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Despicable Me Minion Mayhem takes guests on chaotic trip at Universal Studios in Orlando

ORLANDO — It's hard to decide who gets the cuteness prize in Universal Studios' new Despicable Me ride: Agnes, the little girl who works hard to give her super villain daddy a gift, or the yellow army of mischievous minions.

Either way, you'll love them both — once your stomach settles.

Despicable Me Minion Mayhem opens Monday at Universal, the theme park's first new ride since Harry Potter's debut in 2010 and the latest of several new attractions this year.

Based on the 2010 hit film, the ride transforms guests into goggle-wearing minions and takes them on a wild adventure through villain Gru's lab with his three adopted daughters. It's chaotic, funny, heartwarming and, like most simulator rides, a bit nauseating.

The attraction replaces the outdated Jimmy Neutron Nicktoon Blast, which closed in August. Designers added a pre-ride loading area that doubles as Gru's living room, installed the latest 3-D projection system and expanded the viewing screen by 70 percent.

Minion Mayhem starts in the living room, where you pick up 3-D minion glasses and enter the Minionization Prep Room. Gru scans new recruits for "human germs,'' cracks a few jokes and shoots a fart gun, which, of course, the kids find hilarious.

From there, you board Minion Transformation Pods — eight-seat ride simulators in a big auditorium. For the next four minutes, you whiz through a minion obstacle course, fall into an antigravity recycling room and dodge a monster crusher, all the while Agnes tries to give daddy Gru a gift.

It's rare to say a theme park ride lasts long enough, but this one actually does. After all the flying, jostling and sudden dips, you finish wondering, "Wow, what just happened?'' It takes a few seconds to return from minion to human.

While it helps to be familiar with the movie, it isn't necessary. Newbies can watch a 15-minute video introduction to the plot as they wait in line.

The ride incorporates so many details from the movie — right down to the banana trees out front — that visitors can go multiple times and still see something new. That will be a big plus when minions return to the big screen next July for the release of Despicable Me 2.

Children must be 48 inches tall to ride alone or 40 inches if accompanied by an adult. Pregnant women and those prone to dizziness are prohibited. Guests can expect 45- to 90-minute wait times during the summer.

Minion Mayhem's opening caps off an already busy year for Universal. Other new experiences include the re-animated Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man, the daily Superstar Parade, the Cinematic Spectacular nighttime show and the Hollywood Drive-In Golf at Universal CityWalk. Also, the Blue Man Group revised its show.

.if you go

Universal Studios' Despicable Me Minion Mayhem opens Monday at 6000 Universal Blvd. in Orlando. Hours are 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. all week, with shortened hours the rest of July. Single-day tickets are $88 for adults and $82 for children, with discounted tickets available. Visit universalorlando.com.

Despicable Me Minion Mayhem takes guests on chaotic trip at Universal Studios in Orlando 06/27/12 [Last modified: Wednesday, June 27, 2012 11:00pm]

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