By SHARON KENNEDY WYNNE
Times Staff Writer
The hugely popular Transformers 3D ride that makes passengers feel like they've been dropped into a movie chase scene is opening June 20 at Universal Studios Orlando — and so is a record-breaking price increase.
The award-winning ride that uses stunning 3-D and flight simulator technologies to immerse passengers is credited with boosting Universal's attendance and revenues at its parks in California and Singapore.
Little surprise, this week Universal upped its ticket price to $92, becoming the first Orlando theme park to top the $90 threshold.
Ride designers worked closely with Michael Bay, the director of the Transformers film series, to create an intense chase with Megatron where riders feel wind, heat and water and smell smoke as they swerve and soar through downtown Chicago. The ride begins with meeting Optimus Prime ("Humans, I must warn you, at this very moment the Decepticons are coming to take over Orlando") at the front of the ride, and visitors enter a massive steel and concrete structure that resembles an Army bunker.
The visitors, or "recruits," are led into the Allspark room where the artifact — capable of creating new Transformer life — remains protected from the Decepticons. Heavy pulsating bass and blue strobe lighting give visitors the feeling that the Allspark is pulsing with power.
Wait times of 60 to 90 minutes are to be expected, but California reviewers have praised Universal for its engaging interactive queue, which the park calls a preshow.
The ride is expected to be a huge boost for Universal Studios, which has been overshadowed by its sister park Islands of Adventure, home to Harry Potter and the popular Spider-Man attraction and Incredible Hulk roller coaster. The park gets another boost next year with Harry Potter's London as seen in Diagon Alley.
Universal's Express Pass can be tempting if you are there during a busy time (late June and early July are the busiest at the parks) because you rarely have to wait more than 10 or 15 minutes for a ride with one. They cost $55-$70, and there are some notable exceptions: Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey at Islands of Adventure and likely the Transformers ride. So consider this: If you stay at one of Universal's three on-site hotels, your room key is an Express Pass and you get early park admission.