Hollywood Rip, Ride, Rockit opens

August 16, 2009

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The following two articles appeared in the Winter 2010 RollerCoaster! magazine.

Article #1

After months of unplanned and unexpected delays, the much-anticipated Hollywood Rip, Ride, Rockit opened at Universal Studios Florida. You make your way through the queue where video monitors give you a chance to preview the songs available as the soundtrack for your coaster journey and animated characters provide the instructions for boarding the coaster and making your music selection. You climb the final stairs and see the trains surrounded with their flashing lights pulling into the station – you are pumped to get the party started.

You take your spot in one of the stadium-style seats, and as you pull the lap bar around you it is time to choose your tune. The music kicks in behind you and next thing you know you are facing skyward and heading up the vertical lift. The lights pulsing through the rings on the lift keep time with the adrenaline pumping in your system. Don’t forget to smile for the camera as you star in your own music video.

After descending the hill you tackle the “double take”, a non-inverting loop, and continue rolling down the road to the treble clef, a series of swooping curves. You turn around and rock back towards the front of the park through a series of unique elements. The first, nicknamed the "jump cut," is a unique element similar to a corkscrew, but without turning you upside-down. The second is the "crowd surfer," an overbanked turn that passes over portions of the queue line. You then enter a 540-degree helix nicknamed the "plot twist" which heads you back to the station. The music comes to an end as you complete your musical journey; time to check out your performance.

--Chris Kraftchick --Robin Wilson

Article #2

Recently 4 members of the of the Florida Region of the American Coaster Enthusiasts had the honor of interviewing Louis Alfieri, Creative Director for Universal Studios about Universal Orlando’s newest coaster Hollywood Rip, Ride Rockit:

Q: Why a coaster?
A: When the time came to consider an attraction addition it was determined that we were looking for something to "re-energize" this side of the park. I worked on Hollywood Dream in Japan and felt that the same concept could be push a lot further with additional music and interactivity. We also wanted to form an attraction with changeable content and lighting. The interactive lighting and video experience creates a very unique and customizable attraction. The coaster is an entirely different experience at night with the lighting.

Q: Which came first, elements or the musical names? Were there any elements that you would have liked to do that did not make it into the final design?
A: I sketched out the treble-clef first and shared his idea with Mauerer Sohne who were very open to making it work. We would have liked to have taken the coaster underground but that is difficult in Florida and did not make it into the design.

Q: Was the location decided from the start or were other sites considered?
A: The intention was to do something very similar to Hollywood Dream and the original concept was always the intent to have the ride travel out to Citywalk and back to New York Street. The music plaza was also a part of the original concept and integrated with the coaster design from the start. I wanted to keep it out in the open as much as possible for interactivity but constraints on access for maintenance prohibited some of that goal.

Q: What was the process for securing the music for the ride?
A: It was very tough to negotiate and secure the music rights for the official tracks on the ride now. In some cases there was up to 40 clearances (contracts) that needed to be obtained in order to secure the rights to 1 song.

Q: Were the bonus tracks intentional?
A: What bonus tracks? [a sly smile from Louis] A lot of things on the ride are intentional that people are not yet aware of, as we have built a lot of discovery and flexibility into the experience

Q: Have the artists ridden?
A: Some have and some have not. As far as I know there have not been any bands or artists officially out but I believe some have just come as guests to the park to experience it.

Q: How did you choose/decide how to fit the songs to the ride?
A: We did not change the linear progression of any song so all of the artist’s songs are unchanged from the original version. We just tried to time the cut into the song such that it would result in the best ride experience, generally the high point being as you roll over the top of the lift.

Q: Were there any bands you wanted and did not or could not get?
A: Yes. [No further specifics]. In attempting to secure some music the number of clearances that might have been needed were just too overwhelming. As I mentioned before, each song now has about 40 clearances tied to it - Band, publisher, writer, record company etc. and some would have needed upwards of 140 or 150 clearances.

Q: Were there any bands that you were surprised you got?
A: I felt it was remarkable that Kanye West was one of the first to sign. Other bands that were quick to sign on were Crystal Method and the Black-Eyed Peas. ZZ Top all but mandated that they wanted to be a part of the attraction.

Q: Is there anything you would have changed?
A: I wish that we could keep the ride open later at night so there would be more opportunity for people to experience the attraction at night since it is such a different experience.

Q: Can you comment on any operational issues early on with the attraction?
A: Any time that push the envelope there are issues to work through and we continue to refine and improve the attraction. There are different music video options and improvements that we continue to work to refine and change. The banner that goes along the side of the lift tower should be going up shortly and we continue to work toward the increasing ride capacity with the goal of a dispatch every 23 seconds using 7 trains. This places the attraction at the same guests per hour as Hulk and our other top tier attractions. That was one of our design requirements.

Q: What is the reason for the white stripes along the track?
A: Mauerer Sohne states that it improves the ride experience.

Q: Was it always an original design requirement to not have inversions?
A: It was a design requirement from the start to not have any inversions and we also wanted to stay away from shoulder harnesses for comfort. It was Mauerer Sohne who brought the idea for the non-inverting loop to the design as they had the element as one on their drawing board.

Q: We find it amazing that you do not hear any one else’s music while experiencing the ride but can still hear your own selection just fine. How was this tested?
A: We tested the sound levels and sound “bleed” by strapping a prototype train onto a flat bed truck and driving up and down the interstate. From there we were able to adjust the speakers placement and volume levels accordingly based on what our technicians observed.

Q: What else have you worked on for Universal?
A: Hollywood Dream, Doombots (sculpted them for Dr. Doom), Sinbad show, and currently working on the new Transformers attraction.

--Chris Kraftchick, Regional Rep, FL
--David Fake, Asst Regional Rep, FL
--Jeff Peterson
--Ali Kee