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Universal Studios' Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit coaster finally opens to guests – Video and Photos

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Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit

After months of delays and a brief employee test phase, the Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit roller coaster at Universal Studios opened to park guests on August 15, 2009 at a few minutes before 6 p.m.

img_2964Around 30 minutes prior to the new ride’s opening, guests (including myself) began to line up outside construction walls hoping that we would have a chance to ride. After around 50 guests formed a line, Universal employees began asking the crowd to step toward the concert stage in an effort to keep the line under control. They did not disband the group, so all were hopeful that we would indeed get to ride.

At around 5:45 p.m., a brief drizzle prompted Universal employees to go ahead and open the gates, allowing 10-15 guests in at a time, to avoid a stampede. I was within the first 30-40 guests to be let in. After a brief trip to the lockers to put away my wallet, cell phone, and other loose items, it was time to head through the queue and up the nearby stairs for the first time and board the Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit roller coaster.

Before I give you my thoughts on the ride, watch the two videos below. One is an unedited point-of-view (POV) video that I shot while riding. The other is video of the coaster going up the lift hill and around the track, edited together with bits of the POV video. I personally prefer my edited version, as it gives you a better feel for what the ride is all about, but I’ve included the unedited version because I know many of you reading this want to see it as well…

Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit  including POV and ground-level shots:

Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit at Universal Studios Now Open

Full POV ride on the Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit:

Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit at Universal Studios POV full ride

So how was it? As I tweeted earlier right when I got off the ride, it wasn’t as good as SeaWorld’s new Manta coaster but it was still fun.

dsc01928The Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit is a unique breed of roller coaster. It is definitely not intended to be the fastest or most thrilling. If it tried to be either of those things, it failed. What it does succeed in doing is making a large-scale roller coaster available to the average park guest. As long as you are 52″ or taller, you can handle the Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit coaster.

The coaster features no inversions, so those afraid of being turned upside down can set their worries aside. The only big drop comes at the beginning after ascending the 90-degree lift hill (which is the coolest part of the ride, in my opinion). There is also very little “air time” (when your rear-end leaves the seat) as there aren’t any large hills and the restraint holds you in very tightly. In fact, all in all, the ride is fairly tame – perhaps on a thrill level just above Big Thunder Mountain at Disney’s Magic Kingdom one or two notches below Expedition Everest at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

But just because Rip Ride Rockit isn’t thrilling doesn’t mean it’s a bad ride. In fact, it was the ride designers’ intentions to create a roller coaster that can be enjoyed by more than thrill-seekers.

Visually, the ride is a lot of fun. Riders twist and turn through and around the buildings of Universal Studios, which gives the ride a unique flair. There are certainly a lot of turns throughout the ride, none particularly tight.

The real gem is the sound system, which allows you to select the song you’d like to listen to while riding. For my first ride, I really wanted to choose “U Can’t Touch This” by M.C. Hammer, but I couldn’t find it in the list (even though I know it’s there somewhere) so I went with “Sabotage” by the Beastie Boys, which worked out great. The music really enhanced the fairly easy-going ride and sounded great pumping through the speakers. I didn’t hear anyone else’s music while riding.

Two of the other technological additions to the coaster didn’t excite me as much. I thought the flashing lights on the sides of the coaster cars just looked silly during the day. I haven’t seen them in action at night yet, so perhaps at that time they’ll remind me less of those mall kiosks that let you decorate your cell phone with blinking LEDs. The much-discussed moving load platform was not moving today and each car took anywhere from two to five minutes to load and dispatch. Today was, of course, a technical rehearsal so I’m sure they’ll have all that worked out by the time the ride officially opens – whenever that is.

All in all, for the average guests at Universal Studios looking to enjoy themselves on a fun ride, the Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit is sure to entertain and will likely have you coming away smiling and laughing. Thrill-seekers, however, may want to head to Islands of Adventure for the Incredible Hulk coaster or hop on over to SeaWorld and ride Manta instead. Personally, I look forward to heading back and riding it at night. I’m willing to bet it’s a completely different, and better, experience.

Today’s soft opening was not guaranteed nor are any more in the coming days and weeks. The ride may open again tomorrow, but it may not, so if you head to Universal Studios expecting to ride, don’t be disappointed if it’s not running. No official opening date has been set.

Here are a few more photos:

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37 comments

Mark August 16, 2009 - 6:40 am

I really can’t wait to ride this ride….I am going to Universal today and just hope that the lines are crazy..Yeah Right…LOL

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Peggy Macdonald August 16, 2009 - 1:30 pm

This is the best coverage of the delayed opening of the ride to date. Thanks for all the great photos, video, and descriptions of the ride.

