The government-funded and highly secretive alien immigration agency, MEN IN BLACK, has hidden its headquarters underneath a 1964 World’s Fair exhibit called “The Universe & You –Are We Alone?” As new recruits to the agency, guests are ushered past the exhibit and into a hidden entrance of the headquarters where they are taught about the undercover activity and regulation of aliens on our planet. “Agent training” follows with guests boarding vehicles that are equipped with laser guns and entering a room of cardboard alien targets. When a ship transporting alien prisoners crashes in New York City, training turns into an interplanetary firefight.
I recently rode this attraction with all three of my children. Each had similar notions about the ride in spite of our differing approaches to theme park attractions. 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 classic attractions – MEN IN BLACK Alien Attack.
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. Heading into a fast-paced, dark ride (where she would see odd creatures) thrilled her from the beginning.
Elle described the ride as “definitely dark” with “aliens in the garbage, playing checkers…and you are on a street, driving around and shooting all of them.” While there was a lot of excitement from the surprise alien attack, Elle’s favorite part was the climactic ending in which her cart was ingested by a giant, alien bug. She warned, “if you don’t like darkness or aliens, you probably shouldn’t go on this ride,” but she also admitted that you won’t be able to keep her away because it is one that she loves.
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. There was no bending required though. He was anxious to head in and take this challenge head-on.
Being a boy with a penchant for video games, MEN IN BLACK Alien Attack was completely in line with Miller’s tastes. He loved getting ambushed by the aliens and having to work together as a group to shoot them for a collective score. He also advised, “You better have good aim,” because if you don’t protect your vehicle from oncoming fire, your vehicle will spin forcefully and make it that much more difficult to rack up points.
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. However, MEN IN BLACK Alien Attack did not present a problem for her at all.
Margeaux summarized the passenger’s role as “the alien police” who “go in to get trained” for that job. She explained that while the vehicle does work together to gather a collective score, each passenger also earns an individual score by shooting the numerous galactic fugitives. Her favorite part of the ride happened to be outscoring everyone else (which she did with great ease). Her secret tip was, “No matter what they say, you are going to want to push the red button.”
Without hesitation Margeaux noted that she would be willing to repeat the ride, but she also cautioned, “Those that have difficulty with strobe lights, they need to be wary….[and] there is also some really crazy spinning.” Her overall impression, though, was that the attraction appealed to all ages.
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. As I have entered my fourth decade of life, though, my ability to handle certain thrills has diminished. I find myself more prone to nausea at times, and I’m not as likely to accept a challenge just to prove a point. Even with this in mind, MEN IN BLACK Alien Attack posed no threat to my mildly delicate sensibilities.
I, personally, don’t categorize this attraction as a thrill ride. It has some element of surprise, the creatures border on creepy at times, and disorientation might be an issue once the vehicle spins. However, none of these things actually reach a level of intimidation for me. For the most part, the vehicle moves at steady pace and all of the alien targets keep a generous distance from the vehicle.
As a mom, I found the most appealing aspect of the ride to be the team mentality. Yes, there was the competitive element between each person, but my kids and I also enjoyed trying to boost our total score above the other scoring vehicles. Working together with them to achieve something is always an enjoyable experience, especially when it is a 5 minute war with extraterrestrial beings.