Help Optimus Prime fight Megatron at the new 3D Transformers ride

Kelly O'Mara

On Thursday, the battle between Megatron and Optimus Prime comes to Orlando — in 3D.

Universal Studios will officially open Transformers: The Ride 3D at its Florida park after Transformers rides at the Hollywood and Singapore studios proved to be some of Universal’s most popular attractions. The Orlando version, which includes some technological improvements on the previous versions, features 60-foot tall multimedia screens, a new type of high-definition 3D and a car that can move with six degrees of freedom as it travels along a 2,000-foot track.

“It really takes people on a pretty amazing journey,” said Mark Woodbury, president of Universal Creative.

The original ride opened in Universal Studios Hollywood two years ago after a three-year development process that involved collaboration with “Transformers” movie director Michael Bay. The main goal, Woodbury said, was to immerse visitors in the experience of the Transformers’ world. To that end, the ride follows a complicated journey that makes you part of the story.

Visitors to Orlando start by entering a 60-foot tall warehouse that serves as NEST task force headquarters, where they are briefed by General Morshower. They are told they must protect the AllSpark, an important energy source, from the evil Decepticons. Just after they board the Transformer EVAC, who changes from his robot form into car form to carry visitors along the track, Decepticons invade the warehouse via 3D multimedia screens and the car whisks riders away.

After the car “breaks out” of the warehouse, you “race through the city streets and air and space,” said Woodbury, as you “ride through the world of the Transformers.” Over the course of the four-minute ride, the car moves in multiple directions as it reacts to what’s happening on the 3D screens and attempts to evade the Decepticons. At one point, the car even travels two stories up through a 3D media tunnel.

The new high-end 3D allows a “hyper-realistic” experience, said Woodbury, where the actual car that visitors ride in merges with the media screens and the Autobots are seen in massive real size. Though it’s not a traditional roller coaster, this isn’t your grandma’s ride.

Although the ride opens on Thursday, Universal Studios has been doing soft tests this past week, opening the ride for unannounced periods of time and on a changing schedule. So, if you really need to be the first to help protect the AllSpark and save Optimus Prime, you can always just hang around outside NEST headquarters and hope to get lucky.