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Universal Studios Florida

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Diagon Alley

Hogwarts Express - King's Cross Station

(July 8, 2014 - present)

 

History and photos of Hogwarts Express - King's Cross Station in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Diagon Alley section of Universal Studios Florida at Universal Orlando.

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Located in the London, England, section of Diagon Alley is the King's Cross Station.  It looks like any modern day train station that you'll find throughout London.  The catch is that this is part of Diagon Alley, and King's Cross Station is not simply an ordinary train station.

Just like in the Harry Potter books and movies, the King's Cross Station is where you'll find the Hogwarts Express train, a steam train that carries passengers (in the books and movies, the passengers were students traveling to and from Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry) to the magical village of Hogsmeade.  Here at Universal Orlando, the Hogwarts Express is a train that transports park guests between Diagon Alley in Universal Studios Florida, and Hogsmeade in Universal's Islands of Adventure theme parks.

When The Wizarding World of Harry Potter opened in Universal's Islands of Adventure theme park in the summer of 2010, the new expansion was wildly successful.  The addition of a heavily themed land inspired by the Harry Potter movies was a huge success in bringing new fans into the Universal Orlando theme parks.  The Wizarding World of Harry Potter put Universal Orlando on the map as being a theme park destination.  It was just a question of how Universal was going to capitalize on the popularity and add more Harry Potter-themed content to its theme parks.

That answer would ultimately take the shape of Diagon Alley in Universal Studios Florida.

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The Diagon Alley expansion complimented the pre-existing Harry Potter content next door in Universal's Islands of Adventure.  Now instead of there simply being a "Harry Potter Land" in one theme park, now you had two completely different but still magical and very entertaining Harry Potter-themed experiences between the two Universal Orlando theme parks.  Formally connecting these two lands is the Hogwarts Express, a brief train ride that transports park guests between Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley.

WARNING --- SPOILERS!

LINE QUEUE

The experience for Hogwarts Express - King's Cross Station begins with approaching the entrance to the King's Cross Station in the London part of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Diagon Alley.  The exterior and entrance area for the King's Cross Station looks just like a modern-day train station in London.  Remember that this part of London is for muggles (unbelievers in magic, a.k.a. your average, everyday person), and this part of the train station reflects it.  The entrance is brightly lit, there are regular announcements on the P.A. system, and there's a large board displaying destinations and train schedules.

Before proceeding any further into the train station, we must first scan our ticket and proceed through the turnstyles.  You MUST have a park-to-park admission ticket to ride the Hogwarts Express train!  This is no different than going out the park's exit and walking to the other Universal park.  The Hogwarts Express is a shuttle that makes the park-hopping experience a lot more interesting.

After scanning the ticket and going through the turnstyle, the line queue goes through a tunnel and further into the train station.  On the walls are advertisements for other destinations as well as some important tips and safety information.  While walking through the line queue, we can hear the occasional train arriving and departing from the station.

The main part of the train station is a very large room complete with a small snack stand.  The line queue actually passes through the small shop (you can purchase a snack or a drink, but it must be finished before you board the train).  Along the far wall of this large room are lots of luggage belonging to other passengers.  It all seems fairly ordinary, but that's because we're still in the part of the station that's used by muggles.  That's about to change very soon.

This part of the line queue ends when we climb a large staircase (those with strollers and wheelchairs get to use a nearby elevator) and ascend to the second floor of the King's Cross Station.  Just around a corner is where we pass through the magical barrier to reach Platform 9-3/4.

In reality, the magical barrier is just a short hallway.  There are no magical effects in that exact spot.  The catch is that only those people in line behind you will be the ones who see the magic happen.  Just before passing through the barrier, there's a place in the line queue where you can look through a piece of glass and see what looks like the people ahead of you walking through a brick wall.  It's pretty neat seeing the people ahead of you in line walking "through" the brick wall.  The only problem is that this part of the line queue tends to get clogged as people take photos and shoot videos of their family and friends passing through the magical barrier.

What usually happens is that somebody in the group stays behind and then records everybody else as they pass through the barrier.  That's fine except that some people can be extremely slow and they will hold up the line for everybody else.  If you're going to take photos and videos, remember that there are a LOT of people waiting in line behind you.

Up ahead is our destination in King's Cross Station, Platform 9-3/4.

