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.
In one scene, our vehicle ripped through one of the top stories of a high-rise. The Transformers scenes are projected on enormous screens, up to 60 feet high.
At the end, we deliver the All-Spark, our heads still spinning, and a hulking Transformer leans down to thank us in his booming voice: “Your bravery saved the planet. Well done, freedom fighters!”
Queasiness factor: moderate to moderately high.
Given Homer Simpson’s love of food and drink, it shouldn’t be a surprise that an expansion of the Simpsons’ world would focus on Fast Food Boulevard. “Springfield” at Universal Studios, where the popular Simpsons ride launched five years ago, is growing into its own land, with a second ride, a carnival midway, Duff Brewery, Moe’s Tavern, a fast food court and other landmarks from the TV show.
The food court, Moe’s Tavern and the midway have already opened. The rest won’t be completed until later this summer.
Following the successful launch of butterbeer, pumpkin juice, and the Three Broomsticks restaurant at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Universal has gone even farther in Springfield, combing through 24 years of television scripts for details to create a credible Springfield food court.
Fast Food Boulevard features eateries straight off the show and a long menu of familiar items including Krusty and Clogger Burgers, Luigi’s pizzas, Lard Lad’s doughnuts, Duff Beer and Flaming Moes.
One departure from the show: the Flaming Moe. On TV, the drink is alcoholic and its secret ingredient is cough syrup. At Universal, it’s essentially orange soda poured over dry ice so it bubbles and smokes. “We wanted everybody in the family to be able to drink it,” said Ric Florell, Universal Orlando’s senior vice president and general manager of revenue operations. (At $7.99 a glass, everybody in the family probably won’t have their own.)
Coming next: Kang & Kodos’ Twirl ‘n’ Hurl, which moves much the same way as Disney’s Dumbo but is topped by the long-tentacled space alien Kodos, features spaceships instead of elephants, and has an attitude. “Foolish humans, you have been fooled,” Kodos says, then encourages riders to ram their ships into characters from “The Simpsons.”
Also arriving soon are Duff Brewery (drinking but no actual brewing will take place here); a statue of the town’s founder, Jebediah Springfield; and Chief Wiggum’s police car crashed into a fire hydrant near a Lard Lad doughnut shop, which will be topped by a 30-foot statue of Lard Lad.