Orlando Braces For Decepticon Takeover, Wookiee May Intervene

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]

Frankenstorm Brings Plenty Of Scare, Halloween Canceled For Many

As waters from the Frankenstorm caused by Hurricane Sandy subside, six million people are without power, hundreds of thousands have been evacuated and thousands more are stranded in airports around the country. Not exactly where everyone wants to be on the eve of yearly Halloween celebrations.

“It’s the worst I’ve seen,” said David Arnold, from Long Branch, N.J., in a New York Times report. “The ocean is in the road, there are trees down everywhere. I’ve never seen it this bad.”

The far-reaching storm has East coast residents, normally planning on trick-or-treating, costume parties or haunted attractions, just trying to get back home. Once there, they hope to find a roof over their heads, power and food – elements of life they might normally have taken for granted.Instead of carving pumpkins or going door to door to collect candy in New York, residents are finding homes burned and transportation virtually stopped after Hurricane Sandy sent floodwaters into the city’s five boroughs, submerging cars, tunnels and the subway system.

Telling scary stories, watching horror films and playing pranks as part of a traditional Halloween may never have more meaning though, as residents recount what actually happened to them during the storm as we see in this video.

Still, in other parts of the country, Halloween events continue.

On the West Coast, California has a number of theme park attractions open including Knott’s Scary Farm at Knott’s Berry Farm, Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios Hollywood, Disney’s HalloweenTime and Mickey’s Trick-or-Treat Party at Disneyland Resort.

[Photo Credit: Flickr user furyksx]

Universal Studios Hollywood to open new King Kong attraction July 1

He’s big, he’s back, and he’s angry. Universal Studios Hollywood will open King Kong 360 3-D on July 1.

The new attraction will take you to Peter Jackson’s version of Skull Island, right into the middle of a battle between massive dinosaurs and one very misunderstood giant ape.

Following the 2008 fire at Universal Studios Hollywood that destroyed the King Kong attraction, it was rumored that Kong would not return.

However, Universal officials tell me Steven Spielberg was at the studios before the fire was even out, discussing how to improve the King Kong attraction, and Peter Jackson signed on almost immediately for the update to match his 2005 film.

“As a filmmaker, you’re hoping to have the audience step inside your movie and become part of the experience. It’s only within a theme park attraction like this that you have the opportunity to do that,” Jackson said.

King Kong 360 3-D will use technology never before seen in a theme park setting. A pair of seamless, compound curved screens – each 187 feet wide and 40 feet high – will form a complete circle around guests.

The attraction’s film will run at 60 frames per second, delivering significantly more detail than the typical 24 frames per second rendered in a feature-length film. Universal Studios Hollywood promises “visceral special effects” to enhance the experience.

This summer, Universal Studios Hollywood is also opening 13 city blocks of production facilities in area of the Universal backlot that burned in the 2008 fire, including four acres of newly built New York street locations.

Universal Studios will be open and filled with annoying people on Thanksgiving & Christmas

America’s most read and chart-filled newspaper is reporting that Universal Studios Hollywood is going to be open to the public on Thanksgiving and Christmas. It will be the first time since 1964 that the park is open on these holidays and it will now be operating 365 days a year (366 in 2008).

I can think of no better way to work off a stomach full of turkey, stuffing and cranberry sauce than a scintillating whirl on Revenge of the Mummy: The Ride. Nothing says family togetherness more than a day of height restrictions and warnings about people with heart conditions (poor grandma’s going to have to sit out most of the afternoon).

And it’s just not Christmas without a stop at the Waterworld attraction. According to the Universal Studios Hollywood website, “The hit motion picture comes surging to life in a spectacular tidal wave of death-defying stunts, awesome explosions and an ocean of thrills!” Of course, we use the word “hit” quite loosely here.

You’ll being using the phrase “great holiday vacation” loosely, as well, if you choose to spend Thanksgiving or Christmas at this haven for fanny packs and schlocky souvenirs. But hey, who am I to tell you how to celebrate your holidays? If your Turkey Day just isn’t complete without a ride inspired by Backdraft, the 1991 film of moderate success, then, you know, have at it.

As for me, I’ll be home with my family watching football and avoiding large masses of humanity. I prefer to have no one else around me when I vomit.