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The Simpsons Ride

As Mr. Burns would say (tenting fingers), "Eck-sellent!"

Full disclosure: I only have two programs set to "always record" on my DVR and they are Lost and The Simpsons. Regarding the latter, I'm a huge fan; have been since the beginning, way back at the tail end of 1989. I wouldn't say I'm obsessive, but I do have a problem with folks who just don't like the show at all. (Frankly, I'm a little worried about the inevitable day when the last original episode airs.) So if I'm especially forgiving about The Simpsons Ride, well, tough cookies.

I loved it, pure and simple - giggled, laughed and whooped all the way through. Is it a huge breakthrough in ride simulator technology? No. Does it wipe away all memory of Back To The Future - The Ride? No. Was I a tad bummed that Harry Shearer did not participate at all? Of course. No Mr. Burns, Mr. Smithers, Principle Skinner, Kent Brockman, Reverend Lovejoy, Doctor Hibbert, and especially, no Ned Flanders. (Although if you don't blink, you'll see some of the folks he voices along the way.)

And debate will likely rage over the choice to render the animation in 3D, rather than stick with the show's 2D look. Would the visual effects have been as effective in flat colors? I'm not so sure. So while the purist in me prefers the "traditional," I respect the decision they made.

Thus, while it may not be the most incredible, mind-blowing, pitch-perfect translation of the tee-vee show into ride form, it's still a blast.

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On the morning of May 16th, USH held the media preview for the attraction and even in the early light, the whole ride exterior looked fantastic.

Awesome signage

You gotta love the way they turned the sterile BTTF buildings into this wacky explosion of color.

Krusty Rules!

I'm too old to get too excited about costumed characters, but I did love seeing these dudes:

Awesome costumed characters and cute media lady!

Awesome costumed characters and cute media lady, again!

And finally, with the initial broadcast media stuff out of the way, they opened it up and through the mouth we went.

Best ride entrance ever

But before ya go, make sure yer tall enough:

Itchy'll hitya

And if you have tiny critters in tow, they've got you covered (And Maggie plays a very important role in the ride itself):

Maggie!

One thing no one can argue about is the quality of the details in the queue. There's so much to see, it's really worth taking your time and looking at everything. The posters in the first section make me wish someone would build Krustyland for real. (Hey, Dubailand! Got room for one more?!)

Kewl posterage

I want to ride this!

I want to see this!

I really want to ride this!

Love the shout-out to the "Steeplechase Guy" in the upper right. :)

Maybe I want to see this... I'm not sure

More signage greatness

Entering the second portion of the queue, we pass under this sign:

Funny!

Funny up close!

And last, there's the preshow room:

Cartoons are the bomb-diggity

There are several monitors with hysterical animations featuring Apu, Patty and Selma, Moleman (at the Information Booth), and Willy. Also loved some of the wall items here:

Poochie is my homie

Busch Gardens shaped like a whale is good, but this is better

Seriously, someone build this. Please.

To go into too much detail about the preshow and the ride itself would spoil the fun, so I won't give much away. But as you probably already know, this ride has a villian and instead of Biff Tanner, it's Bart's eternal nemesis, Sideshow Bob, once again filled with murderous intentions. The set-up is great (nuclear radiation plays an important role) and the safety video in that little booth just outside the ride vehicle, starring Itchy and Scratchy, is without a doubt, the funniest and bloodiest such instructional aid you'll ever see.

As the doors to the ride proper open, we settle into a Krusty-encrusted roller coaster car and the high-jinks begin.

Condemned roller coasters are scary

(Image courtesy USH)

We're immediately hoisted up onto that condemned "Traumanator Coaster" and as you can probably guess, things go downhill from there, literally and figuratively. And while we rip through plenty of Krustyland, we go way beyond its gates before the adventure is over. The action is almost non-stop; while BTTF had a few moments of calm to let you catch your breath, The Simpsons Ride keeps the pedal to the metal pretty much from start to finish.

If you like the simulated 400-foot freefall climax on Islands of Adventure's Spider-Man ride, you're in for several treats. And during a section that takes place in Krustyland's version of a "Waterworld"-styled stunt show, there's a ski jump that sends our vehicle corkscrewing head over heels (I would strongly recommend Dramamine for those of you with motion-sickness tendencies).

We're also granted a nifty twist to a bit of the show's opening credits sequence, and if you were particularly fond of entering the dinosaur's mouth during the BTTF ride, there's a special nod to that as well (hee-hee!). Even Satan himself makes a split-second cameo!

Here's the tech stuff, courtesy of USH:

  • The Simpsons Ride boasts a 192-person capacity, two behemoth Dome screens measuring an expansive 80-ft in diameter, and a 6.1 surround sound system comprised of 400 custom-designed speakers. The ride offers a superior viewing experience with more than 4x the High Definition resolution seen in home theatres and 2x the HD resolution in digital movie theatres. This marks the first time ever that an IMAX film projection system has been replaced with digital technology!
  • The ride vehicle, which elevates nine feet on a scissor-lift motion based platform, was painstakingly programmed to synchronize with the action on the screen and capture every nuance of movement: forwards, backwards, up and down, and tilting in all directions. The outcome results in a completely seamless virtual adventure producing visceral effects never before imagined in a theme park ride.
  • There are a total of 24 Krustified ride vehicles modeled after classic roller coaster cars. Each extra roomy ride vehicle seats 8 people -- or 3 “Comic Book Guys”. The ride can seat up to 192 guests at a time.
  • Guests sitting within each of the roller coaster themed ride vehicles will be surrounded by 12 speakers and completely engulfed in a high quality 6.1 surround sound system that even Grampa Simpson could hear.
  • An additional 90 speakers, including subwoofers that contribute to the overall immersive audio experience, are located within the Domes.

If you like the show, you'll definitely dig the ride. And if you're the kind of fan who knows Comic Book Guy's real name (Jeff Albertson), or know how many times Sideshow Bob has guested (ten and counting - I think), or know the alias used by Dustin Hoffman when he voiced a character (Sam Etic), then you can't miss it.

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When Back To The Future - The Ride first debuted in 1991, it was the attraction that finally made Disney's Imagineers sit up and pay attention; there was nothing like it before and it paved the way for the aforementioned Spider-Man ride, and many more of far lesser quality. It will be greatly missed and I don't think I can ever quite forgive Universal for shutting it down.

But I have to admit that it was looking a little long in the tooth in its later years. And since it's been almost two decades since Part III was released into theaters, I guess there are a lot of youngsters out there who've never even seen the films. (Kids, do yourself a favor and rent 'em. They're really classics.)

And as The Simpsons moves on to become the longest running nighttime television series ever (take that, Gunsmoke!), and is guaranteed decades of rerun syndication, it will remain a part of our culture for several generations. So it's looking good for The Simpson Ride to have a lifespan longer than its predecessor. At least that's my hope.

Love you, man... sniff

Peace out, Doc!

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