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Review: ‘Transformers: The Ride 3D’ at Universal Studios Hollywood

Transformers
Universal Studios

Before I get into my review of the brand new Transformers ride at Universal Studios, let me get this out of the way: I hate the Transformers movies. Hate them. I think they’re overblown pieces of hype with zero substance, filled with dumb humor and confusing action sequences. So what would I feel after experiencing the ride based on the Michael Bay films? One word: exhilarating.

I’m a ride junkie so new rides at any theme park gets me excited. I hadn’t been to Universal Studios in two years though. The park needed a shot in the arm when it came to attractions and Transformers came along at just the right time to help bring in visitors who were debating about driving down south to Anaheim to see the new Cars Land area at Disney’s California Adventure.

The park had been promoting this ride for months. I received so many emails leading up to it I thought that there would be no way the ride could live up to the hype. Fortunately, it did.

John Chan/CNET Asia

Transformers: The Ride 3D replaces the ‘Backdraft’ attraction on the lower lot of Universal Studios. Backdraft was an extremely dated and tired attraction and the suits at Universal knew it. Transformers: The Ride 3D is going to be staying in this building for quite a long time.

I had a front of the line pass, which the park sells at the ticket booth and in various areas inside the park itself. The wait time was around 50 minutes, but with my pass I was on the ride in less than two. It’s worth the extra unless you enjoy standing around in the California heat. I did miss all of the pre-show videos though, but the basic storyline is this — the Decepticons have stolen the All Spark and it’s up to you and Autobot EVAC to retrieve it.

Transformers: The Ride 3D is a motion simulator ride, like Indiana Jones at Disneyland but instead of all physical sets (there are some), you’re seeing everything through 3D glasses on giant projection screens that surround your vehicle. Like the movies, the ride is sensory overload. You’re bombarded with images that assault your senses. In a movie, that can be too much to take. In a ride that lasts a few minutes, it’s perfect.

Transformers: The Ride 3D uses the latest in 3D and projection screen technology to deliver an experience that the rider won’t forget. I could not believe what I was seeing and experiencing. Transformers appear to be landing on your vehicle, fights are happening all around you and you’re just sitting there with your mouth open the entire time. It’s like nothing I’ve ever experienced before.

Universal Studios

What made this simulator ride stand out from the others I’ve ridden is the sense of speed. When you’re driving through the city streets, it really feels like you’re moving fast. Whether you’re launched into the air by a Decepticon, knocked back from a punch, or falling towards certain doom, you forget that you’re in a vehicle. It really does look and feel like you’re right in the middle of a battle between Optimus Prime and Megatron. A lot of Transformers make appearances, like Bumblebee, Starscream and Devastator. They were even voiced by the original actors like Peter Cullen and Frank Welker.

One downside is the story goes by fast. Sometimes you’re not sure what the Transformers are saying because there’s so much happening at once. The story is a basic one (as it should be for a ride) but first-timers can get lost because there’s so much to take that you’re just not prepared for it.

Despite that, the audio is incredible, the imagery breathtaking and the entire ride experience will leave you grinning from ear-to-ear. The problem with a ride like Transformers? It makes everything else look and feel dated (especially The Mummy). King Kong 360 3D and The Simpsons still provide fantastic experiences, but the entire time I was at the park, all I wanted to do was go back on Transformers. Oh, sure. I had fun on Jurassic Park and the Tram Tour, but Transformers is so awesome, there’s no way you can only ride it one time.The first thing my friend said when we get off the ride? “I don’t care how long the wait is. We have to go on this again.”

The next time you’re in Los Angeles, be sure to stop by Universal Studios Hollywood and check out ‘Transformers: The Ride 3D.’ I guarantee you won’t regret it.

Technical specs:

Building size: 60,000 square feet
Height:   60 feet tall
Ride track: 2,000 feet
EVAC ride vehicle: Carries12 N.E.S.T. recruits
Screens: 14 oversized front projection, rear projection, flat and compound curved
Projectors: 34
Audio: 5,000 watts of power per ride vehicle

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