Here's how I describe it in the new edition of my Universal Orlando guide:
Men In Black: Alien Attack
Rating: * * * *
Type: Interactive ride with laser weapons
Time: 4 minutes
Kelly says: This one gets addictive
Men In Black, the ride, i s a bit like stepping inside one of those video arcade games, with the element of competition thrown in just to make things interesting. The experience begins when you visit Ã¢ÂÂThe Universe and YouÃ¢ÂÂ a science exhibit left over from the New York WorldÃ¢ÂÂs Fair of 1964. Soon you discover that itÃ¢ÂÂs just a cover to enable you to apply for admission to the elite corps of MIB. You are not alone and the wait can get lengthy. Fortunately, snaking your way through the MIB building is an entertaining experience and dev otees of the film will find much familiar here. A lengthy and amusing orientation film featuring Rip Torn and Will Smith is worth watching in full even when thereÃ¢ÂÂs no line. Farther along, a training film starring two amusingly retro cartoon characters, D oofus and Do-Right, provides safety instructions for the testing vehicles that await you.
Tip: If you are by yourself or donÃ¢ÂÂt mind having your party split up, look for the Single Riders Line. It is invariably much shorter than the main line and a real t ime saver. Or use the kiosk outside to reserve a ride time.
Eventually, you are assigned to a vehicle with five other recruits. At each seat is a laser gun and a personal scoreboard that keeps track of hits. You are cruising through a target range, testin g your marksmanship, when an urgent bulletin announces that a Prison Transport full of nasty space bugs has crashed landed in the middle of Manhattan. At once, you are reassigned to a dangerous but exciting mission. You and another team are dispatched, si de by side, to do battle with the aliens through the dark and gritty streets of New York.
What follows is a few minutes of chaotic fun. Aliens in every imaginable buggy shape pop up from garbage cans and taxi hoods, from around corners and in shop window s. ItÃ¢ÂÂs a super-sized sci-fi version of those old shooting galleries down at the boardwalk. Your job is to zap them before they zap you. When the bugs score a hit, your vehicle is sent into a tailspin. At one point, you discover that aliens have infiltrated the vehicle of the other team and you must fire at your own comrades. (Tip: Aim for the Fusion Exhaust Port which is at the back of the vehicle, above the head of the rider in the middle seat.)
Then your MIB trainer (Will Smith from the movie) appears on a giant screen to warn you that a particularly nasty bug is bearing down on you. I donÃ¢ÂÂt want to give too much away but suffice it to say that itÃ¢ÂÂs big enough to swallow two MIB training vehicles. Gulp!
The vehicles are not simulators but they do allow for sudden swoops and 360-degree spins, which are both thrilling and discombobulating. And while the two vehicles depart at the same time and cruise along side by side for most of the ride, their progress can be affected by the direct hits scored by the aliens. As the battle progresses, every rider builds an individual score based on their success in targeting the enemy (you will see the tiny red dots of the laser guns dancing on the alien targets); the individual scores contribute to the overall team sc ore. There is a sneaky way to significantly increase your score that IÃ¢ÂÂll let you discover on your own.
At rideÃ¢ÂÂs end, both vehicles are once again cruising side by side as Will Smith appears on another screen to announce which team came out ahead. The co mbined scores of each vehicle are posted for all to see. Then, Smith breaks the news on how your team did: Galaxy Defender, Cosmically Average, or Bug Bait.
In a final clever touch Smith uses his neuralizer to erase your memory of the whole experience an d you emerge to discover that you have just completed your visit to Ã¢ÂÂThe Universe and You,Ã¢ÂÂ which turns out to be about the possibility of life in outer space. Ã¢ÂÂAre we alone?Ã¢ÂÂ the sign asks. Ã¢ÂÂOf course we are,Ã¢ÂÂ is the reassuring answer.
MIB is a lot of fun and itÃ¢ÂÂs hard to imagine anyone having serious complaints. Kids who are video game addicts will probably want to ride again and again to improve their scores. Obviously there is at least some skill involved in wielding the laser guns because individual scores in a vehicle can vary by as much as several hundred thousand points. On the other hand, the experience is so chaotic that it is hard to know how well you are doing or get the kind of visual feedback that would help you fine tune your aim.
The best seats in the house. Riders on the outside of the vehicles (i.e. in the seats that are the farthest from the loading platform) tend to score higher than those in other seats. My guess is that this is because they are closer to the targets and get to see them first. The hyper-competitive among you may want to take note of this.
On the way out, you can pause to purchase a photo of your laser-gun wielding team in the training vehicle. The cost is $12, $16, or $26 depending on the size. Even if you donÃ¢ÂÂt want to buy, you may want to check the photos (displayed on TV monitors) because they show the individual score of each rider Ã¢ÂÂ a great way to claim bragging rights.
Hope this helps.
Author of "Universal Orlando: The Ultimate Guide to the Ultimate Theme Park Adventure" and
"The Other Orlando: What To Do When You've Done Disney & Universal""