Universal Studios Hollywood, Burbank, California, USA
I just moved to LA about 6 months ago. I have been to both USF and IOA over a dozen times each, so I am very familiar with the Florida parks. Overall, I prefer the Florida parks just for the massive scale over the Hollywood park. I preferred Florida Mummy much over the Hollywood version. I also preferred the Florida Jurassic Park, but maybe just because the Hollywood T-Rex is out of commission at the moment. I just felt that Florida put a little more time into themeing overall.
Now, onto Transformers. They were doing a "dress rehearsal" or "soft opening" is what they said. The ride would open and close without warning throughout the day. Luckily, it reopened the 3rd time right when we got off Jurassic Park, so we only waited 20 minutes. By the time we took the escalators back up top, the wait said 140 minutes on the board. The hype surrounding Transformers has been huge around SoCal since I moved here 6 months ago. Word around town is that it is the best, most advanced thrill ride in the world (I guess that claim is correct?).
The queue wasn't anything terribly special in my opinion. Not comparable to any of the IOA queues. I enjoyed that the ops were in army fatigues, and yelled at you to get in the car quickly like a drill instructor. It went along with the theme and moved people in quicker--- a nice two-fer. Stylistically, I enjoy the Spiderman cars to the Transformer's cars (they are mechanically the same).
The screens are overall much larger in Transformers, and this is where it edged Spidey and maybe even Harry Potter. About 1/3 of the way through, Optimus shows up and he is MASSIVE. Other than that, overall I would rate Transformers at 3rd best behind Harry and Spidey. There wasn't enough fire power compared to Spidey. Actually, I don't think there was any fire at all. Spidey is great because of the fire blasts, the ice blasts, the water, and the heat blasts. Transformers only has a few blasts of cold air and some water. Also, there wasn't any continuity between screen and props. For example, the part in Spidey when Goblin throws the fireball at the car, it spins around, and the fireball thrown by Goblin explodes on the back wall. There was nothing like this during Transformers. The action was on screen, and any prop action was on it's own for the most part.
The biggest critique I have is that the finale is NO WHERE NEAR SPIDEY. I loved the ride, I really did, but stacking it up against Spidey, there really isn't a competition. Some will prefer Transformers, no doubt. It is a great addition to SoCal and the general pop of SoCal probably hasn't been to USF.
Overall, I'm happy to have a pass to USH and live only 2 miles up the street. The food prices are decent for a park, especially after going to Magic Mountain a few times already. The biggest (and maybe only) complaint I have about Universal Hollywood... never in my life have I seen more people cut lines. If your friends go to the locker or get a drink, you cannot enter the line and save their place. I saw it happen once where one person was in line, and literally a whole tour group, probably 25 people, cut in front of everyone in line to meet up with their one person holding the line. I'm not sure if this is OK to do at USH, but I have never known it to be OK to do at any other park I have ever been to. It was really annoying. Universal has a big problem on their hand with that, as it happened in every line we entered. They were running rides really fast, and even with a super crowded day at the park, Mummy was the longest wait at 30 minutes.
What did you think in terms of the quality of the projection?
Cool! I would love to ride this. Don't forget that this is just a dress rehearsal so it's possible some of the effects weren't working when you rode it.
Jeff, I thought the projection was good enough. I want to ride it more than once so I can process everything that happened a little better. It truly is sensory overload. The pacing was lighting fast, and there weren't any moments of suspense like on Spidey-- it was wham bam bam followed right up with wham bam bam. The 3d quality seemed to be on par with Spidey, Kong, and Potter. If you can tell the difference between these Spidey, Kong, and Potter's quality of 3d, then I am probably not the best judge of projection quality. The best part IMO was when Optimus shows up the first time. He is HUGE!!!!
eightdotthree, I plan to go again after the official opening to compare! I'm hoping they add fire to the mix! I sound like such a 13 year old pyro lol
Assuming that you haven't ridden the brand new version of Spiderman, the technology used for King Kong and Transformers is higher quality and higher resolution. I find Harry Potter's (non-3d) projections to be too dark myself.
I wasn't sure about their decision to use 24 fps on the Potter ride, but I think doing a higher frame rate would have been jarring because we're used to the films.
I went back for a few hours this weekend, 5/19 and 5/20. As I said before, I live 2 miles up the road, and we figured out that it takes 20 minutes from when we lock our door until we are in the gates of the park. Not bad.
Saturday 5/19 we got there around 11am to small crowds. We hit Transformers of course to a 25 minute sign. After a 5 minute break down, we were on the ride in about 35 minutes. Transformers delivered better than I remembered my first ride. I paid more attention to the screen quality and props. I still find the props not-on-Spiderman level, but the 3d screens are incredible. Riding Simpsons after, it was like playing a Virtual Reality game then playing Atari Pong. I haven't ridden the updated Spiderman, but yes, Transformers is beautiful. The finale on Spiderman is still far superior (it is similar with the freefall, however on Tranformers there aren't the buildings on the side of the screen to 'take you up').
About 2/3rds of the way through the ride, my GF and I noticed part of a screen was blacked out. When we got out, I told an op "about 2/3rd of the way through, part of the screen was black." He quickly said "OK, go up to Gate A and tell them "Starfire", and you can ride again." I was semi-confused and said "I'm not complaining, I just know you guys are doing a rehearsal so I wanted you to know." He said "No, no, no, we are supposed to be running at 100%, and we want you to have the 100% experience, and since you let us know, it's helping us out, so go up to Gate A and tell them "Starfire". He didn't have to tell me twice!
We went up to Gate A, and without telling or showing any of the gate keepers anything, we were on Transformers again! Great ride, and 10 thumbs up for that Universal op! This wasn't the only time Universal would go out of their way like this! (see Mummy on 5/20)
We ate some lunch, rode JP (no Trex still, and the car wasn't working booooo), then hit Simpsons before the crowds set in. We hightailed it out of there to the beach.
Sunday 5/20 It was after 7pm and it was time to do our weekly grocery shopping. I noticed Mummy was only 10 minute wait on the iPhone app. With the park closing at 8, we tested it out to see if we could make it! We got down to Mummy around 7:45 and took a great walk-on ride. More effects were working than the first time we rode it. We quickly ran around and rode again. As we were getting off, we noticed nobody was waiting for our row. We asked the op who said, sorry no re-rides. As we were walking out, the OTHER op asked if we wanted to ride again, and the two ops started arguing a bit over us re-riding. Finally, the nice op said, sit down! So, 3 rides on Mummy in just over 15 minutes! Great way to end the weekend!
I've never had a theme park in my neighborhood, and it's something I can get used to!
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