Dark rides have come a long way since their creation, and the shooting dark ride is one of the most successful evolutions of the concept. Now, Universal Orlando has created a new twist, a shooting dark ride where there is no ride vehicle, you are the ride vehicle. On the brand new Villain-Con: Minion Blast, which uses a new moving-walkway type technology, you’ll stand on a spot as the walkway turns through different rooms, and your goal is to destroy everything you see with your E-Liminator X blaster. I got a chance to check out the attraction during the technical rehearsal period, and these are my initial thoughts. Because the attraction is in rehearsals, I won’t be able to post pictures from inside, but I did take photos of the outdoor queue and of the new Minion Land.
As you enter the queue, there are banners advertising the Villain-Con expo, the biggest gathering of supervillains in the Despicable Me universe. The outdoor queue is pretty lightly themed, but there are entertaining videos that play around the stanchions. I would not want to wait in this outdoor queue on a hot day where the switchbacks are full, because it is directly in the sun with minimal shade and back-to-back switchbacks. However, the indoor portion is much better, and looks like an actual convention floor. There are exhibits displaying all the villainous technology, like evil fashion accessories and super powered vehicles.
Once you make your way to the loading platform, there is a moving wall of blasters on a conveyor belt, and each rider will take one of the wireless guns. The guns are pretty heavy, and some younger guests may have a hard time holding them for the whole ride, but for adults it shouldn’t be an issue. Next, you are instructed to stand on a colored dot on the walkway as you step onto the belt and enter the first room on the attraction.
This is where my biggest issue with the ride came to light, there were no instructions, so I had no idea what to shoot at. The rooms consist of multiple large screens, and everyone blasts at the same screen. You’ll get a target marker that is assigned to your blaster, so you can see where you’re shooting, but I also got that lost sometimes.
The shooting mechanics do work very well, the blaster was responsive and didn’t lag at all. However, the problem remained that I wasn’t sure what the goal of the attraction was, so I ended up just shooting everything, which I think is the point of the ride, but I think there should be a short pre show explaining this. Each room is fun and different, with a different set of virtual props to destroy. One room in particular is very entertaining and will have Universal fans very excited. I do wish there were more physical props, but with the nature of the ride being total destruction, that would’ve been hard to pull off.
While not active yet, the ride will also have an interactive component that works with the Universal app, where you can customize your blaster and power ups, and see the leaderboard of everyone’s scores. This is a great idea, and would definitely encourage me to keep visiting the attraction for a new experience every time. Overall, I think Villain-Con: Minion Blast is a very fun addition to Universal Orlando, and as a Despicable Me fan, I really enjoyed all the details that were in the attraction. I think it’s a great use of new technology, and with a few small tweaks before the ride officially opens, I think it could get even better.