Saturday, July 07, 2012

Despicable Me Minion Mayhem: pics, review

Earlier this week, Universal Studios Florida opened Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem, a simulator ride that replaces the Jimmy Neutron simulator formerly in this location. I'll jump to the verdict: it's good, even for someone who hasn't seen the movie it's based on (that would be me). You'll want to include this in your Universal plans.

They built an extensive exterior for this new attraction, meant to be Gru's mansion. You see traces of this inside the queue as well, though much of it is "regular" switchback. There are videos playing a fake television show, talking about how humans are being converted to minions--which is what this ride purports to do to us. This is a minion recruitment center, as the posters around us show.

Once inside, we find ourselves in a very oversized (quite tall) living room, decorated with enough whimsical stuff to make me feel like the theme has been achieved without shortcuts. Bravo to Universal for continuing to go that extra mile in recent attractions; this is not theming lip service; it's real theming on par with Disney. It's not just decorations of minions; it's actual thought put into why the decorations are here, and each one often tells its own backstory.

The second queue room uses videos meant to be real people (Gru, minions) behind glass and looking down at us; they explain we'll be converted to minions. Then it's on to the main simulator room.

This room hasn't been reconfigured from Jimmy Neutron; it's still rows of simulator cars facing a very large screen. The action on screen is fast, furious, and funny. It might well make someone seasick if you're prone to motion sickness, but everyone in my family was fine. The movie traces what happens when something goes wrong in the minion process, and we bounce/fly around the place in a series of misadventures. Pretty standard plot, but well executed. Oh, and it's in 3D, so you're wearing polarized glasses.

After the movie, we exit to a... dance studio. Apparently the minions like to dance in the movie? (remember, I haven't seen it). Despite my initial confusion, I liked the concept and the high energy.

I also liked the store you empty into after that. It was highly themed--something Universal has done really well lately. Bravo all around.

Kevin Yee is the author of numerous independent Disney books, including the popular Walt Disney World Earbook series and Walt Disney World Hidden History.