The multimillion-dollar attraction will be a near-clone of Transformers rides that have opened in Universal theme parks in Singapore and California in the past year.
- Pictures: The Transformers 3-D at Universal Orlando
- Pictures: New attractions at Universal Studios Orlando
- Pictures: Universal Studios now and through the years
- Pictures: Harry Potter expansion at Universal Orlando
- Pictures: The Wizarding World of Harry Potter attraction
- Pictures: Celebrities seen at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter
See more photos »
- Video: Harry Potter expansion in 2014 at Universal Orlando
- Jason Garcia on expansions at Universal Orlando
- Gardens and Parks
- Tourism and Leisure
- Amusement and Theme Parks
See more topics »
The ride, wedged between the park's New York and Hollywood sections, is the next level up in intensity, technology and scale compared with older rides such as the Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man, said Thierry Coup, senior vice president of Universal's Creative Studio. It features a 12-passenger vehicle — a new Transformer called Evac — that swerves and spins in front of giant screens amid real-life props and staging, a style popularized in the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey and Spider-Man rides at Universal's Islands of Adventure.
"Here, we are dealing with a completely photo-realistic environment that's straight out of the movie, dealing with gigantic characters in 3-D versus Spider-Man, which is more human-sized characters," Coup said. The robot characters will appear 30 feet tall in the Transformers ride, he said.
It will have more action than Spider-Man, reflecting the high-energy tone of the motion pictures.
"We're racing through the streets, really fast," said Coup, describing the action. "We encounter missile blasts, and you have to dodge some of the robot punches, and you get clawed by Megatron. You're flying above the city, you're going in the subway, you're going through explosions of gas clouds. It's really action-packed."
But the ride is not a recap of the movies.
"It's an original story for the attraction," Woodbury said. Michael Bay, who directed the movies, was creative consultant and he "helped us create it with his writers and animators to develop a story that is unique to this attraction but really true to the Transformers legacy," Woodbury said.
Robert Niles, editor of the Theme Park Insider website, has ridden Transformers in both Singapore and Hollywood. He gives the ride high marks.
"This ride is like getting all the really good action from 'Transformers' distilled down into five minutes without any of that distracting plot and character development," he said.
The longevity of the Transformers franchise makes it an attractive property, said Dennis Speigel, president of International Theme Park Services, a consulting firm based in Cincinnati.
"It really has reached a generation or two so it has that kind of historical background, which is always good when you're trying to institute a new product," he said.
A single ride can boost attendance at a theme park, Speigel said. "Rides like that can have an impact of somewhere between a 7 to 10 percent increase in attendance if marketed appropriately and effectively, and if it has a presence, a personality that's known in the marketplace, which Transformers does," he said.
He estimated a price tag between $90 million and $110 million for the Orlando ride. Although savings accrue when constructing an attraction for the third time, the level of sophistication in Transformers makes it costly, Speigel said.
Universal would not comment on another construction site within the studios park. In December, the theme park announced it would build a second phase of Wizarding World. In January, it closed Universal Studios' Jaws ride, demolished the surrounding Amity area and started construction. Rampant speculation has tied those events, but Universal has not connected those dots publically.
Construction walls went up at the Transformers site in June, and the beginnings of the ride structure have been visible to theme-park guests for weeks. The new attraction, which will face the park's lagoon, is the former home of the Murder, She Wrote Mystery Theater attraction, which closed in 1997, and the Hercules & Xena: Wizards of the Screen attraction, which was scrapped in 1999.
"I think it makes pretty smart business sense for them to plug Transformers into that spot and really keep the momentum going through this year, taking them into next year, 2015 or whenever they get the new Potter project done," Niles said.
firstname.lastname@example.org or 407-420-5477