Q&A: Thomas See of Universal Studios Hollywood

Vice President of Sales talks about Transformers: The Ride in Los Angeles, Calif.


There’s more than meets the eye on the new Transformers ride. The new 3D adventure opened on May 25 and we have an interview with Thomas See, Vice President of Sales for Universal Studios Hollywood about the park’s newest and largest attraction!

Can you tell me about the new Transformers ride?

“Transformers: The Ride-3D” is really a state of the art attraction, we’ve never done anything quite like this before. It’s our largest attraction to date. It’s a collaboration between Universal Studios Hollywood, Michael Bay (the director of all the Transformers movies), as well as ILM (Industrial Light & Magic) and together, we have created a really epic attraction. It’s a 3D attraction that is based on the Transformers storyline, but it’s a unique storyline where guests have the opportunity to go and capture the Allspark–a critical element to saving the planet. So as a guest, you board Evac, a brand new Transformer for the attraction, to go on an epic journey to save the planet. You’ve got to make sure the Decepticons don’t destroy the planet. You have Optimus Prime, Bumblebee, and all the famous characters who are part of the epic journey and our guests’ journeys. We have all the original voices from the Transformers franchise. It’s a wonderful collaboration and is sure to be an amazing hit.

Is it similar to the “Amazing Adventures of Spider-man Ride” at Universal’s Islands of Adventure in Orlando, Fla.?

It’s built on a ride platform similar to that system in that it enables guests to go through the journey; it’s over a mile of track. Multiple screens are in the highest definition scale because it’s all shot via high-def photography. The imagery wasn’t shot on video. It was actually shot on still camera photography that is in the highest optical resolution. When you go into the image, you could be hundreds of feet away and go right into a window of a skyscraper in Chicago and see clearly what was going on in that room, which is absolutely scary but really cool at the same time.

Is there anything guests should be looking for?

Guests should go on “Transformers” at least five times. When you’re not watching the action you’ll see things develop throughout. I can’t give anything away. There are some pretty cool things in there.

Do you typically work with the director when engineering a ride?

We work with the best in Hollywood–Michael Bay with “Transformers: The Ride-3D”; Peter Jackson, when we launched “King Kong 360 3-D” which is another 3D attraction; when we launched “The Simpsons Ride” we partnered with Matt Groening and his team to make sure that all of the details were right on the mark.

How do you decide what movies get an attraction?

We like to look at the international marketplace when we decide upon what ride we’re going to build and what we’re going to develop. When you look at the Transformers film franchise throughout the world, it’s the top in China, the third in Australia and the fourth in the UK. We look at that as the baseline because it has worldwide appeal. King Kong has multiple generational appeal. The Simpsons are internationally recognized. When you look at Orlando, Harry Potter, of course, comes to mind. It’s the top film franchise in many marketplaces and the “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter” will be in Hollywood in a few years as well, so we have that to look forward to.

What are your Universal Studios Hollywood tips?

I would encourage guests to look into all the different experiences that we have to offer. The VIP experience is the crème de la crème experience. It allows guests to enjoy a hassle-free experience. They have their own guide for the day, they don’t wait in any of the lines for the rides, shows or attractions, and they actually go into the film prop warehouses, the studio sets, the editing bays and really get a sense of how movie magic comes alive. We also have a product called the Front of Line Pass that is available for guests to come into the park and go on each attraction one time without waiting in line, which is a wonderful way to see the park in a hassle-free way. And for families that are coming in from out of town in the summertime, we have pretty long lines so it makes for a nice stress-free day.

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