Totally have to agree that Universal coming out with a top tier attraction is a good thing for Disney as it should promote competition. Give the Imagineers a bigger budget for greater things to come!
Originally Posted by popcorn Oops sorry one more thing/word of advice...originally I read (and was even told by an employee at Universal, wrongly) that going in the single rider line I was in at the time was the same things you see in the regular line. How in the world he got something that basic wrong I dont know but like people have now clarified, there is not much to see at all in the single rider line explaining story...and all you see are a few overheard tv screens that loop the same few min. footage again and again. Story explanation is almost non-existant on this side and there are NO props to see. Just tv screens, steps and WALLS! I would have actually waited in the regular line that was longer had I been told the correct info, so that I had the full immersion and storytelling on that first experience. So word of advice, do the regular line regardless on at least your first ride through. The queue will be new for me the second time I go I guess lol. You bring up a VERY good point. Do the regular queue the first time you ride. It's helpful in setting up the story.
Gate A and Single Rider are great for busy days and for repeat rides. But if you have an option and the line isn't too long, wait for the regular queue.
Oops sorry one more thing/word of advice...originally I read (and was even told by an employee at Universal, wrongly) that going in the single rider line I was in at the time was the same things you see in the regular line. How in the world he got something that basic wrong I dont know but like people have now clarified, there is not much to see at all in the single rider line explaining story...and all you see are a few overheard tv screens that loop the same few min. footage again and again. Story explanation is almost non-existant on this side and there are NO props to see. Just tv screens, steps and WALLS! I would have actually waited in the regular line that was longer had I been told the correct info, so that I had the full immersion and storytelling on that first experience. So word of advice, do the regular line regardless on at least your first ride through. The queue will be new for me the second time I go I guess lol.
I went on Transformers a couple weeks or so ago, I bought the cheapest AP solely based on what another reviewer said and Im glad I did. (that level pass does not include parking btw and does have certain blockout dates, but it was only @ $10 more than the reg. one day admission). I've been on the IOA Spiderman ride yeeears ago as well (but not since its update recently). I am a fan of marvel/spiderman things and pretty much not at all Transformers despite seeing the movies (the first one was ok to me I guess). Based on this info, believe it or not I think I might like Transformers more. The reason echoed what someone else wrote a while back...the Spiderman ride had a more cartoony feel about how the characters looked (to be fair this might be different now with its update I havent seen), whereas Transformers looked so realistic (both the onscreen, the blending w practical sets, etc). Before this, I would have said that Spiderman is my fave ride anywhere Ive been on, then Indy...now I would say Transformers, Indy, then Spiderman. I do get what people are saying, and somewhat agree, about so many film based attractions coming out, Universal and elsewhere. Terminator, King Kong tram section, Simpsons Ride (and BTTF before that), Transformers now, etc....but the difference to me is that it is SO well done and BLENDED with real practical sets, heat effects, water, etc., that it was in a different league to me. Unlike Star Tours (which I still DO like though btw), on Transformers I think I might have even forgotten that I was even wearing the 3D glasses shortly after starting the ride! I remember actually dropping my jaw or saying "wow" out loud while riding the thing I was so impressed. And yeah, the action does not...let...UP!
I've been on both Transformers & Spiderman. They are similar and I really enjoy both! I'm not too eager to wait in a long line to go on it though. Thankfully there was about a 2 minute wait when I went a couple of weeks ago!
As for the storyline, I had my boyfriend to give me the low-down. I had no idea what this All-Spark was or why it was so important. Not sure if I fully understand still. But I still understood the ride and thought it was a lot of fun.
Funny story about the buttons you can press in the queue - There was a family behind my boyfriend and I. The mom asked if my boyfriend worked there when she saw him pressing all of the buttons. When he said no, she started freaking out and said he should stop because she was sure those freely open buttons at a child's height could surely cause something bad to happen to us in line or breakdown the ride. haha I almost wanted to act scared with her, but didn't want to freak her out more. She also didn't understand lining up to get in the ride vehicles and then tried to tell the employees how it was supposed to be done .
