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Universal Studios Florida – New York:
Twister...Ride It Out


Rating: * * * +
Type: Stand-up theater show
Time: 15 minutes
Our Take: Amazing in-your-face special effects

Here is an attraction that will almost literally blow you away. Based on the hit film of the same name, Twister is a theater show without seats that leads you through three sets for a payoff that lasts all of two minutes. But what a two minutes it is!

The journey begins as you snake though a waiting line in Wakita, Oklahoma, around large props from the film. You are entertained by two disk jockeys (“the storm chasers of rock and roll”) from WNDY (“windy”) who spin peppy rock songs with appropriately stormy titles. You will be kept cool by large fans that blow a fine water mist over the crowds. As you draw closer to the Soundstage on which the real adventure unfolds, the entertainment gives way to videos of actual tornadoes, some of which are really scary.

The line may seem formidable, but don’t despair. This show can handle 2,400 people each hour, so the line moves fairly quickly. Once inside, the show follows a familiar three-part format. In the first chamber, themed as the prop room for the film, you watch a video in which the vivacious Helen Hunt and an oddly wooden Bill Paxton set the scene. If you missed the movie, this segment gives you the information you need to understand what the film and this attraction are all about.

The second chamber is themed as the ruined interior of Aunt Meg’s house from the movie. Trees and the front end of an automobile protrude through the ceiling, where a string of video monitors continue the introduction process. There is barely any “edutainment” in this attraction, but what little there is happens here. We get a brief explanation from Bill and Helen of how “dangerous” it was to act in front of the film’s niftier effects.

Then it’s on to the final chamber where the “real” show happens — live, in-person, and right before your eyes. You enter a set where you stand on a three-level viewing area under the deceptive protection of a tin roof. In front of you is the Wakita street that runs past the Galaxy outdoor movie theater where a “Horror Night” double feature of The Shining and Psycho is being shown. The street is deserted, but no sooner is everyone in place than all heck breaks loose and the inanimate objects before you take on a scary life of their own.

The best seats in the house. You will have a great experience here no matter where you stand. However, die-hard thrill seekers will want to be as close to the action as possible. Stay to the right as you are ushered into this final chamber if you want to stand in the front row. Most people hug the railing, but you can form a second row and make your way to dead center if you wish.

You’ve probably already figured out that you’ll be living through the vortex of a twister. Some of the effects are versions of what you may already have seen while riding Disaster!, and the final funnel effect sometimes fizzles. But first-time viewers always get a big kick out of the explosive ending.

Tip: This is a wet, if not precisely soaking, experience. A poncho might be in order if you’re really fussy. Otherwise, you probably will find the sprinkling fun, even refreshing. Interestingly enough, one seems to get wetter in the back row than in the front.

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Universal Orlando 2011

 

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