Events: "Transformers The Ride 3D" Grand Opening (Day 1)
"Transformers The Ride 3D" Grand Opening (Day 1)
In celebration of the Grand Opening of the third "Transformers The Ride 3D" experience (the first two were in Singapore and California), Universal Studios in Orlando, FL held a two day event that saw everyone from VIP special guests to media (such as yours truly) joining together for an incredible launch event.
I was lucky enough to be invited to this event which began with a quick flight down to Orlando, FL. This was my first time at Universal Studios and at the Hard Rock Hotel where I stayed. Everything was super cool, down to a "swag bag" I found waiting for me in my room! If you want to see this (and over forty images from the day) check out my album on Facebook, and if you haven't given my page on Facebook a "Like" yet, there's no time like the present!
After getting in a workout, cleaning up and riding the water taxi, I did a bit of exploring of the Universal Studios area before checking in at the Media table outside the famous Universal Studios gate.
Before we were all brought to the ride itself, a cocktail party was held at Lombard's Seafood Grill. The restaurant was laid out with some military items like helmets and netting while screens showed the "Transformers The Ride 3D" promotional video. The food was fantastic and Mike West, an Executive Producer for Universal Creative Studio was on hand to talk about the ride. I got to spend a couple minutes interviewing him, that will go up at a future time, suffice it to say the ride is a marvelous achievement from a technological and organizational standpoint! Also appearing was Mark Woodbury, the President of Universal Creative for Universal Parks and Resorts. A brief video of him will also go up at a future time but like Mr. West, he was very enthusiastic about the ride and considers it a huge achievement for the park.
Once we were done eating, a N.E.S.T. "soldier" came in and ordered us to proceed to N.E.S.T. HQ, which everyone did so gladly!
After a walk through some of the "downtown streets" section of Universal Studios, we came up to N.E.S.T. HQ complete with a beautiful life-size statue of Optimus Prime at the entrance, pointing into the distance. The statue not only looks like the on screen character, but it also lights up, giving it some extra depth.
You enter the ride and go through a series of rooms essentially designed to serve two main purposes: corral the line of people and entertain them at the same time. As you go through the corrals (which moved fast today since the ride hasn't technically opened yet) you see fake control panels, footage of characters talking to you (such as General Morshower talking about the Transformers and how N.E.S.T. relates to them). There are other great touches like a schematic of Scorponok's "captured" tail from the first movie, an Allspark "shard" chamber (complete with protective casing for the Allspark fragment) and Scorponok's tail itself in a glass tube. The attention to detail was fantastic, down to a small chart with silhouettes of various Transformers. Out of curiosity, I pushed some buttons and messed with a keyboard mounted onto one of these control panels and all the parts moved (even if they didn't necessarily do anything).
Once you get to the end of the corrals, you come across "soldiers" telling you which way to go. By this time, a video screen has told you that you and EVAC have to get the Allspark fragment to safety. You soon sit in EVAC himself (basically a super sleek version of a roller coaster car). He talks to you briefly and the mission begins!
The theme of the mission is having you escort EVAC as passengers looking out for danger. Throughout the ride, you encounter characters from the films including Starscream, Megatron, Blackout, Sideswipe, Bumblebee and of course Optimus Prime himself. As others duke it out to protect you, the magic of this ride's illusions carry you from ground level to high skyscrapers and even underground! When you drop, you feel the drop and it's awesome. They even use tricks like smoke and hot air with some water sprinkles to simulate the action going on in certain scenes. My absolute favorite was one part where a missile is fired at you, it's right in your line of sight and you feel a blast of heat "from the missile" hit your face. The ride is super fun. I wasn't bored for one second and I can't wait to ride it again!
When you exit the ride you are immediately deposited into the "Supply" area, which is really a store that sells nothing but "Transformers" related items. This includes repackaged versions of Optimus Prime and Megatron as new (or relatively hard to find) project, "Beast Hunters" product and even "Generations" figures (mostly Combaticons).
There were also a lot of items I had not seen elsewhere including much of the apparel, shot glasses, candy and more. Afterward, we were given the opportunity for a photo op with a person in a large costume (complete with stilts, lights and sounds!). The first costume out was Optimus, then Bumblebee, then Starscream.
The rest of the night involved milling about with others and enjoying the open bar, desert spread or watching a fireworks show that closes the park down. After that, I headed back to my hotel to prepare for the next morning's Grand Opening event!