I don't think Universal will ever give up Spiderman, although I do think Transformers is a possible contingency. Inevitably, something better than Transformers can take its place, but we are talking 20 years out. The upgrade of Spiderman should be a signal that it is staying for a very long time.
I have not gone on Transformers so I can not offer my opinion as to it specifically but I have gone on Spiderman. It may just be me but I really don't care for the rides that combine with the 3-D movie aspects. I really do prefer the overall immersion that you get with real environments like those found on Indiana Jones and Dinosaur, plus you don't have to bother with the glasses. Regardless of the interactivity of the ride vehicles I still feel like I'm watching a movie and that detracts from the ride experience. Universal is starting to rely too much on this type of ride technology and it is becoming old hat. Just my opinion.
FYI: there's already a good thread on reactions to this attraction, but here's my reaction again:
My daughter (6) and I were not very familiar with Transformers, and we were very impressed with this ride. The advanced, 3D film fit so well with the vehicle's movements and blended so well with the props bordering the screens, that it seemed surprisingly realistic to me. I don't know how well it will age since technology is advancing so quickly (i.e. it might not have a Haunted Mansion-like run without some amazing updates), but for the summer of 2012 it might be the non-Cars attraction to ride--at least outside of Universal's Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando. I hope Universal is so richly rewarded for such excellent work!
I'm usually prone to motion sickness, but my one trip on this ride left me feeling fine.
I don't think the line will get that beat up. The halls are so industrial looking that any tagging could be easily repainted overnight. I was disappointed that the colored buttons didn't do anything, yet.
FYI: Universal Hollywood has and All You Can Eat counter-service meal pass (good at five restaurants in the park) for $21.95 per day for adults and $9.95 for kids 48" and under that runs through May 24. (I don't know if they'll continue it or raise the prices.) They were very cool and let my tall 51", 6-year-old first grader have the kids plan. The best meal for me was a large piece of chicken from the Jurassic Park cafe, and I had a good burger at Mel's Diner and got to eat it in a nice, quiet French-themed street around the corner. I like the oversized raisin oatmeal cookies for the included dessert at a couple of the locations. (It was still tasty two days later.)
Originally Posted by babyfirefly My friend who went with me did not know the Transformers story and was confused about who the good and bad guys were. To me a good attraction should be "universal" (no pun intended) and you should be able to know basically whats going on without having seen the movies (or cartoons). I had a VERY different reaction. I've never seen a Transformers film, nor have I ever wanted too. However, I LOVED this attraction and had no trouble what so ever figuring out what it was all about. They make it quite clear. The bad guys have stollen the powerful Allspark, and it is up to us to save the world and get it back. That's pretty simple. You don't need to know ANYTHING about Transformers to enjoy this attraction. As for telling the good guys from bad guys, the evil looking guys who are trying to kill you are bad and the good looking guys who are trying to help you are good. I don't think it gets easier than that.
The use of amazing visuals, strong story and the fluid technology of the ride vehicles makes this the top attraction in So Cal. That may all change when Cars Land opens, but Universal has out Disneyed Disney once again. I can't wait to see what they come up with for their upcoming Harry Potter land in Hollywood. Universal has proven that they are a worthy competitor to Disney and I urge everyone to visit the park and check it out.
The single best thing that can happen for Disney fans this summer is for Transformers to bring Universal lots of traffic. That will unlock substantial development money at Disneyland resort. Dont fear Universal's success, its a good thing for a lot of upcoming Imagineering projects.
The ride itself looks great, but the problem for me is I have a viscerally negative reaction to Transformers. Still, I'll go on and give it a shot.
I got to experience the new Transformers ride and I thought that technically it was amazing, but the story was lacking. My friend who went with me did not know the Transformers story and was confused about who the good and bad guys were. To me a good attraction should be "universal" (no pun intended) and you should be able to know basically whats going on without having seen the movies (or cartoons). I have been on Spiderman in IOA and I prefer that attraction much better. I am a former attractions host at Universal (Back to the Future) and I really appreciate the great strides the company is taking to use new technology, however the storytelling still belongs to Disney.
