Ride Review of Despicable Me Minion Mayhem at Universal Orlando Resort

Today, July 2, 2012, Universal Studios Florida is holding the Grand Opening of its new Despicable Me Minion Mayhem attraction.  Last week, Adventures by Daddy was invited to a media preview of the ride, and Orlando resident JL Knopp attended on our behalf.  Continue reading for JL’s thoughts and impressions, and keep watching for JL’s report from the Grand Opening at Universal Orlando Resort.

Article and Photos by JL Knopp

Become a minion.  This isn’t normally an invitation that one would think of as appealing, but there is quite a buzz coming from Universal Studios in Florida over this very idea.  On July 2nd, the new “Despicable Me” attraction officially opens to guests, exposing them to the excitement of a highly sophisticated Infitec 3-D projection system combined with all the bumps and jumps of simulation.  To put it plainly, it’s kinda fancy, and we are supposed to like it.

Mike West, executive producer for Universal Studios and Chris Meledandri, founder of Illumination Entertainment, have headed this project for the past year and a half.  Taking Universal’s sixth most successful film and using it as the context for 4 minutes of utter mayhem, it is safe to say that their labor pains have birthed something worthwhile.  Caution: Spoilers ahead.

The Gru home is the first stop in this journey… the living room to be exact.  While still waiting in line, fans enter the parlor and are given “minion goggles” (aka 3-D glasses).  Then as they are brought in front of the family television set, a brief show on the screen informs that they are about to become minions (which are the equivalent of mindless, yellow jelly beans that assist Gru with his villainous endeavors).

Quickly following is entrance to the Minionization Prep Room where the concept of the characters and their storyline are introduced.  As guests are scanned for “human germs” and undergo other preparatory measures, the film’s main characters, Margo, Edith, Agnes and their adoptive-father, Gru, take center stage.  It is learned that it’s the anniversary of the three young girls’ adoption.  The trouble is that Gru doesn’t seem to remember the special occasion due to his minionization project taking precedence.

Once all prepping is completed, minion training begins for all.  An auditorium of transformation pods (commonly recognized as simulation vehicles) sit in front of a 3-D screen that is 70% larger than its Jimmy Neutron attraction predecessor, and the fun kicks in as chaos ensues.  Trust that this attraction provides all the jolts, twists and turns that a simulated attraction should.  Motion-sensitive minions should be fine, but it is a bumpy ride.

Minionization is accidentally reversed at the end of training and rejection from the motley crew of yellow, walking tic-tacs is inevitable.  However, the discharge is far from harsh since all are ushered into the surprise celebration that Gru planned for the anniversary of his daughters’ adoption.  Yes, it turns out that he DID remember!  With disco ball in full effect, live minions lead a dance party in which everyone is encouraged to join.  And in the very vivid gift shop where the exit lies, enthusiastic ex-minions can purchase merchandise to commemorate their adventure.

So, in actuality, how does this all really go over with the guest?  I confess that initially I approached this attraction with a bit of stoicism simply because unlike the rest of America, I hadn’t seen the film.  It wasn’t something that ever grabbed my attention.  Minions and mad scientists aren’t what I tend to gravitate toward, so I arrived impartial; however, that is not how I left.

In terms of mechanics, the “Despicable Me” attraction is on par, so there is nothing lacking for the guest who is really just looking for a wild ride.  But, in all honesty, this isn’t what swayed me out of the disinterested district.  It was the storyline that grabbed my attention.

Throughout the pre-shows and actual attraction, I was exposed to the relationship between Gru and 3 quirky girls who love him.  I knew nothing about any of them prior to this ride, and was, therefore indifferent.  But through the touching animation where I saw them interact, I became invested very quickly.

Within a matter of 4 minutes somehow this ride captivated my heart in an unexpected way.  The bond between child and parent is not the primary feature.  It plays second fiddle to the adventure of minion training; however, it surprisingly overtakes it’s anecdotal counterpart by the end when you see just how much a backwards villain can care for three little girls.

Honestly, I exited with more than just an adrenaline rush and a few chuckles.  I left with a determination to see the film, a sense of tenderness and an intense urge to kiss my kids.  In my opinion, if a simulation attraction can do all that in 4 minutes, you know it is a step up from the average theme park ride.  Kudos to the Universal creative team and Illumination Entertainment!  Y’all created something that I would deem special.

Update June 26, 2013

Video of Despicable Me Character Street Party at Universal Studios Florida by John Saccheri.

For more photos of the Universal’s Despicable Me Minion Mayhem attraction, click here or on any of the photos in the gallery below.

Bio: JL Knopp is an Orlando, Florida resident, theme park expert, mom, and creator of The Disney Driven Life (DDL).  DDL is a blog commandeered by JL for fans who want to learn and find solidarity with others who incorporate Disney into their lifestyle.

Disclosure – JL Knopp received complimentary admission from Universal Orlando Resort to cover this media preview for Adventures by Daddy, but all opinions expressed are her own.  For more family travel news, reviews, and trip reports, be sure to follow Adventures by Daddy on twitter and “like” our facebook page too.

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