The ride — more properly, a motion simulator — has entered its technical rehearsal phase, which means a limited number of folks get to experience the Mayhem on select (but unannounced) days and times. Its official opening day will be July 2, Universal Orlando announced this week.
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Theme Parks & CityWalk Parking Garage, 6000 Universal Boulevard, Orlando, FL 32819, USA
•The outside of the attraction has been altered to resemble the imposing, dark house of Gru, Carell's character. It's a nice break from the boxy beige soundstage look in that area of the park. Minion Mayhem is across the street from Shrek 4-D, the building that previously housed Jimmy Neutron's NickToon Blast, which closed last summer.
•The first part of the queue is open-air and covered. I was grateful for the giant fans and appreciative of the design touches that hint at the inside of Gru's house: intricate wallpaper, chandelier and a flower-topped suit of armor. Monitors present a humorous minion quiz and a short recap of the movie's plot, in which three orphaned sisters influence the gruff Gru, helping transform him from supervillain to three-time winner of the father of the year award.
This stretch and the building's exterior have minion-recruitment posters, and that reflects the theme of the attraction. It's not a recap of the film. It uses the movie characters to tell a new story.
•The queue extends into two interior rooms that precede the main seating area. Here folks are issued the 3-D "goggles," and they see an instructional video with minions explaining how the glasses are to be worn. (If the number of your eyes doesn't match the number of lenses, alert a team member.) This first room has more of Gru's furnishings, including portraits, unusual seats and a mounted lion's head clamping down on a dog that's got a cat in his mouth.
The second room starts the "minionization" process, introduces the plot point about it being the anniversary of Gru adopting the girls and provides a whiff from a fart gun. (Minion farts may be fruiter-smelling than you expect.)
•The layout of the main room isn't dramatically altered from its Jimmy Neutron days. Four-passenger benches face a giant screen. A single lap bar comes across each grouping.
•As with most simulators, the bench moves and shakes according to the action on screen. Gru's girls — Margo, Edith and Agnes — are in charge of our minion training, and we are put through up-and-down paces, lots of shaking and bumping. It isn't severe — no danger of going upside-down or spinning. It's probably not quite as extreme as the motion on the Simpsons Ride on the other side of the park. The bumping, a simulator staple, can get tiresome.
But the picture is sparkling clear, similar to that now seen in the Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man ride, which received a high-def upgrade this year at IOA.
After several drop sequences, it was fun for the action to shift to anti-gravity mode. (Lift your feet slightly for maximum effect.)
I expected the minions to be a high point, but the girls are very engaging. And even though it's bound to be false peril, I found myself worrying about young Agnes drifting into a dangerous area — and for what bumping effect that might go with that.
•The exit incorporates a dance party with a costumed minion. Guests see themselves on a giant screen grooving to "Boogie Fever." It's pretty easy to escape this room — and into the gift shop — without cutting a rug with a minion.
•Expect Minion Mayhem to have legs. "Despicable Me 2," featuring the voices of Carell, Brand, Al Pacino and Kristen Wiig, is scheduled to open next summer.
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