Universal Studios Florida
2017 June 14

I recently visited Universal Studios Florida and it was really nice. This will cover all my thoughts on the various areas excluding Harry Potter world. The islands of adventure will also be it's own separate post. I will link to those posts at the bottom of this one when they are posted.

I visited this park with my family. We started out with "Despicable Me Minion Mayhem", where one becomes a member of Grue's minions and runs an obstacle course then helps to save his adopted daughters. Overall I liked it, however some aspects of it felt like they were lifted out of the portal video game, with the testing aspect, and ending up in a maintenance area to escape/save the day. It really is your basic motion theater ride, like most of the rides at Universal Studios.

After the minion ride, we went on the "Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit". I do not like roller coasters in general, and this one was worse than usual. First you go straight up the first hill, much straighter than on Fahrenheit at Hershey park, then it starts. This one really whips around, however it is slower than most of the coasters I've been on. It does have one mildly interesting gimmick in that the riders can select a song for their ride to go to. The song can be from one of several genres and from each genre there's six songs or so. Again roller coasters are not my thing, but this was a good enough roller coaster.

Next we watched "Shrek 4D," which I did not like. I felt that it was kind of campy and not that great. It was very similar to the Bug's Life ride at Disney. This ride had no motion, but was about gross out humor. It involved a mildly contrived plot around Lord Farquid coming back from the dead. Overall you can skip it, its nothing special and feels like it might be replaced in the coming years as it feels dated.

Then we did my favorite ride, "TRANSFORMERS." This was a motion theater ride that took place in cars. It was really well done, and it respected cannon for the most part. They did have to make concessions to turn it into a ride, so I accept that. Overall it feels like you actually there, and it makes appropriate references to all of the characters currently in the Micheal Bay world.

The next ride I want to talk about is "Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon." I absolutely hated this ride. I do not like the host, and I think his sense of humor is juvenile at best. I find him to be annoying and reckless in his behavior during the ride, as he causes an accident during the ride. Now I understand it is fictional, but still think of the example he sets. On a positive note it was technically impressive, and gives the illusion of being a member of a studio audience. The waiting area is beautiful, and has some interesting if basic games to play while waiting. The queuing for the ride was also interesting with using colored cards to decide when you would be called up to join the line. Overall this is your standard motion theater ride with a Jimmy Fallon theme that I dislike.

Another ride was "Revenge of the Mummy," which I really didn't get. It felt like a horror movie, but didn't really make much sense. This was probably due to the fact that I have not watched it. So I felt it was cheesy, but well executed with the special effects.

We also hit "Men In Black Alien Attack," this was very similar the "Reese's Extreme Cup Challenge" at Hershey Park. However, it was much better executed with the effects and targets. Although it felt like my gun didn't always work and the targets were not very clear. It was very true to the target practice round in the movie. I did not see the little girl that Jay shot though. I liked it overall, and it was true to the movie.

The final ride that we hit was "E.T. Adventure." This was extremely impressive with the animatronics and whole harness system. If a ride could be perfect, this was very close to it. It was more about an expansion to the original E.T. about where E.T. comes from and what not. Really technically impressive with all the robots and the character interaction, especially for how old it felt.

As for shows, we saw the "Horror Make-Up Show." This show was more about how the movie magic was formed. It lacked information density but was incredibly fun. The guy who ran it was a real make up artist in Hollywood. The show also worked as promotion for the new Mummy movie coming out soon. Really cool, and highly recommended.

Overall, it's a great theme park and could give Disney a good run for it's money. You need definitely need to get their express pass. It makes the line go so much faster. Although the lines weren't that long to begin with. The express pass was the only reason we managed to get as much done in the two days we were at Universal in. I also loved their approach to queuing people up, and having multiple waiting zones for certain rides, it showed a great deal of efficiency. However one should be wary of some of the restaurants they are expensive for what you get. Once again I will go over the "Wizarding World of Harry Potter" in another post.

*****
Written by Henry J Schmale on 2017 June 14