PLATFORM 9-3/4

Just around the bend from the magical barrier is Platform 9-3/4.  This is where we'll catch the Hogwarts Express steam train and ride it to Hogsmeade.

Platform 9-3/4 is an open and brightly lit room at the King's Cross Station.  The line queue goes around more luggage and then next to the train tracks.  This time around the luggage belongs to the students attending Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.  The main focus is Harry Potter's luggage, complete with Hedwig, his pet owl, sitting in his cage.

While waiting in this final part of the line queue, you'll probably see the Hogwarts Express train arrive and depart a couple of times.  Seeing the train in action heightens our excitement, and it's just a few more minutes before it's time for our journey.  At the end of the line queue the riders are placed into groups of eight, and they're assigned a specific cabin on the train.  Don't worry, each cabin offers the same exact ride experience.  When the train arrives and is unloaded, a conductor escorts each group of riders into their assigned cabin.  The cabins have two benches that face each other, with each bench seating for people.  There's a "window" on the far side of the cabin, and that's where most of the action takes place.  Just don't forget to keep an occasional eye on your door while on the trip.  When the train is fully loaded and everybody is set, the journey begins.

HOGWARTS EXPRESS - RIDE

The journey from Diagon Alley to Hogsmeade begins with leaving London, England, and passing through the English countryside.  The mood on the train and outside of the "window" becomes dark and sinister, and our train is visited by Dementors.  The Dementors are inside of the train, and we can see the silhouettes of Harry Potter and his friends as they have a brief encounter with the dark spirits.  After the Dementors are sacred away, the Hogwarts Express passes through the Forbidden Forest and then arrives at the Hogsmeade train station.  We can see Hagrid waiting for us at the train station just as the ride comes to an end.

The train ride itself is very short and has extremely gentle motion effects.  The effects are so tame that it's a little bit surprising that Universal even mentions "Motion Sickness or Dizziness" on the ride's warning sign.  That's the same generic statement that's used for thrilling rides such as TRANSFORMERS: The Ride - 3D, something that's a LOT more intense than the Hogwarts Express.

END OF SPOILERS!

The Hogwarts Express is an interesting way of traveling between the two Universal Orlando theme parks.  The ride does a great job of linking both of the Harry Potter areas and creating one giant "magical" experience.  You can visit Diagon Alley, step back into London, ride the Hogwarts Express to Hogsmeade, and then experience all of the fun over there, all while staying within the Harry Potter Universe.  Of course, you can do all of that in reverse as well, starting in Hogsmeade and then completing your experience in Diagon Alley.

There's no question that Universal Orlando did a fantastic job with the Hogwarts Express ride.  The theming is great and the experience on the ride is a lot of fun, especially for first-time riders.

But this is also a very short ride.  It's just a quick hop between the two theme parks.  At times it feels like it takes longer just to load and unload the train than it does to complete the ride itself.  And of course, there may be a long wait in line before it's your turn to ride the train.

The Hogswart Express is best for those people who want to experience more of the Harry Potter Universe.  The ride adds yet another heavily themed activity within The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, and it does a great job of linking Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade.

If you're just using the Hogswart Express as a method of traveling between Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure, you may be better off going out the exit and walking between the two theme parks.  It's only about a five-minute walk from one theme park to the other.  The journey on the Hogswart Express may take significantly longer depending on the wait time for the ride.

It's really too bad that Universal Orlando doesn't also have a Harry Potter-themed walking path between Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade.  The train station looks impressive and the ride itself is fun, but the ride is also very short.  It can be a bit of a hassle trying to use the train when traveling with strollers and wheelchairs.  If Universal would make an alternate experience, such as a heavily-themed walking path, that would be perfect.

HEIGHT REQUIREMENT There is no height requirement to ride the Hogwarts Express train.  However, children under 48" tall must be accompanied by an adult.

 

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Universal Studios Florida - The Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Diagon Alley - Hogwarts Express - King's Cross Station:

Hogwarts Express - King's Cross Station - warning sign:

Hogwarts Express - King's Cross Station - line queue:

Hogwarts Express - King's Cross Station - Platform 9-3/4 & Hogwarts Express train:

Hogwarts Express - King's Cross Station - exit (for those people arriving from The Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Hogsmeade):

Universal Studios Florida

Woody Woodpecker's KidZone

Woody Woodpecker's Nuthouse Coaster

(1999 - present)

 

History and photos of the Woody Woodpecker's Nuthouse Coaster junior roller coaster in the Woody Woodpecker's KidZone section in Universal Studios Florida.

