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Themed attractions at Universal Studios Florida – how do they live up to the source material?


When you think of Universal Studios Florida, your mind probably goes directly to the silver screen. That’s what this place is all about, after all – movies! The park boasts plenty of rides that you’ll recognize, whether it be from the theater or your television.

Some of the attractions feel just like the film or show they were based on, but others may leave you a little bit confused. So let’s take a closer look at how well a few of Universal Studios’s themed attractions hold up to their source material.

Men in Black Alien Attack

MEN IN BLACK Alien Attack at Universal Studios Florida
The MIB training facility – or an exhibit at the New York World’s Fair, depending on who you ask

As you might have guessed, Men in Black Alien Attack is based on the 1997 film Men in Black. The queue takes you through the MIB training facility, cleverly disguised as a fictional exhibit from the 1964 New York World’s Fair. On your way to the ride vehicles, you pass by the “worm” aliens from the movie, through the immigration and controls room manned by extraterrestrial twins Bob and Bhnxaxx, and into the weapons room that houses plenty of alien-fighting laser guns.

After you board Alien Attack, you start in the training course that can also be seen in Men in Black. Your training quickly ends, however, when aliens begin to – what else? – attack the streets of New York, and you’re instead tasked with zapping as many as possible. In the attraction’s climax, you come face-to-face with a giant “bug” extraterrestrial that you have to press a red button to defeat – it’s similar in appearance to Edgar the Bug, a member of the same species that served as the antagonist of the original film. And if those weren’t enough similarities, Agent Jay (played by Will Smith) even makes an appearance at the end to “neuralyze” you, thus wiping your memory (which, depending on your score, might be for the best!).

Despicable Me Minion Mayhem

Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem at Universal Studios Florida
Where all the Minion magic (or mayhem) happens

Despicable Me Minion Mayhem is a simulator ride based specifically on the 2010 animated movie Despicable Me, acting as a kind of sequel to it. The attraction revolves around recruiting and training guests to serve as Minions to supervillain (and super dad) Gru. As you wait in line, you learn about the Minion recruitment process while watching scenes from the film. And the two preshows – and the ride proper – feature various familiar characters, such as Gru, Margo, Edith, Agnes, and Dr. Nefario.

Although the plot of Minion Mayhem doesn’t directly follow that of any of the Despicable Me installments, it still ties into the franchise as a whole quite well. The relationship between Gru and his daughters that serves as the heart of the movies is on full display, and the attraction even ends with a party to celebrate the anniversary of their adoption. Of course, there’s plenty of hilarious Minion action, too, along with some recognizable songs from the first chapter’s soundtrack, like “Boogie Fever.”

Overall, fans of Despicable Me will find many familiar things to love about Universal Studios Florida’s attraction.

Transformers: The Ride – 3D

Transformers: The Ride-3D at Universal Studios Florida
Optimus Prime pointing toward the AllSpark, presumably

Based on the Transformers film series, Transformers: The Ride – 3D is a dark ride that follows the Autobots as they try to protect the fabled AllSpark from the nefarious Decepticons. The show building is themed as a Nonbiological Extraterrestrial Species Treaty (NEST) base, as seen in the 2009 movie Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. Guests are recruited by NEST and ride in vehicles modeled after an Autobot named Evac, whose mission is to transport the AllSpark to safety.

Throughout the attraction, guests come face to face with well-known Autobots and Decepticons from the big screen – while Bumblebee, Optimus Prime, and the Autobots fight to protect Evac and the AllSpark, Megatron and the Decepticons are in hot pursuit, resulting in some thrilling battles and chase scenes. Director Michael Bay collaborated with the Universal Creative team to develop the experience, and the special effects were designed by Industrial Light and Magic, the same team behind the visual effects of the first three films.

Put together, these elements make for an adventure that’s true to the spirit of the source material.

E.T. Adventure

E.T. Adventure at Universal Studios Florida
An exclusive look at E.T.’s magical healing touch in action

E.T. Adventure takes place in the same universe as the classic movie E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, but its story is more of a sequel than a retelling. After waiting in line, you watch a short film starring both director Steven Speilberg and E.T. himself as they introduce the ride and your mission. The lovable alien’s homeworld, simply called “the Green Planet,” is in danger, and you have to get him back home so he can help with his magical healing touch.