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Pete C August 16, 2009 - 3:38 pm

I totally disagree with this review. This ride is NOT barely more thrilling than Big Thunder. This ride would terrify some riders that could easily take on BTMRR. What on Earth are you thinking saying that?? I have been on my fair share of rollercoasters…150+ around the world, and have had the privilege of going on almost all of the best ones. That said, Rockit is in the upper tier of thrill rides. I think this review is grossly under-representing the ride’s thrill level. It is well above anything at Disney World from an intensity level perspective. I would say that only Hulk and Kraken are on this level…certainly not the meandering Manta. While this is clearly not on the level of El Toro or Superman Ride of Steel at SNFE, and it will probably not be re-arranging top 10 lists either, this is definitely a top-notch thrill ride that will satisfy all coaster enthusiasts.

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Ricky August 16, 2009 - 3:47 pm

I disagree with your disagreement. 🙂 I wouldn’t say Rip Ride Rockit comes anywhere near the thrill level of the Incredible Hulk. But maybe your definition of a thrill is different than mine. Or maybe it depends on what seat/row you’re in.

For me, seated in the third row, right seat, I felt no air time and only occasional gentle G-forces. Perhaps for me, thrill is defined by inversions and that’s why my review came off as it did.

While I didn’t find RRR to be boring, I didn’t come off thinking “I have to ride that again!” like I did with Manta and always do with the Incredible Hulk. It simply seemed less intense. Again, maybe it’s just the lack of inversions.

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Steve August 16, 2009 - 6:02 pm

I have to agree with Ricky. I sat in the same seat (apparently it is a “Big Boy” seat as I had to move there from the first row. I found the train quite shaky, not as smooth as it looks from the ground. I think there is some potential for air, but being a “big boy”, the restraint was quite snug.

Rockit is no where close to the Hulk, Manta or Kraken.

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Greg August 16, 2009 - 10:56 pm

Did anyone else who rode it feel as though the experience was diminished due to the amount of block brakes?

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Pete C August 16, 2009 - 11:40 pm

Yes, the number of block brakes definitely detracted…it ruins a lot of the continuity of the ride. The ride could have been designed better to keep the momentum going.

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Ric August 17, 2009 - 3:55 am

There was no mention in your review of the cameras placed along the ride to capture your experience ? Were there cameras in the console where you choose your music or are the cameras merely placed along the track to capture your car as it zooms by ?

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Ricky August 17, 2009 - 12:14 pm

I did notice several cameras along the track while riding as well as one mounted in the seat ahead. The touch screen is small (around the same size as an iPhone screen) and mounted on the lap bar.

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Ricky August 17, 2009 - 2:42 pm

After further consideration, I updated my review above to compare Rip Ride Rockit’s thrill level to Disney’s Expedition Everest. As Pete noted above, Big Thunder is likely a poor comparison. Expedition Everest may be a bit more thrilling than RRR though, especially during Everest’s backwards section.

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Matt August 19, 2009 - 6:28 pm

I was able to ride it today and sat in the front row. I loved the ride. I did catch quite a bit of air at a couple of points. Maybe it was because I was in the front row. The G’s were really strong for me during the treble clef part of the track.
I like the music, the big drop and the long track. Although I think I would have preferred the loop to go upside down. For me the music adds a lot to it. I think this coaster will be one of my favorites.
I didn’t yet ride in one of the back seats and I haven’t tried it at night yet.

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Ricky August 19, 2009 - 6:39 pm

For me, the loop is a waste without going upside down. Once you pass over the queue, the ride kinda of fizzles out. The rest seems like extra track just to slow you down.

I’ll have to try it in the front row next time. It sounds a lot more fun than the third.

Personally, I’d prefer a scored soundtrack (even with various genres you can choose from) to the popular songs. I’d love to see them add that option later for those who want the songs to coincide with the movements along the track.

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Noah August 20, 2009 - 10:51 am

Unfortunately for Rockit, the designers decided that the coaster had to fit inside the measely acreage of USF. Should the lift hill and first drop be higher and more intense? Probably. Do the block brakes jar the continuity of the ride? Yeah, a bit.

This aside, the first half of the Rockit experience thrilled in its own unique way. My car’s “ipod” didn’t work, but thankfully it was jamming to ZZTop, which makes me realize how much other rides could benefit from a soundtrack. What if Dueling Dragons rocked out to “Gladiator?” But I digress.

Rockit fits well inside the family theme park scene and really shows off Universal’s ability to combine technical elements to create a “show” rather than a brief adrenaline rush. My greatest criticism actually had nothing to do with the ride – would they PLEASE change the half-Asian dude in the queue video? He belongs in a 70s version of Project Runway.

*PS – Do your research on the hidden tracks and how to access them. The fact that you can “rockit” to Kermit’s “Rainbow Connection” just tickles to no awkward end.

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Jake August 21, 2009 - 10:27 am

im so mad……i was ther on vacation and we left just a week before it opened!!

