Monday, June 25, 2018
Travel

Universal Orlando fuels Simpsons Ride with manic imagination

ORLANDO — Universal is the last place you'd expect to find a smart kiss-off to the Big Dumb Coaster, but with the Simpsons Ride — a new $30-million motion simulator on the former site of Back to the Future: The Ride — the park has sure found one. The premise: You ride along on a rickety, rollicking romp through a CGI Springfield, as a murderous Sideshow Bob sends the Simpson family on a condemned Krustyland coaster, the Thrilltacular Upsy-Downsy Spins-Aroundsy High-Flying Teen-Operated Thrill Ride. The car spins off the tracks and crashes into other park attractions with gleefully parodic names like Captain Dinosaur's Pirate Rip-Off and Krusty's Wet & Smoky Stunt Show.

The good: The ride is packed with more original, funny material than you'd expect to see in a sitcom, much less a theme park. A team of Simpsons writers collaborated on a ton of new dialogue and sight gags, most of it dealing with the absurdity of the theme park experience — the size of the food, the cheapness of the midway prizes, the ridiculously long lines for coasters. One highlight is a video scroll of signs for other attractions at Krustyland ("Merlin's Medieval Joust: Closed for wizard re-bearding"). Even the dialogue is chuckle-out-loud funny — like this snippet from a preride safety video, in which the family hops into their car after waiting an hour in line:

HOMER: Wow, we're the first people to ever ride this baby. We're like that space guy who did that moon thing.

LISA: Neil Armstrong?

HOMER: No, Chewbacca.

Great stuff. Throw in a couch gag at the end — and yes, the ride has one — and you've basically got yourself an all-new episode.

The bad: It's not a short ride. Even with an Express Plus Pass, you're probably going to spend at least 25 minutes in line. Also, the ride is a little discombobulating. I'm a roller coaster veteran, and by the second time I rode it, I actually felt a little queasy. Finally, if you're taller than 6 feet, you'll have to sit in the front row due to a lack of headroom in the back (which is really a blessing in disguise, because the view from the front is much better).

Good for kids? Kids are welcome on the ride — the height requirement is 40 inches, the same as Jimmy Neutron's Nicktoon Blast. The material is nothing more objectionable than what you'd see on the show, so let that be your guide.

Worth the trip? For Simpsons fans, absolutely. You'll be stunned by how much care and creativity went into it. And if you're not into Homer and company, well, there's always Fear Factor Live.

Park details: Universal Orlando opens at 9 a.m. daily; closing hours vary. One-day passes start at $69.99; $58.99 for ages 3 to 9. Free for 2 and younger. Combination tickets with Islands of Adventure available, as are Florida resident discounts. Go to universalorlando.com.

Comments
Finding the fun in a family road trip

Finding the fun in a family road trip

When Matt Villano sets out on the 560-mile road trip from his home in Healdsburg, California, to San Diego in July, his game plan will be carefully crafted. When you’re traveling with three kids under age 10, you have no choice.Villano, a freelance w...
Published: 06/23/18
Puerto Vallarta is a dreamy Mexican getaway within reach

Puerto Vallarta is a dreamy Mexican getaway within reach

LOREN ELLIOTT • Times CorrespondentPUERTO VALLARTA, MEXICOThe third-floor balcony attached to our rented apartment served as a peaceful refuge above Puerto Vallarta’s bustling central district streets. Below us, taxis honked, people crowded bus ...
Published: 06/15/18
High-tech nighttime lagoon show coming to Universal Orlando this summer

High-tech nighttime lagoon show coming to Universal Orlando this summer

A gliding, wraith-like figure of a Dementor from the Harry Potter films enters Central Park, and the exteriors of the surrounding buildings immediately are covered in a layer of ice, a sign of their power to drain happiness out of the air around them...
Published: 06/14/18
Frito and Cheeto: How rescued seahorses found webcam fame

Frito and Cheeto: How rescued seahorses found webcam fame

Smile for the camera, Frito. The world is watching, and you have a story to tell. The tiny seahorse came to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium on Sunday with fishing line wrapped around her neck. By Wednesday, she became the CMA’s newest internet ...
Published: 06/13/18
Updated: 06/14/18
Busch Gardens brings back fireworks, free Adventure Island pass with Fun Card

Busch Gardens brings back fireworks, free Adventure Island pass with Fun Card

Back "by popular demand" Busch Gardens has announced the Tampa theme park will once again have a fireworks on weekends this summer, and the park also brought back its deal that gets you a free pass to Adventure Island water park with the purchase of ...
Published: 06/12/18
SeaWorld bans plastic bags, straws to combat ocean pollution

SeaWorld bans plastic bags, straws to combat ocean pollution

Collin the sea turtle, with a belly full of plastic garbage, may have been the last straw. SeaWorld announced all its parks and properties, including Busch Gardens in Tampa and Sesame Place, will ban plastic drinking straws and plastic bags. The anno...
Published: 06/12/18
Universal to have a record 10 haunted houses for Halloween Horror Nights

Universal to have a record 10 haunted houses for Halloween Horror Nights

Universal Orlando has announced that there will be a record 10 haunted houses for this year’s edition of Halloween Horror Nights. They haven’t all been revealed yet, but there will be a maze based on the first season of Netflix’s Stranger Things and ...
Published: 06/11/18
I went all the way to Seattle to discover the true meaning of Starbucks

I went all the way to Seattle to discover the true meaning of Starbucks

SEATTLE -- Every Starbucks experience in my life has been roughly the same. I wait in a never-unreasonable line to order. I squint at soulless foodstuff. Some soft pop plays. I order. I wait a never-unreasonable amount of time for my beverage and sn...
Updated one month ago
‘Seven Magic Mountains’ near Las Vegas is an Instagram dream

‘Seven Magic Mountains’ near Las Vegas is an Instagram dream

We have all come to this spot in the desert for one thing: Seven Magic Mountains.Two years ago last month, the large-scale public artwork by Swiss artist Ugo Rondinone rose on this stretch of land roughly 30 minutes south of the Las Vegas Strip. The ...
Updated one month ago
Busch Gardens, SeaWorld running flash sales with price cut of $40 or more

Busch Gardens, SeaWorld running flash sales with price cut of $40 or more

Busch Gardens and SeaWorld are running a flash sale that can save you $40 or more for single-day or annual tickets, but the sale ends Sunday. Busch Gardens is selling single-day tickets for $45, but they must be used by July 1. For $59, a Fun Card gi...
Updated one month ago