Central Florida’s two newest attractions both focus on atmosphere and interactivity, revitalizing long-dormant venues | Art Stories + Interviews | Orlando

After months of anticipation, last week I finally got to experience Central Florida’s two newest attractions: Legoland Florida’s Pirate River Quest and Universal’s Great Movie Escape. Rather than high-speed rides, both offerings use atmosphere and interactivity to immerse guests in nostalgic spiritual possessions, and both were created by reviving long-dormant venues. But you might be surprised to learn which adventure I think was worth the trip and which just bites.

Pirate River Quest, The ambitious new ride at Winter Haven’s Legoland Resort takes guests on a 20-minute tour of Cypress Gardens’ historic canals, haunted by a rowdy crew of plastic scavengers. The passengers are tasked with recovering the stolen treasure of Captain Redbeard who was cursed by a tribe of mischievous monkeys and banished to the “Sea of ​​Lost Bricks” by counting colored gems and giant coins littering the riverbanks, and participate in similar preschoolers. friendly challenges.

The closest comparison of the Orlando-area ride is the Magic Kingdom’s legendary Jungle Cruise, as both are slow-speed boat rides on minimally animated exterior scenes, but there are a few major differences. First and foremost, Legoland’s boats are completely free-floating, navigating a natural body of water rather than being guided on a track along an artificial river. That means the Pirate River Quest captains let the pre-recorded narration play the game (which is synced to music and simple special effects as you cruise by) and focus on avoiding crashing into the canal walls, which still happens occasionally.

Morris, my skipper during the media preview, was a tour boat operator at Cypress Gardens in the 1990s and said, “I’m so glad we did that, I was afraid the canals would just go down the drain.” Ever since taking over the Established more than a decade ago, Legoland’s horticultural team has always done an admirable job of maintaining the old botanical exhibits that were central Florida’s premier tourist attraction decades before Disney arrived, but the work they have now completed on the canals , is truly remarkable, the restoration of the eroded waterways and the incorporation of new life-size creatures and characters – including a giant octopus-like Kraken – without ruining the natural integrity of the area.

READ :  Apple needs to take its time with augmented reality

click to enlarge

Photo by Seth Kubersky

Pirate River Quest skipper Morris was a tour boat operator at Cypress Gardens in the 1990’s.

Another key element of Pirate River Cruise is that two of the fleet’s 10 ships are fully ADA accessible, allowing a standard wheelchair (or lighter powered wheelchair) to roll right on board. There’s also no height restriction (although life jackets are provided for guests under the age of 6), making it, as Kelly Hornick, Legoland’s head of marketing, says, “a real family-friendly ride that every single member of the family can ride.”

As a lifelong LEGO fan, I found Pirate River Quest’s Scalawag landscape utterly enchanting, and even toy-hating adults who suffer from PTSD from stepping on painful plastic bricks will be reassured by the finale, set on the open waters of the… Lake Eloise swims where waterfowl and even river otters can be spotted along the swampy shoreline.

My only caveat before you make the roughly 80-minute trip from Orlando is that the theoretical carrying capacity of the attraction is under 250 guests per hour, with only about a dozen passengers per boat. That said, you better either show up for the park opening and make Pirate River Quest your first destination, or prepare your loot for a long wait in line.

Over at Universal Orlando, the creative minds behind their theme parks and haunted houses have tried their hand at the popular escape room genre, gutting the CityWalk nightclub once known as Groove and using the bones of its original art deco theater as a backdrop for one have used two attractions inspired by two of the studio’s biggest franchises. Universal’s Great Movie Escape features Back to the Future: Outatime on the first floor and Jurassic World: Escape on the top floor. Each separately-purchased experience accommodates up to eight guests at a time and consists of eight highly themed rooms in which participants must solve various puzzles as they progress through the story.

READ :  Two Ethereum-Based Tokens Ready To Take Flight In 2022

The sequential multiroom format is just one way Universal deviates from the traditional escape room model. There’s no ticking clock or chance of failing, and each group will progress through the 50-minute game at roughly the same pace. That’s because there’s no penalty for failing any of the challenges, and solving puzzles quickly is only rewarded with repetitive additional tasks. There is also no human interaction with your hosts once you enter the rooms; All backstory and directions are pre-taped, with the film’s main characters mentioned but never seen.

I tried the escape game Jurassic World, in which the contestants are thrown into the ill-fated park as aspiring geneticists. I was very impressed with this immersive walk-through attraction, thanks to sets and props that authentically recreate the cinema atmosphere, and spot-on sound and light effects that offered a handful of effective jump scares. But as a veteran of dozens of escape rooms, I was frustrated that Universal failed to follow the basic principles of good game design, e.g. B. Giving clear feedback when a player makes progress, communicating consequences for mistakes, or offering hints that aren’t just repeating the initially unclear instructions. I later discovered that my team (made up of me and a family of strangers I happened to be paired with) only scored 11 out of 20, but there was never any indication along the way of where we failed or where we succeeded had.

Finally, Universal’s Escape Rooms are designed for operational efficiency, relying on touchscreens and video projections rather than tactile props that may require a staff member to manually reset between groups. Unfortunately, this system robs players of any sense of exploration and discovery, which is usually the genre’s greatest asset. I am big BTTF Nerd so I will return to experience the other story simply for its Christopher Lloyd voice overs and references to the extinct simulator. But at $50-$60 per person I don’t feel the need to revisit Jurassic World unless they completely rethink many of the puzzles. If you find yourself escaping from Universal, you can ignore the frantic instructions. Just try to enjoy it as expensive slow haunted house.

READ :  Former Microsoft/Fox Exec Hanno Basse Joins Digital Domain as Chief Technology Officer - Below the Line

[email protected]