By Charly SHELTON
If you have met a child under the age of 10 in the last few years, chances are that you know what a minion is. For those of you who don’t, they are small yellow beings, most of which are pill-shaped that stand about two feet tall. They do not speak English (although they understand it well enough) and instead speak in a babble language that consists of funny sounds spoken very quickly. Also they are obsessed with bananas.
These minions work for Gru, the one time greatest super villain in the world, on various evil plots like stealing the Times Square Jumbotron, stealing the Eiffel Tower and Statue of Liberty (the small ones from Las Vegas), and stealing the moon! Since Gru’s heart was melted by three girls he adopted, the evil plots have stopped and the minions have been put to work on other, less evil projects like making unicorn princess birthday parties and working in a cupcake shop in the mall. (For more information on minions or Gru, watch the 2010 film “Despicable Me” – a definite win as both a family movie and just an all around comedy.]
After the events of the first two Despicable films, Gru and the minions have returned to their home in suburbia, currently located on a quiet street at Universal Studios Hollywood. Lucky for Universal Studios Hollywood ticketholders, they have opened their home to “new recruits” to become minions. After walking through Gru’s house and into his secret underground laboratory, guests don their “safety goggles” that all minions wear and watch a hilarious preshow in the queue area before being led into the test chamber where they are zapped with Dr. Nefario’s Minion Gun, transforming them from humans to minions.
Gru’s girls – Margo, Edith and Agnes – are charged with taking the newly minted minions to the training room. They hop aboard their hovercraft and the motion simulator ride begins. It follows them through the intensive training course with hijinks and hilarity all along the way. At the end of the ride, the guests are accidentally re-humanized and led out through the gift shop.
The shop is part of the other new Despicable experience – Super Silly Fun Land, a play area for kids with a jungle gym, an aerial carousel attraction (like Dumbo at Disney Parks) themed to the location from the film and carnival games where guests can win their own minion to take home.
The ride experience was enjoyable, but considering the wait times, the ride was a bit short. The preshow and videos displayed on monitors outside in the queue were hilarious, a real match to the characters and situations set up in the films. And unlike so many other attractions based on films, the queue footage isn’t just recycled footage from the movies – it is actually new animation with new lines and new jokes. The ride itself, as stated, feels short. The preshow and on ride experience totaled only 14 minutes of animation. That seems like a lot longer than it felt on the ride. Perhaps I was just having such a good time that the minutes flew by.
Technically, the ride was well done. Not the best motion simulator, but good for what this ride called for. And the play place next door seemed to be enjoyed by all those lucky guests who were still small enough to fit into a jungle gym. I would have played there as well, to get the full experience and be able to bring our readers a more comprehensive review of Super Silly Fun Land, but after the third employee pointed out the height restriction sign, I thought it was best to leave it alone.
The minions are cute and funny, but once you walk out those doors and hear most every child reciting the entire dialogue of the ride and the film in a minion voice – it can get to you if you are not used to children. I saw adults streaming quickly out of the shop shaking their heads and clear out of the Super Silly Fun Land without really stopping, while families took their time.
Although the ride is fun for all ages, it is definitely populated by kids – loud kids. Not to say avoid this ride, but just be prepared for the environment of the attraction and surrounding area. There will be lots of kids, some of whom think that they are still minions. If you go into it with this mindset, they are actually fun to watch.
Overall, the attraction is good; not the best ride I have ever ridden, but definitely not the worst. I will miss “T2:3D,” the attraction that was taken out to make way for this ride, but it had seen better days and it was time for an update.
It is great for guests of all ages.
I give this ride 3 out of 5 stars. Visit UniversalStudiosHollywood.com for more information and ticket prices.