Posts Tagged ‘Transformers’

SATURDAY SIX: Top Six Gift Shops at Universal Studios Florida

by on December 7, 2013

This week’s SATURDAY SIX looks at the Top Six Gift Shops at Universal Studios Florida. Until recently, gift shops were seen as a necessary evil at our favorite theme parks – annoyances that many people either dreaded being herded through or mocked the existence of outright. One of the best gags in The Simpsons Ride involves the alien Kodos saying, “Foolish Earthlings, don’t you know all rides must end near the gift shop?”

Thankfully, over the past several years gift shops at Universal have become better themed and well merchandised, and several have even started to incorporate interactive features for their guests. It’s almost unbelievable to say it, but just as Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey became possibly the first attraction in the history of theme parks to have a queue guests wanted to spend more time in, gift stores themselves are becoming features of attractions that guests can look forward to experiencing. Here now, a look at 6 of the best gift shops at Universal Studios Florida.

kwike

“Thank you, come again!”

# 6 - Kwik-E-Mart

Despite the great joke mentioned above, the Simpsons Ride is one of the few attractions at USF that doesn’t exit into a gift shop. The Kwik-E-Mart, the ride’s merchandise location, is right next to the attraction and is filled with the high level of self-deprecating humor that is found throughout Springfield USA. Signs above the merchandise include sales pitches like, “Today’s merchandise at tomorrow’s prices!,” “These items won’t buy themselves!,” and “C’mon! If you owned a store we’d buy your junk!” There’s even a sign at the registers that has a call back to an episode of the Simpsons television show as it warns the cashiers not to take checks from various people including Chief Wiggum, Homer J Simpson, and Homer J Fong.

The walls and outside windows of the Kwik-E-Mart are laden with ads for fake products including Farmer Billy’s Choco-Bacon-Bars (“It’s like chocolate and bacon had a baby in your mouth!”) while the variety of actual Simpsons related products inside includes t-shirts, hats, plush, comic books and more.

IMG_0175Outside the store there is a photo-op available with Milhouse sitting on a bench and one of USF’s most hidden gems, the Simpsons pay phone. On the side of the Kwik-E-Mart closest to the Simpsons ride, there is pay phone mounted on a wall with the character Nelson next to it with a word balloon saying, “Answer the phone dingus…it’s for you.” Walking by this phone will trigger it to ring, and picking up the receiver will treat you to a gag line by one of the various Simpsons characters including Chief Wiggum, Moe Szyslak, and Bart Simpson.

With a pressed penny machine, the Big Pink donut, and lithographs of the hilarious attraction posters such as Captain Dinosaur’s Pirate Rip-Off (a jab at Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean ride), the Kwik-E-Mart is a must-do for any Simpsons fan.

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SATURDAY SIX: Top Six Photo Connect Experiences at Universal

by on November 2, 2013

This week’s SATURDAY SIX looks at the Top Six Photo Connect Experiences at Universal. I personally feel that the Photo Connect Star Card is – hands down – the best value in any of Orlando’s theme parks. For $59.95 you get every on-ride photo, every meet and greet photo, all the special Photo Connect “hot sets” like Sneetch Beach in Seuss Landing and the Daily Bugle front page photo at the Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man and any picture taken by one of the photographers in front of the parks. I can talk about the Star Card package all day long, so just do yourselves a favor and buy it for your next trip to the parks. Anyhoo, here’s a look at the top six Photo Connect Experiences at the Universal Orlando Resort…

# 1 – Transformers Meet and Greet

Megatron

Megatron

Transformers: The Ride-3D, itself, is incredible, but the attached Supply Vault gift store is no slouch, either, offering a ton of unique and exclusive Transformers merchandise (including the chocolate Allspark, EVAC action figure, and pressed pennies). But what might be the biggest “wow” moment overall is meeting the Transformers, themselves. Located directly across from the attraction is a special Photo Connect picture area. Completely themed to the government run N.E.S.T. look that the ride building has, this area allows you to meet and take pictures with Optimus Prime, Bumblebee, and Megatron. Seeing these incredible walk-around characters in person is one thing, but seeing them walk around is another. Jaw dropping. Rumor is that Universal spent over $20,000 for each one of these suits, and you can see every single penny spent.