To do so, you hop on bikes that are similar to the ones Elliot and his friends ride in E.T. – except, luckily, these ones don’t require any pedaling! The similarities to the movie continue as you evade the police and NASA, and especially when your bicycle takes flight and you soar above the city and past the moon. The iconic theme even plays in the background, which is sure to stir emotions for fans.

But the similarities end when you get to E.T.’s planet, where pretty much nothing is related to the film’s plot. Still, the colorful and whimsical scenes of the Green Planet make for an enjoyable experience, and the first half of the ride will satisfy E.T. enthusiasts who are craving some nostalgia.

Revenge of the Mummy

Revenge of the Mummy at Universal Studios Florida
Warning: do not ride if you are easily scared by ghostly swooshes

A fan-favorite, Revenge of the Mummy is an indoor roller coaster based on the Mummy movie franchise from the ’90s and ’00s. Instead of adhering to the plot of the inaugural 1999 outing, the ride serves more as a unique twist on a sequel – guests enter through the Museum of Antiquities, where Brenden Fraser is on set filming a fictional follow-up. Throughout the queue, visitors watch humorous videos of various accidents and mishaps befalling the crew of the film. The on-set locals insist that the production is cursed, but Fraser is skeptical and ignores their warnings.

On the ride, Reggie (a crew member who went missing) warns guests that the curse is real. You watch as Imhotep, the mummified Egyptian priest from the movie, sucks out Reggie’s soul, and you then spend the rest of the attraction trying to evade him. Other recognizable elements from The Mummy include scarab beetles, the treasure room illuminated by mirrors, and references to the Medjai.

The end of Revenge of the Mummy features another appearance by Fraser, in which he yells the beloved line, “I would have enjoyed this interview a lot more if I had gotten my cup of coffee!” before falling victim to the curse himself. Although he isn’t in character as Rick O’Connell, fans of the franchise will still delight in his appearance, along with all the other familiar elements.

The Simpsons Ride

The Simpsons Ride at Universal Studios Florida
Not pictured: a buzzsaw-wielding Sideshow Bob.

If you’re a fan of The Simpsons, you’ll be happy to hear that Universal did a wonderful job of translating the television show’s plot and characters to The Simpsons Ride. In a nutshell, you’re visiting Krustyland while Sideshow Bob is – as per usual – out for revenge against Krusty the Clown and the Simpson family. The ride’s queue takes you past posters advertising Krustyland’s various attractions and into Krusty’s Carnival Midway, where two preshows fill you in on all the details before you board the ride alongside Homer, Marge, Lisa, and Bart. (Baby Maggie is left in the care of Grampa, whose poor babysitting skills have disastrously funny consequences.)

The attraction itself is a motion simulator that takes you through Krustyland and Springfield as you try to escape from Sideshow Bob’s wrath. Maggie, who becomes giant after crawling into a nuclear reactor room, also plays a major role in the story. More than 24 of the series’s regular characters make an appearance, and all of them are voiced by the original actors.

From the familiar sights and sounds of Springfield to the music (including the show’s legendary theme, of course), The Simpsons Ride is one of the best examples in the park of adhering to a property’s source material.

Honorable mention: Fear Factor Live

Fear Factor Live at Universal Studios Florida
If you’re into eating bugs, look no further!

Although Fear Factor the TV series ended in 2018 (after many cancellations and revivals), you can still experience it in the form of Fear Factor Live at Universal. This live stunt show features many of the fear-inducing elements from its namesake, all of which are attempted by your fellow theme-park guests. As an audience member, you can watch as they dangle from dangerous heights, reach into a tank of live eels, and attempt to complete an insane obstacle course on their way to victory.

There are three main stunts in Fear Factor Live – all physical events – along with two mini-gags that utilize participants from the audience. The first mini-experience features four people consuming a “smoothie” made with a variety of meat, seafood, “sour milk,” and bugs; the second involves one person getting multiple “deadly” scorpions dropped on his or her head. Watching is one thing, but you can become even more immersed in the action if you compete – just be aware that you must be 18 or older, and you have to audition beforehand.

If you were a fan of the show, Fear Factor Live is definitely a great way to revisit the stunts and thrills.

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About Nicole Wills

Nicole was born and raised in Orlando, so it's no surprise that theme parks have been part of her life for as long as she can remember. With experience writing content for both Universal Orlando Resort and her own theme park blog, she's turned that passion into a career, and she loves nothing more than helping others make the most of their Orlando adventures. When Nicole isn't writing, she can be found playing video games, hanging out with her cat, and counting down to Halloween Horror Nights (sometimes all at once).