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Universal Studios Florida – New York: Revenge of the Mummy

Rating: * * * * +
Type: Indoor roller coaster and dark ride
Time: About 4 minutes
Our Take: A brilliant blend

The Revenge of the Mummy starts innocently enough. It seems Universal is in need of more extras for this new film and you are lucky enough to be passing by as they solicit volunteers. (Don’t get your hopes up. Revenge of the Mummy is not a real film, it’s just a polite fiction for the sake of the ride.)

As you enter the queue line, it looks like one of those “The Making Of…” displays that Universal mounts from time to time. Props and set pieces are scattered about, all carefully labeled. On video monitors, director Steven Sommers, star Brendan Fraser, and others on the crew give chatty interviews about the making of the film, dropping ominous references to ancient curses and strange happenings. A recurring character in these vignettes is Reggie, a hapless gofer who keeps losing his anti-Mummy amulet to Hollywood big wigs.

Then the queue line takes a sharp turn through a narrow passageway and things become truly strange. It appears you are in the tomb of Imhotep where the usually cheerful ride attendants have started acting strangely.

There’s no more video and the queue line now looks remarkably like a real Egyptian tomb in the Valley of the Kings at Thebes and something in the air seems to bring out the evil in your fellow tourists. Press a glowing scarab and you can startle folks elsewhere in line with a frightening blast of air and watch the result on a video monitor. Oddly, there’s nothing to indicate whether this is supposed to be a movie set or the real thing, whether you’re still in 21st century Orlando or back in the 1930s.

Up a rickety wooden staircase, past a massive sculpture of Anubis, the god of the Underworld, you finally reach the loading platform for the ride. Once again, there’s no explanation of why you are being asked to board the 16-passenger, four-abreast cars, or what lies ahead. The ride vehicles appear to have been built by U.C. & Sons of London, England, back in 1925 to make tomb exploration easier (although it seems possible that “U.C.” stands for Universal Creative).

The best seats in the house. The front row provides the best view of the dark ride elements, and they’re worth checking out. Coaster fans, however, will find that the far left seat in the back row offers the most “air” (that feeling of being lifted out of your seat on the ride’s drops). For most folks, any seat will deliver the thrills they seek.

Tip: Eyeglass wearers should note that water effects in the ride (more pronounced in the front) can wet their glasses and blur their vision.

Like the queue line, the ride itself starts deceptively. It’s not too far removed from those gentle “dark rides” at a certain family park complex down the Interstate. But you’re still in that nasty Imhotep’s retirement home and before long things get dicey. You turn a corner and there’s Reggie again, all wrapped up for Mummy take-out, warning you to turn back.

Imhotep himself appears rather dramatically and looking decidedly the worse for wear after several millennia of entombment. “With your souls, I shall rule for all eternity,” he bellows, which sounds like a great slogan for a modern-day political campaign.

Around the next bend, you are given a stark choice: Get with the program and receive riches beyond imagination or resist and die a hideous death. Your cries of “I’ll take the gold! I’ll take the gold!” go unheeded and the ride begins in earnest.

Tip: Check the early scenes of the ride for some subtle references to Kongfrontation, the ride the Mummy replaced. It’s Universal’s very own version of “hidden Mickeys.”

At this point, the curse of the Mummy takes hold, and our description stops so as not to reveal too much about what follows. Universal bills this as a “psychological thrill ride” and it does, indeed, mess with your mind. Suffice it to say that the ride morphs into a supercharged roller coaster experience that takes place largely in near darkness. There are a couple of never-been-done-before elements that make this ride truly startling and absolutely unique. And, of course, what would a Universal ride be like without a little pyrotechnics? In short, if you think this will be just another indoor roller coaster ride, think again. The Mummy himself puts it nicely: “Death is only the beginning.”

Thanks to linear induction technology, you will go from zero to 45 miles per hour in less than two seconds, pulling a full G, and for much of the ride you will be at or above that speed as you zip up and down through a series of sharp turns past visual effects that remind you that the Mummy and his unholy minions are still breathing hotly down your neck.

Tip: Those who balk at mega-coasters like The Hulk and Dragon Challenge over at Islands of Adventure are still encouraged to give Revenge of the Mummy a try. Because the ride is so smooth, it is only slightly more intense than Spider-Man at IOA. If you can handle Disney coasters like Thunder Mountain and Space Mountain, you’ll survive this one. You’ll just have more fun.

Note: This ride requires that you stow all your belongings in nearby electronic lockers that are free for a short period of time but charge a hefty fee if you overstay your welcome. For more information, see Good Things To Know About...Lockers in Chapter One.

As you exit, check the souvenir ride photos to see the clever way in which the ride vehicles have been articulated (split in two) so they’ll hug the track better and enhance the thrills.

All in all, this ride is a major success that further cements Universal’s reputation for being on the cutting edge of ride technology. The roller coaster elements certainly deserve the highest marks. However, connoisseurs, who look on theme park rides as an art form, will note some narrative lapses and anticlimactic effects that keep the ride from full five-star status.

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Universal Orlando 2011


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