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Opening in 1999, Woody Woodpecker's Nuthouse Coaster became the first roller coaster to be added to Universal Studios Florida.

Universal Studios Florida - Woody Woodpecker's KidZone - Woody Woodpecker's Nuthouse Coaster - 2005

Manufactured by roller coaster Vekoma, Woody Woodpecker's Nuthouse Coaster is a Junior Coaster that takes younger riders and their parents on a brief but semi-thrilling ride through Woody Woodpecker's Nut Factory.

Woody Woodpecker's Nuthouse Coaster roller coaster statistics:

height - 28 feet

ride length - 679 feet

top speed - 24.5 mph

ride time - 44 seconds

numbers of riders per train - 16 people

If your child is tall enough but uncertain about riding the more thrilling rides such as Hollywood Rip Ride RockIt, Revenge of the Mummy, or any of the roller coasters next door in Universal's Islands of Adventure, take a ride on Woody Woodpecker's Nuthouse Coaster first.  The smaller roller coaster will (hopefully) boost their spirits and confidence, and also inspire them to conquer the bigger rides.

Be cautioned that Woody Woodpecker's Nuthouse Coaster's can be fairly popular during the busier days.  Since this ride only uses one coaster train on the entire track, it has a low rider capacity and can quickly create moderate wait times.

HEIGHT REQUIREMENT You must be at least 36" tall to ride Woody Woodpecker's Nuthouse Coaster roller coaster.

 

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Universal Studios Florida - Woody Woodpecker's KidZone - Woody Woodpecker's Nuthouse Coaster:

Woody Woodpecker's Nuthouse Coaster - ride:

Woody Woodpecker's Nuthouse Coaster - warning sign:

Woody Woodpecker's Nuthouse Coaster - line queue:

Woody Woodpecker's Nuthouse Coaster - loading station:

Woody Woodpecker's Nuthouse Coaster - on-ride:

Universal Studios Florida

Woody Woodpecker's KidZone

Fievel's Playland

(1992 - present)

 

Photos of the Fievel's Playland play area in the Woody Woodpecker's KidZone section in Universal Studios Florida.

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Opening in 1992, Fievel's Playland was part of a grouping of attractions (the others include Back to the Future: The Ride and Jaws) that opened within the first couple of years at Universal Studios Florida.

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Fievel's Playland is an interactive playground themed to the 1991 animated movie, An American Tail: Fievel Goes West.  The play area includes some water features, a giant spider web, and even a water slide.  There's even an opportunity to talk to a two-story animatronic version of Tiger the Cat.

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Universal Studios Florida - Woody Woodpecker's KidZone - Fievel's Playland:

Universal Studios Florida

Woody Woodpecker's KidZone

E.T. Adventure

(June 7, 1990 - present)

 

History and photos of the E.T. Adventure ride in the Woody Woodpecker's KidZone section in Universal Studios Florida.

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Opening with the rest of Universal Studios Florida on June 7, 1990, E.T. Adventure is a family-friendly, dark ride that takes guests into the world of 1982's smash hit, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial.

Universal Studios Florida - Woody Woodpecker's KidZone - E.T. Adventure - 1998

E.T. Adventure continues the story in E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial.  After learning the fate of E.T.'s home planet, it's up to us to board bikes (or a spaceship in the original version of the ride), and take E.T. back home.

WARNING --- SPOILERS!

The exterior of the E.T. Adventure is themed to a sound stage where E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial is being filmed.  We go through an outside line queue and then enter a small holding area.  Television monitors briefly talk about the making of E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial and also provide bits of trivia about the film to keep us entertained while we're waiting for our turn.

PRESHOW

The automatic doors open and our group enters the building.  Inside is a small room containing the preshow for the ride.  Steven Spielberg hosts the preshow video and explains how E.T.'s home world, the Green Planet, is dying without the aid of E.T.'s magic touch.  We're told to take E.T. back to his home planet so that he can save the life of his friends.  Before departing we're going to need an Interplanetary Passport.  In the next room there are some workers sitting at computer terminals, and we're instructed to give the workers our first name.  They scan the name into the passport, and we then take the passport and give it to the workers just prior to boarding the ride vehicle.

