Krusty the Clown has built a slipshod theme park called Krustyland for all of Springfield to enjoy. Along with the Simpsons, guests are invited to experience Krusty’s latest addition to his park: a new, teen-operated thrill ride. However, there is more to fear than the lack of experience behind the control panel, and his name is Sideshow Bob.
Sideshow Bob has escaped from prison and is bent on punishing Krusty and the Simpson family for their role in his incarceration. After knocking Krusty unconscious and guiding everyone onto the thrill attraction, Sideshow Bob manages to take over the ride’s controls and shifts the settings from “thrill” to “kill.” What follows is an intense experience enhanced by a jerky hydraulic system and a couple of minor effects.
I recently rode this attraction with all three of my children. We each had our own impression of the ride. Between the four of us, there is a span of nearly three decades in age as well as a wide spectrum of personalities. This is our family’s take on one of Universal’s most rough attractions – The Simpsons Ride.
Elle is 10-years-old and a bit of a daredevil. Very little frightens her. In fact, she takes pride in her ability to venture where others turn away. With a psychotic-looking clown head for the entrance, Elle practically ran to The Simpsons Ride.
With no real familiarity with The Simpsons show or its characters, Elle was still able to pick up a basic understanding of the attraction’s plot. The storyline, however, didn’t provide much entertainment for her. Instead, it was the mechanics of the ride that pulled her in. The illusion of speed and falling were what made Elle squeal with delight.
As much fun as she had, Elle relayed that the attraction had a downside. The jerky movement of the vehicle created an unpleasant situation. She warned, “You probably shouldn’t go on this if you don’t want your neck to get hurt. I was kind of disappointed in that.” To sum up her opinion, Elle found the ride exciting, but the neck pain she suffered afterwards made her hesitate when asked if she would repeat the experience.
Miller is 13-years-old and takes most things in stride. He doesn’t seek out thrills, but he doesn’t run from them either. His strength is being able to “bend in the wind” in most situations. Like his sisters, he seemed excited about experiencing The Simpsons Ride even with little understanding of the cartoon series on which it was based.
Miller picked up the plot and even the role of the characters fairly easily from the queue and pre-show. This seemed to enhance the experience for him since he found it slightly more entertaining in that respect, but the actual mechanics of it all held more appeal. “It’s like this big screen that you go up [into]… and crazy stuff happens…. it has lots of stuff going on, and that is why it is so hard to describe,” he explained.
Without any pause, Miller was certain he wanted to do this ride again. He found a lot of the animation humorous. Even the more frightening moments gave him a laugh. In fact, he cited these moments as some of his favorite ones. However, Miller felt it was important to be aware that this attraction could cause motion sickness due to the intense effects of simulation. Other than that, though, Miller eagerly gave The Simpsons Ride his stamp of approval.
Margeaux is 15-years-old and is timid about attractions that frighten. In general, she despises rides that drop or imitate life-threatening situations. While she can appreciate a scary story, actually experiencing one is not something for which she volunteers. However, this attraction still appealed to Margeaux in spite of being categorized as a “thrill ride.” Being that The Simpsons is a popular brand with teens, Margeaux was interested in discovering what her peers found so worthwhile.
Margeaux asked a lot of questions about the cartoon series while we stood in line. It seemed important to her to learn as much as she could beyond what the attraction offered. However, like the rest of the family, it ended up being of less importance than the actual attraction once we boarded the ride. The highlight for her was the animation, but she also enjoyed the simulated sense of danger because she didn’t actually feel threatened by it.
When asked if she would repeat the ride, Margeaux was certain she would because she truly had fun. However, she cautioned others, “It might jerk you a little more than you can handle.” She felt a little sore and not at her best after the ride ended. Overall, though, Margeaux was incredibly enthusiastic about this attraction.
I am the mom of this brood and a thrill seeker at heart. Scary things, fast things, and “bragging rights” have always appealed to me. As I have entered my fourth decade of life, though, my ability to handle certain thrills has diminished. I find myself more prone to nausea at times, and I’m not as likely to accept a challenge just to prove a point. This did not diminish my enthusiasm for The Simpson’s Ride though. Being a teen during the cartoon’s debut, I felt nostalgic as I walked into the bowels of Krustyland.
I have to admit that I found myself a little uncomfortable at times during the queue. From the perspective of an adult, I find the humor of The Simpsons wildly entertaining. From the perspective of a parent, though, the stereotypes and glorified dysfunction of this animated series isn’t something of which I typically expose my children. There wasn’t anything in the attraction that caused me great alarm, but I found myself dancing around a couple issues when my kids asked for more information about Homer Simpson and his brand of humor.
Once on the ride, I settled in with the family for what I knew would be an intense experience. I quickly realized, though, that I didn’t prepare for just how intense it actually was. The vehicle we were in physically lifted us out of an enclosed space. As we vertically ascended, we entered a room that seemed to be the size of an airplane hangar. A massive screen encircled us, immersing us in the 3D animation of Krustyland. I spent a brief second feeling slightly intimidated and awestruck by the enormity of the room; however, I was quickly jolted out of that surrealism… literally. The hydraulic system of the vehicle kicked to simulate the feeling of a rollercoaster’s initial start. I gripped the lap bar to steady myself, but it had only just begun.
Our family’s car appeared to be “attached” to the Simpson’s vehicle, so we were along for the ride as Sideshow Bob repeatedly attempted to end their lives through a series of theme park mishaps. I began to feel nauseous after being dropped, spun, and flung through many different scenarios on the screen. Closing my eyes brought little relief, though, for it made me more aware of the pain in my back every time I was thrown against the plastic seat of my cart. After over four minutes of torment, our vehicle finally descended back into its original space, and I hobbled out of the building feeling rather disoriented.
In general, I do not enjoy simulated rides. I can appreciate them, but I do tend to experience motion sickness. The Simpsons Ride was on a level entirely on its own though. Combined with an incredibly rough physical element supplied by the cart’s hydraulics, the attraction nearly put me over the edge. The comedy was entertaining. The nostalgia of my childhood was endearing, but the nature of the actual attraction was not enjoyable for me.
Would I repeat this ride in the future? The answer is only if necessary for the benefit of someone else. Otherwise, you can find me waving pleasantly to Krusty and his land of suffering as I walk on by.