In the initial article of this “A closer look at” series, I discussed how Universal and other theme park companies duplicate their attractions for a litany of reasons. I also mentioned how we’d be going through Universal Studios Hollywood’s attractions to see how they’d fare against their siblings across the world. I went into this not considering the order I would cover Universal’s roster of attractions, but a reader comment gave me inspiration to initially cover Revenge of the Mummy: The Ride – Hollywood’s first coaster.
Appropriate for a number of reasons, but most of all timely due to its likely closure in the coming months, Revenge of the Mummy is also rapidly approaching its birthday on both coasts.
Starting off, we should recognize what came before Universal’s first psychological thrill-ride. Interestingly, at the time Revenge of the Mummy opened on both coasts, they each replaced an existing Universal attraction that the other park still had running. Over at Universal Studios Hollywood, Revenge of the Mummy replaced the aging E.T. Adventure, while Universal Studios Florida saw the closure of King Kong-based spellcheck-nightmare Kongfrontation in favor of a rougher, more intense experience. Hollywood’s historic King Kong based experience on the Studio Tour also wouldn’t last for long as we bid farewell to Mr. Banana Breath during the backlot fire of 2008.
Of course, given how ET and Kong were two completely different rides with different buildings, the implementations for Revenge of the Mummy rides couldn’t have been more different.
Over in Hollywood, the creative team had to fit a dark ride and a coaster in a smaller space compared to the King (Kong)-sized space that Orlando had to work with. Both hit the same main beats, aiming to retell some form of the Fraser-starring Mummy movies in coaster form. In Hollywood, the story focuses around guests exploring the tomb of Imhotep and eventually entering his tomb of riches before being sent into the dark. In Orlando, there’s a much longer queue featuring a plethora of movie props, establishing the story of the original Mummy movie with guests touring a museum filled with artifacts. Florida’s iteration even features interviews with the cast, in character, in the queue and even at the conclusion of the ride, continuing the theme of production studio based attraction that goes awry. Finally, while Hollywood takes on a dark tone, you can find many instances of tongue-in-cheek humor in Orlando from the beginning to the exit.
I personally find that while humor is at the same level found in the Mummy series, it detracts from the ride itself, so I prefer the tone taken in Hollywood.
But past that, Orlando excels in nearly all other facets of ride experience. In the opening dark ride portion, Hollywood features a screen featuring Gad Hassan warning you of the impending danger as you slowly creep into a room featuring skeleton hands that reach out at you before reaching the treasure room. In Orlando, there’s an animatronic human struggling as an animatronic Imhotep curses him and park guests before entering the main treasure room.
Inside the room itself is what I believe to be the most striking change for the entire story of the ride.
Hollywood’s chant is “Serve me and savor the riches of eternal life and join us in eternal death” while highlighting the treasures in the room, switching to blue lighting as the ride vehicle chugs on. Orlando opts for a slightly different “Serve me and savor riches beyond measure, or refuse and savor a more bitter treasure” with more dramatic lighting and popup Mummy guards when he begins to say “refuse.”
This is key because Hollywood’s iteration fails to highlight the downside of refusal, opting instead to highlight that serving grants both eternal life and death, while Orlando’s Imhotep rhymes a threat about the options of serving or refusal. More specifically, this means that Hollywood assumes all its riders have chosen to serve Imhotep in both eternal life and eternal death whereas Orlando predicts that all of its guests chose to refuse, meaning that they must suffer the bitter treasure. I understand that the subtlety of such a distinction sounds minute and almost trivial, but considering how both rides were opened within a single month of each other, it’s fascinating that they have different story lines in both the queue and ride alongside the more physical differences.
It’s important to highlight this plot difference since one ride could easily have just been a stripped down clone of the other, especially with how closely they were built – time wise.
Moving past the queue, dark ride, and story portion, the coaster itself is also completely different between both coasts. While both Hollywood and Florida make use of a barely-lit indoor building, Orlando opts for much more extravagant effects, involving lighting fire to the ceiling, a fake ride exit and impressive use of lighting and fog. The Hollywood ending, now featuring a strobe light in lieu of the original projection and faux-fire effects, is often more confusing than intimidating and you can almost always hear at least one guest in the ride vehicle proclaiming “That’s it?” as the false wall rises to reveal the ending of the ride. Hollywood uses their backwards portion at a late portion in the ride, providing a shocking twist to what people have expected. Orlando, meanwhile, rotates guests early on to properly orient guests towards the launch while a projection crawls across the wall, squandering a chance to surprise guests.
One curious difference I noticed between coasts centers around ride operations. The dispatch team in Hollywood gives a thumbs up to indicate that the ride vehicles are ready for deployment. Orlando, on the other hand, favors team members putting on a grim face with their thumbs slowly rotating into the thumbs-down position – something that gets a giggle or sense of fear out of guests. It’s a small touch that I’m surprised hasn’t made its way to the west coast.
I won’t claim to understand the logistics behind some of these decisions, and know that budgets, timelines and feasibility changes as projects roll on. We have what we have and it’s important to recognize the work of both teams.
This isn’t to disparage either version as I still greatly enjoy them both, and judging the responses of our readers from our previous article discussing them, you do as well. This is simply to highlight how not everything is equal, even if similar in name. I’ve seen people skip rides at theme parks simply because they visited an iteration of the same attraction back home, not knowing that the experience they’re willingly choosing to miss out on is indeed different.
And we aren’t done yet, because there’s a third instance of this ride. Singapore has a version of their own based in Ancient Egypt, featuring Treasure Hunters (a tame ride for young guests), and a gift shop alongside Revenge of the Mummy. While primarily based on the Orlando version, there’s still yet another mix of changes with different animatronics, projections, scripts alongside a radically different queue. Unlike its Florida cousin, Singapore makes no pretenses about a faux movie set, and like Hollywood, the entire attraction fully engulfs you in ancient Egypt. As a result, this iteration of Revenge of the Mummy – featuring a full-fledged tomb as a queue – may be the most cohesive one yet. The only main issue? Lack of maintenance, which makes for an uneven ride experience.
That about wraps up the high level differences between the incarnations of Revenge of the Mummy. The next attraction I visit might be a might more primal. Let me know what you thought of this article, specifically about the level of detail I’ve covered here today in the comments below. While I want to cover how the attractions compare, I do also assume you, the reader, has a basic understanding of the attraction here and would additionally like a bit of surprise when possibly experiencing the attraction yourself in Florida and Singapore. Spoiling attractions is a whole other topic that’s worth visiting, though.