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Universal Studios Florida - Production Central: Jimmy Neutron

Rating: * * *
Type: Simulator ride
Time: 5 minutes
Our Take: For younger thrill seekers

If you had kids in the early 2000s (or were a kid), you are likely familiar with James Isaac “Jimmy” Neutron, the pre-pubescent whiz kid whose popular Nickelodeon TV show was inspired by the 2001 full-length animated film, Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius. Jimmy Neutron was Nick’s first CGI (computer-generated) cartoon and, as the film and this attraction attest, the animators are very good indeed at what they do.

Despite the kiddie-orientation of Jimmy Neutron, this ride is not kids’ stuff — at least in terms of the wallop it packs. If you are shaken up or made queasy by simulator rides, approach this one with care. It features some bone-jarring, inner-ear-discombobulating effects.

Tip: There is a row of stationary benches in the front for little ones and those who wish to forego the thrill ride aspect of the show. This section has a separate entrance with virtually no line, even at busy times. You are very close to the screen here, however, making for somewhat distorted viewing, which might induce the queasiness you are trying to avoid. If you choose this option, try to sit as close to the center aisle as possible.
As you are ushered into the antechamber to this ride, Jimmy and his nerdy buddy Carl appear on overhead screens to show off Jimmy’s new Mark IV rocket, the fastest ever built, along with earlier versions including the “slightly unpredictable” Mark I. But before Jimmy can get very far into his presentation, Ooblar the Yokian, Jimmy’s nemesis in the film, appears to steal the Mark IV, with the ultimate goal of copying it and using it to enslave the earth. Obviously, Jimmy must give chase and, just as obviously, we must tag along in that unpredictable Mark I.

The hangar containing our vehicles is actually a movie theater divided into twelve eight-seat sections. Each section is actually a simulator car, a cousin of the high-tech simulators used to train airline pilots. It hovers a few feet off the ground, like a box on stilts, and moves and tilts in sync with the on-screen action. It may only move a foot or so in any direction, but try telling that to your mind. For all it knows, you are hurtling through space with Jimmy at supersonic speeds.

When the show begins, the screen in front of us becomes the door to the hangar and when it opens we are off on a light-speed chase to overtake Ooblar and retrieve the stolen spacecraft. After a discombobulating tour of Nicktoons Studios, we crash through some sort of space warp to the Yokian Planet and the throne room of King Goobot, who in a Yokian gesture of welcome tries to feed us to Poultra, a cross between a chicken and a fire-breathing dragon. After a hair’s-breadth escape, we make it back to earth, splashing into Bikini Bottom, home to SpongeBob SquarePants. Eventually, Ooblar is vanquished, the Mark IV is retrieved, and the planet is saved.

It’s all great fun, but don’t be too surprised if you find the action hard to follow, especially if you are unfamiliar with the Nick lineup of shows and the Jimmy Neutron film. The sound track is loud, multi-layered, and muddy and much of the dialog is impossible to understand. Kids, it must be noted, don’t seem to mind this minor narrative glitch. Adults can amuse themselves looking for fleeting cameos from Ren & Stimpy and a certain Tibetan spiritual leader.

The best seats in the house. As the line approaches the entrance to the antechamber, it divides in two. By choosing the left lane, you will wind up toward the back or middle of the theater. If you position yourself in the middle of the group in the antechamber, you stand a good chance of ending up in the middle of the theater. Probably the most advantageous spot is in the middle of the house in the last or next-to-last row. From there, you get the best, least distorted view of the screen.

After the show, the audience files out through an “interactive area,” a large open space with a number of “stations” where kids can email an e-card to a friend, try their hands at being the director or sound effects wizard on a cartoon show, or play games based on Nicktoon trivia.

Photo op: The first stop to your left as you exit the theater is set aside for photo ops with SpongeBob SquarePants, who appears on a schedule listed in the 2-Park Map.

Tip: The interactive area can be entered at any time through the Nickstuff Store. So, if you are on a tight schedule, you might want to skip this feature. You can always come back later in the day after you have visited your must-see attractions.

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Universal Orlando 2011


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