Quick Reviews of the other 17 rides I went on in Orlando

While in Orlando I also visited Kennedy Space Centre, SeaWorld and Universal Studios Florida.

Kennedy Space Centre

Shuttle Launch Experience – using a ride vehicle very reminiscent of Star Tours at Disney, a fairly realistic (or so we’re told) simulation of what it’s like to be in a shuttle as it’s launching. A


Manta – coaster with a manta ray theme. Good, fast coaster with four inversions and a top speed of 90 km/h. Fun, but a very constricting and odd ride position took away from it for me. A-

Kraken – nicely balanced coaster, with a good use of scenery in a couple of loops. Seven inversions and a top speed of 105 km/h makes for a nice experience, but it also has a good duration (2 minutes). A

Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin – mainly a story ride similar in concept to Haunted Mansion, but using a much more advanced ride vehicle. But the story told is pretty dull, and the technology isn’t really used to good effect. The finale is good, arriving in the actual penguin habitat for SeaWorld. But even penguins can’t rescue this ride. C-

Journey to Atlantis – another flume ride, although a bigger drop (and bigger splash) than Splash Mountain. There’s an attempt to theme things around Atlantis a little bit, but it’s incoherent and hard to follow. A-

Universal Studios – Universal Studios Florida

Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem – as weak a story as the Despicable Me, but an interesting use of simulator motion technology in a theatre. It worked surprisingly well. B+

Hollywood Ripe Ride Rockit – no discernible theming, just a fairly extreme coaster with a vertical initial climb and near vertical drop. Ultimately just a bit ‘loud’ and not that impressive. C

Revenge of the Mummy – dark coaster with some simulator ride elements. Most impressive part was the use of fire effects (I think I could have roasted a marshmallow on them), but ageing film projections took the shine off. B-

Transformers The Ride: 3D – my biggest surprise, was expecting a pretty mediocre ride (consistent with the movies), but instead got a a really clever combination motion simulator (a la Soarin’) and coaster ride. Good use of effects, and good scene transitions made up for a general lack of coherence in the plot. A

The Simpsons Ride – motion simulator in a projection dome. Showing its age a little, but still quite well done, with the motion simulator given a fair workout. Writing is clearly authentic to the show (good), but mainly the later years (bad). B+

MEN IN BLACK Alien Attack – pretty dull ride only slightly enlivened by being given a gun to shoot at the aliens with. Not much thrill, and the age of the franchise is showing. D+

Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts – good ride technology, and a reasonably fun ride. Links in directly to the Harry Potter films, but without really making a lot of sense. B

Hogwarts Express – I thought this was just the transfer from one park to the other, but it’s actually far more themed than I expected. Clever use of projections provide a good illusion on being on the Hogwarts Express. A

Universal Studios – Islands of Adventure

Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey – the best of the Harry Potter rides at Universal. Starts with an incredibly well themed line through Hogwarts, and then onto one of the most advanced ride vehicles around. Similar to Transformers 3D in its combination of motion simulator, coaster and projection domes, but with a (slightly) more coherent story and more movement from the simulator. A

Dragon Challenge – the weakest of the Harry Potter rides, really just a lightly rethemed existing coaster. It’s a reasonable coaster ride, but doesn’t have any real spark. C

Jurassic Park River Adventure – river boat ride with a Splash Mountain style drop. The dinosaurs are just embarrassing, you can see where the rubber is sagging. And the drop itself doesn’t get you nearly wet enough (another hot day you see). C

The Incredible Hulk Coaster – pretty good coaster, with a nice high speed launch. But I found myself banging my head from side to side onto the restraints as it spun around, leaving me walking off the coaster feeling a bit battered. C+