The car is a Camaro, not Camero
There are lots of wonderful reasons to visit Knott's, most of them in Ghost Town.
One of the reasons why you are seeing so much coverage on Knott's here at MiceChat lately is because the park is making rapid progress in repairing over a decade of decline. It's been a remarkable transformation. And we hope to see much more as former Disneyland President, Matt Ouimet, continues to exert his expertise.
I think Knott's has at least one HUGE potential redevelopment area that I'd like to see them work on. The entire back part of the park (the old Roaring 20's all the way through the Boardwalk) needs a major retheme and rebuilding project.
I'm telling the Knott's folks right now that they need to think big and think detailed theme. It is working for Universal and SeaWorld and it will work for Knott's. It can't be a half assed job either. They need to hire some former Imagineers (heck, Rolly Crump and Bob Gurr are probably still available to help) and create a theme which fits with the wilderness/Indian/Festa themes. That's a lot of space and a major E-Ticket type ride with many smaller family style rides and shows would easily fit.
I think Knott's underestimates how many people really want to see them succeed. Yes, they've burned a lot of good will over the years. But they are gaining a lot of it back with their recent actions. I love spending time at Knott's and look forward to them giving me even more reason to come back in the future.
Thank you for another great article Sam!
I agree with pretty much all of your ride preferences - Perilous Plunge is a waste of space. Supreme Scream is too much for us old timers. Ghost Rider is so rough, it could easily give me a concussion nowadays and I LOVED the "headache" comment about Boomerang - so true!
That said, the chicken is still usually very good, and if it's not, DEMAND a replacement. They'll do it, no problem.
Great article, Sam! My memories of Knott's are of a park that was well themed with lots of interesting rides and only 2 roller coasters. Last time I went (a few years ago), I walked into a steel jungle. I find Raffi's comment interesting regarding theme ("You are a theme guy, I get it, I understand. But I am very interested in making people happy.") considering that Knott's was the first theme park. Knott's appears to be a theme park that turned into an amusement park around the same time California Adventure was built. Was this a reaction to grab onto a niche market? Now, both are adding "theme" back, which I love. In my opinion, there's no such thing as too much theme in a theme park. I'd be very interested in reading an article about why Knott's took the direction they did in the late nineties.
Originally Posted by Not My Real Name Has anyone here stayed at the KBF Hotel? What's it like? My wife and I stay there when we go to the Farm, which is about three or four times a year on average. . The hotel was originally a Raddison, the rooms are fair sized always clean and the rates are reasonable, which is why we stay there when we go to Disneyland. We've spent more for less in Anaheim.
Amber Waves is the hotel resturaunt , the food is decent, although we utilize the breakfast buffet the most. It's basic, nothing fancy but definitely filling.
Most of all the staff there is great, we rarely have had a problem there, the few times we did they made sure we were taken care of right away. We would definitely recommend staying there.
And lastly, create some landscape and fill in the sad remains of the old Reflection lake under Silver Bullet. The fact that they kept so little water (not enough to really act as an important theme element) has hindered the ability to hide the mess of footers with nicely chosen foundation plantings...that honestly could have been completely filled in by now.
I just returned from the park and was thinking the same thing about the lake under Silver Bullet. How nice it would be to fill it in with trees and knolls and bring back the Tijuana Taxi! Make it into a pleasant space, AND add another attraction!
I love the playlist; just don't love it in Ghost Town. We need to give Cedar Fair some pointers on theming. Return the Roaring 20's theme; paint the fountain back to the original black, and return Knott's Bear-y Tales (can you smell the Boysenberry now???). Re-theme the rest of the Boardwalk area to a County Fair (NOT hard to do folks...it's mostly there! Then play all the loud fun dance 80's music you want to over there! Ditch Boomerang and put in a really fun wild mouse coaster. Does anyone remember the Mountain Express at Magic Mountain! For a compact coaster, it really took your breath away! It also wouldn't have the bad sight lines sticking out above the Mine Train when you are in Calico Square. Carnival rides have always had their place at Knott's (remember the tilt-a-whirl?), so sprinkle a few around the area...and yes, plant a few trees over there. Also do something more appealing under Xcellerator.
