New attractions at Florida theme parks

  • Article by: MARJIE LAMBERT , Miami Herald
  • Updated: August 9, 2013 - 1:38 PM

Legoland Florida and Universal Studios, both in the Orlando area, rev up their offerings with 3-D experiences and a Springfield expansion.

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Diners eat at Moe’s Tavern in Universal Orlando’s land of “Springfield,” based on the popular TV show “The Simpsons.”

Photo: Marjie Lambert • Miami Herald,

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I am in a boat, chasing a crocodile that has stolen an orb of chi. My water cannon is primed.

As the boat passes out of the Lion Temple, Legoland model shop supervisor Sam Dalessandro leans over and gives me a tip. Aim for the brown targets and animate a piece of scenery. I shoot at the first one I see; a pipe “animates” and sprays water at me.

It’s only the beginning of the series of dousings I will receive.

The Quest for Chi, which opened July 3 at Legoland Florida, is a wet interactive ride. Based on Lego’s Legends of Chima line of toys, it is one of Legoland’s more complex rides, and it’s a lot of fun.

For those who haven’t seen the Cartoon Network show, a video recounts the high points for people waiting in line: “Chi” is a source of power that comes in a waterfall from Mount Cavora, which is suspended like a full moon over this section of Legoland. The lion tribe controls the chi, rolls it into orbs and shares it with seven other animal tribes: crocodiles, eagles, wolves, bears, rhinos, gorillas and ravens.

One day, Cragger, the young and power-hungry king of the crocodile tribe, steals an orb of chi. Riders board the boats at the Lion Temple and join a pursuit that will take them through the habitats of the other animals, ending up in the home of the crocodiles.

Dalessandro tells me that more than 2 million Lego bricks were used to build the Chima attractions, including about 150 Lego figures. There are seven Legoland parks worldwide, but the Winter Haven park, the largest, is the only one that has the ride.

A water cannon is mounted in front of each of the eight seats on the boat and on the land overlooking the river, where spectators take aim at us. We’re not far into the chase before I am soaked.

I get so absorbed in aiming my water cannon that I don’t notice the animal tribes’ habitats we pass, but no matter. When the ride ends, I climb out of the boat, grinning and dripping.

Queasiness factor: none.

In addition to the ride, the World of Chima has Cragger’s Swamp, a small water play area for toddlers; Speedorz Arena, a large tabletop-style arena where kids can race Speedorz, the rip-cord-powered chariots driven by Chima’s inhabitants; character meet-and-greets; a 3-D Chima movie and a Lego store.

Transformers 3-D ride

The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man — a ride at Universal Studios’ sister park, Islands of Adventure — uses 3-D projections and flight simulator technology to create a POW! BAM! battle between comic-book heroes and villains. It is full of surprises, creativity and speed.

Transformers 3-D is better.

The Transformers ride, which opened June 20 at Universal Orlando (and more than a year ago at Universal Hollywood and Singapore), is also a battle between animated heroes and villains and is based on the same technology, including 3-D glasses. But it is more sophisticated. Thierry Coup, senior VP for Universal’s Creative Studio, called it “the next generation of Spider-Man.”

Here’s the story: Autobots, the good-guy Transformers, are guarding a sliver of All-Spark, a source of energy Transformers need to turn from robots into vehicles and back. The Decepticons attack the warehouse where the All-Spark is stored. We riders, as green recruits, are the only humans available to defend the substance, along with a brash young Autobot named Evac, a character invented for this ride in collaboration with Hasbro toys.

Evac transforms into a troop evacuation vehicle that the riders board, then takes custody of the All-Spark in a massive fist that reaches out from the front of the vehicle. It’s helpful but not necessary to know the major Transformer characters. The encounters are abrupt and fleeting, and as soon as one Decepticon is dealt with, another jumps in with a terrifying crash of metal parts, and another Autobot steps in to save us.

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  • Lagravis the Lion King is one of more than 150 Lego figures that were built for the new World of Chima attraction at Legoland in Orlando.

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