Steven Spielberg, Peter Cullen attend Transformers: The Ride 3D Universal Orlando grand opening
Decepticons watch out, because Transformers: The Ride 3D has successfully infiltrated three Universal theme parks worldwide. After opening in Singapore in 2011 and then Hollywood in 2012, the 3D ride finally held its grand opening at Universal Orlando on June 20, 2013.
On hand for the grand opening were producer Steven Spielberg, longtime "Transformers" voice actors Peter Cullen and Frank Welker, President of Universal Creative Mark Woodbury, chairman of Universal Parks & Resorts Tom Williams and other Universal and Hasbro executives. Also rolling out in full force were Bumblebee and Optimus Prime, who walked the red carpet and posed for fans before the event took place.
Though a very similar grand opening took place at Universal Hollywood just last year, the Universal Orlando team went above and beyond with their celebration. When the grand opening finally kicked off after the red carpet ended, Bumblebee and Optimus Prime arrived in their Camaro and truck forms, respectively, while Glenn Morshower was also present in his full "Transformers" General Morshower mode. During their inauguration of the new "Transformers" N.E.S.T. training facility (aka Transformers: The Ride 3D), Megatron hacked into the event to announce a Decepticon assault on the Autobots and humans present.
What followed was an impressive display of fireworks and pyrotechnics. When Morshower cried for the Autobots to call in the jets, an actual jet formation flew overhead of the thousands gathered to watch the grand opening take place. Explosions went off overhead, flames shot up from the top of the Transformers building and round after round of fireworks were set off to simulate a battle. Ultimately the Autobots won, and guests and members of the press were allowed to ride the 3D experience before it officially opened later in the afternoon.
"It's like now we're part of the culture," Welker told Zap2it of his response to the Transformers rides on the grand opening's red carpet Both he and Cullen lent their voices to the ride. "I go to Universal all the time. When people come out to visit from Colorado, I take them to Universal and now I take them to hear Peter. It's just really so nice to be part of the pop culture and to see and hear your voice in those amplified settings in the ride is just terrific. It's awesome."
The executives at Universal were proudest of the fact that they were able to build Transformers: The Ride 3D in Orlando little more than a year after it was unveiled in Hollywood. As Williams said, that kind of turnaround is "unheard of in our industry."
"This falls into the category of 'where there's a will, there's a way,'" he said on the red carpet. "We did this because we know this franchise is just evergreen. It's going to be popular forever. The fanbase is enormous, dedicated, knowledgeable and committed to come and see this ride. It's going to be a big, big hit."
The night before the grand opening, Universal held a party to celebrate the new Transformers ride. There Universal Creative Studio executive producer Mike West explained why there was such a push to get Transformers: The Ride 3D opened at Universal Orlando as quickly as possible.
"I think we saw the immediate success of it when we opened it at Universal Singapore and again in Hollywood. It's won numerous awards and we thought, 'You know what? This is a natural,'" he explained. "I mean, we have to bring it to our fans and the guests here at Orlando, so it's just something we knew we had to do. The challenge was to do it in a record time. We built it in 10 and a half months."
West continued, "Had we not built it twice before, we probably would have never have done it in that amount of time. ... We were getting people requesting it all the time. 'When is Transformers coming to Florida?' And this is a window of opportunity that we had to bring it to folks in the summer of 2013 and we thought, 'Why not? Let's do it.'"