Although the new Transformers ride doesn’t officially open to the public until June 20, lucky guests who were in the right place at the right time experienced it on May 30 at its first public “technical rehearsal.”
Like most parks, Universal Studios Florida tests out its rides with soft openings before their official debut. Transformers was running smoothly at its first public sampling, and it looks like it’s going to be a big winner for the park. Here’s my pre-opening review:
If you’ve already ridden the version in California, you’ll pretty much know what to expect. If you haven’t ridden the West Coast version but are familiar with The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man next door at Islands of Adventure, you’ll still have a good idea of what the core of this ride is like. When you see the ride vehicles for the first time, you’ll be amazed at their resemblance to Spidey.
But that’s getting ahead of things. Your experience actually starts as soon as you enter the building and are immersed into the story. You go into the NEST (Nonbiological Extraterrestrial Species Treaty) base and work your way through a series of six different rooms that set up the storyline. Transformers fans will love it, but just like rides like Mummy and Men in Black, you don’t need to know anything about the movie to get a full experience.
The Cliff Notes version is that Megatron wants the ALLSPARK at all costs. You’re recruited to help the remaining Autobots foil his plot. The videos in the rooms introduce you to the characters you’ll see in the ride.
To make things more interesting, Megatron interrupts the transmission to make some threats. The action gets heavier as you get closer to boarding the ride. Keep an eye out for artifacts like the ALLSPARK on display in room two and part of an Autobot in room five. Check out the video toward the bottom of this article for a video of the queue and ride vehicles.
While the ride is definitely a close cousin of Spiderman, it has some important differences. Spidey has been revamped, but it’s still 14 years old whereas Transformers was built from scratch to take advantage of current technology. From the “speed” bursts when it really feels like you’re moving at 100 miles per hour to the crystal clear video and effects with sensations like heat and water, you’re definitely in a movie environment. The ride encompasses two floors, but you won’t even know it because the transitions are seamless.
It’s impossible to ride Transformers and not compare it to Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, the technological marvel next door at Islands of Adventure. The two rides have completely different systems, with Kuka robot arms giving Harry an amazing range of motion. You don’t have that on Transformers, but that’s probably a good thing for people prone to motion sickness. I know quite a few people who get queasy on Harry, while Transformers will be fine for the majority of riders.
If you’re at the park before June 20, be sure to check if there’s a soft opening going on. Otherwise, add Transformers to your must-do list. The lines are likely to be very long, so consider using the single riders entrance. Hop to my next article for more information about that.
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