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Jordan August 21, 2009 - 9:52 pm

I agree with Ricky. This is a terrible review of this long anticipated ride. Everyone knows that the Attraction magazine centers around Disney World and Seaworld. I too have been on a lot of roller coasters in my time, and I know that Big thunder Mountain doesn’t even compare to this one. All in all Rip Ride Rockit is a superb roller coaster that thrill seekers, coaster enthusiasts, and people of all ages can enjoy.

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Ricky August 21, 2009 - 10:13 pm

Jordan – I think you meant to say you agree with someone else. I’m the one who wrote the review! 🙂

And for the record, Orlando Attractions Magazine doesn’t center around Walt Disney World or SeaWorld. We center around whatever is happening at the time. If nothing new is going on at Universal for a few months, then it won’t have a big presence in the issue released during that time.

In our upcoming Fall 2009 issue, we will be including articles on Rip Ride Rockit and Halloween Horror Nights. Last year, we devoted 9 pages of one issue to Halloween Horror Nights and over the past 10 issues have published numerous stories on Universal Studios including The Simpsons Ride, Hard Rock Hotel, Royal Pacific Hotel, Disaster, Emeril’s Tchoup Chop, Blue Man Group, and many more.

Yes, we do cover Disney very often – but that’s because there’s almost always something going on there. They have a much larger presence in Orlando than any other attraction or theme park company. But when there is something to cover at Universal Studios, we’re there.

The review above was my own personal opinion of Rip Ride Rockit based on riding it once in the third row. I plan on riding it many more times and if my opinion changes after being in a different seat, I will certainly post about it. And you’re right that Big Thunder may not have been a fair comparison, which is why I edited the post above to compare it to Expedition Everest instead.

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alllllly September 4, 2009 - 7:49 pm

im going to get on in a few days and i know its going to be amazing because it looks awesome. so i dont care what some of you guys say because i know i will love it

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John Tuer September 8, 2009 - 4:26 pm

we were over from England and the music system made it cool and unique. Got to say that we found the Krakken a much better coaster (including Manta and Hulk). Found Busch gardens to be a gem for lots of coasters.

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Georgie G October 11, 2009 - 12:51 pm

Just arrived back to the UK from Orlando.
Unfortunatley wasn’t that impressed with the Rip Ride Rocket. It’s a REALLY solid ride Front and Back, felt more like an old wooden coaster than a new one.
On the up side the music was great a good selection for everyone, a good distraction from the pain.

We purchased the Ride DVD, we thought it would make a good souvenir. DON’T PURCHASE THE DVD!!!! It cost us $31.90 and when we got home and watched it, we only feature in it for about 10 seconds! A complete rip off! It states everywhere that your captured on video during the ride, this is obvioulsy not true.
Enjoy the ride, but DO NOT buy the DVD!

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Bradley November 21, 2009 - 5:28 pm

I would say this looks much more thrilling than thunder mountain railroad. ive ridden hulk and dueling dragons and all those big coasters and im kinda nerved up about this one. im going in february and i nerved up about it now. it does look pretty thrilling dont let what ppl say fool you. its always a heck of a lot bigger and faster once ur on it.

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Kai December 15, 2009 - 3:00 pm

I have to disagree that this ride is just above BTMR and just under Everest. BTMR was something i couldn’t wait to go on, Everest I was nervous about, but enjoyed it, and this? Well I’m terrified! (I still want to go though). To me, thrill isn’t defined by just going upside down. I’m afraid of heights so naturally the feeling of falling scares me. That means coasters with steep drops are terrifying (to me). Going straight up also makes me extremely nervous lol. Going backwards isn’t thrilling to me, its fun, but nothing scared me at all about going backwards. This ride is WAY more terrifying to me than Everest was.

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Ricky December 15, 2009 - 7:16 pm

I still think Everest is more thrilling than Rip Ride Rockit. Aside from the first big drop and the one tight turn around/through the former Ghostbusters building, the ride is pretty simple. Everest’s backwards movement in the dark, the big drop after the shadow scene, and the tight turns that follow are all much more thrilling to me.

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sally June 13, 2010 - 1:15 pm

Visiting from Australia and rode it yesterday and I must say I was really disapointed. I am such a fan of coasters and was really looking forward to the new angle they were puttting on it. I actually found it torture, the first lift was fun because of the angle and going into the first hill was pretty good and then the banging started. I felt so shaken up I found myself closing my eyes and willing for it to end. I didnt mind the music, i thought it was a nice touch but the way the coaster bashed me around was awful. I found myself running for the painkillers as soon as I got off. I have never had a problem with roughness, even old woodies notorious for shaking people up but this coaster got to me. Is it just me? Did anyone else have this experience?

