Merging the thrill of a roller coaster with the emotional rush of rock music is brilliant. The combination can provide a powerful adrenaline rush. This is the concept behind Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit, Universal’s roller coaster that shakes, rattles, and rolls.
The coaster allows each rider to choose a soundtrack for the duration of the ride. Music choices can be made from a selection of country, rap/hip hop, club/electronica, pop/disco, and classic rock/heavy metal songs. Once selected, each rider will hear the song they picked through a set of speakers embedded near their head. Then as the music plays, the rider experiences a 3,800 ft. track of non-inverted loops, sharp turns, steep drops, and speeds up to 65 mph.
I recently experienced this attraction with all three of my children. Each had a slightly different opinion of the ride. Between the four of us, there is a span of nearly three decades in age as well as a wide spectrum of personalities. This is our family’s take on one of Universal’s most intimidating attractions.
Elle is 10-years-old and a bit of a daredevil. Very little frightens her. In fact, she takes pride in her ability to venture where others turn away. Elle couldn’t wait to jump on board Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit. The sight of the nearly vertical drop had her excited from the start.
Once in her seat, she dropped the lap bar and picked her song immediately. Then, she settled in for the initial climb with a smile on her face. She laughed and squealed for the rest of the experience. “It’s very fast, and it’s really high. When you go down it feels like you are flying. It gives you butterflies in your stomach,” she explained.
The non-inverted loops were her favorite part of the roller coaster, and Elle wanted to get back on that track. However, she did give a word of caution to younger kids and those slightly fearful of roller coasters. “I think that [people] shouldn’t ride this ride if they don’t want to get scared to death.”
Miller is 13-years-old and takes most things in stride. He doesn’t seek out thrills, but he doesn’t run from them either. His strength is being able to “bend in the wind” in most situations. That was clearly the case in this instance. Miller wasn’t thrilled about getting on Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit, but he didn’t fuss when presented with the challenge. He seemed to board with a bit of trepidation, and yet he remained open to the idea that it could be fun.
After the experience, he described the ride: “In the beginning…you go straight up. Then, you go down a steep drop. The rest of it is complicated, but it is pretty fun….” He felt the loops, sharp turns, and smaller drops were tame in comparison with the initial plunge, and he really liked being able to pick the music he listened to while on the ride.
When asked if he would ride again, Miller took a moment to really consider his answer. With uncertainty he finally conceded, “I probably would if I felt pressured into it.” However, he admitted that the intensity of the ride kept him from wanting to repeat the experience any time soon.
Margeaux is 15 years old and is timid about attractions that tend to frighten. In general, she despises rides that drop you or place you in the middle of a harrowing situation. While she can appreciate a thrill or horror story, actually experiencing one is not something for which she volunteers. Not only did she not volunteer for Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit but it also required a bit of bribery to get her to board.
Margeaux remained calm throughout her time in line. I allowed her to bring a friend to the park in order to make this a more friendly experience for all involved. However, once she and her friend were strapped into their seats and the car ascended the vertical lift, Margeaux’s demeanor changed from peaceful to utterly stressed.
Margeaux enjoyed the opportunity to listen to music, but that is where all enjoyment ended for her. She hated the speed, the corkscrews, the non-inverted loops, and she absolutely despised the drop at the beginning of the ride. For her, the entire experience was about gritting teeth through a miserable experience. When asked if she would repeat the roller coaster she quickly remarked, “No. I didn’t like the dips, and I hurt my neck and shoulders from all of the jerking.”
I am the mom of this brood and a thrill seeker at heart. Scary things, fast things, and “bragging rights” have always appealed to me. Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit fell into all of these categories, so I was incredibly eager to ride. The entire time I was in the queue, I carefully considered my music choices so that the “perfect” song could be selected. I also tried to keep the energy of our group up with chatty conversation and multiple pep talks. Neither was easily accomplished, but we all finally boarded the coaster ready to rock after an hour-long wait.
The ride, itself, was fantastic. My heart was pumping as soon as my seat leaned back to begin the 90-degree incline. What followed was a minute and a half of pure bliss for an adrenaline junkie. It was fast. It was intense. Ironically, it was also relaxing in parts due to the music. All good things must come to an end, though, and they ended abruptly once I got off the ride and checked on the others in my group.
Elle was still on an adrenaline high, chatting continuously. Miller looked shaken, but he still wore a smile on his face. On the other end of the spectrum, Margeaux looked slightly terrorized. When anyone spoke to her, her willingness to engage was minimal. She was partly stunned, partly upset, and partly resentful. It seemed obvious that she regretted succumbing to the pressure of riding with us, and I slightly regretted applying that pressure.
Other than being saddled with “mom guilt,” Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit was a “do not miss” for me. In my limited experience, there are few roller coasters that can pack a punch with so little space and time the way that this one did. If you are a thrill seeker and you aren’t held back by the hesitation of others in your party, you absolutely have to experience what this coaster brings to the game.