INTERIOR LINE QUEUE

After receiving our Interplanetary Passport, we then proceed through the interior line queue.  This line queue is themed to being in a forest at night.  Take note that this line queue is VERY dark!  Small animatronic animals peek out from behind trees as we wander through the woods.  We also see scientists trying to track the extra-terrestrial visitor that just wandered through the area.  Every once in a while you'll see E.T.'s glowing red heart race through the trees as he flees in terror.  In the line queue we'll also see the communications device that E.T. and Elliot built to contact E.T.'s home world.  It's still operational and communicating with E.T.'s companions.

Periodically the line queue will be visited by Botanicus, E.T.'s teacher on the Green Planet.  He reminds us that the Green Planet is dying, and that the aliens there urgently need E.T.'s help.

At the end of the line queue is the loading station for the ride.  The workers will collect your Interplanetary Passport and then assign you a row on the ride vehicle.  In the original version of the ride, you could ride on either a bicycle or a spaceship.  The spaceships were removed when the ride went through an extensive refurbishment years ago, and now everybody rides on bicycles.  However, if you listen closely to Botanicus, you'll still hear him referencing riding on a bike or a spaceship to the Green Planet.  Botanicus was still speaking that way as of 2014.

RIDE

Each ride vehicle is actually a set of twelve bicycles organized in three rows of four bikes.  The assembly is suspended from the ceiling, enhancing the effect that we're really "riding" over the ground and also "flying" through outer space.

The ride begins as we roll through the forest and help E.T. return home.  We head up a hill and stumble into a temporary compound with NASA scientists.  We're spotted and they see that we have E.T.  The chase is on as we race through the forest and evade capture by the scientists.  Police cars try to block our path but E.T. uses his magic to make our bikes fly.  We soar up a hill and escape from the scientists and police!  Our bikes briefly fly over the city before travelling through space and warping to the Green Planet.

We arrive on the Green Planet and Botanicus is standing by a spaceship, urging E.T. to heal his friends.  We pass through a cave and E.T.'s magic touch brings his alien friends back to life.  The Green Planet has been saved!  The aliens throw us a party to celebrate E.T.'s return along with him saving their planet from certain death.  The aliens sing and dance and have a great time.

Our bikes stop by E.T. before departing, and E.T. thanks us personally for helping him save his planet.  Remember those Interplanetary Passports with our names?  They're needed for this point in the ride when E.T. says good-bye.

The ride vehicles then arrive at the unloading station and our ride is finished.  The lap bars raise and we follow the exit ramp to E.T. Toy Closet store, the exit for the ride.

END OF SPOILERS!

E.T. Toy Closet store features a variety of merchandise related to E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial.  The store also has a place for people to sit on a bike and have their picture taken with E.T. riding in the bike's basket.

E.T. Adventure is a fantastic, family-friendly ride that can be enjoyed by most people.  Take note that a couple of moments on the ride are loud and might be considered scary for the younger riders, but the rest of the experience is fun for everyone, especially during the celebration sequence at the end.  From the incredible attention to detail to the cool ride vehicles to the story itself, E.T. Adventure is one outstanding ride.

Don't be fooled and think that this ride is just for the kiddies.  E.T. Adventure still packs enough of a punch to keep the teenagers and older crowd entertained.  This ride is near the pinnacle when it comes to family-friendly, dark rides.  It's really too bad that these kinds of dark rides are losing ground to the 3-D simulator rides such as The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man and Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts.

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E.T. Adventure is worth your time.  Be sure to make the this ride part of your family's itinerary when visiting Universal Studios Florida!

FUN You don't need to use your real first name for the Interplanetary Passport.  Sometimes it's more entertaining to use fake names just to hear E.T. say something different.  Just don't try to use Botanicus or the names of E.T.'s friends on the Green Planet.  Oddly enough, none of those names are in the database of names.  Believe me, I've tried it.  The closest character name you can use that's related to the movie and the ride is Elliott.
HEIGHT REQUIREMENT You must be at least 34" tall to ride the E.T. Adventure.

