Orlando Braces For Decepticon Takeover, Wookiee May Intervene

Decepticons Orlando

Universal Studios Orlando announced Thursday a new ride based on the Transformers movies to open next summer. That’s big news for theme park fans around the world.

The new four-minute Transformers ride in Orlando will be entirely in the dark and use 3-D flight simulator technology, said to be the next generation of Spider man, much like Transformer rides already in motion at Universal Studios Hollywood and Singapore.

Continuing a move by theme parks to make rides more experiential, riders are recruited in waiting queue by the Transformers. Their job is to help keep the AllSpark energy source away from the Decepticons who will surely use it to take over Earth. Not everything goes well there though and a high-speed chase/battle to the death (of the Decepticons, not those on the ride) follow.

Perhaps bigger news comes from the magical world of Disney who agreed to buy Lucasfilm, heralding in a new era of Star Wars.

Three more Star Wars movies, the first to open in 2015, are in the works on top of the original films, which have earned $4.4 billion so far.

“I’ve always believed that Star Wars could live beyond me, and I thought it was important to set up the transition during my lifetime,” Lucasfilm founder George Lucas said in a statement reported by Travel Weekly.

It looks as if Star Wars will live on the silver screen and in theme parks too. Already a hit during Star Wars Weekends, Disney looks for more from the Star Wars franchise rolled into Disney products, including theme parks.


[Photo Credit: Flickr user Stephen Gardiner]

Universal Once Again Transforms Blockbuster Movie Into Attraction


It seems the Universal Studios is making a second trilogy out of the popular “Transformers” movie series.

Florida’s Universal Orlando Resort has just announced the amusement park will unveil the third Transformers-themed ride in summer 2013. The ride, which is already attracting fans at Universal Studios Singapore and Universal Studios Hollywood, takes the hugely successful toy line and movie and makes it into a simulator ride that pits the Autobots and the Decepticons against one another, with riders as an audience.

Universal said constructing the ride in Florida is one of the company’s “most ambitious projects ever,” pointing out that the attraction will have one of the shortest build times in Universal history.

“The attraction combines the larger-than-life Transformers characters and an exciting storyline with life-like HD CGI media, state-of-the-art 3D technology and amazing special effects to place riders right in the middle of an epic battle between good and evil,” Universal said in a press release.

Earlier this year, the Associated Press reported the ride – which is simply called “Transformers: The Ride” – cost $100 million to create. It opened in Singapore in 2011 and earlier this year in Hollywood, and was done so under license from Hasbro, Inc., with close supervision of Michael Bay, the award-winning director of the “Transformers” film series.

Three blockbuster films released by Paramount Pictures have so far grossed more than $2 billion under the Transformers name: “Transformers” (2007), “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen” (2009) and “Transformers: Dark of the Moon” (2011). The films were all directed by Michael Bay and executive produced by Steven Spielberg.

Guests who haven’t experienced the Transformers ride in Singapore or Hollywood but have ridden the Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man attraction located in Islands of Adventure in Orlando have an idea of what to expect from the new ride, in which thrill seekers watch a film while moving through the attraction.

Other films and film franchises made into amusement park rides include “Dumbo,” “Wayne’s World,” “Terminator,” “Indiana Jones,” “Shrek,” “Twister,” “Police Academy,” “Star Wars” and “Harry Potter.” What’s your favorite movie-turned-attraction?

[Photo credit: NBC Universal, Orlando]

Universal Orlando announces Mardi Gras concert lineup

Universal Mardi Gras concert lineup

Thirty Seconds to Mars, Ne-Yo and Blake Shelton are among the headliners just announced for Universal Orlando’s Mardi Gras this spring.

The 2011 Mardi Gras celebration happens on weekend nights Feb. 12 through April 23 at the Universal Studios Florida theme park in Orlando, Florida.

Here’s the concert lineup:

  • Feb. 12: Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons
  • Feb. 19: The B-52s
  • Feb. 20: KC & The Sunshine Band
  • Feb. 26: Pitbull
  • March 5: Lynyrd Skynyrd
  • March 12: Foreigner
  • March 18: Neon Trees
  • March 19: Thirty Seconds to Mars
  • March 25: OneRepublic
  • March 26: Blake Shelton
  • April 1: Sean Kingston
  • April 2: Ne-Yo
  • April 9: Lifehouse
  • April 16: The Beach Boys

Universal’s Mardi Gras also includes a nightly parade with floats designed by Blaine Kern Artists in New Orleans, and, of course, lots and lots of beads.

A “French Quarter” street party serves up cajun food and musicians playing blues, jazz and zydeco.

Universal Orlando’s Mardi Gras is included with regular theme park admission to Universal Studios Florida – no separate ticket is required for the concerts.

Harry Potter park serves up 1 millionth Butterbeer

Harry Potter Butterbeer - 1 million sold

It’s not just a beverage, it’s an experience. That’s the word from Universal Orlando Resort, which said today that the company has sold 1 million Butterbeers in its Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

The creamy-smooth concoction is a favorite drink in the Harry Potter books and movies, and it’s also a favorite at the theme park, where guests will wait in ride-sized lines to buy a cup. Last year, a fourth location selling the drink was added to the theme park to alleviate some of the lines.

There’s no alcohol in Butterbeer. It’s a sweet drink, which Universal says tastes of shortbread and butterscotch. I liken it to a cream soda. You can get both cold and frozen versions at Universal’s Islands of Adventure theme park where the Wizarding World is located.

There are lots of do-it-yourself Butterbeer recipes out there online, but Universal’s is secret. In fact, the company says it has put special security procedures in place to keep it that way.

To celebrate the 1 millionth Butterbeer, Universal passed out 1,000 free ones on the streets of the Wizarding World.

Universal ride that caught fire will be closed for weeks

Universal ride fireDudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls water ride will be closed for several weeks following a fire at Islands of Adventure on Saturday night.

The Universal Orlando ride will be closed to repair the damage, and to undergo seasonal maintenance, according to Universal. Ripsaw Falls had already been scheduled to be closed for maintenance in a couple of weeks.

About 5:30 Saturday evening, the ride and surrounding Toon Lagoon area were evacuated when clouds of black smoke started billowing from the ride’s roof. Forty firefighters called to the scene had the fire under control in about 30 minutes and completely out in about an hour, officials told the Orlando Sentinel.

No guests were injured in the fire, though a few were evaluated at the theme park’s first aid station.

The rest of the Islands of Adventure theme park remained open during and after the fire.

The exact cause of the blaze is still under investigation.