I'd love to see more creativity applied when planning the park. Re-que Silver Bullet to start from Calico Square and then go under the stage coach. This would free up the large space under the load area for a possible dark ride. Knott's does need to grow to compete with this market...
And sadly, I walked into one of the craft stores in Ghost Town and was told everything was on clearance; the store would be closing Memorial Day to make way for a "peak through" attraction. I was also told that the spring craft fair had been cancelled this year, and rumor was that the Christmas one would be cancelled as well. It's a sad day when Knott's looses the elements that made it original and stand apart from any other park.
I used to be harsh on Knotts too, but the sad truth is that without CF, Knotts wouldn't be around today. They did make some boneheaded mistakes, but it seems they finally understand that Knotts isn't Cedar Point and it doesn't function like a typical seasonal park. Knotts has a limited footprint and that makes it difficult to change.
However, that's not an excuse to further damage the remaining charms of the park. They have an awful towering water ride (with equally awful operations and capacity) that could easily go and a laser tag building that used to house a brilliant little darkride. In fact, a large portion of the 'boardwalk' could be completely shuttered to develop something that appropriately closes off the back of Knotts - I'm thinking...darkcoaster eurofighter (half darkride, half coaster)? At least it'd be a coaster that fits the scale of Knotts (something shorter than the Plunge towers). I would love seeing Knotts come to their senses and getting rid of the Pony Express figure 8 waste and also tear out the swing upcharge and reuse the space for a Sally Darkride - something Ghost Town related. And lastly, create some landscape and fill in the sad remains of the old Reflection lake under Silver Bullet. The fact that they kept so little water (not enough to really act as an important theme element) has hindered the ability to hide the mess of footers with nicely chosen foundation plantings...that honestly could have been completely filled in by now.
I love the seasonal props the park has been adopting, and I've been fairly impressed in how the landscape has been maintained. The only thing I wish they would focus on now is a smart street tree campaign that could begin to provide some interest and shade to the large stretches of asphalt around Ghost Town's center, Silver Bullet's plaza, and the Boardwalk. It really doesn't seem like a major project...besides the added infrastructure of irrigation.
But for all that Knott's has lacked, slowly I see a change in the way its being run and that is what gives me hope for the continuation of its history. In the end, it may have been the right decision to sell the park to Cedar Fair. In a perfect world, the preservation of the old Knotts and the demands of current entertainment would be without loss, but that just doesn't happen in the real world. As long as CF understands the REASON people go to Knotts is because it ISN'T Disneyland or Six Flags...then maybe they'll truly appreciate this unique gem and keep the beancounters away from the maintenance and design of future renovations.
Thank you all for the comments. Love it.
To those who say that I went a bit easy, thank you. Maybe I was in a bit of euphoria with the Country Fried Steak while sitting outside at the Ghost Town Grill. Let me be clear. Knott's has improved greatly in the last couple of years. Especially the Ghost Town area. Once you get beyond that, Fiesta Village and Camp Snoopy are charming and the entire back half of the park is, as one person described it, a parking lot with rides.
I have mixed feelings about Silver Bullet. It did destroy one of the scenic spots in the park and the church was moved out to outer Mongolia. Every park needs some quiet spaces or you go nuts like at Universal. That is sad. But I just love that ride. It reminds me of Dueling Dragons (okay Dragon Challenge) and that is my favorite big steel coaster.
The most important thing is that management seems committed to doing right by the tradition of the park. That is a huge change and I hope that it pays them dividends and they keep it up. We don't need another Magic Mountain. One is enough. Bring back the diversity of experiences that Walter Knott conceived of and everything should turn out right.
Sam SamLand's Disney Adventures
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