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David Dunaway August 8, 2010 - 1:50 pm

I have to say that the safety features make this ride awful. I am not an overweight person ,but the bar that holds you in the ride is torture. The ride actually stopped and I was stuck on the ride. The bar is so tight and feels as though it is crushing you when ever you breathe. I was stuck for twenty minutes and I almost flipped out. When they finally pulled us in; the staff act as though nothing had happened. No one apologized, and no body asked if everyone was okay. I will never ride this again. This is the worst ride ever. Not to mention that beats the living crap out of your ribs. I had bruises, and felt like I had been in a fight.

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Gruff Dan October 31, 2010 - 2:31 pm

I may be spoiled living in Ohio where we have King’s Island and Cedar Point, but I was raised in central Florida and have been to Universal 3 times before i moved 20 years ago. Ive always enjoyed my time at the Studios. This ride is poor, its was head shaking, bone jarring and no air time from what i could feel. They rush you on the trains so fast you barely have time to pick music. The diamondback at KI has way more air time, much smoother and all this without going upside down.

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Enrique Suarez January 24, 2011 - 5:50 pm

This ride is so awesome, the people who are scared of this ride, shouldn’t be scared because it’s the funnest thing ever. When I went on this ride I was so excited, and I thought this ride was gonna be different, but it was totally different, instead of it being really boring it was the funnest ride I’ve been on, and trust me I’ve been on a lot of rides. Have FUN!! 🙂

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Sabrina Reyna January 24, 2011 - 5:53 pm

I’ve never been on this ride and I’m really scared to go on it. O_o

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Ed February 27, 2011 - 7:33 pm

They should have Elvis’ “All Shook Up” as one of the song selections. My girlfriend and I completely agree with Sally (June 13, 2010). We are both avid roller coaster riders, and we both agree that this is the worst coaster that we’ve ever been on, and that includes all the old wood-frame coasters and all the gas-propelled new generation coasters. We think it is simply unsafe.

The tremendous rattling started as soon as the first drop and didn’t let up until the end. We both had the same experience – heads banged around, necks hurting, backs unsupported. And to make matters worse, we were repeatedly pushed against the safety bar, which means our crotches were squashed against the vertical beam. We are both “no-handers” when we ride the other roller coasters, but for this ride we both clutched hard on the bar and prayed for it to end. I really believe this ride is a multi-million lawsuit waiting to happen.

In case you are wondering, we are not overweight or excedptionally tall or short, and we are not frail. My girlfriend is only 20 years old.

We have a feeling this may be isolated to a particular row or car. Each coaster has connected cars with three rows each. We rode on the last row of the first car but we didn’t see an identifying number for the two-car unit. We will continue to “chase” other new rollr coasters, but we will NEVER ride this one again. Be forewarned: ride at your own risk, and in our opinion the physical risk is very real. Good luck.

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Timothy February 21, 2012 - 4:09 pm

I completely agree with Sally and Ed. I love coasters, but this was just painful. My partner and both got off the ride, took one look at eachother each holding our poor abused noggins, and said out loud, “owww!” We were in a middle row. Any initial enjoyment of Rip Ride Rockit was completely jolted, jerked and banged out of us by the end – definitely will not ride again.

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Chad July 25, 2012 - 5:50 pm

I love the ride. It’s really fun especially at night with everything lit up, but let me forewarn everyone that wants to buy the video recording of themselves. DON’T! It’s a complete rip off. It’s 7 minutes with a total of about 20 seconds of your actual footage. It’s a complete waste of money. The rest of the video is a “music video” of your song choice from the ride and a bunch of awful montages of the ride.

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Matt Roseboom July 31, 2012 - 1:18 pm

Chad, You’ll be happy to know that they are working on redoing the video this summer to add more on-ride time in the video.

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Mikal October 25, 2012 - 5:19 pm

Lol. I think that everyone here just needs to take a chill pill and go to Harry Potter world:) IT IS SO AWESOME!!!!

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Mikal October 25, 2012 - 5:25 pm

And it is my Bday in 40 mins:)) I went on holiday with my family and that was only like 2 or 3 months ago, luckily in England, I think English people’s summer ends later than American people’s summer so the lines weren’t long at all!:) Anyway, the RockIt is an ok ride but could do with ALOT of improvement! I personally enjoy the Dragon Challenge the most or as it was called before the Harry Potter world was made- The Dueling Dragons.

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Mikal October 25, 2012 - 5:26 pm

Wait there…??
5:25 posted at…
Oh it is probably in USA time:))

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BLAHBLAH January 5, 2013 - 4:38 pm

I am in love with this ride. When I found out I was going to UNiversal in Dec. I was scared to go on it. But I watched it in person & it didn’t look that bad. it was great!!! Good for thrillseakers & stuff umm… Expedition Everest isn’t as bad as this.

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akwell June 15, 2013 - 8:30 am

chill dude

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