Survivalist guide to “The Simpsons Ride” at Universal Studios

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Located rear of Universal Studios, Hollywood upper lot, is one of the park’s most popular attraction.   The Simpsons Ride, is a motion-simulator operating within a Krustified Classic Rollercoaster car.  Featuring your favorite cartoon-family, you’ll ride with the Simpsons through Krustyland in an experience thrilling all four of your five senses.   If you want to know what to expect ahead of time or otherwise want to relive the queue line through another eyes, this article is for you.

SimpsonsRIde-BartBefore it was The Simpsons Ride, it was Back to the Future: The Ride.  There is little left to remember the former attraction other than Doc Brown’s fried chicken stand next door (Which is now gone).  You’ll notice sign posts above and costumed characters roaming outside the Kwik-E-Mart.   And yes, the Kwik-E-Mart is a real gift shop.

 

 

To make it to the attraction entrance, you’ll need to navigate through the lost, hungry, tired, and the confused.  Unless the wait line is greater than 90 minutes, the entrance is located in the middle of the Krustyland entrance.   They’ll be a Universal Studios staff standing near but they’re often unnoticed.   If you’re facing the attraction, to your left will be the stairway to the lower lot.   Streams of people evacuating the escalators impeding your progress.  To your immediate right are an abundance of tables and chairs giving relief to the tired and hungry.  Many of them will be enjoying Cinnabons, probably getting the most calories for the buck there.  To the far right is a dead end to the Studio Tour.

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Once you made it into the queue line, you’ll notice many posters featuring fictional (even in the Simpsons universe) advertisements of Krustyland attractions.  If the wait time is 15 minutes or less, you’ll probably be led straight to the rear avoiding the queue maze.  If the wait time reaches 45 to 60 minutes, you’ll head to the left and pace up and down until you reach the center.   If the wait time exceeds an hour, you’ll start your queue to the right.  The further right you begin, the longer will be your journey.

SimpsonsRIde-MadameManjulaYou’re probably rolling your eyes reading how I rave about the queue.   The Simpsons Ride has cleverly designed this attraction from the moment you first wait.  There are monitors everywhere playing a 30-minute collection of clips from seasons 1-10.  Many clips are theme park related poking fun at Disneyland and the movie Westworld.   If you’re lucky, you’ll catch original material starring the voice of Dr. Emmit Brown, Christopher Lloyd.  This short clip explains the origins of Krustyland and the real story behind the demise of the Institute of Future Technology.

If you’re forced to wait the hour, you’ll start on the right hand side mostly walking up and down until you’re guided to the far left of the queue area.  There you’ll mostly walk up and down from the outside-in before you’ll head towards the rear up the middle.   There is at least one water fountain on the left hand side.  Once you made it through the upper half of the queue maze you will be rewarded with the second half!  These lines navigate across left to right (about six rows) until you find yourself grazing your shoulders against the far wall decorated with a giant Krustyland map.  Take some time to study the map.  You’ll figure it out eventually that the Krusytland attractions are showcased on it.  Once you reach the “end” of the rear queue area, you’ll meet your first gatekeeper.

The gatekeeper’s job is to regulate the mob carefully managing the queue ahead.   Gatekeeper #1 whose position is also the place where you can bail out of the ride and head towards the exit.  Otherwise, depending on demand, you’ll be asked to go to the next stage in queue management.  You may be asked to follow the crowd around the corner, or to climb upstairs, or asked to climb downstairs.  All three lead to separate but equal floors staging the rides.

The ground floor is the primary choice to entertain guests.  Made solely from personal experience, during peak demand, they’ll open the top floor first before the bottom.   Through many visits, I had taken the upper level twice but never below.  Once you’ve made your short walk, you’ll meet your second gate keeper.

You’ll soon notice you’re part of select mob, limited in size.  The queue rails are short leading to black curtains and tacky sign above.  This is the entrance to Krustyland!  Every six minutes the line will move.  Gatekeeper #2 will begin counting heads and giving you a line number to stand in if you make it past her.