 

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Universal Studios Florida - Woody Woodpecker's KidZone - E.T. Adventure:

E.T. Adventure - warning sign:

E.T. Adventure - line queue:

E.T. Adventure - ride:

E.T. Adventure - E.T. Toy Closet store:

Universal Studios Florida

Woody Woodpecker's KidZone

Animal Actors on Location!

 

Photos of the Animal Actors on Location! animal show in the Woody Woodpecker's KidZone section in Universal Studios Florida.

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Since the earliest of movies, animals have been an active part of the cast of characters.  Sometimes animals are in the title role, such as the television shows Flipper, Lassie and Mr. Ed, while countless others appear as secondary characters.

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The first animal-themed show in Universal Studios Florida was known as Animal Actors.  This live-action show opened with the rest of the park on June 7, 1990, and it starred a cast of animals that had been featured in recent television shows and movies.

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The Animal Actors show lasted for just over ten years until it was changed to Animal Planet Live! in 2001.

Universal Studios Florida - Woody Woodpecker's KidZone - Animal Actors on Location! - 2012

The Animal Planet Live! version of the show didn't last for too long, and Animal Actors on Location! opened in the fall of 2006.  This is the current version of the animal show.  Animal Actors on Location! features a variety of animals in an entertaining format.  The show includes audience participation, a look at how animals are used in the filming of movies, and a few humorous scenes involving, you've guessed it, animals.

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Universal Studios Florida - Woody Woodpecker's KidZone - Animal Actors on Location!:

Animal Actors on Location! - theater:

Animal Actors on Location! - show (2009):

Universal Studios Florida

Woody Woodpecker's KidZone

 

History and photos of the Woody Woodpecker's KidZone section in Universal Studios Florida.

Universal Studios Florida - Expo Center - 1991

When the Universal Studios Florida theme park opened on June 7, 1990, the section of the park later known as Woody Woodpecker's KidZone was originally part of the Expo Center (later known as World Expo).

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At the time of Universal Studios Florida's opening, only two attractions were open in this section: E.T. Adventure and Animal Actors Stage.  These attractions would later be followed by the Fievel's Playland play area and A Day in the Park with Barney, a live-action show featuring Barney the dinosaur and his friends.

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In 1998, Expo Center was split and Universal Studios Florida had a new section:  Woody Woodpecker's KidZone.  This land was composed of E.T. Adventure, Animal Actors Stage, Fievel's Playland, A Day in the Park with Barney, and the brand new Curious George Goes To Town, a water park playground themed to Curious George.  In the summer of 1999, Woody Woodpecker's Nuthouse Coaster, a kiddie-sized roller coaster, was added to Woody Woodpecker's KidZone.

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Since 1999, Woody Woodpecker's KidZone has only seen minor changes here and there.  The Animal Actors Stage has gone through a couple of name changes (now it's called Animal Actors on Location!), but the show itself still carries the same theme of animals used in the filming of television shows and movies.  The Animal Crackers counter-service restaurant was changed to KidZone Pizza Company.  The biggest change to happen to Woody Woodpecker's KidZone occurred in the spring of 2012 when Universal's Cartoon Store was changed to SpongeBob StorePants, a retail store where you can also meet SpongeBob and his friends from Bikini Bottom.

Today, Woody Woodpecker's KidZone is still a popular section of the park for the younger guests.  The land has a family-friendly ride (E.T. Adventure), two playgrounds (Barney's Backyard & Fievel's Playland), a live show featuring a major children's character (A Day in the Park with Barney), a kiddie coaster (Woody Woodpecker's Nuthouse Coaster), and even a water playground (Curious George Goes To Town) to help cool off during those hot summer days.

Additional photo pages for Woody Woodpecker's KidZone include:

Animal Actors on Location!

E.T. Adventure

Fievel's Playland

Woody Woodpecker's Nuthouse Coaster

Note - Each picture may be opened for a larger view.  If you choose to download and share these photos, please provide a link back here to Florida-Project.com!

