I think we can all agree that the most exciting thing to do when going on a theme park vacation is the new stuff – or at least the stuff that is new to you. On my recent visit to Orlando, I was absolutely blown away by my first experience at Universal Orlando’s The Bourne Stuntacular.
The “Bourne” franchise isn’t one that I particularly care about. In fact, I’ve never even seen a single one of the films. But me being a theme park fan, I obviously had to check it out.
Although I had heard great things (while avoiding spoilers) before my visit, I was going into it cautiously optimistic. Part of this is because I was such a big fan of “Terminator 2: 3D,” which was previously housed inside Bourne’s current show building. Interestingly enough, “T2-3D” was another attraction I loved based on a franchise I didn’t care much about. Favorite attractions being replaced by new ones is often part of the theme park experience, but it’s potentially disappointing if the new attraction doesn’t live up to or surpass a previous favorite.
Luckily for me, The Bourne Stuntacular certainly didn’t disappoint. This is a stunt show unlike any you’ve seen before. It is a beautiful blend of live stunt work and technology. I kept hearing about this beautiful, 3,640-square-foot LED screen used in the presentation, but I kept thinking how “beautiful” could an LED screen really be? Well, it’s beautiful, gorgeous in fact, and a very necessary part of this show. It is huge, expensive I’m sure, and truly allows this stunt show to be a blend of both live theater and cinema.
Aside from the crystal-clear picture the screen produces, the greatest thing about it is the sense of motion we get. Since the screen is so large, when the picture’s angle changes or has a sense of motion, it feels as though the entire auditorium is moving. This effect is made even more believable by the fact that the set pieces that are physically onstage are timed perfectly with the movement onscreen. It’s not an exaggeration to say that it’s very difficult to tell the difference between what’s onscreen and what’s physically in the room. The same can be said for the actors appearing on stage versus the characters onscreen. It’s an impressive feat done to perfection.
It is so impressive, in fact, that something unexpected happened to me. I’ll admit it” I actually got emotional watching The Bourne Stuntacular. Getting chills through my body and being extremely excited by extraordinary theme park work isn’t uncommon for me, especially when experiencing something for the first time. But to have a show or ride bring me to tears is much more rare. As I sat in the auditorium, I was simply overwhelmed by the scale of the show, the beautiful blending of stagecraft and technology – plus I’m really missing live theater in this time when it’s pretty much non-existent.
If I had to be critical about one thing, although I felt the overall production was phenomenal, the actual stunts were a bit lacking. This may have been because there was so much going on with the screen, set pieces and even car chases, but the actual physical stunts performed by the performers felt scaled back compared to other theme park stunt shows. The physical stunts we did see were all done well by the performers, but the scale of the whole show may have overpowered their performances.
Overall, The Bourne Stuntacular did exactly what I want to see in a new theme park attraction. It used the latest technology in a way that audiences hadn’t seen before. As much as I loved this show, I’m not saying that I want to see this technology used for every stunt show in the future. I do believe that the tech has the potential to overshadow the actual stunts, but it is a spectacular piece of (mostly) live entertainment.
It is now a must-do for every visit to Universal Studios Florida. Even if you’re not into this franchise or action movies in general, you must check it out. Few people like action flicks less than I do, but this stunt show is truly something special.
Have you had a chance to check out The Bourne Stuntacular? If so, were you as impressed as I was?
If you have any theme park topics you would like to hear my opinion on, let me know in the comments. You might just see it pop up in a future DePaoli on DeParks.
Jeff DePaoli is a producer and voiceover artist living in Los Angeles. He can be heard as the voice of Disney Trivia on Alexa as well as the host of “Dizney Coast to Coast,” the ultimate, unofficial Disney fan podcast. Get your FREE gifts of “America’s Hidden Mickeys,” “On the Rohde Again,” “Theme Park Comfort Kit” and more at DizneyCoastToCoast.com.