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Inspired by Steven Spielberg's classic 1982 film (and the not-so-classic 1985 sequel novel Book of the Green Planet), this is the only ride at Universal that's remained essentially unchanged since opening day. Guests board bicycle-like ride vehicles (suspended from the ceiling similar to Peter Pan’s Flight at the Magic Kingdom) on an adventure returning everyone's favorite Extra-Terrestrial from Earth to his dying home planet.
After a brief video introduction from Mr. Spielberg himself, guests provide their first name to an attendant and receive a credit-card-sized “interplanetary passport” (more on this later), before wending their way through a dark forest of tall pine trees; this is one of the most evocative indoor ride queues in any park. As the ride itself starts, you're weaving through the woods, evading the moon-suited scientists and earthly law enforcement officials trying to capture E.T. As in the film, you're airborne soon enough, flying your way over Los Angeles (a lovely tableau, Universal's answer to Peter Pan's London) and into a warp-tunnel to E.T.'s home planet. You arrive just in time to allow E.T.'s healing touch to save everything, and the ride ends in a mash-up of colorful flowers, lighting and aliens. Concerning the latter, where E.T. is reunited with family and friends, Len Testa likens it to The Wizard of Oz’s Technicolor transition, only restaged with a cave full of naked mole rats. (C’mon, Len, where’s the love?) Before you return home, E.T. bids each rider farewell by name; the speech system was overhauled in 2014, allowing E.T. to now say over 20,000 names (many of which you can now actually understand). A Baton, North Carolina, reader with perhaps too much time on his hands got to wondering:
Why do the inhabitants of E.T.’s home planet, who presumably have never visited Earth, speak better English than he does?
While the attraction's premise is good, its sophistication has lost some luster over its 25 year run. The human animatronics in the first half look laughably like dime-store dummies, and some of E.T.'s pals in the acid-soaked second act are downright disturbing with their out-of-synch facial animation. Even so, since E.T. is one of Universal's only family-friendly dark rides that relies on sets and robotics instead of screens – a type of attraction the resort could use more of – we hope it sticks around for a long time to come.
Most preschoolers and grade-school children love E.T. We think it’s worth a 20- to 30-minute wait, but no longer than that. The ride often doesn't open until 10 a.m., and lines build quickly within 30 minutes of opening; waits can reach 2 hours on busy days. Ride in the morning or late afternoon. On peak days, a time-saving single-rider line is occasionally opened.
A mother from Columbus, Ohio, writes about horrendous lines at E.T.:
The line for E.T. took 2 hours! The rest of the family waiting outside thought that we had gone to E.T.'s planet for real.
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Here's roughly how many minutes you'll wait for E.T. Adventure at each Universal Studios Florida Crowd Level.
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