Be sure to head to the Photo Connect counter after having your picture taken to ask for the special Autobot and Decepticon borders that can be added onto the pictures.

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Observations from Universal Studios Florida: September 19, 2013

by on September 26, 2013

Weekday afternoons during mid-September are some of the most wonderfully crowd-free times to tour the Universal Orlando Resort. So last Thursday I stopped by Universal Studios Florida for a few hours to take one last look at the park before Halloween Horror Nights XXIII began on the following night.

(Fear not, we’ll be posting an updated HHN touring plan later this week in time for the next event night, based on wait-time data we collected during opening weekend. And we’ll continue refining the plan as the event progresses into October.)

Approaching the park you are now greeted by massive “tree roots” entwined around the iconic archways, framing banners representing the haunted mazes featured at HHN XXIII.

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Southern California’s Top Five Dark Ride Illusions

by on September 17, 2013

Images copyright Disney

Recently, Disneyland’s Indiana Jones Adventure was unexpectedly upgraded with digital projection mapping effects that bring the opening scene’s Mara statue to life in a dynamic new way. The “plussing” of the attraction was somewhat controversial online due to the replacement of the original accompanying audio track (which was never voiced by James Earl Jones, contrary to urban legend), but the Internet buzz shouldn’t overshadow how welcome it is that Imagineering is still improving an eighteen year old E-Ticket.

That brings up the importance of the special effect, or “illusion,” in the art of the dark ride. (For the purposes of this post, “dark ride” refers to attractions where guests travel in a vehicle through a series of largely indoor environments that feature scenery and visual effects.) Dark rides predate Disneyland but were perfected by the Mouse; while a few competitors can now go toe-to-toe with Disney’s attractions in the awe-inspiring technology department, the Anaheim resort still houses the world’s greatest collection of ride-through theatrical illusions, featuring some “wow” moments that still draw gasps generations after their invention.

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Universal Merchandise Review – Transformers: The Ride 3D’s Evac Figure Review

by on August 5, 2013

MMM_LogoWelcome to a special edition of The Magic, the Memories, and Merch! Today we’re going to examine an exclusive action figure that is only sold at the Universal Studios theme parks and is based around the attraction Transformers: The Ride-3D.

Transformers: The Ride-3D was originally built at Universal Studios Singapore in 2011, followed by a Universal Studios Hollywood version in 2012, and the most recent one opened in Orlando on June 20th, 2013. In this 3D dark ride, guests board the Autobot Evac, a character created exclusively for the attraction. Throughout the attraction, Evac interacts with many of the most well-known Transformer characters including Optimus Prime, Bumblebee, Megatron, and Starscream. In many ways the Transformers attraction is the journey of Evac, who starts off as rookie and is given a trial-by-fire which eventually ends with Evac being a primary reason the Autobots save the day and defeat the Decepticons.

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Review: Transformers The Ride 3-D at Universal Studios Hollywood

by on June 25, 2012

Amid the hoopla over the grand re-opening of Disney California Adventure, it’s easy to forget that the competition across town recently opened a fantastic new attraction of its own. Here is a preview of our review of Universal Studios Hollywood’s stunning new Transformers simulator, which will appear in the upcoming 2013 edition of The Unofficial Guide to Disneyland.

Transformers—The Ride 3-D

Our Rating: 5 stars
  • What it is: Multi-sensory 3-D dark ride
  • Scope and scale: Super-headliner
  • When to go: The first 30 minutes the park is open or after 4 p.m.
  • Special Comments: Must be 40″ to ride; single rider line is available
  • Duration of ride: 4 1/2 minutes.
  • Average wait time per 100 people ahead of you: About 3 1/2 minutes
  • Loading speed: Moderate-Fast

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