By Dewayne Bevil, Orlando Sentinel
11:30 AM EDT, May 30, 2013
A new icon has sprung onto the Orlando theme park scene. A gigantic version of Optimus Prime now stands above the entrance of Universal Studios' upcoming attraction Transformers: The Ride -- 3D.
The figure, said to be 28 feet tall and weigh 9 tons, caught the eye of guests and curious Universal employees on Thursday morning.
The thrill ride, based on characters from the "Transformers" movie series directed by Michael Bay, is set for a June 20 grand opening. No "soft opening" has been announced for the public, but Universal employees enjoyed previews outside of operating hours on Tuesday and Wednesday.
In the franchise, which has roots in a series of toys, Optimus is the leader of the Autobots, who do battle with the Decepticons. The ride features motion platforms, 60-foot screens and two levels of action thanks to a state-of-the-art elevator that's designed so riders won't notice. The attraction is a copy of Transformer attractions already operating at Universal Studios Singapore and Universal Studios Hollywood.
Although the ride is not yet open to the public, guests can browse the gift shop and pose with other, less imposing, version of Transformers.
Also under construction at Universal Studios are the Wizarding World of Harry Potter expansion, set in London (scheduled to open in 2014), and Springfield, restaurants and shops set in the fictional land of "The Simpsons" television show (set to open this summer).
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