Don’t expect to climb into any coaster yet.  You’re treated to another line!  On the ground floor, there are ten single-file lines fenced by rail.  You’ll be grouped together that most easiest numbers eight.  Expect to spend at least another six minutes here.  To your left are a pair of monitors featuring Mole Man and Groundskeeper Willie.  To your right is another pair with Patti and Selma on one and Apu on the other.   Each in turn will speak to you and have their own brand of humor.  Straight ahead is another pair of monitors featuring more Krustyland advertisements before an original short explaining the most important back story to the ride you’re about to embark on.

Your Gatekeeper #3 will instruct one line at a time to march down a narrow, carnival-colored hallway to one of 10 tiny rooms.  On the upper level, there are only eight.   Once you step into your room, you’ll quickly figure out you’re not going anywhere.   You’ll wait again another six minutes!   While you hear the ride on the other side of the far door, you’ll be directed to give attention to the video screen.  It continues the back story with Simpsons explaining the need to leave Grandpa Simpson and Maggie behind and consequences it comes with it.  When your wait nears end, Itchy and Scratchy and the good legal team at Universal explain the safety rules.  Once the far door opens, you and your fellow seven will race to the 8-seated coaster while the previous group heads out another far door.

Here are some things to remember.  You can approach the coaster on both sides.  Choose to walk around or walk straight up.  Just as the video instructs, place your large items to the side next to the wall.   The coaster seats eight, four in front and four in back.  Due to molded seat design and safety policies, there are no squeezing a fifth in the same row.  There will be bar lowered and resting on your belly to keep you snug inside your seat.

Should you fight for the front row?    First let’s begin with the odds and etiquette.  If your group numbers three or less, chances are high you’ll be asked to join a previously assigned group to help fill the quota closest to eight as possible.  Therefore, you’ll be be at the end of the line.  If your group is four or more, you’ll probably be assigned a new row and fighting for prime seats with your friends or family.  Those in front of the line will make it into the holding room first therefore be nearest to the far door leading to the coaster.   So don’t be a jerk ruining the experience of fellow visitors by pushing them aside for a trivial benefit for a four and a half minute ride.

Is the front row better?   Visually, yes.  But after many tours, the benefit is an illusion.   The rear seats comes with silhouettes in front of you that distracts the suspension of disbelief seem plausible.  But after 5 seconds that distraction disappears.   I did discover that the rear row offers a more jarring ride.

Note: The front row does come with a closed caption monitor for the hearing impaired.  However, I don’t imagine anyone will bother looking at it during the ride is in motion.

Once you’re comfortable in your seat, you’ll be waiting for the system to reset.  The Squeaky-Voiced Teen will speak to you from the monitor in front of you.  The wait could be a minute or longer.  This is the perfect moment to study the dashboard in front of you.  Look carefully at the nozzles, they are there to enhance your experience.

After a number of rides, I also discovered not every Krusty coaster is alike.  After all, the coasters require calibration and maintenance.  A simulated bump on one is a herniated disc waiting to happen on another.  While its the same video, all theaters project a warp either to the right or left.   If you’re sitting in the front, you should never notice the LED lights and projections from your peripheral vision.   However, in at least one bay, you will.

Rather than offering a written description of the ride’s experience, let’s keep it simple and say the ride is an experience of sight, sound, feel, and smell.  If otherwise, you can’t wait you can view the following offered on Youtube.  It’s suggested you resist watching unless you have already ridden or swear off ever going to Universal Studios.

We don’t condone videography during rides and take no credit for this.

When the ride concludes, Krusty the Clown will take your photograph.  It is this picture that makes it to the kiosks outdoors.  Not the one Marge alludes to in the middle of the ride.  When the doors open and the bar lifts, maneuver out not forgetting your possessions along the wall.  You’ll make it out the rear door to the outdoors.  Make sure you stop by the Kwik-E-Mart at least once during your park visit.

Recommended reading
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Simpsons_Ride

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