Events: "Transformers The Ride 3D" Grand Opening (Day 2) Report
"Transformers The Ride 3D" Grand Opening (Day 2)
This morning's events were not as long as yesterday's, but they were no less dramatic! Meeting up at Universal Studios once again, media was quickly moved over to a genuine red carpet! Formed into an "L" shape leading to the entrance of the "Transformers The Ride 3D" itself, each media outlet was assigned an area to stand in. Among those who would be walking down this VIP carpet would be none other than Peter Cullen and Frank Welker together in a rare joint public appearance! Fans and press were excited as N.E.S.T. soldiers gathered everywhere with (fake) weaponry in hand and a big screen on top of a trailer displayed the "Transformers" logo. To the kid inside me who first smashed his Ironhide and Ravage together thirty years ago, it was one of those rare moments in fandom that I realized I never could have imagined and it was hard not to get a bit whistful about it.
There were challenges however. It was hot, with the sun blazing down on all of us. Thankfully those who planned this event were very forward thinking and provided us with neat little towels that helped keep us cool (how I have no idea, but they absorbed water really well). Second, they ensured a large supply of bottled water was on hand for those of us getting dehydrated. The combination of that and staff checking up on us made sure the time passed (relatively) quickly.
The Red Carpet
Once the parade began it went relatively fast. First we were greeted with the sight of the costumed Optimus Prime and Bumblebee from the previous night. These were no Halloween costumes, these are amazing costumes that stand about eight feet all with a person inside on what are basically stilt level legs and extended arms. First came Optimus Prime, who stopped at intervals to strike poses for the cameras. Then came Bumblebee who did the same. Both were escorted by N.E.S.T. soldiers. It was a dramatic and fun way to kick off the event as the soundtrack to the movie played in the background, immersing you in the "Transformers" world even before you went into the ride!
The first (human) guest down the carpet was Mark Woodbury (President of Universal Creative for Universal Parks and Resorts) who had been at the Lombard's restaurant the previous day. I had my chance to ask him questions yesterday so I left him alone and just snapped a picture as other stalked to him. Then came Bryone Bouyer (Sr VP Global Promotions and Marketing Partnerships Hasbro) who I inroduced myself to as a veteran of the Hasbro/fan relations over the years. Then I immediately stopped and told her "Let's stop talking about me, let's talk about you." which got a nice laugh. The way I figured it, these folks were being battered by questions down the carpet, a break was nice (and one thatdidn't take too much time).
Once she passed the voice acting duo of Peter Cullen and Frank Welker slowly made their way up the line. You could feel how excited the fans among us were as the two approached. They traded off, each taking a section at a time but still managing to take some pictures together. Eventually Mr. Cullen came over to me and we shook hands and I reminded him that we had met at previous Botcons which brought a warm smile to his face. I asked him how he and his family were doing and he told me they were well. We also talked about his visit to the opening of the California ride (but he said he would have loved to go to Singapore too!). We shook hands again as he was shuffled off and then in front of me was Mr. Welker. I do not mind confessing to you that my brain froze for a good two seconds before I began to talk. I shook his hand, smiled and told him it was an absolute honor to meet him and I thanked him for his dedication to his craft that entertained me so much over the years. He gave me a really friendly and appreciative look that I was thankful for and told me he has fun with the roles and has really enjoyed the work over the years. I also told him we have a mutual acquintance whom he lit up at the mention of (she will know who she is if she is reading this). Soon, he too was shuffled off but I have to tell you, as a fanboy this is one of those experiences that I will treasure for years to come!
Things seemed to be dying down, when all of a sudden a buzz built as the "Optimus Prime" began to come down the carpet again - with Steven Spielberg! He didn't stop, but rather walked at a pretty quick pace to get to the podium at the end of the carpet where he posed for pictures for the press with Optimus Prime. Sure I didn't get to talk to him or what have you, but I'll tell you, I honestly never thought I would get that close to Steven Spielberg!
The Red Carpet event was soon capped off by a super cool march down the carpet by members of the Army, Navy and Air Force. It was quite dramatic and as they turned the corner and disappeared, the press was shuffled off to another section in front of the ride and that's when the true opening ceremony began! First, Humvees pulled up with N.E.S.T. personnel standing at attention as they came out. Then came General Morshower from the films, portrayed by
Next, a Chevrolet Camaro and the Peterbilt truck used for Bumblebee and Optimus Prime respectively pulled up in front of the stage and soon - the attack began! Pyrotechnics ranging from explosions sending bits of dust onto those watching, smoke, plumes of flame on the roof of the base and tons of sound effects indicated one thing: the Decepticons were attacking! General Morshower (played again by actor Glenn Morshower) gave orders to defend the base and a full blown "battle" was on! Explosions sounded, there were more pyrotechnics and eventually there was a flyover by the Black Diamond squadron! I have to give everyone a ton of credit, in many respects it did feel like we were in the midst of a battle. Sure we knew it was all play acting for our benefit, but with the heat of explosions near you and the actors really selling it via their actions and Peter Cullen's voice BOOMING over speakers as Optimus Prime, it really was an amazing way to open up the base!
Once everything settled down, the ride was officially opened and guests began to flood in! I found out way too late last night that during the "preview ride" you were allowed as media to go back as many times as you could squeeze in. Today I decided to correct that mistake, going for a total of three times in a row! I have to tell you, each time I got to see new details, either in the sets or in the video portion of the ride. For instance, my first two times during the scene with Devastator, I never noticed that off to the side on a rooftop was Ratchet blasting away at the Combiner! I also found that even knowing when cerain things were going to happen in the ride (such as a drop or drops of water splashing on you) it wasn't dull, indeed you looked forward to the actions as they are so fun you wanted to see if it would be as cool again each time (it was).
I also have to give high compliment to all the park employees playing the N.E.S.T. soldiers. They really worked hard to play their roles and catered to their specific audience, raising their voices enthusiastically to adults but then being more gentle with kids. They all had a great sense of humor and I really applaud the work they do on a daily basis. One of the coolest things they do each time a ride comes back to the beginning is cheer you on as you enter - that's a lot of work and enthusiasm to whoop up every few minutes and they deserve special kudos for that.
With that fourth and last ride, it was time to pick up a couple more giftshop items and then head back to the Hard Rock Hotel for my pick up. As I left the park, I marveled silently at the events of the past few days, even as my friend and I chatted part of my brain was thinking "Wow...was all this real? Did this fanboy get to witness a huge part of Transformers history?!" and I smiled knowing that indeed I had!
"Transformers The Ride 3D" is now officially open, so no need for a special pass to go. Head over to Universal Studios in Orlando, FL to check this one out and transform your day into an adventure!