The Transformers ride is scheduled to open sometime this summer, Universal officials say. (Dewayne Bevil, Orlando Sentinel / April 19, 2013)
Summer is coming, and so is the Transformers ride at Universal Studios.
Transformers: The Ride -- 3D remains on target for a summertime opening, Universal Orlando officials said during a brief tour through the ground level of the structure on Friday.
Thierry Coup, senior vice president of Universal Creative, says he rode the attraction Friday morning and that they continue to test its operation.
Outside the building, queues are being installed, taking up the entire block between Transformers and the New York street scenes, plus some territory behind Monsters Cafe.
The interior queue winds through a series of gray, industrial, bunker-like rooms with screens explaining the background of the story and the upcoming experience. (There was a single-rider sign in the first room.) We also walked by the all-important All-Spark, the powerful energy source that the Decepticons desperately seek. (It will make them "unstoppable.")
Eventually, guests will board Evac, a new Transformer that seats 12 and battles the bad 'bots. The Evacs resemble the Scoop vehicles from the Amazing Spider-Man Ride at Universal's Islands of Adventure, and in many ways, the Transformers ride sounds like an amped-up Spidey.
"It's the most action-packed ride we've ever done," Coup says. Spidey's visuals are more cartoon-like, whereas the Transformers imagery is more "photorealistic," Coup says.
Orlando has the third incarnation of the Transformers ride, following similar ones at Universal Studios Singapore and, last year, at Universal Studios Hollywood. Each building is different, but the rides are the same experience, Coup says.
"You keep getting better," he says. "The third one's a charm."
There are advantages to being third in line, he says.
"We got a chance to improve some of the technologies," Coup says, specifically, Orlando's version has superior projectors and screens.
Other notes from Friday's tour, which did not include an actual ride of the attraction:
+ More will be added to the attraction's marquee in the new few weeks, and it will make "a really big statement," Coup says.
+ The queue should take 25 minutes to walk through, and the ride last four minutes. "It feels like an epic journey. It feels like an hour," Coup says.
+ At one point in the pre-show, we are told through big screens that "the future of our species depends on what happens to you." No pressure though.
+ He calls the ride's location, smack in the middle of the park, "the perfect spot," although perhaps cramped. "We needed 60,000 square feet, but we only had 30,000," he says. So the attraction is split over two floors.
+ The attraction is designed so that riders won't sense the elevators that lift the Evacs (and guests) to the second floor. This is done with two 60-foot-high cylindrical screens surrounding the lifts. There are also two "down" cylinders. "When you go down, it will look like you're going forward," Coup says.
+ Some scenes are created in super slow-motion. "It really allows you to appreciate all the 3-D," such as when a missile explodes in front of riders, he says.
+ At least seven Decepticons featured, including the menacing Devastator.
+ The ride was designed with the cooperation of director Michael Bay, who helmed the "Transformers" movies. Universal Studios was able to use sets and designs from the third movie as reference. (In one scene, you can see Bay's personal jet, Coup says.) The ride also has the voice actors from the films.
+ Transformers characters Optimus Prime and Bumblebee have been greeting guests and the incorporated gift shop has been selling merchandise for weeks.
+ The speed of the construction could be a record. Universal didn't pick a spot for the ride until June 2012, and ground was broken in July 2012.