The Simpsons Ride

Theme parks have always been a enjoy/hate affair in my eyes. Yes, I enjoy the attractions and atmosphere the park delivers upon; but yet I detest the crowds, the corporate affairs that affect the quality present, and insanely high prices littered throughout the parks. Out of the vast amount of theme parks out there, I personally enjoy visiting Universal Orlando Resort for various reasons. I enjoy the atmosphere and scenery, the rides, and the core message the park is based upon (“experience the movies”) even if that message has been skewed to a certain extent since the park first opened in 1990. One of the classic staples to the park has been the Back to the Future Ride which ultimately met it’s demise on March 30th, 2007 thanks to the ride being fairly dated and it’s appeal fading amongst this newer generation of the public (read: the wait times were becoming fairly low) despite the film being regarded as a timeless classic. Being that I’m a rather extensive fan to the Back to the Future Trilogy and enjoyed the ride and surrounding area as a decent tribute to the classic; I held the notion of trashing the concept in low regard and was even more displeased by what was rumored to be the new replacement to the attraction.

The two more prominent rumors that swirled amongst the Universal fanbase was the notion of a loose spin off to the “Fast and Furious” films or an attraction based upon The Simpsons television show. Being the admittedly extensive Groening fan I am (both The Simpsons and Futurama are deemed as classics in my book); I immediately thought of The Simpsons as a better concept than The Fast and the Furious as the show holds a more “timeless” appeal than the Fast and Furious could ever have (the films are already well forgotten). I still held a general distaste for the upcoming attraction at first and doubted it could very well surpass Back the the Future. Gradually, the attraction developed and construction began and ultimately transformed the building into something much more elaborate that magnifies the lack of complexity and flaws with the Back to the Future attraction’s original design.

As one can clearly see the entire building and surrounding area has received a complete overhaul between what was once the Back to the Future attraction and now The Simpsons Ride. The redesign to the building’s appearance really does liven it up in a better way and reflects more upon the The Simpsons as a whole. The general idea is for the ride to be a visit to Krustyland (run by Krusty the Clown) which is essentially a rather humorous parody with multiple jabs on the various theme parks around the world. The view from the outside of the building appears much more busy and while it’s a bit over the line in terms of overkill; it’s suitable for the concept and ultimately lives up to grabbing one’s own attention and drawing crowds in. The queue (line) to The Simpsons is rather impressive as it has been reworked a bit with better intentions in mind as well as providing a visually intriguing experience through the design and what is on display. The outside of the queue features numerous humorous clips from various episodes within The Simpsons television series as well as recently produced material that features The Simpsons reflecting the guests by waiting in line and parodying the different aspects of theme parks in general while doing so. As guests transcend the ramps and move to the queue within the actual attraction, much more detail and laughs are granted. There’s quite a bit to see and multiple walkthroughs are required to catch everything.

After guests wait in the inner queue for an particular amount of time (varies pending on the crowds) they are then asked to enter the pre-show chamber and view the video displayed on the television screen featured. The general idea is as follows; Sideshow Bob is on the loose as Krusty The Clown opens his latest attraction and The Simpsons family are picked (with the help of Bob himself) as the first family to ride it. As pre-show ends, guests are then ushered into the chamber that features the motion based simulator attraction. The Simpsons family are thrown through another adventure as you loop, dive, and crash through Krustyland. New and rather convincing effects are added to further sell the simulated experience and are rather impressive. Aesthetically, The Simpsons Ride is enjoyable from the newly implemented technology present and re-designed queue and external area as well. Furthermore, the Kwik-e-Mart created from the remains of BTTF’s gift shop is well crafted and one will more than likely feel a sudden state of nostalgia wipe over them at the sight and ultimate walkthrough of the store.

Though as fresh as the new technology present happens to be; the attraction lacks a particular aspect that Back to the Future genuinely had. Take note of the blatantly disparate state the animation between the actual video within the ride and the art style found throughout the queue, store, and park; which stems from the actual animation style featured on the television series. It was rather jarring and, in the end, disheartening growing up with the animation of The Simpsons and seeing it’s likeness sprawled throughout everything encompassing the ride; except the actual ride itself. To the Computer Generated Imagery style of animation’s credit, it still retains a few cartoon style traits to it; although animating the Simpsons in a 3D style rather than 2D ultimately appears awkward and unfamiliar. Hence why I think BTTF contained more of a genuine amount of spirit and integrity rather than skewing itself from the source material due to production costs, time constraints, etc.

Despite the ride’s flaws; the attraction still manages to be engaging and fun. Multiple viewings of the attraction itself and queue are encouraged as guests will more than likely not catch every little detail throughout their first outing. While it’s always a shame to witness an attraction be disassembled for another; The Simpsons is suitable enough to be an acceptable replacement for the once classic Back to the Future Ride. Hardcore and casual Simpsons fans will get a kick out of the attraction while those who hold disdain for the series won’t be coverted nor swayed by it. It’s an enjoyable experience that’s indeed flawed, though ultimately still accomplishes the task of providing a fun excursion through a familiar town that has become a staple to the television industry and has been enjoyed by fans for nearly twenty years now with plenty more to transpire.

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