Transformers Invade Orlando, Take No Prisoners

Ever think being part of an intergalactic battle to save the Earth might be an interesting day’s work? Yes? Well head on over to Universal Studios Florida and help the Autobots fight off invading Decepticons at Transformers: The Ride, now open and ready to recruit your help.

“Transformers is one of the movie industry’s most successful franchises and Universal’s ride offers a four-minute, condensed version of all the action that people loved from those movies,” Robert Niles, editor of Theme Park Insider told NBC News. “It’s just the robots, fighting, with the audience along for the ride – literally.”

Heralded by an elaborate pyrotechnics ceremony, a Transformers song by the band Cheap Trick and a flyover of private jets, Transformers: The Ride opened last week to kick off the central Florida attractions summer season. Basically, the 4 1/2 minute ride is an interactive battle between the Autobots and Decepticons.The queue for the ride begins at the headquarters of NEST (Nonbiological Extraterrestrial Species Treaty). As the story goes, the evil Decepticons want Allspark, a source of energy nestled in NEST. Using flight simulator technology, movie screens, wind, smoke, heat and other effects, the ride takes guests after Decepticons, including Megatron, Grindor, Devastator, Sideswipe and Bonecrusher. Guests survive explosions, crashes, free falls, missiles and more as good wins out over evil, all in 3D.

Universal Orlando announces 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.

Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit roller coaster reopens at Universal Studios Florida

The Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit roller coaster is open once again at Universal Studios Florida, after being closed for maintenance on Sept. 15.

Universal has been mum on exactly what maintenance was being performed. The coaster’s German manufacturer – Maurer Sohne – issued a memo on Sept. 2, advising that all coasters similar to the Rip Ride Rockit be shut down immediately because of a flaw in the coupling bar that holds the two trains in the ride cars together.

At the time of the ride’s closure, Universal said that they had already dealt with the manufacturer’s advisory.

The Rip Ride Rockit roller coaster boasts the tallest lift hill in Orlando, at 167 feet. It has a number of unusual design features, including a vertical loop that rolls the ride cars around so that riders are not upside down at the top of it. The coaster officially opened on Aug. 19, 2009.

The ride features individual speakers in each seat and the ability to “choose your own soundtrack,” from a list of 30 songs by artists such as the Black-Eyed Peas, No Doubt, Beastie Boys and Evanescence. There are also a number of hidden tracks for the Rip Ride Rockit that aren’t on the official song list.