesn’t officially open until June 20, 2013, but after completing its impressively fast construction in under a year’s time, Universal was ready to reveal this engineering feat a few days after the busy Memorial Day weekend.
Following two days of successful technical rehearsals with Universal’s employees / team members and this morning’s installation of a massive 28-foot-tall Optimus Prime statue above the attraction’s entrance, Universal Studios Florida guests were allowed inside the new ride tonight, beginning just after 7p.m. for a soft opening lasting through park closing at 9 p.m.
Huge crowds arrived to the soft opening, with word spreading fast through the park and across social media channels that the ride had finally opened after much anticipation. The posted wait time quickly shot up to 90 minutes, though the actual time it took to navigate the fully loaded queue was closer to an hour. But that hour flew by as each elaborately themed room of the ride’s queue is highly engaging and entertaining, introducing guests to each Autobot, Decepticon, and human character who then tell the story of the alien robots leaving Cybertron, landing on Earth, and now recruiting visitors to prepare for battle.
The videos below offer three versions of the full Transformers: The Ride 3D experience, one an detailed walkthrough of the queue, including many of the informative videos, another a full ride through the 3D attraction, and the third combining both of these together.
Video – Transformers: The Ride 3D full queue and ride at Universal Orlando
Video – Transformers: The Ride 3D queue only at Universal Orlando
Video – Transformers: The Ride 3D ride only at Universal Orlando
(It’s worth noting that during tonight’s soft opening, team members were lax on photography restrictions, asking that flashes not be used on the ride, but not preventing any other form of capturing the experience. It’s even more important to note that because most of the visuals in the ride are projected in 3D, the videos above appear blurry and don’t even remotely do the attraction justice. See it in person to fully appreciate its grandeur.)
Transformers: The Ride 3D is not new. It first opened at Universal Studios Singapore in 2011, then duplicated at Universal Studios Hollywood in 2012. Now, using the same crews of artists, engineers, and other talented workers, Universal Studios Florida has debuted the best version of the three, using the latest developments in 3D projection technology to bring the robots in disguise to life at full size via 60-foot-tall screens mixed with real sets and practical special effects.
The Orlando version of the ride is nearly identical to that of Hollywood. The basic plot is the same, as is the vast majority of the ride. The queue has been reconfigured to fit the new building’s space, with no long hallways like in California, instead featuring more back-and-forth winding – but room-by-room it still follows the same style and story.
But the Orlando version has made some improvements over Hollywood’s attraction. Projections and set pieces are better placed throughout the ride, with the track slightly tweaked to allow perfectly timed reveals of each impressively immersive 3D setting. The screens really wrap around riders on all sides, believably creating a world teeming with robots fighting and transforming out of virtual visuals. The exterior of the building certainly more impressive than in Hollywood, as Orlando features that massive statue of Optimus Prime reaching out to new recruits while Hollywood’s flat facade more closely resembles a billboard.
And Orlando’s queue is filled with buttons, dials, knobs, and switches to play with, adding tactile diversions that help the time pass while waiting to board.
(Can you name all the Transformers seen in silhouette on the above control panel? Transformers super fan @ScottSmitty did: Optimus Prime, Bumblebee, Ironhide, Sideswipe, Jetfire, Ratchet, Mudflap and Skids, Arcee, Chromia, Wheelie, The Fallen, Megatron, Starscream twice, Demolisher , Grindor, Ravage, Rampage, and Frenzy.)
For comparison to the Orlando version, the video below offers the full experience in Hollywood, walking through the queue and riding the attraction.
Video – Transformers: The Ride 3D full attraction at Universal Studios Hollywood
As the story goes, Decepticons are once again attacking Earth in search of the life-giving All-Spark and the Autobots, with the aid of government agency N.E.S.T. and new recruits (Universal’s guests), have vowed to stop the evil-doers at any cost. Riders board Evac, a Transformer created specifically for the attraction who helps guide guests past menacing foes like Starstream and the infamous Decepticon leader Megatron. Of course, good guys Optimus Prime, Bumblebee, and many more freedom fighters are there to help save the day.
Transformers: The Ride 3D uses similar technology and ride systems as The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man at the nearby Islands of Adventure theme park. The ride vehicles of both attractions look strikingly similar and even many of the events that unfold within both attractions follow similar actions in a mix of giant 3D projections and real-life surrounding set pieces. But there’s no mistaking the comic animated style of Spider-Man with the gritty photorealism of Transformers, seemingly sending shards of sharp metal within inches of riders’ faces as giant robots battle and transform in clear sight.
Though the grand opening of Transformers: The Ride 3D is still a few weeks away, taking a trip back to one year ago, May 2012, at the opening of the attraction in Hollywood allows us to learn more about it through interviews with its creators and voice actors.
Interviews – Creators of Transformers: The Ride 3D at Universal Studios Hollywood
Interviews – Voice actors for Transformers: The Ride 3D – Evac, Megatron, Optimus Prime
There’s no guarantee Transformers: The Ride 3D will be open every day between now and its official opening date. Soft openings are technical rehearsals, designed to allow Universal to train staff and work out any kings in the ride’s operation. So the ride may or may not be open at any given time.
But guests at Universal Studios Florida can meet Optimus Prime, Bumblebee, and Megatron in impressive meet-and-greets just outside the ride each day.
Video: Talking Optimus Prime, Bumblebee characters at Universal Orlando
Video: Talking Megatron Transformers character meet-and-greet at Universal Studios Florida
And soon those meet-and-greets will become even more impressive when interactive versions make their way to Orlando, as recently debuted in the Hollywood park.
Transformers: The Ride 3D will officially open at Universal Orlando on the morning of June 20, 2013, with a promised “action-packed moment” commemorating the ride’s official debut. At Hollywood’s grand opening Optimus Prime and Bumblebee arrived as vehicles and as walking robots amidst a explosion-filled battle featuring N.E.S.T. operatives and an appearance by General Morshower himself. How Universal Orlando plans to top that exciting moment is anyone’s guess.
More photos from Transformers: The Ride 3D at Universal Orlando: