Blockbuster Rides: Transformers, Cars and Avengers Coming to an Amusement Park Near You

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Tim Chong / Reuters

U.S. film director and producer Michael Bay poses below a model of the Bumblebee Autobot character at the premiere launch for the Transformers-The Ride at Universal Studios Singapore theme park, part of Resorts World Sentosa in Singapore.

In the long-standing art of branding, amusement park rides help expand a popular movie into every imaginable facet of our (thrill-seeking, scream-inducing) culture.

As Universal Studios Hollywood debuted the new Transformers The Ride-3D over the weekend, Disney has announced more Cars movie-themed rides and attractions in both California and Florida and even the first-ever Marvel-themed ride—based on Avengers, of course—in the near future.

Sure, basing rides on movies isn’t specific to 2012. Universal Florida debuted the ride Jaws in 1990 (which shut down this January), alongside E.T. Adventure, and we’ve been seeing fistfuls of movie-inspired rides ever since. Disney even took to creating a couple of movies based on their rides (not a suggested route of script writing, mind you).

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But in the world of extreme roller coasters where theming a ride with a few well-placed props and a color-matching paint job may do the trick, nowadays amusement parks are more likely to create entire experiences based on movie franchises.

The Transformers ride signifies a new generation of fusing top-grossing movies with fantastical amusement park culture, giving visitors a full immersion and line-inducing experience, “blurring the line between fiction and reality,” as Universal touts. The ride meshes high-definition 3D media with flight simulation technology, putting the characters of the movie alongside the amusement park visitors.

But it isn’t just Universal leading the way in building an even stronger connection to all things that require a ticket to get in. Disney has all sorts of Cars attractions planned, including opening Cars Land on June 15 in its Disneyland California Adventure Park. The entire new section of the park will replicate the town of Radiator Springs, complete with a racecourse ride and two kid-friendly attractions.

(A pair of Six Flags amusement parks, one in Vallejo, Calif. and one in Valencia, Calif., buck the trend for full immersion—both are planning plain old roller coasters with Superman themes this summer.)

But what you can expect to see—and soon—is Avengers everywhere you go inside Disney parks. The company’s theme parks will boast a variety of Marvel characters for the first time, likely coinciding with a second installment of the movie. By taking Avengers into a theme park, the ride options open to a variety of superheroes and give theme park creators an entirely new world to create around, possibly making the town of Radiator Springs look downright paltry in comparison.

While we’re in the planning mood, do you think we may see any new dazzling rides and entire amusement park sections based off Twilight, The Rise of the Planet Apes, Gnomeo and Juliet, The Hangover (not for families, we hope), Puss in Boots or The Hunger Games (oh, my!)? Hey, there’s a Pinocchio ride at Disneyland, so anything is possible, right?

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