A new ride to open next year at Universal Studios, near Orlando, Fla., will feature supervillain Gru and his daughters from "Despicable Me."
Universal Orlando, extending the momentum of last year's opening of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, has announced it will create a new ride based on the movie "Despicable Me" and will upgrade The Amazing Adventures of Spiderman ride with new digital technology.
The new Despicable Me attraction, which will be part ride, part interactive dance party, will immerse visitors in the world of Gru - whom Universal Creative president Mark Woodbury called "the world's most lovable villain" - his adopted daughters and more than a million of his goggle-eyed "minions." The ride, which will open in 2012, will replace the Jimmy Neutron attraction at Universal Studios.
The ride will take guests on a 3-D digital adventure into Gru's house and his secret lab, where the villain will "transform guests into an army of mischievous, scene-stealing minions," according to Universal's press release.
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"Gru needs help with this new venture," said Thierry Coup, senior vice president of the Universal Creative Studio. "He doesn't have enough minons so he turns us into minions."
The ride culminates in an interactive dance party. "You will step out of the ride and into the post-show. You will be able to interact with the characters," Coup said.
Universal also announced that it will upgrade its groundbreaking Spiderman ride at Islands of Adventure with new animation in 4K high definition. The work will require Spiderman to be closed for a short time, probably not until next year; dates will be announced later.
Although the ride vehicle and the plot - Spiderman battling villains on the streets of New York - will remain the same, the technology will make the 3-D images of the action sharper and crisper, Coup said. Not only will passengers be able to see details they couldn't see before, new details will be added.
"It will feel like an entirely new experience," Coup said.
But guests will still have to wear 3-D glasses.
While both of Universal's new attractions will open next year, two other theme parks are debuting new or revamped rides this month.
At Walt Disney World, a revamped Star Tours attraction with dramatically upgraded technology re-opened at Hollywood Studios, nine months after it closed.
The ride vehicles, use of motion-simulator technology and theme of interstellar travel are the same. But the revamped ride has a new soundtrack and uses new 3-D digital filming.
The most striking change, however, is that instead of the same adventure each time, the attraction has random story combinations that potentially make each experience different from the last. Guests on a Starspeeder 1000 piloted by C-3PO and pursued by Imperial ships might encounter Princess Leia or Darth Vader or Jar Jar Binks; it might fly into a meteor shower one time and go to Naboo the next.
Busch Gardens, in Tampa, Fla., opened its first launch coaster, Cheetah Hunt, last month. The coaster will use the force of repelling magnets to launch uphill in bursts of speed, from zero to 38 mph in two seconds, then in a second two-second burst it will accelerate to 60 mph. The thrill ride was designed to simulate a cheetah chasing prey as the coaster races across the park's Serengeti Plain.
The coaster's vital statistics: 4,400 feet of track (the longest at the park), speeds up to 60 mph, a 360-degree helix, a 130-foot dive from its signature tower into a below-ground trench. The ride will last about 3 1 / 2 minutes, including loading and unloading.
The coaster is combined with a second new attraction, a habitat for cheetahs called Cheetah Run. The habitat, built in the area that used to house the Budweiser Clydesdales, will have elevated, glass-panel viewing areas where visitors can watch animal trainers conduct sprints with the big cats.