Ride Review Despicable Me Minion Mayhem at Universal Studios Hollywood

Because I’m happy
Clap along if you feel like a room without a roof
Because I’m happy
Clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth

This is the song that has been in my head all day. Not just because I hear it wherever I go but because it was pumping out over the loudspeakers when I was at Universal Studios Hollywood ready for the opening of their brand new Despicable Me Minion Mayhem ride.

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I was excited to see the animated film expand beyond the screen (who doesn’t love watching the antics of these yellow pill-shaped characters).  Here, the ride takes guests on a wild 3D adventure as they become part of Gru’s plan to build up his minion army by transforming riders into actual gibbering Minions.  Sounds good so far.

First, we were treated to Minion cupcakes (note to self, next time stop at three) and beakers that looked like they were straight from Dr. Nefario’s laboratory which were full of colored liquid.  After the sugar kicked into full speed I was bouncing off the studio walls saying “hi” to guests as they walked the yellow carpet ceremony.

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Stars of Despicable Me were in attendance including Miranda Cosgrove (Margo), Dana Gaier (Edith) and Elsie Fisher (Agnes). They were followed by Tia Carrere (True Lies), Kyle Massey (Dancing With The Stars) and several cast members from NBC’s Parenthood.

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As fun as it was seeing the many celebrities and teens from pop bands that are waaaaaaay out of my demographic, I had the most enjoyment watching the mascot characters.  Gru was sliding down the yellow carpet, the three girls from the film were waving at fans and playing ring-around-the-rosie and the crowd favorite, Minions, who bumbled their way up and down the carpet entertaining their audience.

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After the stars had all filtered in, members of the press were escorted to the main stage for the ribbon cutting.  Luckily I found a spot where a large balloon (think the size of the boulder that chased Indiana Jones at the beginning of Raiders Of The Lost Ark) was casting a shadow.  Well, that didn’t last long.  The heat from the Los Angeles sun popped the balloon and dozens of small yellow balloons that were hidden inside rained down on the crowd.  There goes my shade.  Here comes my sunburn.

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I didn’t have a chance to complain to anyone in my area before Pharrell Williams’ song Happy blared through the speakers which made everyone (you know where this is going)…. Happy!  Dancers from a local high school bopped along on stage and Minions jumped around and body-slammed each other.

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Larry Kurzweil, president of Universal Studios Hollywood, took the stage next telling the masses that Universal Studios was now shifting into high-gear.  Sounds like he was also foreshadowing the park’s upcoming Wizarding World Of Harry Potter (opening in 2016, although 2017 seems more likely).  Ron Meyer followed Larry revealing that Despicable Me 3 will hit theaters in June of 2017.  He was very excited about Universal’s use of the Minion characters saying that they are “their Mickey Mouse.”

Now for the moment we’ve been waiting for – the ride opening!  Miranda Cosgrove, Dana Gaier and Elsie Fisher helped Gru and the Minions push the big button that would signify the opening as well as getting the party started.  The button was pushed, the music was cued and cannon’s shot streamers and confetti into the air.  More balloons burst letting go of hundreds of mini yellow balloons.  The party was now officially on!

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We were now ushered into the Despicable Me Minion Mayhem.  For those who know the Universal Studios Hollywood park, this is where the Terminator 3D show was held now in an area called “Super Silly Fun Land.”  Whimsically themed queues and interactive pre-show videos helped Gru set up the ride’s plot: To create an army of Minions from guest recruits.  As guests enter Gru’s living room, they encounter many memorable props and artifacts from the films including Gru’s notorious Shrink ray and rhinoceros chair.  Then we make our way into Gru’s super-villain laboratory which is the main room of the ride. Best of all, it still had a new ride smell (think fresh paint).

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Once you’ve put on your 3D glasses your adventure begins!  The experiment  sends riders on an excursion through the Minion training mission (which is like playing a big screen version of Kinect Adventures).  The girls meanwhile fly on a hovercraft to keep up and the youngest, Agnes, is focused on giving Gru his anniversary present.  It is as heart-warming as the films and the Minions are comical and fun to watch as always.

Despicable Me Minion Mayhem ride is a fun ride, however if you’re at the park and you have a choice between this and The Simpsons Ride just know that both are pretty much the same so if you do one ride you’ll have experienced them both.  Just replace one yellow character for another.  Or, in case you haven’t been to the park since 2008, it’s a lot like Back To The Future: The Ride.  3D digital projected rides seem to have taken over the roller coasters of yester-year (2011) and now are the wave of the future.  I can see why since they take up a fraction of the space at the park and the video can be changed out whenever there is a new film to tie-in.

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There was some missed opportunities by not going 4D with Smell-o-Vision  (although there is a not-so hilarious fart joke during the pre-show backstory where a mist is sprayed that smells like bananas.  I guess that’s where the Smell-o-vision budget went).  And there were opportunities to make riders ‘feel’ the heat of the fire by turning on some heater lamps at precise moments.

Once you exit Gru’s laboratory there is a post show Minion dance party that finishes the story and riders are invited to dance along with projected Minions and everyone celebrates the anniversary of Gru and the girls becoming a family.

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Minions are the new hot things today so kids will love this ride and not realize what is not included and won’t care what this ride resembles.  And, there’s so much to do and look at in Super Silly Fun Land where the ride is based.  Just be prepared to sing Happy for the rest of the day. Say ‘Hi’ to Dave, Carl and the rest of the Minions for me.

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To see video and more pictures of the event, Skywalking Through Neverland will include them in our next podcast episode #26 (coming 4/14).  For more family travel news, reviews, and trip reports, be sure to follow Adventures by Daddy on twitter and “like” our facebook page too.

About Richard Woloski

Richard Woloski is the co-creator and co-host of the Star Wars/Disney podcast, Skywalking Through Neverland. Here, Richard and his wife Sarah (Jedi Tink to some) spotlight those who keep fandom alive - the fans!