Universal Studios Florida - Woody Woodpecker's KidZone:

Woody Woodpecker's KidZone - A Day in the Park with Barney:

Woody Woodpecker's KidZone - Animal Crackers counter-service restaurant (EXTINCT! - replaced with KidZone Pizza Company):

Woody Woodpecker's KidZone - Barney's Backyard playground (exit for A Day in the Park with Barney show):

Woody Woodpecker's KidZone - The Barney Shop store:

Woody Woodpecker's KidZone - Curious George Goes To Town water park playground:

Woody Woodpecker's KidZone - KidZone Pizza Company counter-service restaurant:

Woody Woodpecker's KidZone - SpongeBob StorePants store:

Woody Woodpecker's KidZone - SpongeBob StorePants store - interior:

Woody Woodpecker's KidZone - Universal's Cartoon Store (EXTINCT! - replaced with SpongeBob StorePants):

Universal Studios Florida

World Expo / Springfield

The Simpsons Ride

(May 15, 2008 - present)

 

History and photos of The Simpsons Ride simulator ride in the Springfield section of World Expo in Universal Studios Florida.

On March 30, 2007Back to the Future: The Ride closed for good.  Perhaps Dr. Emmett Brown didn't travel far enough into the future to see this event occurring.  Anyway, the Institute of Future Technology closed its doors to make way for a clown --- Krusty the Clown.

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The Simpsons Ride officially opened on May 15, 2008 to much fanfare.  After over a decade of entertaining audiences through the magic of television, and finally hitting the big screen in 2007 with The Simpsons Movie, the Simpson family has finally become a major attraction at a theme park.

There's no mistaking the exterior to The Simpsons Ride as a giant, 32-foot tall Krusty the Clown head now dominates the building.  The attraction is themed to being at Krustyland, an amusement park operated by Krusty the Clown.  Outside of the ride's building are a variety of carnival games.

WARNING --- SPOILERS!

The experience in The Simpsons Ride begins with walking through that giant head of Krusty the Clown.  We pass by a map of Krustyland and then snake back and forth in the outside line queue.  Overhead televisions keep us entertained with clips from The Simpsons television show (most of those clips have the family visiting amusement parks), and large banners advertise various rides and shows at Krustyland.  Like Back to the Future: The Ride, we're sent to one of three levels in the building.  The upper two levels involve heading up ramps and having an elevated view of Universal Studios Florida.

We're sent to a midway-themed holding room where we're divided into rows of eight people.  Some residents of Springfield man the game stalls though most of the time they just stand there and look around.  Krusty appears on the main video screen and prepares to select a family to be the first riders on his latest ride, a roller coaster named Thrilltacular: Upsy-Downsy Spins-Aroundsy Teen-Operated Thrillride.  Krusty really doesn't care who goes on the ride first, so he says a rhyme and when Homer Simpson yells, "Doh!," his family is picked to ride the roller coaster first.  Of course, this part was planned by Sideshow Bob.  The villain had recently escaped from jail, sneaked into Krustyland, disguised himself as Scratchy, and stomped on Homer's foot to make him respond at the right moment to be picked by Krusty.  More people can fit with the Simpson family in the roller coaster car, so Bart picks us, the guests, to ride along with his family on Thrilltacular.

We proceed to the small preshow rooms and wait for further instructions from Krusty.

PRESHOW

The preshow begins and we see Krusty leading the Simpson family to an area backstage.  Before proceeding, Grandpa and Maggie Simpson are stopped from riding because of medical conditions, so they wait outside.  Grandpa promptly falls asleep and Maggie wanders into a nuclear reactor.  We see her silhouette grow in size until the baby breaks out of the containment unit.  The preshow cuts back to the Simpson family where Krusty is about to board them into the roller coaster car.  Sideshow Bob suddenly appears and knocks out Krusty.  He then forces the family to board the ride vehicle with him now at the controls.  Before the ride begins we're shown a mandatory safety video starring Itchy and Scratchy.

RIDE

The Simpsons Ride begins with Sideshow Bob appearing on the vehicle's video screen.  He tells us that he has complete control of the amusement park and we watch as he moves the ride's lever from "thrilling" to "killing."  This activates the ride and our car is raised to the top of the roller coaster.  The coaster begins and we follow the Simpsons' car up and down some hills.  Sideshow Bob uses a wrecking ball to attack the Simpsons, and he hits Homer.  The swinging ball then breaks the coaster's track.  We hit the broken track and jump, landing on another section of the roller coaster.  The wrecking ball dislodges and both it and Homer land on the track in front of us.  It's all downhill from there as we roll backwards as the wrecking ball chases Homer.  The steel ball hits us, knocking us off the coasters track and onto a different roller coaster and then into the Happy Little Elves in Panda Land ride.

