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Universal Studios Florida - Production Central: Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit

Rating: * * * *
Type: Music-themed steel coaster
Time: About 2 minutes
Short Take: A ground-breaking (but also back-breaking) ride

Towering over the soundstages, smashing through the New York firehouse facade, and snaking its way toward CityWalk, the Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit has literally changed the face of Universal Studios Florida forever. Billed as “the most technologically advanced coaster in the world,” this first Floridian installation from innovative European designer Maurer Söhne boasts statistics to make any speed freak salivate. It’s the tallest (167 feet) and one of the fastest (65 mph) coasters in Orlando, and features a number of unique, newly engineered elements.

The experience begins in a flatscreen-festooned queue near the Blue Man Group theater, where “edgy” animated characters introduce themselves as the camera crew for your new music video. The seven 12-passenger cars are just as high-tech, with on-board video and sound systems, and color-changing LEDs that put on a carnival lightshow as they swoop overhead. Even the boarding process has been upgraded: a moving walkway keeps cars continuously loading, minimizing wait times.

Once in the car, you’ll use a seat-mounted display to select a soundtrack from one of five musical genres, including “Classic Rock/Metal” (ZZ Top, Limp Bizkit), “Country” (Dwight Yoakam, Kenny Chesney) and “Rap/Hip-Hop” (Black Eyed Peas, Kanye West). With 30 songs to choose from, everyone should be able to find something they’ll like screaming along to.

Tip: If you press the Rip Ride Rockit logo for 10 seconds a hidden menu of “bonus tracks” will appear. Type in any 3-digit number (our fave is 902). There’s even a “Pocket Rockit” iPhone app available to tell you all the codes!

Once your music selection is made, you begin the ride by ascending a “record-breaking” vertical lift (lying flat on your back!) in only 17 seconds, then dive into a 103-foot “non-inverting” twisted loop dubbed a “Double-Take” above the plaza stage. Other maneuvers take you spiraling through the Twister queue facade, “crowd surfing” over waiting guests, and skirting the edge of CityWalk. The twisty track is deceptively disorienting (and surprisingly silent); you’ll be back in the station before you know what hit you.

During the ride, while your chosen song is delivered to your eardrums at up to 90 decibels courtesy of custom in-seat speakers, 14 digital cameras along the track (plus 6 in each train) capture your every shriek. You may purchase packages with still photos ($16 to $20) and personalized music videos ($30 to $40) in a freely web-sharable format after you return to earth. (Bonus tracks do not appear on souvenir videos due to licensing restrictions.)

Rockit isn’t as intense an experience as the Incredible Hulk, but delivers more kick than Revenge of the Mummy. It’s too wild to be considered a “family coaster” (especially in the bumpy back seats) but the lack of upside-down inversions makes it a good bet for tweens ready to graduate to grownup thrills. The best news for coaster purists (or worst for the weak-kneed) is that there are no over-the-shoulder restraints, only a large curved lap bar that holds you firmly in place while allowing big doses of out-of-your-seat airtime.

Unfortunately, despite repeated downtimes for repairs, Rockit hasn't yet lived up to its full potential. Inconsistent operations can cause the line to move slowly, and an uncomfortable amount of side-to-side shaking makes Rockit painful to ride repeatedly.

Tip: Rockit is the hottest ride at Universal Studios and it doesn’t currently offer Universal Express, so do it first thing in the morning and/or use the single rider line (if available).

Note: Rockit has a minimum height requirement of 51" (130 cm) and a height maximum of 6'7" (201 cm).

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Universal Orlando 2011


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