We're now in the Happy Little Elves in Panda Land kiddie ride with Bart and Lisa.  Sideshow Bob appears and has control of an evil panda bear.  He uses it to hit Bart and Lisa's car which hits ours and sends us through a wall.  We break through the wall and and land in Captain Dinosaur's Pirate Rip-Off boat ride with Homer and Marge.  The ride seems fine until Sideshow Bob's hologram appears on a waterfall and warns Homer not to give in to temptations.  The next scene in the pirate ride has a giant pint of beer, and of course Homer tries to grab it, claiming that beer won't hurt anybody.  This triggers a trap that causes the ride to be destroyed.  Some of the scenery knocks a hole in the wall and we're washed out of the boat ride and into Krusty's Wet and Smoky Stunt Show.

Sideshow Bob is still angry with us and tries attacking again with his giant panda bear.  Lisa is seen riding a killer whale and she lassos us with a rope.  The whale pulls us around the water arena and finally into the stands.  Sideshow Bob tries to use a saw to attack us, but this just opens a hole and keeps us on the edge of falling down to Hell.  The giant and most likely radioactive version of Maggie appears and she grabs Sideshow Bob.  She shows us the villain, but this nudges our vehicle over the edge and sends up plunging down to Hell.  Professor Frink appears and saves us with his flying machine.

Still attached to Professor Frink's flying machine, we fly over Springfield and watch as Sideshow Bob leads the giant version of Maggie through the city.  He's stolen her pacifier and uses it to tempt the infant.  Maggie finally grabs *us*, thinking that we're a pacifier.  She sucks on us for a moment before spitting us out again.  We land on some power cables only to have then act like a big rubber band and launch us to the Simpsons' house.  The family also arrives and runs to the living room couch in their usual manner.

Suddenly a lap bar secures to the family to the couch and the house's walls are opened, revealing the ride Death Drop.  The Kang and Kodos aliens tell us that the ride isn't over yet as all rides have to exit through a gift shop.  The family is dropped down the Death Drop and we fall with them.  Our on-ride photo is taken and we finally land back at Krustyland.  Sideshow Bob is still looking to kill someone, but before he can the couch and Simpson family land on top of him.  Krusty the Clown reappears on our vehicle's video screen and presses a large button, triggering a loud sound and vibration.  The Simpsons Ride ends and we leave the ride vehicle and exit from the building.

END OF SPOILERS!

The Simpsons Ride is a blast and a worthy addition to Universal Studios Florida.  This is coming from a major fan of Back to the Future (both the ride and movies) and somebody who has only seen a handful of episodes of The Simpsons.  As much as I was saddened at the loss of Back to the Future: The Ride, The Simpsons Ride is a LOT of fun!

Universal Studios Florida - World Expo - Springfield - The Simpsons Ride - 2012

For starters, the 3-D animation in this ride looks incredibly sharp and lifelike for a cartoon world.  This isn't the 2-D animation from the television show or movie.  The level of detail here in the simulator ride is fantastic!

The ride itself is nice and smooth, unlike the somewhat jerky motions from the late 1980s technology used in Back to the Future: The Ride.  The technology has greatly improved since that point in time, and this ride is solid testimonial on how smooth a simulator ride should feel.

In addition to the high definition and sharpness of the 3-D animation, and the smoothness of the hydraulics moving the ride vehicle, the story itself is solid and keeps moving.  There's plenty of both action and jokes as Sideshow Bob terrorizes the famous family at Krustyland.  You keep moving from one scene to the next with fun transitions linking everything together.  It's a very enjoyable experience that'll make you want to get back in line and ride it a few more times.

TRIVIA In the outside line queue, watch for a short video clip with Dr. Emmett Brown (voiced by Christopher Lloyd) interacting with Professor Frink.  It's a small tribute to Back to the Future: The Ride, the attraction that previously occupied this building.
HEIGHT REQUIREMENT You must be at least 40" tall to ride The Simpsons Ride.

 

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Universal Studios Florida - World Expo - Springfield - The Simpsons Ride:

The Simpsons Ride - warning sign:

The Simpsons Ride - line queue:

The Simpsons Ride - holding room:

The Simpsons Ride - preshow:

The Simpsons Ride - ride vehicle: